Reflecting on Discernment….

Temperatures are dropping and we are expecting rain all this week. The rain has turned cold, and the ground stays wet even between showers. The leaves are starting to drop, helped along by the storms. So I was drawn to this photo of a turtle making his way across the damp ground. My photos of turtles usually look like a picture of a rock. Perhaps I am in too much of a rush, or too clumsy. I startle the poor thing into drawing back into its shell. Box turtles can completely close their shells to protect themselves from enemies. Without looking closely, the shell blends in, almost disappearing from sight. Perhaps that is why box turtles can live to be 100 years old. In this amazing photo, the turtle is looking straight at us, as curious about us as we are about him. It seems to me that discernment is a lot like being a turtle. We look all around for answers, chasing one clue after another. Or perhaps we stew over the difficult questions of life in solitude, losing sight of everything else. We are tempted to settle for an either/or solution, when the real way out means both/and. True discernment takes time, both time apart and in community. Just as our faith includes both public worship and private prayer time, discernment involves both public and private moments. When we seek God’s will, what we seek is the still, small voice, not loud, clamoring chaos. God is eternally consistent – we are never directed to violate God’s laws. God is persistent – forget second chances, God will give you more chances that you can ever imagine. God is community – His will for you is confirmed through other believers. True discernment requires us to slow down, to tread carefully, to listen to our own hearts and to others. Take time today to discern God’s will for you. Slow down and move deliberately, carefully listening for that still, small voice. Heed the words of others, even though the conversation may seem unrelated or trivial. And trust that in time, the answer will be looking straight at you, just like this turtle. Photo by LadyBugCrossing

Reflecting on the Impossible….

Clouds are threatening rain again this morning, after a weekend full of rain. We live far enough inland to have avoided most of the hurricane’s effects. Friends and family in New Jersey and the Northeast saw the most damage, with flooding and power outages in many areas. So I have been wondering about what is and isn’t possible, about how our minds wrap around the unexpected and deal with the unanticipated. So I was drawn to this photo of a sea turtle, taken by John Searles of the Eco Mar organization. The white bump on the turtle’s back will monitor the movements of the turtle, using satellite tracking. The GPS system was one of the programs I worked with as a young lieutenant in the Air Force. Most of us consider outer space to be an empty vacuum, yet space is full of debris and dangerous radiation we are shielded from by our atmosphere. I worked with satellite engineers to ensure their systems would operate in all sorts of adverse conditions. We would brainstorm about all the possible threats to the system, then develop ways to deal with those threats. My job was to focus on the improbable possibilities, to ensure others could focus on the probable impossibilities. What good is an amazing satellite if the system is confounded by a micrometeor or sun spot? Yet today we take GPS for granted as a technology integrated into our handheld smart phones, or into a bump on the back of a turtle, to learn how to protect this beautiful creature and our oceans. Because someone conceived of what others considered impossible, and persevered to make that vision into a reality, our lives are full of possibilities. What the engineers started the environmentalists continue. We must not lose sight of the need to plan for adverse possibilities, yet must be sure to focus on what lies beyond the immediate crisis. Take time today to consider more than the possibilities of your current situation. Dare to dream the impossible, then seek to make that dream into a reality. Consider the threats and roadblocks to that dream, and develop ways to work around those threats. Persevere until that dream becomes a reality. If all things are possible through God, then who are we to say anything is impossible? Photo by John Searles © 2011

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