Little Red Bird, Big Life Lesson

I was restless on this chilly, damp and blustery May day. The kind of day to read a good book by the fire casting it’s heat to thaw the chilled bones. I had been watching the deer mosey around the fenced apple trees and the little song birds getting blown off the feeder by wind gusts. No singing today as they seem to look for spots of refuge from the wind and flapping foliage.

I stood with my camera ready as I had spotted a bright red Scarlet Tanager. A tunnel through the flapping leaves suddenly appeared as my little red bird found a sanctuary on a stout oak limb situated just right behind the tree trunk and out of the wind. The unruffled bird put up with me and even posed a bit. I felt as if we shared some peace in the chaos until little tweetie said “that’s it, I’m done” and off he flew to wherever birds go after a fine photoshoot.

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Much has been said about having Peace in the midst of Chaos. Songs written and Poems published but so many times the experience eludes us.

Jesus told his disciples they would encounter chaos (my words) but he promised “My Peace I leave with you” John 14:27. Jesus calmed the storm when the disciples thought they might die. Mark 4:39.  Again: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33.

Watching this little bird find a brief sanctuary in the chaos made me realize that I spend too much time looking for ways and places to escape the various levels of chaos life seems to daily throw my way. I have also found peace in the storms of life when my walk with Jesus is close. He draws me closer and says “I’m here, experience my peace”.  When my trust level with God is high he seems to smile and raise the bar higher. “Trust Me”. Seems cruel on God’s part to give no explanation or relief sometimes.

My Prayer most of my life has been “I need you Jesus”

My wife and I have experienced our share of loss and extremely hard times as well as a great life with adventure and good times. Our trust bar with God has been raised beyond sight. There becomes an unexplainable depth to the sanctuary we find in walking daily with Jesus. unexplained chaos becomes unexplainable depth? hmm.

My hope is that others may see a tunnel through the chaos to where we are sitting and see what they would like to have. Peace inside becoming peace on the outside. That’s my Little red bird lesson. I will not look at the Scarlet Tanager the same way again.

Feel free to share your helpful thoughts and thanks for reading. Trust Jesus.

Gary

Seeking Solitude in Plain Sight

Solitude

 Auras of mystery surround places of solitude. The very word fills pages of novels, entices the busy, and secretes fear into the lost. Solitude hides a secret ingredient in the discovery of inner peace. She whispers of fulfilled longings and whisks sweet fantasies into the souls of dreamers.

Solitude begs the wilderness to conspire. “Let the open places call and the forests invite the seeker”. No answer is heard as nature awaits it’s own peace.

Seekers reach for solitude. I slid the canoe into the water quietly at 4:30 am in the Boundary Water Canoe Area Wilderness. Getting away from camp for my own sense of solitude. 3 portages, a river, and part of a floating bog later I was met by the early morning sunrise on Sema Lake. Crystal clear calm water looked like I was floating on air 40 feet above the rocky lake bottom. It was that moment when I realized that being totally alone without anyone knowing where, did not give me the solitude I was seeking. Only God knew where I was and only His peace could fill me. Of all the places in the world to discover the place of solitude was on the inside. How ironic to find one must be still and get alone when they are already alone. Even more to find out one can be still and utterly alone in the middle of a a busy city (although a park bench might keep us from getting run over).

     Solitude is not found in the rocks, trees, skies, or seas. She hides in plain sight while we are distracted by all that surrounds us.Just the fact that we are searching is a seductress. Could it be that solitude is always there waiting for us to slip away from all our distractions into the quiet place of our own heart?

   Beware of seeking solitude for solitude’s sake for it is a trysting place. A place to meet with the lover of our soul. A place to know the depths of God’s desires for our heart. A place to listen for Gods voice and bare your soul without uttering a word. 
Learn how to practice the the discipline of Solitude wherever you are. Psalm 46: 10 Be still and know that I am God. Could it be that easy?

                  You don’t have to get to the mountain top to find solitude

Get alone anyway

 
For in depth information on the discipline of solitude read Jan Johnsons writings and her sources she uses on this little used but necessary ingredient for growth in our walk with God.

What does alone time look like for you? Do you have a trysting place?Please share in the comments at the bottom

Gary 

Unswerving, An Intentional Journey

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“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23

In life we swerve. We navigate life as a canoeist navigates a wilderness river full of deadheads, sandbars, rocks, rapids, sink holes, log jams and a host of unseen dangers in an otherwise majestic ride.
After 60 tears of life I vividly remember (stay with me here) paddling my canoe off the big river through a narrow opening between some big rocks with a little sign at the entrance “Follow Me”…Jesus
I know something about swerving. I have an aversion to obstacles in life as I seem to hit and crash on so many unseen and unavoidable things. I also know something about studying the river ahead with a diligent eye. I have a lot of experience both dumping the canoe and then getting back in. I have a ton of stories and even some  meaningful enough to share.

The picture above explains much of my journey of living life intentionally.

I sit down for breakfast with some coffee, open up my Bible to where I left off yesterday. I usually see a word, phrase, concept, story or just some encouragement for direction  for the day or for the season in life. God knows what I need. I have come to know the living Word of Life in the scripture as well as the Person of God in presence each morning. I have come to realize that each morning (keep with me on this analogy) I pack up camp, get in my canoe and paddle more of river stretch of life. The spiritual journey has become one with my physical journey and I have a guide.

I am a follower of Jesus and He has led me deep into the wilderness. My canoe has many wrecks and patches. Each day requires trust.

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I know of many who seem content to make camp and never go further down the river spiritually. Some of my friends stand on their last wreck and demand that God apologize and explain why he does not remove the rocks we wreck upon in life. The book of Job in the Bible is required reading here. We are so important aren’t we.

It is my prayer that at the end of life (our last inevitable crash on the river) we will have a ton of stories to tell forever.

Each day we packed up camp, checked our canoe for any patching needed, spent some time with Jesus as our guide, put on our life jackets, lashed the gear into place and shoved off. Yes, do swerve around the potential wrecks if possible but above all be unswerving in your walk and Trust in the ultimate guide Jesus Christ (you know the one with the map and has really good advice), the only one who has been there before on our behalf.
Please add your helpful comments as well. Angry comments from your rock will be ignored. If you like what you see please hit the “follow” button to get devotional posts in your email. Thanks for reading!

Gary

PS: Garyfultz.com has many of my wilderness stories, please check those out as well

 

 

 

 

Perfect

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Soul Food for thought

What we desperately want and need we avoid

I opened up Facebook this morning to see what was going on. more news feeds to get the blood boiling and tempt one to dive into the fray. How to ruin a perfect Saturday morning. No, I need to settle my soul, look for words of encouragement, start the day with time alone with God as I usually do through the week. I share with you some worthwhile thoughts and perhaps share some depth to an undefinable peace that permeates the core of one walking in an intimate fellowship with Jesus. We want all that Jesus gives without taking the time to have an intimate walk with God. Here is a glimpse of my morning time with God. I know my mind goes to many places over a few words of scripture in the mulling.

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Hebrews 5:8 Son though He was, He learned obedience from what He suffered and, once made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him, and was designated by God to be High Priest.

“Once made Perfect” That took 33 years by the way.

“How are you today?” (overheard in the church entryway) “I’m perfect!” Hmmm…Lester with his gnarly fingers wrapped around a home made cane from a bent and twisted tree that resembled his body frame and the physical trials of life. Lester living in pain was “perfect”. maybe the perfect poster boy for selling home made canes out of bent and twisted tree branches and similar small trees cut to length, debarked, polished and finished into a beautiful product actually. One of a kind, original, possibly perfect and becoming more perfect in the aging, testing, usefulness and possibly essential to another like Lester himself. Sometimes I rebel and actually hate God’s perfectness and all I see is the pain and tragedy of what I would call perfect.

Our middle daughter with 35 surgeries, in constant pain, clinging to a hope that one day she will run and jump and play, is perfect and becoming more perfect as she has her own intimate walk with Jesus. This is hard to accept!

Lester with his attitude and contagious crooked smile. His company is enjoyable and I am better for it. In a world where most things lean toward falling apart rather than building up there is something worth exploring here. Lester is not so perfect for the church basketball team and many other tasks but when did “perfect” take on so many meanings?

As a little kid the perfect Christmas gift could cause all kinds of fights with the siblings. No wonder we received clothes from our grandparents. The perfect husband or wife often becomes very imperfect after being tried and tested with time and life. Parents are perfect until they have kids for even a very short time. The perfect newborn child does not stay perfect very long and the new car gets a scratch and it’s another old beater.

Jesus was made perfect

How strange to think that even though Jesus was perfect he had to be made perfect in order to be our High Priest and intercede for us in front of God. It took 33 years of becoming us, living every moment perfectly, responding perfectly to pain, abuse, temptation, success, all of human life stuff including death. Perfect. Oh, and he also had to conquer his human death to become our advocate before the Father God. He was made perfect.

The one who was made perfect can be making us perfect but we need to trust his sense of perfection!

I have an idea in my head of what my perfection would be. I’m quite sure it’s different than God’s. My life has been detoured quite a bit. I need to trust that God is making me perfect as I trust him. To those who believe in him he declares  “Perfect” but He also says (in the context of loving your enemies) “Be perfect even as your father in heaven is perfect” Matthew 5:48

So how are you today? Can we say “I’m Perfect” ? Or “walk with me, this will take awhile”