A different look at every day issues.

The Stretching and Blessing Principle

There are times when we simply need to know that God still speaks in ways we can understand. It is not always in a bolt of lightening or in a mighty whirlwind (or in our case in Florida, a hurricane), but He always finds a way to speak to the heart intent on hearing from him.

As I sat quietly reading from Acts 10 recently, I felt myself being drawn into a familiar portion of Scripture--you know, the one where Peter had a dream and a large sheet with animals of all kinds was lowered from heaven. Then he heard a voice which said, "Kill and eat." Peter hesitated because Jewish dietary law did not permit eating the kinds of animals contained in the sheet. But the voice continued, "Do not call unclean what I have called clean."

Across town at the same time, a man named Cornelius--a non-Jew, had a dream instructing him to cross town to where Simon the tanner of hides lived and retrieve a man named Peter. Peter would tell them about the Messiah and the hope of the Gospel of Jesus Christ--at least that's what the voice indicated.

The rest is history. Cornelius found Peter at Simon's place. I can just imagine the conversation between the two as Peter eyed the Gentile (probably unclean) standing before him asking him to come and talk to a group of more Gentiles. He is probably thinking, "Boy, first a strange dream telling me I can eat unclean foods, and now this Gentile asking me to come and fellowship with more of his ilk."

The bottom line was that God wanted to stretch Peter's belief system so he could bless a whole class of forgotten souls--the Gentiles. But . . . that's not the way we've always done things! Wrong! God's plan must include everyone or it is just another exclusive club with its social barriers preventing His message of rescue from being heard by everyone.

Peter was stretched and responded appropriately to God's purpose for his life. Cornelius (and a host of Gentiles) were blessed and received the message of hope gratefully. End of story? Not yet . . .

The challenge to me came so abruptly it almost knocked me off my chair. I realized that, like Peter, I considered certain people beyond God's desire to reach. You know . . . . that element of society which lives on the extreme edge of radicalism and adopts belief and behavior so far beyond our scope of correctness that we've written them off.

Wow. I had to take a deep breath and gather my best theological thoughts. Then I realized, we are usually unwilling to be stretched so others can be blessed. I had just prayed for a revelation from God's Word and here it was--non-theological in its import but resoundingly clear in its effect on me.

I realized He was teaching me a new principle--at least new to me. It is the stretching and blessing principle. He stretches one so another can be blessed. Good plan and no waste. Ok, Father . . . I'm starting to get it . . .

Low Tide in Perspective

As we crossed the Tampa Bay bridge on our way to the airport, I noticed that the tide was out and the water had receded several hundred feet from the shore. Hundreds of birds flocked to the extended shore line as a veritable feast of creatures lay flip-flopping in the sunlight, trying to get to the water and escape their hungry pursuers. Everything has a purpose, I thought, as we continued our drive to the airport.

The scene was one I'd seen hundreds of times--low tide meant feeding time for sea gulls, herons and other birds intent upon keeping the balance of nature on an even keel. I'd never given it a second thought, except to simply note its periodic and predictable occurrence. 

As I drove, my mind would not let loose of the familiar scene. Then it occurred to me that God has chosen the simple things--even in nature--to demonstrate his ability to guide us through life. For instance, the tide is caused by the moon's gravitational pull upon the earth. As the earth rotates, tides shift around the world, and millions of creatures either get fed or get fed upon

The low tide demonstrates how an eternal force can have an effect upon our world. While it may be one way in which God shows his care for an infinite number of aquatic creatures, it represents only a tiny percentage of his involvement in his creation.

We all experience low-tide periods in our lives. The safety of the shoreline suddenly gets displaced by something outside of our control and we simply flip-flop in the newly inflicted discomfort trying to regain our familiar and safe surroundings. Life's low tide actually provides a balance only God can orchestrate into a time of growth and purpose.

High tide follows low tide. Up times follow down times. Victory follows adversity. Perhaps something outside your immediate sphere of influence proves to be detrimental to the order of your neat and predictable life. Whatever you are going through at this particular time is not permanent--it's just God allowing times in which your character is tested and your resolve to follow through is solidified. Tough times produce tough people

God loves us too much to allow comfort and security to rob us of the opportunity for growth. The secret is to understand the purpose of the low tides.
Nature's tide responds to the pull of the moon; ours--the SON!!