"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
July 2, 2014
Happy Independence Day!!
My sister, Janie, and I just recently arrived home from a road trip to California. The destination was Fremont, CA, where we attended the World A/G Deaf Conference. But we decided to make the most of our trip and do as much sightseeing as possible.
On the way there, we stopped by the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, and Yosemite, and went to the beach in Santa Cruz. We knew that we would be in a hurry on the return trip home, because of time constraints and Janie having to be back to work, so left early before the conference started so we could work in as much fun as we possibly could.
Going from the Grand Canyon to Hoover Dam to Yosemite, we traveled from Arizona up through Nevada to get to California. Neither of us had ever driven through Nevada before; and neither of us have a desire to ever travel there again. Nevada is a large state of very few towns! We had left Hoover Dam around 7:30 or so, and decided that we would drive until we got tired before stopping for the night. Good idea in theory, but we discovered that was the wrong state in which to do that.
Shortly after leaving Hoover Dam, we had to drive through Las Vegas. Neither of us really had a desire to stop there, and we wanted to drive a couple more hours so that we could arrive in Yosemite by early afternoon the next day. So we drove.... and we drove.... and we drove.... and we drove some more!! After leaving Vegas, there were NO towns; which meant no motels, no gas stations, no bathrooms. Thankfully, we had filled the car up with gas before arriving at Hoover Dam, so we didn't have the worry of running out of fuel. It also was pitch black out that night and we could see absolutely nothing. We felt like we must be driving in the most barren, empty, desolate desert.
Finally, we saw some lights in the horizon, so hoped we were finally getting close to a town. When we arrived at the lights, we saw a big billboard that said super truck stop. There was only one big building there. On one end of the building was a big sign that said, "Adult XXX Superstore" and on the other end of the building were about six doors that looked like a mini motel and on front was a flashing red neon sign that said, "Brothel. Hot girls." REALLY?!?! We later found out that there are parts of Nevada where brothels are legal! The next day we saw a billboard advertising a brothel up ahead. When we passed by, it was a cute little house with a picket fence and flowers with a sign out front stating that it was a brothel. It was hard for the two of us to wrap little naive country minds around legalized brothels!
But we did finally find a town with a clean motel room. The next morning we were shocked when we walked outside and there was a beautiful mountain range right across the street. We found a gas station and topped the gas tank off, and drove about three more hours without going through any towns and no rest stops.... which meant no bathrooms. Finally, we arrived in California and Yosemite!
During the daytime, the drive through Nevada was much different than it had been the night before. Even though there were still no towns and very few houses, we could see where we were going and could enjoy the beautiful snow-capped mountains. I wouldn't want to live there, and not too sure I'd want to ever drive through there again, but it really was quite rugged and pretty.
On the return trip home, we took a different route to get back to Arizona that was a little quicker. But it was every bit as desolate as Nevada and we didn't have the beautiful mountains to look at. We drove south from Fremont to Bakersfield, then a little later got on I-40 which goes all the way across the US from California to North Carolina. On that drive, we had to drive through the Mojave desert in California.
At first, we were being positive that it was different than any of the other countryside that we had seen during our trip and had a peculiar beauty all its own. But after hours of driving through the Mojave desert, it gets old and boring and seemingly endless. For miles and hours on end, it's the same thing. Barren, dry, brown desert! No houses, very few towns or rest stops, and just endless straight roads that go on and on and on. It began to feel like it was never going to end!
Finally, we topped this little hill and looked down below us to an oasis. There was lots of green and a river running through the area. It looked so out of place next to what we had been looking at for hours. We just soaked in the beauty of the green valley and blue water. It looked so beautiful and refreshing after the scenery we had looked at for the previous several hours.
Our driving trip experiences are a lot like our life journey. In Nevada it was so black out that we could see nothing and it felt like we were driving through the most barren, depressing state. When we finally did see lights, it was nothing but a sin-filled pit. That made our drive feel even more depressing and long and dark.
Sometimes life can feel like we're being overwhelmed by darkness. Everywhere we look and every story we hear only seem to speak of the sinfulness of our world.
On the other hand, there are times when we feel like we've been stumbling through the dry, barren desert for days and weeks on end. We feel parched and alone, and the only water we see ends up being a mirage. We feel as if our journey through that desolate place is unending!
But neither place lasted forever! What appeared to be empty and desolate in Nevada, ended up being very beautiful in the daytime. And what felt like an endless drive through the dry, barren Mojave desert ended in a green meadow with a river running through it.
Psalm 30:5(b) says, "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning."
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 tells us that for everything there is a season, and a time for every activity under heaven. There is a time for the good things; such as birth, planting, healing, building up, laughing, dancing, embracing, loving....... But there are also seasons when life brings things that aren't quite so uplifting and good, such as; dying, crying, grieving, war.......
But regardless of how bad our situation seems, it is not going to remain like that forever. There will come a time when the weeping stops and joy comes!! The season of darkness and desolation will end, and God will bring us to an oasis of rest and restoration.
Psalm 23:4 says, "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me."
We will all walk through valleys and endure periods of hardship. But we don't have to fear evil when that happens. We can have the assurance that God is walking with us during those desolate times, and we are never alone. Satan would like to try and make us worry and fret and feel as if God has forsaken us. But God has promised that He will never leave or forsake us.
The rest of Psalm 23 promises that the Lord will make us to lie down in green pastures. He will lead us beside the still waters. He will restore our soul.
If you are going through a time of darkness or desert right now, know that God is right there beside you. He has never, nor will He ever, leave you! Call upon Him and know that He is there to lift you out of the pit and restore your soul.
Also, be assured that this season won't last forever! There will come a time when you will once again experience the green pastures and still waters. Don't give up and don't lose hope!! Don't get your focus on your situation and off God. Don't make your circumstances look bigger than God. Persevere and keep going and there will come that day when you will top that hill and see that green pastures lie ahead, with waters of refreshing.
The verse that says, "He makes me to lie down in green pastures" is one of the many, many verses that seems to have more than one meaning. I think both meanings are valid to most people at different times.
One way to interpret it is, "He forces me to lie down in green pastures, because I don't lie down on my own." This one relates to me well. Most of the time, I'm so stressed and busy with work and projects that I don't lie down except when I can't stand any longer. Then I take time to go to a green pasture, and lie down, and wonder why I've put it off so long.
Another interpretation I like is "He created me as someone meant to lie down in green pastures." That sounds so awesome, too! But it might seem doubtful since we aren't all laying around on the grass, just basking in God's glory. We (both all the world and all of our town) have let so much sin into the world that we don't get to enjoy our purpose, yet. Once we are in heaven, with God, and completely away from sin, we will get to experience that purpose for which we were each created.
Spring Time Salad
1 head cauliflower
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1 bunch broccoli
1/3 cup sugar
1 small onion, separated into rings
1 cup Miracle Whip or Mayo
1/4 lb. bacon, fried and crumbled
salt and pepper, to taste
Separate cauliflower into flowerets; cut flowerets into pieces. Chop broccoli and separate into bite-sized pieces. Combine cauliflower, broccoli, onions, bacon, and cheese. Mix sugar and Miracle Whip together. Add to vegetable mixture; salt and pepper to taste; stir well. Refrigerate overnight or for several hours.
Traveling and being with Janie, who is a pastor to the deaf, has put me in situations where I have to communicate with the deaf. My signing skills are slowly improving, but I still have a whole lot of work to do and a whole lot to learn!
Last year, when I went to Orlando with Janie, she was busy working as an interpreter at the A/G General Council sessions. One morning, Devin (Janie's son, who is deaf) and I were walking through the building where the General Council was being held back to our hotel. We were "signing" (Devin signing more to me than I was to him, I'm sure) to one another, and this older lady stopped us. She was able to speak, but was signing to us and asking Devin who he was and signing to me as well. I thought she was deaf, so I was trying to sign back to her! I saw her name tag, and later was telling Janie who we had met and about our conversation and me trying to sign to her. She laughed and told me that the lady was hearing! She was the lady who wrote the book "The Joy of Signing"!! I'm sure she was thinking that I really needed to buy her book and improve my signing skills!!
Don't be afraid to take a big step if one is indicated.
You can't cross a chasm in two small jumps. - David Lloyd George
We love you!
Loretta & Jon