Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Have You Seen God Today?

Have you ever searched high and low for your glasses only to find them perched on your head? Hunted frantically for your keys, when the whole time they were sticking in the lock of the door?  At times we can’t find what is right in front of us because we overlook the obvious.

A friend of mine commented that she was having trouble seeing God at work in her life. Yet I could have made her a list as long as my arm—in her encouragement ministry through hand-written cards, in her pleasant visit to a normally difficult care-receiver, in the provision of an appointment for her with a busy specialist, etc.

However, at times, we all echo her sentiments. Jeremiah 29:13 says, “Then you will seek Me, inquire for, and require Me [as a vital necessity] and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”

Many think that God is only seen in big miracles or deep theological answers. However, simple reflection at the end of a day will reveal numerous instances of God's help and guidance in the common and ordinary.

I remember one evening when a crew of four men arrived to help move our old upright piano to the local community hall. Anyone who has ever tried to maneuver one of these monsters knows how heavy and uncooperative they are. Complicating matters was a sharp turn right inside the door.

After struggling for quite a while, one of the fellows removed his cap, scratched his head and said, "I don't know about this. . ."

Well, I knew that the piano had come IN the door, so it had to be able to go OUT! I suggested we ask the Lord for help. We bowed our heads for a brief prayer. When the men tried again, the piano slipped around the turn, out the door and onto the truck ramp with no trouble at all! 

I admit that I often take God’s presence and tender loving care for granted and fail to even notice what He has done. But when I pause and genuinely seek Him, He is easy to find—in a phone call from a friend, in the kindness of a stranger, in the beautyof the late spring day, in the removal of a piano. piano. We can see God everywhere and anywhere.

Where have you seen Him today?

©2011 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


The phone call at 8:50AM caught me off guard. “A position in the computer field has opened for your son,” the Air Force recruiter explained. “Have Seth in Scranton by 11:00AM. He’ll be sworn in and then leave for San Antonio.”

I knew this day was coming but still felt unprepared. Seth had joined the Air Force during his senior year of high school. He was supposed to leave for basic training eight weeks after graduation. However, a minor water skiing accident prevented him from reporting for duty. Seth was placed “on call” for the next window of opportunity in his field. And now, that opening had arrived.

With Scranton nearly two hours from our home, Seth had about ten minutes to prepare. While he showered, his dad gassed up the car and I gathered his belongings.

As I packed, the opening notes of Mariah Carey’s “Hero” came over Seth's radio. Tears filled my eyes and clogged my throat; I could hardly breathe.

“Hero” had been played at Seth’s high school Baccalaureate service. As the seniors took a carnation to someone in the audience who had fulfilled the role of “hero” in their lives, Carey’s melody resonated through the auditorium. Seth brought his carnation to his dad and me and "Hero" was indelibly linked to that memorable occasion.

As I packed Seth’s duffel bag, “Hero” took on a new association. I would always remember this morning with its mixture of pride and sorrow creating an overwhelming flood of emotions. The words seemed especially appropriate as Seth left to serve his country for the next four years.

With no time to spare, Seth grabbed his bag. Smelling of Brut deodorant and Zest soap, he hugged me tightly and kissed me good-bye. His dad and I joined hands with him and prayed a short but fervent prayer for God’s protection and guidance. Then the two of them ran to the car.

As the last strains of “Hero” echoed in the background, I heard our car pull out from the alley. My son was entering an entirely new phase of his life that would require the courage of a hero.

I sat among the tangled sheets on Seth’s bed, tears streaming down my face. As I prayerfully released my grown child, God eased a Scripture into my troubled thoughts: "And the LORD, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed." (Deuteronomy 31:8 NKJV)

What comfort! God goes with our sons and daughters. Even when they are beyond our daily contact and guidance, God’s Word assures us that they are never beyond His.

©2011 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Encourage One Another

"Do not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are doing. Instead, let us encourage one another all the more, since . . . the Day of the Lord is coming nearer.” Hebrews 10:25

When we enter into a relationship with God, He also calls us into relationship with other Christians as part of a nurturing family. In fact, many scriptures refer to fellow believers as “brothers” and “sisters”.

This week my husband and I are representing our church at a denominational conference of pastors and laity that meets once a year for worship, study, and business. About 1700 people attend.

I love to go—not for the ho-hum business reports, but for the fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ. Many of these people I have not seen since last year at the conference. We always enjoy plenty of conversation during meal times and breaks, catching up on one another’s personal lives and ministries.

Today, however, the business meeting also proved quite interesting. Several of the proposed resolutions that were discussed revolved around controversial subjects like strip mining and healthcare. Delegates verbalized strong opinions and emotions from every corner of the room.

Likewise, a couple of private conversations my husband and I were drawn into touched on sensitive matters, like divorce and safe sanctuary policies—emotion-packed issues.

At times like these how do we respond in a way that pleases God? We can find guidelines in Colossians 3: 12-14: “You are the people of God; he loved you and chose you for his own. So then, you must clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Be tolerant with one another and forgive one another whenever any of you has a complaint against someone else. You must forgive one another just as the Lord has forgiven you. And to all these qualities add love, which binds all things together in perfect unity.”

I witnessed many aspects of this scripture in action at the conference—colleagues tolerating differences of opinion; opposing comments expressed with kindness; painful news shared with gentleness.

Of course, love and forgiveness still eluded some deeply-wounded souls. And occasionally humility fought and lost to pride and self-importance. But on the whole, this mass gathering of siblings in Christ encouraged one another in love and the result was unity.

©2011 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A 'Moving' Experience

I gaze out the kitchen window for a final look at the gnarled old apple trees and the quiet woods that border the yard. Saying good-bye to familiar surroundings and beginning our journey to our new home fills me and my family with a mixture of emotions.

We eagerly anticipate our new house and the new places we will explore. We look forward to meeting new people and the friendships that will blossom.

But anxiety nibbles at our enthusiasm at the thought of new jobs and new schools. We ache for all that is familiar. And, although we may return for a visit, we'll no longer share the daily joys and burdens of our old friends.

When we moved from our country home to a small town, the Lord used an ordinary stray cat to teach me that we can leave all these cares with Him.

Black with white tuxedo-like markings, Tennessee reminded me of an old cartoon character. Apparently ownerless, he wandered freely through the woods and fields that bordered our home. He was leery and distant, visiting us strictly for meals that he preferred we leave at the edge of the woods.

Tennessee frequently sported battle injuries-- a split ear, a ragged scratch or a missing patch of fur. Over time he lost the sight in one eye and developed a permanent limp. He thwarted all our attempts to capture or tame him so that we could take him to the vet.

The old curmudgeon gradually spent more and more time close by.  His aloof attitude seemed to be only a cover up for a lonely cat who had never found anyone he could trust.    

About five years after befriending Tennessee, we found out we would be moving. Along with the many major decisions and challenges to be worked out, I wondered what I would do about him.

He now ate all his meals in the long-unused chicken shed at the edge of the yard—his favorite retreat from the weather. I wanted to move him with us, but Tennessee remained a wild animal, not a domestic pet.

In 1 Peter 5:7 we are told, "Leave all your worries with God, because He cares for you." (GNT) So I took Tennessee to the Lord and waited for Him to act.

One evening the people who would be moving into our home came to get some measurements. After taking them through the house and garage, we stepped out back. Tennessee was nowhere around, and I assumed he had run off when he heard us coming.

He didn't show up the next day either, though that wasn't unusual. Occasionally Tennessee would leave for a day or so and come back with a few new scars.

After three days, however, I grew concerned. We searched the area and asked the neighbors, but no one had seen him.

Each time I passed our kitchen window I would scan the yard and woods, looking for Tennessee. As days turned to weeks, I missed Tennessee very much but realized that the Lord had answered my prayer.

Compared to coping with new schools and new jobs, a stray cat may seem like a petty thing to bother the Lord with. But God knows the cares of our hearts. He used Tennessee to teach me that I truly can leave all my worries with Him—the big decisions and the small concerns.

©2011 Pamela D. Williams

Originally published in  VISTA—MARCH 1994

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Journey to the River

“Why, I’ll be,” our neighbor said, blinking his eyes and jutting his head forward. “Look over there in Adina’s driveway.”

Following his pointing finger, we gaped at a flock of baby mallards--11 of them!

Where had the ducklings come from? And, with the river at least a quarter of a mile away, where were they going? We expected a mother duck to waddle out from the bushes, but none appeared.

The mallards rapidly meandered through our neighbor's yard and onto the alley. My daughter and I decided to follow them at a discreet distance. Though taking an indirect route, their tiny leader appeared to know their destination. One utterly exhausted baby hunkered down on the road to rest from time to time, peeping until the other ducklings noticed he had fallen behind and waited for him to catch up.

My heart went out to the ducklings. As the tiny black and yellow creatures continued their journey to the river, I silently prayed that the Lord would protect them from traffic and neighborhood cats.

We helplessly watched them tumble down a steep embankment to the railroad tracks which follow the river. Too short to step or even jump over the tracks, they trooped up and down, searching for a way through the rails. Though they couldn't see the water at all, they knew what direction they needed to go.

Each time my daughter and I stealthily inched close enough to rescue the desperate little flock, they scurried off in the opposite direction. Several people who lived along the tracks noticed the ducklings’ problem; one resourceful fellow figured out a way to help.

Corralling them into an unused barbecue pit, he gently placed the mallards into a bucket and carried them down to his dock. As he turned the ducklings loose, the mother duck flew out onto the river, quacking loudly to her babies. We hadn't seen her before because she had gone ahead to the river to wait for them. The ducklings quickly glided across the water to join her. They all made it safely to their destination, even the tired straggler. I silently thanked the Lord for leading the little flock.

As I thought about that journey of the ducks, the words of Proverbs 3:5 and 6 came to my mind; "Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Never rely on what you think you know. Remember the Lord in everything you do, and He will show you the right way."

Everyone feels overwhelmed by challenges that seem impossible, frustrated by unchanging circumstances or anxious about situations beyond our control. Proverbs assures us that we can lean on God in every area of our lives; we need not rely only on ourselves.

The Lord cared about that journey of those little misplaced ducks. He made sure they reached their destination. He cares about us, too. He has a destination, a plan for our lives—Jeremiah 29:11 says so: “I alone know the plans I have for you—plans to bring you prosperity and not disaster, plans to bring about the future you hope for.” (GNT)

Just as the mother duck trusted God to bring her babies safely to the river, we can trust God to bring about what is best for us and for our loved ones.

©2011 Pamela D. Williams