Do Your Thing, Ding-a-ling!

“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.”

1 Corinithians 12:7

Being a part of a hand bell choir is a rewarding, yet often daunting, experience. Picture nine people standing behind a long line of tables filled with bells. Every ringer plays at least two–one for each hand. Thankfully, you are only responsible for the bells in front of you. A space note in the left hand. A line note in the right. It sounds simple enough, right? But playing your part means finding and following these two notes as they bob up and down in a sea of black ink. Meanwhile, every other ringer at the table is trying to do the same thing! And one mistake can bring EVERYBODY down. It feels like taking a tightrope walk over a waterfall with several of your friends.

“Just play the notes at the proper time and everything will be fine.”

Doris, our brave director.

It seems that playing in a handbell choir is much like being part of a Christian community–the Body of Christ. In his first letter to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul compares the church to a human body whose many parts make up a whole:

“As it is, there are many parts, but one body…If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”

1 Corinthians 12:20,26

In other words, everyone matters if anyone matters at all.

At this point in your Christian journey, please remember the following:

There are parts of the song that can only be played by you.

So do your thing, ding-a-ling!

“Therefore, dear soul, in this life you are receiving a music lesson from the Father. You are being trained to sing in a choir you cannot see, and there will be parts in the chorus that only you can sing.”

George Matheson

What Time is It?

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What Time is It?

“My times are in Your hands;”

Psalm 31:15a

The most accurate clock on earth is the US Atomic Clock in Fort Collins, Colorado, and I have a little clock at home that is connected to it! Using a low frequency wireless transmission, the US Atomic Clock beams it’s super-accurate time signal straight to my clock’s internal receiver. Viola! Daily updates ensure accuracy to the fraction of a second.

However, something happened recently to shake my faith in the “mother of all clocks:” my little “chip off of the old block” started inexplicably losing time. It was barely noticeable at first, but it was happening surely enough. My supposed super clock no longer agreed with the time on my cell phone, or, more importantly, the microwave.

“Uh oh,” I said to no one in particular, “I guess the subscription to the mother clock ran out.” I took the atomic clock junior off the wall and headed straight for the trash can. Yes, all the clocks in my home must say exactly the same thing. Anyway, just as I was about to drop the clock into oblivion, I saw it–the cover to a tiny compartment containing two AA batteries. You guessed it, I promptly replaced the batteries with fresh ones, and the clock once again keeps perfect time. The problem was on my end, not the source.

Hmm… there’s a life application in here somewhere. King David, of ancient Israel, wrote about it in a prayer to God.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

Psalm 51:10

We know from other texts, that David wrote these words shortly after scandal rocked his kingdom. He had slept with another man’s wife and she was now pregnant. The betrayed husband was one of David’s most loyal military leaders, but the king had him killed to cover up his own sin.

David lost his connection with God. His spiritual batteries ran down and tragedy ensued. He stopped checking in and chose to check out–until he was confronted by the prophet Nathan. He desperately needed to reorient himself to God.

As any good carpenter will tell you, even a few degrees off level is a no go. The fact is, it doesn’t take long to become out of plumb with God. Listen to Amos, the Old Testament prophet:

“This is what he showed me: The Lord was standing by a wall that had been built true to plumb, with a plumb line in his hand. And the Lord asked me, “What do you see, Amos?” “A plumb line,” I replied. Then the Lord said, “Look, I am setting a plumb line among my people Israel; I will spare them no longer.” Amos 7:7-8

Amos 7:7-8

The world has a battery draining effect on our spiritual senses; losing our fellowship connection with God adversely affects the mind, will, and heart. However, we may not even be aware of this–until God asks, “What time is it?”

So what is the solution? The daily check-in and the weekly recharge! Spend time alone with God at least once a day and observe the sabbath each week to recharge your spiritual batteries.

Staying in sync with God means maintaining a good connection, just like my little clock does with the US Atomic Clock. That is, now that I replaced the batteries.

“In repentance and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and trust is your strength.”

Isaiah 30:15

Turning Mirrors Into Windows

monochrome photography of people jogging through the woods
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“As water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man.” Proverbs 27:19 NIV

“Are you a runner?”

This simple question came to me from an avid runner and former track coach. At the time, I was an absolute newbie–training for my first quarter marathon (6.55 miles)–and hadn’t seriously considered continuing beyond that. However, the instant my friend expressed these four simple words, “Are you a runner?,” I heard myself say, “I AM a runner!”

Five years earlier, I’d lost my mother to cancer, only four years after losing my father to the same disease. When my dad died, it was like the mantle of caring for my mother passed to me. But when my mom passed away, it felt like the earth stopped turning; a part of me died too.

A local cancer treatment center hosts a road race every October to raise money for research. It’s called “The Spirit of Survival.” Friends encouraged me to participate, but I wouldn’t  buy it. I was stuck brooding over thoughts like, “Why did this happen?”, and, “What’s the use?” After all,” I protested, “nothing could have saved my mom and dad; it’s too late for them anyway.” Uplifting, huh?

Fast forward to the summer of 2016, when I finally decided to give the upcoming Spirit of  Survival a try.  “Maybe it will help me deal with losing mom and dad.”, I thought–not quite believing it. I began training in July.  Surprisingly, almost as soon as I took to the roads, I felt a reconnection with my parents! The fog of grief surrounding me began to break, leaving a warmth where there had been only shadows.

Running soon became my all-purpose balm for the soul, and it still is to this day. The quarter marathon became a half marathon (13.1 miles) a year later. And when I turned 50 in 2018, I ran my first marathon (26.2 miles)!

But this perpetual adventure in healing and self discovery could have been cut short, had someone not recognized my potential and cared enough to bring it to my attention. The world needs more reliable narrators, like my friend coach Breeze, who turn mirrors into windows.

I aspire to be such a faithful guide. While you join me?