The Times They Are a-Changin’

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“To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1

“What is your name?”, I asked a patient in the Alzheimer’s unit where I visit once a month. “My name is *Ellen,” she replied, “but it will change.”

Apparently, there are those who know they have dementia and those who do not. Ellen is in the first category, but seems to take it in stride.

I decided to leave the conversation at that, but wondered what this kindly woman had once done for a living. Judging by her answer, she could have been a famous philosopher.

The scripture above says life is GUARANTEED to change–just like the seasons. It’s beyond our control; Summer turns to Fall and Winter is next. All one can do is prepare for the inevitable.

Is it just me, or does the free acceptance of fate sound a little depressing? Maybe that’s why, in this age of social media, there aren’t many “Ellen’s” posting about themselves with brutal honesty on FaceBook or sharing unvarnished self-truths on Twitter.

Who wants to be vulnerable?

Yet, in my new friend at the Alzheimer’s unit, there seemed to be no fear of embarrassing exposure. Ellen, even in her present condition, is keeping it REAL.

Going forward, I intend to do likewise.

Prayer:

God, you know the way I feel, You knew it from the start.
Show me what’s really REAL; guide and guard my heart. AMEN

*Not the same name she said–to protect her privacy.

Check, Not Checkmate

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“For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.” 1 Cor. 16:9″

The apostle Paul penned these words to his friends in the ancient city of Corinth. He had been spreading the Christian message in another city, Ephesus, and was trying to decide whether to stay put or move on.

There had been many opportunities for Paul in Ephesus, but also much opposition. His preaching had been met with riotous mobs and death threats. Most people would take this as a sign to get out of town, but not Paul! He decided to base his decisions on God’s activity rather than what his enemies were doing and stayed in Ephesus for another year.  Many more converts were added to the church during this time.

One can only assume, but I bet Paul’s life felt something like a chess match. Over and over, his opponents backed him into a corner–putting him in check.  But God always provided a way out and kept Paul out of checkmate.

This has recently become real to me. In fact, I started this blog because I was placed in “check.”

For several months, I sent a dozen or so Christian colleagues at my company a Bible verse with an encouraging thought every morning.  These are friends who attend a weekly employee prayer group or asked specifically to be included in the email. Nevertheless, someone in our company complained to HR, telling them I was sending “scriptures” through company email. The next thing I know, my boss gets a visit from corporate.

No, I wasn’t told to cease and desist.  But the reality that someone took offense at my attempt to encourage a few Christian friends was deflating.  I was really down for about 24 hours, but then recalled the words of a dear friend, “There are always options: good ones and bad ones.”

I chose the best option I could and avoided checkmate.  When the time comes, I hope you will too.