How Easily We Forget

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The speed of life propelled by the nearly instant electronic media that we use every day can have a significant effect on each of us. Our minds and hearts flit from one thing to another without even realizing how often we are not fully present. All of this also tempts us to not be as satisfied with the gift of the present. We scroll through things online that we think will add to our happiness and keep looking ahead for what we hope will be different, better, or more for tomorrow. Contentment can seem elusive many days.

We talk about wanting to slow down but the habits we have acquired keep creeping back in. The enforced change of pace during the pandemic revealed how much shifting our lives into a slowed neutral pace felt uncomfortable. The pandemic also didn’t help us with the stress and uncertainty that came with it. Some are still sorting out how to move back into whatever the new pace for us might be and somewhat startled at our responses to feeling odd going to a shopping mall or movie.

Uncertainties have left more of us anxious than ever before as we desire to know more about what lays ahead while also dreading or fearing it. Some of us have come through these months with a fresh appreciation for the gift and provision of each day and want to hang onto some of that as we move back into many things we couldn’t do during the pandemic.

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“When we are young, time goes very slowly, not because time is anything but regular because we are always rushing then. Living in the moment is not the mark of youth. Instead, the young are always on the way to somewhere else. They have no patience for now – because they live their lives trying to get beyond the confines of now to the possibilities of soon. They want to get to be older, to be independent, to be important, to be wealthy, to be somebody. They are immersed in wanting.

The old, on the other hand, have long ago exhausted both the wanting and the going and the striving. They are immersed in being. Being alive, being healthy, being present to the moment, being who they are, being happy, being young again in delight and in vision.”

Joan Chittister

Little wonder that we as believers have challenges living in “the now and the not yet.” We forget how often we lean forward to Christ’s return and lose the opportunities of today. We forget what God so patiently tried to teach the children of Israel in the wilderness by supplying them manna just for that one day and what happened when they didn’t trust that. We forget that God doesn’t tell us a lot of things in advance because his provision for those things will not arrive until those things happen. He also knows we would seek to try to control what isn’t yet upon us without trusting Him for the “then.”

“God conceals much that we do not need to know, yet we do know that He calls us His own sheep by name and leads them out. When does that begin? Does the Shepherd overlook anything that the sheep need?”

Elisabeth Elliott

The matter of looking at time brings a song from the epic musical Les Misérables to mind (“One Day More”) and how those in this story of the revolution in France are measuring time. The lyricists (Alain Boublil and Herbert Kretzmer) begin the song with the lines, “One day more, another day, another destiny” and goes on considering life and what lays ahead. As the powerful song closes, the words reflect on a truth that is more to the point for each of us…

“Tomorrow we’ll discover
What our God in Heaven has in store
One more dawn
One more day
One day more”

We forget in the paradox of living within time that we both have more of it and less of it than we imagine. What is key for us each day is what we do with the gift of time given to us. We can squander it by looking back at what didn’t happen, what we missed, what we were owed, or what we regret or stretch out trying to live in a better tomorrow that we paint with better colors and tones. All the while, the time under our noses keeps slipping away.

As we stand on tiptoes anticipating Christ’s return, let us not forget to take advantage of every moment of today to live well for Him and use that which He has placed within us for his glory.

“Time is a wondrous thing, if only I fill it well. If I do not allow the passing of time to diminish my spirit but, instead, see it as a call to live life to the dregs… Then time is my friend, not my enemy. It gives me a heightened sense of life. It urges me to discover it all. It marks the fullness of life, its mellowing, and it releases in me the self that has been coming into existence from the beginning.”

Joan Chittister
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We Hate to Do It

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From the time we are a toddler, there are so many things we see that we want to do. We watch others and think it must be easy to do them and that we are ready. Little wonder we are shocked when we don’t automatically sort out how to ride our first tricycle or really can’t get the hang of our first skateboard. Our memory knows we seemed to have no problem learning to crawl or climb or walk but our memory doesn’t nudge us with how long it took and the steps to achieve it required practice to get it done. The goal to explore the world was so built into us that we kept at it.

Once those things were accomplished the world opened up one thing after another that looked like fun and not that hard, until we tried it. It didn’t work very well on the first try and maybe not the second or third. Some of us gave up and decided it wasn’t worth the time or potential injury to keep going. We didn’t have a clue that from toddler onward most anything we wanted to try to do would require the one thing we would not be excited about doing – practice. A lot of practice would be required if we were going to do it well or make it look as easy to others as it had to us before we started.

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Catching a ball is naturally easier for some than others but to be the best catcher in the neighborhood no matter who throws the ball is another story. Hitting a ball thrown at us using a bat was even harder for most of us. Being able to handle a soccer ball with only our feet wasn’t as simple as we thought it would be either. Listening to the parents and coaches who were trying to help us sometimes made us wonder if we were the only ones who couldn’t quite get the knack of it. Would we always be the kid on the sidelines or on the bench? (Practice and more practice when we were lousy didn’t work well.)

And it wasn’t just about playing some kind of ball or managing to ride some kind of wheels. School was a place where we needed to practice just about everything from the time we arrived until the school day ended. Practice was needed to learn to write, read, count and how to use these to solve problems and answer questions.

If we were athletically inclined and more bent toward the arts, practice was required there as well if we expected to be able to glide across the dance floor or make beautiful music.

I was one of those who felt awkward with anything athletic, and self-consciousness didn’t help. My love of singing and music soon had me starting piano lessons when I entered third grade. I was eager to learn to play like my mother and cousin until I found myself sitting on a piano bench with a teacher who never smiled or made anything seem like fun. Correct fingering to play well wasn’t a practice I loved but I kept at it for a while until my mother realized I wasn’t going to progress very far and by sixth grade a saxophone was my instrument. Later it would be replaced by a typewriter when my mother was concerned I would get sick too often playing in a marching band at high school. (I am sure many of you have your own stories where practice was required and even if you loved what you wanted to learn, practice was NOT what you wanted to do.)

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Most of us managed to learn enough or practice enough to move on from one grade to another looking forward to the end of school days and the hope that those dreaded practice sessions would come to an end. We had no idea that the need to practice something of some sort would be required of us all through adulthood. And why did we (do we) hate practice? Maybe because it means we need to discipline ourselves to some degree and lay down our preference to take the easy path of least resistance where we think little will be required of us. (Is that something humankind learned way back at the beginning – a dislike to reining in self and accepting discipline?) It just doesn’t come naturally for most of us. So, it is little wonder that memorizing scripture or taking our thoughts captive that require practice are things we put off doing or never do with as much excellence as we might.

By now we know (whether we admit it or not) that doing anything decently well requires discipline to practice the skill. And we still hate having to do it most of the time. But it is what is needed if we are to develop in our relational and spiritual lives. Setting aside time to commune with an unseen God in prayer and solitude to grow is one of those things we want to have happen and yet gets crowded out by all those other things we need or want to do that doesn’t require us to be still and quiet our hearts. And yet that is the very thing we were made for, and our soul needs to gain the sense of belonging and peace we long for.

“I believe our souls harbor a deep, nameless knowing we were created for something far better, something unshakably solid and enduring. That ‘knowing’ is what C.S. Lewis called our ‘lifelong nostalgia’ to be reunited with our Creator.

With ancient echoes of Eden whispering in our souls, we’ve been longing for belonging ever since. And with our sinful self-wills screaming for obedience, we’ve been trying to satisfy that longing every which way but God’s.”

Sandra Wilson

As a believer, Christ is nudging me every day to come aside to be with Him. It’s not a harsh voice that calls to me but a gentle quiet voice. He calls us because He knows it is what we need to live in this world that is no longer Eden. Christ modeled it for us when He walked the earth.

“His was a quiet heart. We see Him move serenely through all the events of His life – when He was reviled, He did not revile in return. When He knew He would suffer many things and be killed in Jerusalem, He never deviated from His course. He had set His face like flint. He sat at supper with one who would deny Him and another who would betray Him, yet He was able to eat with them, willing even to wash their feet. Jesus in the unbroken intimacy of His Father’s love, kept a quiet heart.”

Elisabeth Elliott

You may think it was easy for Him because He was Jesus. Reconsider and remember that He was fully human and experienced life as we do and yet took time apart to nurture unbroken intimacy with His Father. It sustained Him and it can sustain us as we walk through difficult things and the ever darkening and fearsome times that are growing in the world. He invites us to practice, knowing it will give us a quiet heart when the world has never been noisier.

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Where Are You?

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Easter and Passover have come and gone. Has life shifted with a sense of direction or are we much like the disciples walking along the Emmaus Road talking about the events of this season without shifting our priorities or recognizing the call on our lives? It can be easy to get right back at the things of this life without His life altering the course of our days or priorities.

We tend to be much more like those early disciples we read or hear about. Jesus invites us into the deep places with Him and the call He has for each of us and if we are listening to that at all, we might acknowledge that and keep walking along the dusty road we were on, distracted and weighed down with other things.

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As I was listening to a recent podcast by author, John Eldredge, he referred to two areas that interrupt us often on the way to the deep places with Christ. One is what he calls the “shallow lands” known as the distractions bombarding us from moment to moment from dozens of sources. It’s the “white noise” we hardly even notice any more that shows up with our tendency to scan a page rather than read thoughtfully and reflect on the words we are reading. It’s that same stuff that causes us to listen to one another with only half an ear and find it difficult to attend for more than a few minutes to a message or the Bible in our laps. And when we do try to be with Him, we get into our routines and miss the intimacy with Him we long for.

Recently as I was having my devotional time with Him, I sensed Christ nudging me to lay down my journal and the Bible and pen as the Holy Spirit whispered, “Sit with me.” It seemed so unproductive, but clear that this wasn’t about praying or reading but rather just being in his presence, still before and with Him. How hard it can be to quiet my heart and just allow His presence to refresh and renew and repurpose my time. Yet that was how so many hours were spent by his disciples when Christ walked the earth. Study and reading the Bible is crucial to our foundation and praying for ourselves and others is as well, but He invites us into a deeper relationship with Him if we will just take time to move out of the “shallow lands.”

Eldredge describes the “midlands” as those areas that the Gospel of Mark describes as “the cares of this life.” It’s that passage about the soil that represents our own hearts and ends in the verse that reads as follows:

“…but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.”

Mark 4:19 (NIV)

How easy it is for that to apply to any one or all of us and never more so than in recent years where the life we thought of as “normal” has been upended by shifting values, increased crime and fear for safety, a pandemic that sought to destroy us and an uptick in other numerous illnesses and things that shifted us away from our dusty feet on the road to anxiety and fear that resisted our efforts to focus and still our hearts before Jesus.

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How much differently we can be readied for the things that come at us if we are first laying aside even the trappings we bring into our times alone with Him by simply doing what Brother Lawrence reminds us of in his epic book, The Practice of the Presence of God. Do we really practice being in his presence? What would we hear if we did?

“Do not be discouraged by the resistance you will encounter from your human nature; you must go against your human inclinations. Often, in the beginning, you will think that you are wasting time, but you must go on, be determined, and persevere in it until death, despite all the difficulties.” 

Brother Lawrence

That solitude with Christ points us to the purpose of that day, our call, and the passion to move into it with a keen awareness of Him with us no matter what “the shallows” or “the midlands” throw at us. They remind us of what our focus is to be and after sitting with Him to get moving on that which He asks of us and be sure of what that is.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11: 28-29 (NIV)

“In order to form a habit of conversing with GOD continually, and referring all we do to Him, we must at first apply to Him with some diligence: but that after a little care we should find His love inwardly excite us to it without any difficulty.” 

Brother Lawrence

What happened after I took his request to “come sit with me”? Ah, that is for just the two of us, but the results were to be propelled into my day with a fresh awareness of Him and alertness to be drawn to focus where He directed my attention. Those are the times I not only hear the birds singing despite “the shallows” and “the midlands” but also drop a note to someone I just kept putting aside or pick up a bud vase to brighten the day of my doctor’s receptionist on a recent visit. I am not only in awe of Him but moving with Him. And those are the very BEST days!

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How Do We Respond to Evil?


One of the things that likely impacts how you and I respond to evil stems from how we define it. It can be easy in the current culture to call something or someone “evil” because we disagree with it or them or if it or they offend us. We need to consider our label carefully before we bandy it about as true.

Until we are clear on what evil is and its source, we will fall prey to its influence and our responses will be tepid, misguided, or absent.

Evil is defined as something that is “morally wrong or bad, immoral or wicked deeds, embodying or associated with the forces of the devil.” It is not an opinion or a preference. Scripture is undoubtedly the best source of clarification of when that label is appropriate.


Because evil is so reprehensible it would seem we should be able to call it for what it is and confront it for what it is. Yet history shows in every nation and culture we can be slow to do that very thing if it isn’t impacting us directly. It can almost appear we have accepted the inevitable since we know that until the Lord returns, and evil is judged once and for all that it will be present on the earth.

We may feel powerless in the face of it despite the power of the Holy Spirit within us if we are God’s children. Perhaps we tremble in fear. The key is whether we seek His counsel and direction at such a time.

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Two recent books I have read have brought evil sharply into focus. One focuses on the brave men and women in the Underground Railroad who risked death, fines, and imprisonment to help American slaves flee to Canada for freedom before the American Civil War. The other looks at men and women who risked similar consequences for trying to protect Jews less than a hundred years later.

Today despite our “instant” access to news we can forget nearly 215 million Christians face high persecution for their faith. We don’t hear much about that on the news and sometimes not in our churches.

When I consider how I might respond to evil I am drawn to the heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11 as well as others who responded with courage, wisdom, and discernment. Here are quotes from just a few of those who stood against evil.

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William Wilberforce faced evil head on and wrote these words:

“A private faith that does not act in the face of oppression is no faith at all.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer faced difficult choices without compromise when he wrote and spoke. Here is one of numerous examples:

“We must learn to regard people less in light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer.”


Elisabeth Elliot in the face of the grievous loss of her husband faced the evil that took him with love and forgiveness. Listen to her wisdom for us:

“We want to avoid suffering, death, sin, ashes. But we live in a world crushed and broken and torn, a world God Himself visited to redeem. We receive his poured-out life and being allowed the high privilege of suffering with Him, may then pour ourselves out for others.”

Solzhenitsyn left this powerful challenge to consider in The Gulag Archipelago:

“In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are replanting it, and it will rise up a thousandfold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers, we are not simply protecting their trivial old age, we are thereby ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations.”

How do we respond to evil?

We start by defining it for what it is and its true source and then seek the Lord for guidance on our response to it when we are faced with it. Above all, we must consider the words of Isaiah.

Isaiah admonishes us about the need to discern rightly what is evil and what is good:

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!”

Isaiah 5:20-21 (ESV)
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The Paris Dressmaker

If you visit my site often you are aware that I love a good book and enjoy historical novels. After delving into the story of Band of Sisters telling of the story of Smith College women who volunteered to go to France to help villagers being decimated during WW I, I was interested in other books that might give glimpses into how women we may never have heard of were involved in war time beyond official military service.

I discovered just such a story when I found The Paris Dressmaker by Kristy Cambron. The author weaves an absorbing story about true accounts of the way Parisiennes resisted the Nazi occupation during WW II. This story gives us a close-up view of two female characters who risked all they had and were to fight against the evil seeking to destroy them.

The structure of the story goes back and forth in time from 1939 to the liberation of Paris in August 1944 and the author successfully brings the two women’s stories to an intersection that reveals their character and strength. One quote pointing to this is:

“Above all things, our choice to remain faithful in the face of uncertainty is sacred to God and He will honor it in His time. Do not give up on God: He will hold you fast.”

Kristy Cambron

Who were these women whose lives unfold on the pages written by Kristy Cambron? One is Lila de Laurent, an haute couture dressmaker at the esteemed Maison Chanel fashion house. The onslaught of occupation brings down the worldwide fashion industry with even talented dressmakers struggling to find ways to survive amid rations, restrictions of all kinds, and the ongoing propaganda fomented by the Nazi regime.

As things continue to worsen, Lila is drawn to La Resistance and a friend from the past gives her entree into using her dressmaking skills and designs to create elaborate attire for the French women attached to the high-ranking Nazi officers housed in Hotel Ritz. Her access into this arena allows her to gain information to use with La Resistance, but her determination is ultimately strengthened when a man she had once loved arrives on the scene when her life is in peril. Learning of the peril facing his Jewish family heightens her determination to try to save them and others like them.

The second main character is named, Sandrine. Her father owned a bookshop that is torn apart by the Nazi’s for containing books that are banned. She and her young son, Henri, live with her parents after her husband, Christian, joins the French forces to fight for liberation. This family also struggles to survive the threats and occupation and Sandrine is ultimately ordered to help catalog the classic works of art being confiscated by the Nazi’s and sent to Berlin and the homes of high-ranking German officers such as Hermann Goring. Her education and experience with the books from her father’s shop give her the background for this task.

As Sandrine wonders about the fate of her husband, the German officers in charge of the project of stealing the art of Paris for their own notice her attractiveness. Soon she is being watched and escorted to and from work and is recruited to discover the work of La Resistance to not only catalog all the art treasures but also make and hide records of it in the hope of retrieving it one day. This action puts her at even greater risk and as the German Captain keeps coming to take her to work, neighbors begin to wonder if she is one of the French collaborators they have come to hate.

You won’t want to miss how the stories of these two women and those they work with unfold page-by-page and how one exquisite blush Chanel gown that conceals a cryptic message connects the lives of these two characters.

“We have a call to remember history as it was, to uncover the truth, to spotlight the savage consequences of sin, and to educated future generations so that these brutal mistakes might never be repeated. For the lives lost, for the lives lived, and for the lives yet to come…may we never forget.”

Kristy Cambron