Friday, December 13, 2013

Peacefully Guided

In God's wisdom, our Sunday school class read Isaiah 55 last week. Reading from this Old Testament book of the Bible in the weeks leading up to Christmas is quite appropriate because so many passages foreshadow the coming of Christ.
Come, everyone who is thirsty, come to the waters; and you without money, come, buy, and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost! Why do you spend money on what is not food, and your wages on what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and you will enjoy the choicest of foods. Isaiah 55:1-3
Many think the goal of education is employment, or working for food that spoils. Jesus knew that life is more important for he said, "Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you" (John 6:26-27). What kind of work endures? As we head into a new year, we might want to take a breath from busyness and consider what work brings light and life into the lives of others.

Last Friday, we read Tennyson's "The Dying Swan," so today, we discussed our poem for recitation ("The Owl") before finishing the last chapter of our science book. One student wondered why Tennyson chose the word hay instead of grass. We ended up talking about the last word in each line and then came the "aha" moment for her. Then, we noted what Tennyson was trying to portray (the owl's view from the belfry). Another student added, "Owls can turn their heads all the way around"—implying how much of the world the bird could see while sitting still. I had not intended this for happen, but the section of the science book that we read included this quote,
Other aircraft are a danger as well. Turbulence from a helicopter can slam an ultralight to the ground. When an army helicopter cut in front of Mark south of Numidia, he had a few anxious moments before he knew he was safe. As for swans—they can hit the plane. Mark says, "You have to know where the birds are all the time and be ready to dodge every second. I need an owl’s head so I can turn to see directly behind me."
Everyone's eyes lit up. We were all amazed that an accidental pairing between poem and science book had happened twice in a row! Accident, or whisper from God?

Education is life. A mind awakened to beauty and truth in the world God created. A soul seeking His presence. A person who cares enough to ask, who longs to know.
Pay attention and come to Me; listen, so that you will live. Seek the Lord while He may be found; call to Him while He is near. Isaiah 55:6

In this busy season, we find it hard to pay attention and come to the Lord. Yet, the only way to live is to seek Him and pay attention. This habit is hard to come by in this screen-infested world. Getting outdoors and seeing what God created with His own voice is one way to practice the habit of attention, especially when we are quiet and still. Nearly everyone in our walking group passed this katydid without noticing it. The student who found it explained, "I just saw this tiny bit of green. Everything is so brown right now that green just pops!" She has been walking this trail for almost a year and a half, which helped her develop the habit of attention.

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways." [This is] the Lord's declaration. "For as heaven is higher than earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." For just as rain and snow fall from heaven, and do not return there without saturating the earth, and making it germinate and sprout, and providing seed to sow and food to eat, so My word that comes from My mouth will not return to Me empty, but it will accomplish what I please, and will prosper in what I send it [to do]. Isaiah 55:8-11
Some friends are facing a season of rain and snow because of heartbreaking challenges in life, due to no fault of their own, beyond their ability to change or control. The extreme and exhausting behaviors of puberty on top of autism. Sitting at the bedside of dear ones in the hospital. Waiting in the emergency room watching your child in pain. In the long winter nights of cold, hope is hard to see. God's ways and thoughts are hard to understand when things appear bleak. Somehow, even after tears saturate the earth, God provides and His will is done. Narnia will thaw; it always does. Spring is always around the bend, whether the bend is in this lifetime or the eternal one.

You will indeed go out with joy and be peacefully guided; the mountains and the hills will break into singing before you, and all the trees of the field will clap [their] hands. Instead of the thornbush, a cypress will come up, and instead of the brier, a myrtle will come up; it will make a name for the Lord as an everlasting sign that will not be destroyed. Isaiah 55:12-13

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