Another Great Awakening

The outbreak of COVID-19 brought great fear to our nation, and people have been praying for God’s deliverance. Now with the unrest, violence, destruction, and lawlessness in the last couple months, many people, including me, are crying out to God for another Great Awakening. We realize that only God is going to solve our problems. We have seen moves of God in the last 150 years but nothing to match the magnitude of the Second Great Awakening (1795-1835).

Many things have changed since that time in our nation. The population of the United States in the late 1700s through the early 1800s was only about 5.3 million as opposed to today’s population of about 328.2 million people. In 1800, the West was Kentucky, Tennessee and Ohio. This expanded greatly in 1803 with the Louisiana Purchase, but today’s west is California, Oregon and Washington.

In many ways, the spiritual tenor of our nation is similar to those times. The eastern states, especially New England, was plagued with spiritual apathy and the rise of groups that denied the basic tenets of the Bible. History records that many people living in wilds of Kentucky and Tennessee were lawless and had committed petty crimes or were fleeing prosecution for robbery, murder, and counterfeiting. One writer said, “It was a desperate state of society.” Pastors and church leaders in New England and the South lamented the nation’s spiritual ignorance. But God was moving to change the spiritual, cultural, and moral atmosphere of our nation.

Small revivals began to break out in the eastern seaboard and spread westward. Pastor James McGready saw a move of God in north-central North Carolina before he took the pastorate of three fledging congregations in southwestern Kentucky. His fiery preaching brought the worst of sinners to their knees in repentance before God. In June 1800, about 500 people from the three congregations gathered outside for a three-day “camp meeting.” (It would Screen Shot 2020-07-26 at 5.53.57 PMnot be called a camp meeting for about three years.) People earnestly sought God and cried out for mercy. When McGready held another camp meeting a month later, the crowd swelled to about 8,000. “McGready recalled: The power of God seemed to shake the whole assembly…Here awakening and converting work was to be found in every part of the multitude.”[1]

As desire for revival spread, other pastors planned camp meetings. Under the direction of Pastor Barton Stone, the camp meeting in August 1801 attracted as many as 25,000 people. The crowd was divided into smaller congregations with separate ministers preaching strong messages of repentance. People cried out in agony for their sins, asking God for mercy. “The rough, violent, irreligious frontier, which many felt threatened to undo the morals of the new nation, was being tamed by the Lamb of God.[2]

Throughout the early 1800s thousands of camp meetings were established in the United States to encourage the faithful and bring the lost to Christ. Thousands of people gathered in open fields and wooded areas to hear the gospel. One of the large Methodist campgrounds was in Martha’s Vineyard.

About 12 years ago, my daughter and I biked around Martha’s Vineyard. By the middle of the afternoon, we needed a break. After eating, she said, “Mom, I want to take you to some beautiful little houses about a block away.” We were chatting as we walked, but as soon as we entered the shady area, I said, “Where are we? I feel the Screen Shot 2020-07-27 at 4.47.14 PMPresence of the Lord.” (My eyes are filled with tears as I write this.) To my left were the beautiful Gingerbread Houses, as they came to be known, and in front of me was a large pavilion. I knew I was on hallowed ground. Something spiritually wonderful had taken place here. I learned this was the 34-acre Wesleyan Grove, established in 1835, where as many as 20,000 people gathered each summer for spiritual renewal. I was sensing the remnants of the Second Great Awakening.

We are praying for another great awakening. It won’t be like the previous one. Times are different. But wouldn’t it be thrilling to see 20,000 people gather in an open field, in a stadium, or in a park to cry out to God in repentance for His mercy? Once again God can change the spiritual, cultural, and moral atmosphere of our nation.

[1] -2 https://christianhistoryinstitute.org/magazine/article/return-of-the-spirit-second-great-awakening

 

Seeds of Kindness

About 18 years ago, a friend and I planted several ajuga plants in my front bed as ground cover around the shrubs. I anticipated the lovely purple/blue flowers that were to bloom each spring as a contrast with the greenery. The ajuga spread somewhat, but only a few plants bloomed.  I was disappointed. After waiting about 10 years with little success, I pulled them up and added mulch in the area. There was no evidence that I left even a partial root of the ajuga.

IMG_1638 How surprised I was this spring to see an ajuga plant poking through the mulch. I was even more surprised about a month later to see its stately bloom. What I assumed was absolutely dead had somehow come to life. I thought about the spiritual implications. Seeds of kindness and goodwill may not take root and bloom soon after they are planted. I also thought of the seeds of the gospel of Christ that we plant in people’s lives that may seem totally dormant for many years.

Solomon said, “Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again,” (Ecclesiastes 11:1). My study Bible says that this may refer to an Egyptian farmer scattering grain on his land flooded by the Nile River. The seed would disappear and seemingly be forgotten. As the land dried, some of the seed would begin to sprout and eventually the farmer would harvest grain. We never know if a small seed of kindness and love will be meaningful in someone’s life.

When my husband I were pastoring, we provided a bus that picked up children for Sunday School. Many times I would pat children on their heads as they came in the classroom. It was a simple form of touch that I thought nothing about. One day at a grocery store an elementary-age boy that I recognized from our bus ministry came up to me with his mother. He did not remember my name, but with a smile he said, “Mommy, this is the woman that pats my head each Sunday.” I had no idea that the small gesture meant anything to the child, but it did.

As we face this prolonged pandemic and deal with social discord and anger, sowing seeds of kindness is more important than ever. People are fearful and sometimes desperate. Even a small token of kindness may say volumes. A smile may diffuse anger; a kind word may bring hope. Muffins and soup left on the doorstep of a grieving family could bring great encouragement. A phone call or a card may brighten a person’s entire day. These simple actions let people know you care, that you’re interested in their well-being, and that they are significant.

Luke chapter 8 tells us that Jesus went from town to town “proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God,” healing the sick and casting out evil spirits. Not everyone accepted the message. Later he likened this to planting seeds. Some of the seed would fall on good ground and bear fruit, but other seed would fall on rocks or bad soil and would either not germinate or would grow up quickly and then die.

When we share the gospel—the good news—that all of us are sinners and that Christ died on the cross to bring salvation and eternal life to everyone (John 3:16), we are planting seeds. Not everyone will accept the message. For some, it may take years for that seed to grow. Another person may need to explain the message further, or it simply may take time for the message to take root in a person’s life.

Our job as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ is to sow seeds of kindness and love as we are sharing the gospel. We do not know if that seed will germinate and grow quickly or, just like my ajuga, be dormant for years before it begins to sprout and become something lovely.

A Joyful Celebration

Several years ago, I had the privilege of spending Palm Sunday in a country that follows the Julian calendar, so it was Easter Sunday here in the US, since we follow the Gregorian calendar. The sounds and images of that day are indelibly fixed in my mind.

More than 1,500 people gathered in and around that church, which in our nation would house about 350 people. In the lower auditorium men filled the pews on the right-hand side. They stood back-to-back and shoulder-to-shoulder on the right and center aisles. The women satScreen Shot 2020-04-11 at 5.30.44 PM on the left and crowded in the left aisle and front. The small balcony was packed with men and women sitting and standing together. Even the pianist and pastor on the small platform had very little room. Worshippers crowded outside around the open windows on both sides and in the street in front of the church.

The people celebrated with waving of palms and exuberant music. Although I didn’t understand their language, I had no problem sensing the earnestness and joy of their singing and worship. Awesome! I recognized a couple of the songs by the melodies and joined in singing in English.

This was not in a country that enjoys religious liberty or freedom in worship. Christians there are not esteemed but are at times considered as outcasts and are often refused jobs and positions of status. For many of these believers, accepting Christ as Savior meant rejection from family and friends. It was evident on that Palm Sunday that they did not regret the suffering and shunning. Their dedication reminds me today of the Apostle Paul’s words in Philippians 3:8: “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.”

As we are isolated from each other this weekend Screen Shot 2020-04-11 at 5.15.34 PMand are celebrating the resurrection of Christ in our homes because of COVID-19, may we be grateful for the privileges we have to worship in freedom. May this time of prayer and praise alone remind us that many believers around the world meet in small groups weekly to avoid identity and prosecution. Our Easter celebration may be vastly different this year, but we can still joyfully celebrate our risen Lord.

As believers in the Early Church said, “He is risen. He is risen indeed.”

COVID-19 and Loneliness

My neighborhood seems eerily quiet for a Thursday afternoon. I hear no hum of mowers, none of the usual noise from my neighbor’s workshop, or laughter from the children next door. The normal flow of traffic has trickled to an occasional car. Only my windchimes break the silence. For many of us, life as we once knew it has come to a screeching halt as COVID-19 continues to plague our nation. With limited work, travel, shopping, and even communication with family and friends, this can be an extremely lonely time for us as widows.

Even though we have smart phones and computers and can Facetime, text or call, we may feel isolated and disconnected. Our previously busy lifestyles that included daily interaction with others is no longer possible. Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said, “The impact of social isolation and loneliness on longevity equals that of smoking 15 cigarettes a day and exceeds the risks associated with obesity, excessive Screen Shot 2020-04-02 at 9.51.59 PMalcohol consumption and lack of exercise.” Alarming!

Dr. Caroline Leaf, a communication pathologist and cognitive neuroscientist says, “For individuals facing difficulties in their lives (i.e. everyone), isolation can be lethal. … Supportive relationships allow us to persevere through hard times.”

As widows, we have personal experience with the effects of loneliness and loss of relationship. We don’t need a COVID-19 psychology specialist or counselor to explain to us the symptoms of loneliness. We know what it’s like to walk into an empty house and hear absolute silence. It’s frightening when we first realize we’re alone. Even the sounds of the ice maker seem strange. One time I awakened by what I thought was frightening noises and soon learned it was my growling stomach. All of us as widows have experienced something similar. We have walked through or are learning to deal with all the changes that widowhood brings.

I don’t want to forget some of you who are young widows with children and are the sole breadwinner. Possibly you are without your bi-weekly paycheck and wondering how you will buy groceries. Maybe you’re trying to work from home while three children clamor for your attention or seek help with their online schoolwork.  While others are lonely, you would like to have just one minute of peace. I hear you. But you too may be feeling lonely. No one is there to help you bear your burdens, have an adult conversation, or encourage you by a gentle touch or kiss. Loneliness may be your companion too.

How can we deal with this new normal? How can we help others or show how much we care while practicing social distancing?  These suggestions may not apply to everyone, but possibly one or two can help.

  • Plan your day’s schedule so you feel you’ve accomplished something. (This article was on my list today.)
  • Include extended times for prayer and Bible study.
  • Participate in your church online services and times of devotion.
  • Study what the Bible says about plagues and global pandemics. Here’s a link from Joel Rosenberg, author and speaker:

https://www.joshuafund.com/learn/news-article/what_does_the_bible_teach_about_pestilence_plagues_and_global_pandemics

  • Stay in touch with family and friends through technology.
  • Make a list of people to check on.
  • Include exercise in your daily routine.
  • Plan fun activities with the children, i.e. cookie or candy making, craft projects.
  • Tackle projects you have been putting off.
  • Take a virtual online trip to a vacation spot, museum, or nation. Even the children would like this.
  • Watch a movie together.
  • Start your spring cleaning. (This sounds like too much work.)
  • Access an online course of something you would like to learn.
  • Screen Shot 2020-04-02 at 9.48.48 PMSet aside time for Sabboth rest.

Life is certainly different now, but we can stay in touch and keep our minds active. Isaiah 26:3 has been a significant verse to me since young adulthood: “You (God) keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”

Prayer for Times of Crisis

I was greatly encouraged when I saw a February 26 photo of the Coronavirus Task Force opening their daily meeting in prayer. Many people, however, criticized the group for participating in such an “ignorant superstition.”  The media were especially brutal in reporting the negative reactions. One person said, “Vice President Pence thinks the virus will magically go away with prayer.” A prominent TV personality even criticized Pence’s appointment as head of the Coronavirus Task Force. The woman quipped, “He doesn’t believe in science. Why was he appointed?” She surmised that people who believe in prayer dismiss science and are inadequate leaders in a time of crisis.

As imperfect and limited human beings, we must recognize our utter dependence on God, especially when circumstances are against us. He alone is “our refuge and strength, a present help in time of trouble” (Psalm 46:1). Prayer is our daily communication with Him. We have the privilege of sharing our deepest concerns without rScreen Shot 2020-03-06 at 7.51.20 AMidicule or accusations. But we also believe that God gives wisdom to doctors, researchers, and scientists.  When we need a physical miracle, we consult God first and then ask God to lead us to a good physician who can answer our questions and help us explore a solution.

In some instances, we have little or no control over a situation, and only God can resolve the issue. This was true for Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah. In 2 Chronicles 20, we are told that men came to the king to report that a great army of Moabites and Ammonites were coming to destroy Jerusalem. Since he was a righteous man, the king called for the people to pray and fast. In his public prayer, Jehoshaphat acknowledged God’s sovereignty and reminded God of His promises to the nation. Then he confessed their helplessness: “O our God…we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you” (2 Chronicles 20:12). After a time of praise and worship the people returned to their homes.

So, did God help Jehoshaphat? Absolutely! The next day, the king appointed worship leaders to go before the army. While they were on their way to the battlefield, the Moabites and Ammonites began to fight each other. By the time Judah’s army arrived, they found only dead bodies. God had taken care of their problem.

Whether it’s a national crisis like the Coronavirus or a personal crisis, we have the privilege of crying out to God as Jehoshaphat did: We don’t know what to do, Lord, but we are looking to You for answers. Give us wisdom. Lead us in the right path. Show us what to do.

If you are in the middle of a personal crisis, tell God that you’re helpless and ask for His intervention. He does have answers. Prayer and praise are powerful weapons against anything that confronts us.

Trusting God for 2020

“I tell you, do not worry about your life.”

The hustle of the holidays is over. We’ve made our New Year’s resolutions (and broken one or two already), and winter’s cold days have arrived.  As I watched yesterday’s snow, I couldn’t help but smile. The birds at my feeders were having a wonderful time. Male and female cardinals, tufted titmice, snowbirds, a woodpecker or two, yellow and red finches, and even a dove shared the bounty.DSC_0596

In thinking about this, I was reminded of a Scripture from the Sermon on the Mount: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life…” (Matthew 6:25). In the next verse, Jesus talks about the birds and how God provides for them. But he also asked the people a question: “Are you not much more valuable than [the birds].”

I must admit that I’ve done my share of worrying, especially as a widow. How is that bill be paid? Why did that have to break? When is that problem going to be solved? How long will this last? Why did that happen? Jesus tells me that worry is not profitable: “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (v. 27). In the same chapter, Jesus talks about the flowers of the field (vs. 28-34). Since they are clothed more beautifully than Solomon, we shouldn’t worry about clothing.

With all the problems that widows face, how can we stop worrying? It’s certainly not easy. Sometimes it seems to me that the more I try to stop worrying, the more I worry.

Jesus gives us answers to help us stop our endless cycle of worry. He tells us that faith is important (v. 30). The writer of Hebrew describes faith as “being sure of what we hope for and certainly of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). When we lay a problem before the Lord in prayer, we must believe that God has heard us and that He is going to take care of it.

Jesus also told the people that day that God knows our needs (v. 32). With about 7.7 billion people in the world, it’s difficult for us to believe that God knows us personally and our needs are important to Him. But Jesus also said that even a sparrow doesn’t fall to the ground without the Father knowing (Matthew 10:29).

God’s knowledge is vast—more than we can fathom. He knows our needs and wants to supply them. Our Milky Way has at least 100 billion stars. The Psalmist David tells us that God has numbered and named the stars (Psalm 147:4). If He has done this, certainly He knows my needs and can provide them.

Jesus reminds us that we are to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you” (v. 33). What does this mean? Jesus was asking the people to focus on a relationship with God through prayer, worship, and reading of His Word. While food, clothing, and shelter are important, these things do not ultimately satisfy. Only our relationship with the Living God has eternal value.

God’s Word tells me that I can trust Him. He feeds the birds and gives beauty to the flowers, He can definitely meet all of my needs this coming year.

 

 

 

The Grief Process

Recently when chatting with a friend about her grief journey, I was reminded again how very differently each of us process grief. Some widows go through the stages quite systematically; others drift in and out of each stage many times. A few widows I’ve known pass through one stage quickly but take months, even years, to process a different stage. I believe, however, that most of us pass through grief spasmodically. We think we have processed our pain, but months later we realize we have not dealt with a certain phase quite as well as we thought.

DSC_0422.jpgThe stages of grief—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance—have been studied and written about for nearly four decades. Now David Kessler, an authority on grief, and famed psychiatrist Elizabeth Kuber-Ross are including a sixth stage—finding meaning—in their new book, which will be released this September. The book will share the benefits of remembering our spouse with more love than pain. I’m sure it will help us to understand the grief process more.

It’s important to continue learning about the ways grief affects us, but it’s also beneficial to share with other widows our grief journeys. This helps to solidify the progress we’ve made, and at the same time encourages other widows to be transparent about their challenges.

While I was taking courses on counseling about 10 years before my husband’s death, the professor told me that I had already been dealing with the grief process. He was right, although I had not realized it. At the time Tony was coping with end-stage renal disease. He lived longer than doctors thought possible, but the diagnosis was terminal.

After his death I was certain I was ready for the acceptance stage. He had been ill for many years; hadn’t I dealt with denial, anger, and bargaining? Now it was time to build a new life and forget the past pain. But I was wrong! A friend was honest enough to tell me that I had not dealt with many phases of Tony’s illness and death. We had been a young married couple with two children under age three when he becamDSC_0436.jpge sick, and his illness radically changed our present and our future. In many ways, I had denied my emotional pain while dealing with his physical challenges. This helped me survive all of those years of struggle, but now the pain had to be faced.

I had to deal with the deep disappointment of what could have been had Tony been healthy. Other widows must confront challenges they perceive only occurred because their husbands died young. One widow shared with me, “I stood at his gravesite years after his death and said, ‘I’m angry. This would not have happened if you had been here to help me.’”

Depression, considered the fourth stage of grief, is overwhelming for some widows. A sense of helplessness, emptiness, loneliness, and loss of control often accompany or define this phase. Life is meaningless; the bed is empty; the house seems too large. Cooking and then eating alone are grueling. A widow said, “I can’t eat by myself at a restaurant. Everyone is looking at me with pity.” This probably was not true, but this was how she felt, and those emotions are valid.

I can’t think of anyone who expresses grief better than the Psalmist David. He cried out, “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day?” (Psalm 13:1). In Psalm 71, David tells us he had seen many bitter troubles. But David also declared, “He [God] heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm147:3).

This grief process is arduous, but God will see us through each stage regardless of the time it takes us to process every hurt, every disappointment, every angry feeling, every sorrow, or each lonely moment.

No One To Talk To

A widow friend shared with me yesterday that she desperately misses having conversations with her husband. I knew him as an intelligent man, who listened carefully to others and spoke with wisdom. So I could certainly understand her heartache. “Sharing with friends is good, but they are not always around,” she said. I agreed with her. Our husbands were companions with whom we could discuss ideas or air those “just thinking” moments that were even off the wall. We might get a raised eyebrow, a teasin630-01877515en_Masterfile.jpgg comment, or comical laugh, but they were listening even at the most inopportune moments.

My friends are fabulous; our conversations are uplifting, encouraging, insightful. I sincerely appreciate every one of them and don’t know what I would do without them. But I don’t make breakfast on Saturday morning in my pjs with them while we discuss the national news. I don’t invite them to my home, ask them to bring a book or a magazine to read while I also enjoy reading and just feel comfortable in their presence without a word passing between us. As much as we love and trust our friends, sometimes it’s not even appropriate to share personal family details or our children’s needs that we would have shared with our husbands.

I’m not sure I would describe this part of widowhood as loneliness, but it’s certainly a new state of being with different parameters, guidelines, and limitations. The adjustments seem to magnify our loss.

So what do we do? How do we compensate?

I know no other answer than to ask the Lord to fill those empty holes in our lives and help us to be content in this new state. This does not come overnight or without mistakes. Many years ago as a new widow, I expected too much from a friend and almost lost that relationship.

Talk to the Lord as a friend about everything. You don’t need to be concerned about framing your words properly or using just the right phrase. Tell Him if you’re angry or disappointed. Share with Him your questions, concerns, sadness, joys, and achievements. Then listen for His response, His answer, His still, small voice. He may guide you to a particular Scripture or bring to your mind one that you have memorized. This may sound crazy to you, but after going through an especially difficult time of struggle, I sensed the Holy Spirit saying, I’m proud of you. During a different challenging time, I sensed the Lord saying, Do you trust Me? The Lord does know how to speak to us.

I cannot explain how the God of the Universe can listen to each of us as we pour out our hearts to Him. But His abilities are beyond our comprehension. As Scripture teaches us, He is the all-powerful, all-knowing God, full of wisdom and understanding. He knows our needs even before we ask. Bringing our concerns to Him does not deplete or frustrate Him, or drain His energy. We honor Him though our constant conversations with Him.

I’ve been reminded lately of that wonderful Scripture in Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your on understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

HAPPY MOTHER’S Day

This is my first Mother’s Day without a mother. Possibly the same is true for you, and you’ve been thinking about the life principles she taught you and how she influenced your thinking. Maybe you’re like one of my friends who said she sees her mother every time she looks in a mirror. That’s certainly true for me. Sometimes I’m amazed when my actions resemble hers. I wonder how that is possible since I did not live near her after my college days.

Both of my parents were strong Christians and taught my siblingScreen Shot 2019-05-11 at 12.07.21 PM.pngs and me the importance of God’s Word and the church. Both were musicians and gave us an appreciation for music. But my sisters and I agree that Mom gave us a love for cooking, nice clothes, flowers, and books. We miss her and still honor her in our thoughts. But since dementia marred her last few years, we are glad she is in heaven and completely well.

For some of you, this annual day of celebration may be difficult because your mother was abusive, emotionally or physically ill, or simply not a positive role model. You could never seemingly please her or sensed you were more of a burden than a joy. Her negative words instilled a sense of shame and worthlessness. Now as an adult, you find it difficult to think about honoring her. Even joining others to remember their mothers stirs up feelings of anger, guilt, isolation and sadness—feelings of I don’t belong at this celebration.

Although you have been greatly hurt, forgiveness toward your mother is essential. You do not have to pretend she was good or excuse her bad behavior, but for your emotional, mental, and spiritual health, forgiveness is the only way toward wholeness. Dr. Richard Dobbins, a Christian psychologist, said, “The forgiving process is like peeling an onion. The layers come off one at a time and you cry a lot.” This difficult task may take months, even years, but it’s worth the effort.

One widow friend has never had children; another friend’s only child died at birth; and another is experiencing the pain of both widowhood and estrangement from her children. While these precious women celebrate for others, Mother’s Day for them reminds them of unfulfilled dreams, disappointments, and regret. We muScreen Shot 2019-05-11 at 12.04.00 PM.pngst acknowledge that this day does not bring joy for everyone.

Whatever Mother’s Day represents for you—whether you feel honored or neglected, remember that God looks at you as His child, and He has always had a good plan for your life (Jeremiah 29:11). You are accepted and treasured, not because you are beautiful, wealthy, brilliant, or talented, and not even because you are a mother. You are valued because you are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). You are blessed, chosen, and adopted into His family through the death and resurrection of Christ (Ephesians 1:3-9).

May this Mother’s Day bring you joy in knowing that God loves you and that you are His treasure (I John 3:1a).

 

Spring Musings

This past Saturday morning I heard what seemed like something tapping on the side of my home. I soon discovered that a major building project was in progress. The robins were making a nest over the lamp at my back door. The bird’s wings and feet generated the noise as the female carefully constructed a round nest of twigs, mud, grasses and even pieces of cloth and string to prepare for the eggs.

The robins have chosen the protection of the eaves of my home and warmth of the light for two years. When I examined last year’s project after the birds left, I realized how amazing it was. Where did the robins get a blueprint for the intricate project? Who taught the birds how to construct the nest? Where did they find the pieces of string and small cloth strips that protected the eggs from the sharp edges of the twigs?

Screen Shot 2019-04-01 at 6.11.59 PMOf course, the Internet had some interesting information. I learned that, although the male robin helps to collect the materials, the female robin weaves together most of the 350 twigs and grasses that are about 6 inches long. These are held together with hundreds of beakfuls of mud. What a construction project! The birds did not attend college classes on architecture. They can’t read a blueprint or write a “how to” manual for the next generation of robins either. I knew that only our Creator God gave the birds this instinctive ability.

I was reminded of two Scriptures as I thought about the birds’ project. The one is very familiar. Matthew quotes Jesus as saying, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:29-31). At Creation, God gave those small robins unique construction abilities and the capacity to know the right place to build. Why? Simply because He created them and cares for them. We too are God’s creation, and His care for us as widows far exceeds His concern for the robins. If He provides food and a place of shelter and safety for them, certainly He will do that for us.

The second Scripture is from Hebrews. The writer quoted Jeremiah when he said, “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds,” (Hebrews 10:16 and Jeremiah 31:33). Jeremiah was saying that a day would be coming when God’s laws would not simply be written on a stone or a scroll, but God’s Word would be within us. The unknown writer of Hebrews is telling us that the day has arrived. Through accepting Christ as our Savior and then developing a relationship with God through His Word, the Holy Spirit can speak to us.

Right now you’re probably thinking, How do those Scriptures have anything to do with the birds? Well, I believe God’s Word can be in us as instinctive as the robins innately build their nests. If we study and memorize God’s Word, the Holy Spirit can bring to our minds those promises that God has given us. When we face difficulties—andScreen Shot 2019-04-01 at 6.24.58 PM as widows we face many, Scriptures that give us direction, strength, help, wisdom, courage, and even protection will come to our minds to replace fear, worry, doubt, and anxiety.

When we see birds’ nests this year, I hope we can remember God’s great care and how much He desires to meet our needs. May we desire to know God’s Word and claim His promises to carry us through our challenging days.