Success Beyond What We Can Handle

I know many who long to make a mark in their field. I know writers who long to get that first contract and publish that first great novel. I know musicians who yearn to get noticed and get signed and get recorded. I know speakers who are convinced they could make their mark if only they could be invited to that first conference, deliver that first keynote, inspire that first audience. I know and admire many such people and often …

The Great Stores of God’s Provision

I recently read an account of one of the world’s most dangerous and demanding races. Over the course of a week, participants must run nearly 300 kilometers over scorching desert terrain. Once they set out, they are expected to remain mostly independent and to follow a track that has been staked across flatlands and dunes, dry river beds and infrequent oases. To ensure participants have the provisions they need, the race organizers leave stores of food, water, and medical supplies …

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We Must, We Can, Bloom for Him

Far down a desert road, far from the swarms of people crowding Bryce and Zion and the other big attractions, far from just about anything and anyone else, we pulled over and got out. Beneath us was parched ground, above us a vicious sky, before us a towering cactus. And there, under the dark clouds, there against the stark desert, there before the sharp thorns, we gazed at the bright beauty of gentle, precious flowers. We saw flowers in the …

We Cannot Be Faultless (But May Still Be Blameless)

A devotional writer from a bygone era believed it was crucial to carefully distinguish faultlessness from blamelessness, for while we cannot live faultlessly in this world, we may live blamelessly. Even the best deeds we do cannot be faultless when we ourselves are so very imperfect and when this world is so firmly arrayed against us. Yet we may still remain blameless before the Lord, even in light of our many imperfections. A fictional illustration may serve. Let’s suppose a …

Who Gave You The Right?

An old acquaintance used to say, with a bit of a sanctimonious grin, “God has given me the spiritual gift of discouragement.” And while discouragement was certainly no divine gift, it was most certainly a well-established pattern. He seemed to take delight in finding ways to rain on every parade, to temper every joy, to twist the knife in every wound. And for some reason he took pride in this as if it was a skill to practice, a virtue …

A Picture of Perfect Rest

A wealthy man, a patron of the arts, called three artists to his side and gave each of them a simple commission: “I want you to paint a picture titled ‘Rest.’” Away went the three men, each to his own studio to ponder the assignment, to rough up some initial sketches, to plan and paint his finest work. Months later the three returned to display their paintings. The first unveiled a landscape, a placid pool vividly reflecting the mountains that …

Settlers in the Land of Love

An old story tells of a settler who traveled from east to west, from lands that were settled to lands that were still unknown. Having grown weary of city living and having begun to crave wide-open spaces, he spent all he had on a vast but speculative parcel of land in the far-off territories. When springtime arrived, he sold his home, gathered his family, loaded his wagons, and traveled briskly westward, eager to see the property that was now his. …

I Miss My Son Today

I miss my son today. That goes without saying, I suppose, since I miss him every day. But on this day the pain is particularly sharp, the ache especially deep. I miss my friend, I miss my brother, I miss my protégé. I miss the son of my youth, the delight of my heart. I miss seeing him and hugging him, I miss teaching him and learning from him, I miss the sound of his voice and the cackle of …

The Touch

Some of the most stirring but also the most tragic images the Bible gives us are of great crowds surging toward Jesus so they could be healed. At a time when humanity had only the most basic knowledge of the human body and knew of only the most rudimentary medical treatments, there were always many who suffered constantly and grievously. Thus we can picture in our minds people covered in sores limping toward him, people who could not walk crawling …

Have You Tasted Heaven?

A touching story from long ago tells of a young boy who lived in the distant reaches of the vast Canadian prairies. His family was impoverished, and parents and children alike had to labor day and night to prove their homestead claim. There was little time for anything beyond work, little money for anything beyond the barest essentials. They lived a harsh, rugged, hand-to-mouth existence. A day came when that boy’s father dispatched him to town to fetch supplies, so …