Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Looking for more


I often experience, as I know many of you do, a conflict between what is, what has been, and what could be.

We are encouraged in Philippians to “be content whatever the circumstances.” And yet, for many years, I have prayed these verses, “God, I’ve heard what our ancestors say about you, and I’m stopped in my tracks, down on my knees. Do among us what you did among them. Work among us as you worked among them” (Habakkuk 3:2, Message).

I’ve been reading a biography of Aimee Semple McPherson. She was a controversial figure at times in the first half of the 1900’s, but even the biographer who was not of the Christian faith, made clear that so many of the works God did through her were well documented, undisputed, and long lasting—the salvations—the miraculous healings.

When I read of the hunger for God during that time with people lined up for hours to get in services, the picture contrasts sharply with the current struggle of churches today to even regain ground lost during the pandemic.

In these pages, I see the personal cost to those involved in the work of God, so that’s why one thing seems clear, in order for God to move mightily, He will require full surrender—nothing held back. Because if one is not fully surrendered, there would be an inability to endure the upheaval that a move of God brings.

In biographies of others used in a big way by the Lord, you see this surrender—John Wesley, George Whitfield, D.L. Moody, Billy Sunday, and in fact Aimee was often called the female Billy Sunday.

She came along about the time the Azusa Street revival was beginning, from which God also wrought many incredible works.

As I read, the longing in my heart for more increases. I ache to see God move in a great way to save and heal both in spirit and in body. But hunger needs to company with surrender. And so, we need to fully commit to the Lord so that we might be fitting vessels for whatever God would want to do through us and in us.

I know this post is more preachy than I usually am here, but it’s what’s heavy on my heart today.

A friend of ours used to say that I had a favorite phrase, and I will repeat that phrase here with a wistful longing for the more that only God can bring, “Who knows what the Lord will do?” Because you see, we can’t imagine the wonder God would bring if we would only give him our all.

So, here’s to being content, yet always looking for more in the Spirit. 

Beverly Varnado is the author of several small town romances from Anaiah Press including her latest, A Season for Everything. All are available at Amazon. A memoir, Faith in the Fashion District,  from Crosslink Publishing  is also available as well as her other books, Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees and Home to Currahee. She also has an Etsy Shop, Beverly Varnado Art. 

To explore the web version of One Ringing Bell, please visit bev-oneringingbell.blogspot.com

Beverly Varnado copyright 2022

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

When you can't imagine


Something happens, and it seems so random. Try as we might, we can’t connect to any good result.

And yet, God’s purposes which are at first veiled often yield an amazing effect.

A verse I had perhaps skimmed over in the past came into sharp relief for me this week.

In Galatians 4:13, we find these words, “As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you.”

No one knows what illness the writer, the apostle Paul, might have referred to or whether it was his “thorn in the flesh” he referenced in other places. As one Bible scholar offered, we don’t know if he came to Galatia to heal from an illness he already had or whether in his travels, he intended to just pass through, but was instead stricken with an infirmity that caused him to stay. In any event, Paul tells us it was the illness itself that brought him there and supplied him the opportunity to proclaim the good news of Jesus to the Galatians. And then because of his relationship with them, he continued to correspond with them to encourage and admonish.

We can draw a line from Paul’s illness to the writing of the letter to the Galatians included in our Bibles today. Who could have seen that coming?

I’d say that was quite an enduring outcome from an unexpected happening.

This verse also illustrates how God can use us in our own perceived weakness. In writing to the Corinthians, Paul said, “I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling.” He also shares these words the Lord spoke to him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). We cannot measure our strength by our feelings, but we allow our feelings of weakness to cause us to lean on the Lord. “For when I am weak, then I am strong,” he says. (Corinthians 12:10).

When I had breast cancer twenty-two years ago, the Lord prepared me for a difficult road ahead through many dreams I had. I wondered if God had done all of this why hadn’t he just healed me. After my diagnosis, a dear friend sent me these verses in Romans 5, “We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character, and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” I lived on these verses trusting that God was using what I was going through in unexpected ways. There was much that came out of that time, but one of those things was God launched me into my next chapter, which was writing.

So, if you’re facing your own version of an unexpected problem, take comfort in God’s ability to use it in ways you may not even be able to imagine.


Beverly Varnado is the author of several small town romances from Anaiah Press including her latest, A Season for Everything. All are available at Amazon. A memoir, Faith in the Fashion District,  from Crosslink Publishing  is also available as well as her other books, Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees and Home to Currahee. She also has an Etsy Shop, Beverly Varnado Art. 

To explore the web version of One Ringing Bell, please visit bev-oneringingbell.blogspot.com

Beverly Varnado copyright 2022

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Knowing the character


While plundering notes and journal entries for another book project, I came across a verse from Isaiah that had special significance years ago. When I searched my blog to see if I’d written on it before, I came across around fifty other posts from Isaiah but none from this passage. I decided to rectify that situation.

Here it is as I’d copied it down from the Classic edition of the Amplified Bible:

“And therefore, the Lord (earnestly) waits (expecting, looking, and longing) to be gracious to you and therefore He lifts Himself up, that He may have mercy on you and show loving kindness to you. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed (happy, fortitude, to be envied) are those who (earnestly) wait for Him, who expect and look and long for Him (for His victory, His favor, His love, His peace, His joy, and His matchless, unbroken companionship).” Isaiah 30:18

I love the amplified version because it gives us greater insight into the translation of several words.

And here for a more edited version in the NIV:

“Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore, he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!”

I had written this verse in my journal when we were dealing with a difficult thing in our family that could have had long lasting challenging consequences. It was months before we knew the outcome and during that time, we were leaning hard on the Lord. We knew that things don’t always turn out the way we want them too, but no matter what, we were confident God would be with us.

Still, we hoped for the outcome we wanted.

Sometimes, we can see God as tightfisted with his blessings—holding back. Doling them out incrementally as if somehow, He only has so much to give.

And yet, this verse tells us the complete opposite is true. God wants to bless. He longs to be gracious. He rises to show mercy and justice. These words also encourage us to wait as well as expect, look, and long for Him. And I’m so struck by the fact that Isaiah says we are blessed in our waiting as we look to Him. We are blessed in the process—in the between before the answer comes.

In our humanity, the between time is often filled with anxiety. In case you wondered, I’m talking to myself now. However, repeatedly, God has shown me that the waiting time is filled with wonder.

In the end, our situation resolved in the way we’d most desired. We were so grateful and still are. God did rise to show us mercy. But that would have been the case no matter what happened.

So, if you’re out there today wondering, faced with a foreboding challenge, try meditating on Isaiah 30:18. Let it go down deep in your heart, so that no matter the outcome, the character of God will be imprinted in your soul. 

For those of you receiving this by email, I apologize for the multiple posts that went out last week on the Blogger feed. I honestly don't know how that happened and have no control over it. Hopefully, it won't happen again. Blessings. 

Beverly Varnado is the author of several small town romances from Anaiah Press including her latest, A Season for Everything. All are available at Amazon. A memoir, Faith in the Fashion District,  from Crosslink Publishing  is also available as well as her other books, Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees and Home to Currahee. She also has an Etsy Shop, Beverly Varnado Art. 

To explore the web version of One Ringing Bell, please visit bev-oneringingbell.blogspot.com

Beverly Varnado copyright 2022

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

What it's time for

Last week, I read again God’s response to Job’s complaints in chapters 38-41.

Among God’s questions:

“Who shut up the sea behind doors . . . when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt?’”

“Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place . . .?"

“Have you entered the storehouses of snow . . .?”

“Can you loose Orion’s belt?”

 “Do you give the horse its strength . . . It laughs at fear, afraid of nothing . . . it cannot stand still when the trumpet sounds?”

“Does the hawk take flight by your wisdom?”

Humbled, Job responds in 40:4, “I am unworthy—how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth?”

The Message translates this verse a bit more bluntly, “I’m speechless, in awe—words fail me. I should never have opened my mouth. I’ve talked too much, way too much. I’m ready to shut up and listen.”

God is waiting for all of us to reach that point where we realize we’ve been too verbose and are ready to listen.

Of course, God wants to hear from us, but if on our part, it's all talk all the time and no listening, we miss the point. We would never be able to carry on a relationship with another person that way and neither can we with God.

We often complain about not hearing from God. Perhaps we’re not being attentive.

So, it's time to give give Job 38-41 another read and also time to turn our ears heavenward. Right there with you.

Beverly Varnado is the author of several small town romances from Anaiah Press including her latest, A Season for Everything. All are available at Amazon. A memoir, Faith in the Fashion District,  from Crosslink Publishing  is also available as well as her other books, Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees and Home to Currahee. She also has an Etsy Shop, Beverly Varnado Art. 

To explore the web version of One Ringing Bell, please visit bev-oneringingbell.blogspot.com

Beverly Varnado copyright 2022



Tuesday, May 31, 2022

The Blessing of Lament


The profound shock and grief suffered in Uvalde, Texas has spread across the country and to the world in a river of tears and sorrow. We find ourselves bowed over wrestling for words at the loss of these precious children and their teachers. As the days have gone on, more information only compounds our grief.

Mr. Webster defines lament as “a passionate expression of grief or sorrow.” As many have written, the church in recent times has not been all that great at lament. Often, we want to skip on past and paste a promise on the situation. But we see Biblical writers often turn to lament. In fact, almost forty percent of the Psalms are categorized this way. There is no short cut around grief and lament is part of the process. 

This tragedy is especially challenging when you're dealing with other losses. I found this true back in 2001 when my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer in late August, and then 911 unfolded in September. All the grief seemed to get tangled together, which I found others also experienced during a discussion with a hospice chaplain. 

I've found it a blessing to borrow scriptural utterances others have penned to give voice to deep sorrow. Perhaps, you will as well. 

When I went to the Psalms in my Bible, I found many laments underlined. A few are:

·  -- “Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth, I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (Psalm 61:1-2). The deaths of so many children make us feel as if we are at the end of the earth—somewhere desolate and forgotten. The pain causes us to wonder if our heart will stop, and we are amazed that it continues to beat at all. The Psalmist cries out to God to lead him to the rock. Our rock is Jesus, and oh, how we pray to have our quivering knees and stumbling feet planted in the immovable presence of who he is.

·    --“My soul is weary with sorrow, strengthen me according to your word” (Psalm 119:28). We are dragging around, and fatigue dogs our heels. Grief can make us want to assume an in-utero position. But the Psalmist points us to what will bring power and to that which cannot be lost which is God’s unchanging truth.

·    --“My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?’  Why are you downcast, O my soul: Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (Psalm 42:5). In these days, many have asked, “Where is your God?” The question of why God allows suffering, pain, and destruction has been addressed by greater minds that mine, so I will point you in the direction of C.S Lewis and The Problem of Pain. But even in the face of questions, we continue to hope and believe that our hearts will return to joy—that what happened on a Tuesday in Texas is not the final word. I don’t know how it will happen, but I continue to pray along with the Psalmist that we will “yet praise Him.”

It is from a book entirely given to lament, that we find a strong word of hope, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23).

As the earth completes one more rotation, we turn our grieving hearts to the One whose compassion is unparalleled and whose faithfulness is undaunted. We find the strength we need for that day and the same will be true for the day after that.

We continue in prayer for the families and friends of the dear ones lost in Uvalde, for the town, and for our country.

Lord, hear our cry.

Beverly Varnado is the author of several small town romances from Anaiah Press including her latest, A Season for Everything. All are available at Amazon. A memoir, Faith in the Fashion District,  from Crosslink Publishing  is also available as well as her other books, Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees and Home to Currahee. She also has an Etsy Shop, Beverly Varnado Art. 

To explore the web version of One Ringing Bell, please visit bev-oneringingbell.blogspot.com

Beverly Varnado copyright 2022  

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Into the Sky

A couple of months ago, I wrote a bit about a pair of hawks who had built a nest in the woods right behind our church.

We have had a front row seat to an amazing spectacle. I’m reminded that even lifelong outdoors people have not seen this kind of wonder. A friend reminded me that if the hawks had built even ten feet further into the woods, we would not have known they were there.

As the weeks went on, we continued to check out their activity. In time, even with the nest being more than fifty feet in the air, we began to see two downy heads peek over the edge. They seemed to eye us with the same interest as we had in viewing them. We tried to get shots with the equipment we had. Some of our pictures were fuzzy, but it didn’t matter. We were smitten.

                                                                                               photo B.Varnado


                                                           photo K. Walraven

 We watched them grow, and then in what was only about ten days, they went from looking like chicks to appearing as what they were, Red Tailed Hawks. Their feathers had come in and they perched on the edge of the nest surveying what would be their world. It seemed to me they were ready. Their mom and dad had done everything they could, but the hawks would have to believe those wings of theirs could carry them into the sky.

                                                                                             photo B. Varnado

We can sometimes be like those hawks. God has prepared us for what He has called us to do, but we hold back. We give various reasons for not spreading our wings—not good enough, not smart enough, not young enough, not old enough, not______ enough. Fill in the blank with your own reason of inadequacy. But if we’re honest, it’s that fear of falling that keeps us in the nest.

The Bible is replete with those who struggled in that way. Among them—Moses had a speech difficulty, Gideon felt not enough, the woman at the well had her past. But Moses led his people out of captivity, Gideon defeated a massive army with few men and resources, and the woman at the well overcame the stigma attached to her to tell others about Jesus.

Words that God spoke in encouragement to Gideon often echo in my spirit. “Go in the strength you have . . . “(Judges 6:14).

Never mind what you don’t have.

Focus on what you do have and go in that.

This past Sunday, we rushed to the back of the church to check on our hawks. The nest was empty. I admit that I felt sad to see them go. But somewhere beyond us, I imagined them sailing over the rolling pastures that surround our church, their feathers ruffling in the wind, their eyes roaming for their next meal, able to see a mouse at one hundred feet.

In the future, when we hear a hawk cry, we’ll always wonder if it is one of ours, but we’ll know they are living their best life, doing what they were created to do.

And we pray we will be doing the same.

Beverly Varnado is the author of several small town romances from Anaiah Press including her latest, A Season for Everything. All are available at Amazon. A memoir, Faith in the Fashion District,  from Crosslink Publishing  is also available as well as her other books, Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees and Home to Currahee. She also has an Etsy Shop, Beverly Varnado Art. 

To explore the web version of One Ringing Bell, please visit bev-oneringingbell.blogspot.com

Beverly Varnado copyright 2022 

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

When you need comfort

In my continuing eye surgery saga, as I recently faced my second cataract procedure, my anxiety amped up. Reasons were that because of a head trauma in the area of the left eye several years ago, medical professionals had warned me the surgery might not be possible. I was already rapidly losing sight in that eye—a process that would continue if left unchecked. This in addition to the issues I faced after the first surgery escalated my concern (wrote about those here).

Early the morning of the procedure, a friend texted me these words from Psalm 146:8 “The Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous.” In reflecting on the verse, I knew the verse could refer to spiritual sight as well as physical, but in this case, I was holding on to a literal interpretation. And yes, I had let concern weigh on me, bowing me over, so good to be reminded that God lifts that from us. As to the last part of the verse, none of us are righteous on our own, but God’s word states that we have the righteousness of Christ. He loves us not because of our deeds but because we are His—because of what He has done for us in Jesus. Comforting.

A few minutes later, before I left for the surgery, I read these encouraging words in Streams in the Desert, “. . . but you need not fear when your prayers and faith pile up; for after a while they will be like a flood, and will not only sweep the answer through, but will also bring some new accompanying blessing.” This procedure had certainly been prayed over. And when I picked up the Upper Room, the writer reflected on Jesus’ words in John 16:7  about going away and sending the Holy Spirit, “Jesus assured the disciples that they would not be left alone; the Holy Spirit would be their comforter during difficult times . . . to lessen our worry and to calm our fear.”

One of the verses in John Newton’s “Amazing Grace” is “The Lord has promised good to me, his word my hope secures. He will my strength and portion be as long as life endures.” That morning, God had promised good to me and secured my hope through his word. I left strengthened for what lay ahead.

Medicine for the procedure is supposed to produce what some call twilight sleep, but it never quite works for me, and I have fairly good recall of the event. As the surgery began, I listened for any indication from the doctor that there might be a problem, but none ever came and just as he had concluded his work, a song came on in the room, one from back in the day. I listened for a moment and couldn’t believe what it was—Johnny Nash’s “I Can See Clearly Now.”

“Wow, what timing for that song. Was that played deliberately?” I asked.

The doctor and nurses laughed as they said, “No.”

But you see, I believe it was done deliberately and divinely orchestrated. I can see clearly now echoes in my heart.

This experience reinforced what God has done a gazillion other times in my life—no matter what we face, God never leaves us alone, and gives us everything we need for any difficulty. And if things had gone other than they did, God would have given me grace for that path, as well. 

If you’re looking for comfort as you face a challenge, 2 Corinthians 1:3 tells us He is the God of all comfort. And to that fact, I am willing to testify.

Beverly Varnado is the author of several small town romances from Anaiah Press including her latest, A Season for Everything. All are available at Amazon. A memoir, Faith in the Fashion District,  from Crosslink Publishing  is also available as well as her other books, Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees and Home to Currahee. She also has an Etsy Shop, Beverly Varnado Art. 

To explore the web version of One Ringing Bell, please visit bev-oneringingbell.blogspot.com

Beverly Varnado copyright 2022

 

 

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

One Day at a Time


We said goodbye to a dear one recently—one that had suffered greatly in her lifetime, but somehow always managed to hold on to joy.

We never asked her how she was doing that she didn’t quote the title of the 1970’s Kris Kristofferson, Marijohn Wilkin song.

“One Day at a Time,” she’d respond.

When the song came out decades ago, the phrase, “One day at a time,” became cliché in the culture, but as the years went on, its usage began to fade.

But for our friend, it was never a cliché’—it’s how she lived. And I mean lived. Family explained that as an infant she faced life-threatening challenges, but by the grace of God, she survived. But her developmental process did not follow any expected path, so the stage was set for lifelong issues.

She responded to those issues by seizing each moment for joy and proclaiming Jesus at every opportunity.

She was adored by family and friends and left in her passing at close to ninety a legacy of perseverance amid great difficulties and the memory of a smile that would light up a room.

I was reading this week the Exodus story of the feeding of the Israelites after they had been delivered from Egypt. When the bread from heaven came down, they were instructed to only gather enough for one day except for the sixth day when they would gather enough for that day and the Sabbath.

The Israelites had trouble trusting God with this direction. It was quite a learning curve and not without derailments on their part. The reason for that is it takes a great faith to believe God for the duration of one rotation of the earth.

But our friend had that kind of faith. She believed through suffering that God would never let her down no matter how many rotations of the earth her life encompassed.

I’ll never hear the song, “One Day at a Time” or hear the phrase, that I don’t think of her. I’ll remember that these are words God intended for us to live by and that you can live an entire lifetime on them.

When troubles threaten to overwhelm, let’s whisper this phrase in prayer, “One day at a time,” and have the faith that God will grant us the grace to live them.

"Take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof" (Matthew 6:34).

Beverly Varnado is the author of several small town romances from Anaiah Press including her latest, A Season for Everything. All are available at Amazon. A memoir, Faith in the Fashion District,  from Crosslink Publishing  is also available as well as her other books, Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees and Home to Currahee. She also has an Etsy Shop, Beverly Varnado Art. 

To explore the web version of One Ringing Bell, please visit bev-oneringingbell.blogspot.com

Beverly Varnado copyright 2022


Tuesday, May 3, 2022

When you're still looking for a breakthrough

It was during an oboe solo at the Pops Concert last week that an idea came to me for a creative project—a concept I've not thought of before.

That’s how it works. One person’s creativity sparks the imagination of another. And it just goes on in ripples from there. The whole experience made me think of this post from a few years back. Happy creating, friends!!



Dear friend,


I know. You’ve worked a long time and you’ve tried to put in those 10,000 hours this man says you need in order to perfect your craft. You’ve lived on hope, and following a dream, and yet, up ahead, you only see more of the overgrown, and hard to navigate road that you’ve traveled so far. And you’re thinking, what difference does it make if I quit? What difference do I make?

Here, it’s important to remember those first few words in Genesis, “In the beginning, God created . . . “ You were created in the image of God, and you were created to create. Those gifts and talents are part of your DNA and by using them, you continue His artistry in the world. By the beauty of what you do, you make pliable the hard surfaces of life for others, you give people a place for their own emotions and feelings to resonate. “I’m not alone,” they think because of what you do, because of your honesty, and they find encouragement in the heartfelt renderings of your life.

God could have given us a soundless, black and white world, but He chose to give us one teaming with sensory beauty. In the same way, you spin delight with your offerings.



 
 



When we heard about the butterfly effect, we wondered, but he says it’s true Those butterfly wings flapping on the other side of the world can affect what happens on this side of the planet. The same is true for you. What you do not only affects you, and the people you touch, but the people they touch and on, and on in ripples ad infinitum. Your work matters in this generation, and the next, and the next, and the next. Truly, a “people yet unborn” may praise him because of your efforts today. And it’s not just the big things that matter, but the small things, too. Even those works unseen by others right now have import in ways we cannot imagine. Perhaps, tomorrow, in a dark recess half a world away, another finds hope because you persevered. 
When you are tempted to minimize the value of your efforts, remember, the God of the universe leans forward to take in your painting, your singing, your writing, and all your other talents and gifts. These were his idea, and He has chosen you. Sift critiques for what can make your work stronger and use them for transformation, but don’t allow rejections or negative comments to summarize the worth of your work. 
Do not confuse what you do with who you are. You belong to God, and you are highly esteemed. Your value is not wrapped up in what you do. And if you seemingly fail in your efforts, it does not mean you are a failure. Just use those detours as a segue for what comes next.

No matter the means of expression, whether you tool belts, fashion jewelry, design greeting cards, paint landscapes, write screenplays, novels, or devotions, pen lyrics, sculpt clay, construct tables, draw cartoons, play an instrument, develop lessons for adults or children, etch woodblocks, create culinary delights, or anything else where creativity is involved, "Let every detail in your lives, words, actions, whatever, be done in the name of the Master, Jesus . . . " (Colossians 3:17 The Message).

Let Him make His mark through you.

In a week or so, I start a new Bible study on Gideon. In preparation for that, a friend also in the study, sent me this scripture from Judges 6. "But God faced him (Gideon) directly: 'Go in this strength that is yours. Save Israel from Midian. Haven’t I just sent you?'” In the face of overwhelming odds, long lines of closed doors, and feelings of inadequacy, we go in the strength we have, even if it seems little, because God has called us. God has sent us. And God only knows how He will capitalize on our weaknesses as well as our strengths to fulfill His purpose.
Friends, be encouraged to continue. You are not alone. We are on this journey together. Don’t let discouragement shut up your heart.
Please know, in this dimly lit world, the shimmering jewel of your creativity shines forth and brings glory to Him, and He smiles.

Many blessings,

 

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

The outer fringe


An article released this month by the Natural History Museum in the UK, reported scientists have discovered the most distant object ever seen from earth. This possible galaxy is 13.3 billion years away. Additionally, this galaxy may be giving birth to stars at the rate of one hundred stars every year.

I was reading Job about the same time I read the article and had come to his response to his so called “friends” in chapter 26. He makes many declarations about God. Among them, “He spreads out the northern skies over empty space; he suspends the earth over nothing . . .. He covers the face of the full moon, spreading his clouds over it. He marks out the horizon on the face of the waters . . .. The pillars of the heavens quake, aghast at his rebuke . . . “

And then Job writes, “And these are but the outer fringe of his works . . . “

I’ve been thinking about “the outer fringe of his works” in relation to the new space discovery. When I visit the coastal shore as the tide is receding, small ebbs of water follow the tide out. These tiny laps of foam are hardly anything compared to the vastness of the Atlantic Ocean beyond which holds 187 quintillion gallons of water—quintillion with fifteen zeroes after it—a billion billions. Now, that’s a number that boggles the brain. It is almost incomprehensible. That is the best analogy I can devise to illustrate this new space discovery compared to the vastness of all God has done and is doing. And yet the analogy breaks down because the ocean still has a limit, and God is limitless.

All that we see and know is only “the outer fringe.”

When we are confronted with seemingly irresolvable problems, whether in the world beyond or in our personal lives, it’s good to reflect on God’s greatness. God and his works are vast and even more incomprehensible than a number with fifteen zeroes after it. And yet, he knows, he sees, even to numbering the hairs on our head (Matthew 10:30). In fact, we are so valuable to him, He calls us His children. “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God . . .” (John 1:12).

In these uncertain times, I find great comfort in this.

I hope you do, too.

Beverly Varnado is the author of several small town romances from Anaiah Press including her latest, A Season for Everything. All are available at Amazon. A memoir, Faith in the Fashion District,  from Crosslink Publishing  is also available as well as her other books, Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees and Home to Currahee. She also has an Etsy Shop, Beverly Varnado Art. 

To explore the web version of One Ringing Bell, please visit bev-oneringingbell.blogspot.com

Beverly Varnado copyright 2022

 

Friday, April 22, 2022

Grace and negative dysphotopsia

I have now joined the ranks of many my age in having my first cataract surgery. The surgery itself was without incident but I have developed a condition called negative dysphotopsia. It is a black arc in my peripheral vision. No one knows for sure what causes it—could have something to do with the new lens or the optic nerve. Hopefully, it will resolve in time, but it may be months before it does so. For those of you considering cataract surgery, this complication is rare. From what I can tell, the numbers are from one to fifteen percent of patients deal with it. I also have had flashing lights in that eye which is common but that has changed to pulsing which is irritated by fluorescent light even with sunglasses. Again, this should disappear after a time.

Knowing what I know now, would I still have the surgery? Oh, yes. My eyesight was failing at an alarming rate. Most people describe the transition after surgery as everything being brighter. For me, it’s as if the world was lit by a warm led before and very blurry, and then someone changed the bulb to a cool led, which brought with it great clarity. The doctor said the eye lens begins to yellow around age forty and it is replaced with a clear lens which would be in keeping of my perception of the color temperature change. It turns out the world is a much cooler place than I realized.

One article I read indicated that negative dysphotopsia led to great patient discomfort. Well, yeah. It’s something to get used to, for sure. It’s like having a border that never goes away around the eye. And yes, I know it could have been something much worse like a retina tear. 

Ragamuffin Gospel author, Brennan Manning wrote, “The conversion from mistrust to trust is a confident quest seeking the spiritual meaning of human existence. Grace abounds and walks around the edges of our everyday experience.”

When I read these words, I sensed God saying that grace is walking around the edges of my vision—that in the periphery, God’s divine influence is being exerted.

Maybe, you too have a borderland that seems disturbed, but keep in mind, God is at work. Grace is at work. 

So, we trust. I am thankful for my doctor and all the medical technology, because again, my eyesight was in a downward spiral. And now, at least out of one eye, I have a picture of the leaves on the trees again . . . and they already have a frame around them.

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

Beverly Varnado is the author of several small town romances from Anaiah Press including her latest, A Season for Everything. All are available at Amazon. A memoir, Faith in the Fashion District,  from Crosslink Publishing  is also available as well as her other books, Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees and Home to Currahee. She also has an Etsy Shop, Beverly Varnado Art. 

To explore the web version of One Ringing Bell, please visit bev-oneringingbell.blogspot.com

Beverly Varnado copyright 2022

 

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Where to build our nests

I’ve been getting ready for our Easter meal and toward that end, I’m making nests.

I decided to do a repeat of last year and pull out my mother’s Desert Rose china for Easter, but this year instead of using the white chocolate rabbits on the plates, I’m making nests of chow mein noodles, marshmallows, and butter.

Last Year's Table

While shaping these, I kept thinking of a quote in my book, Give My Love to the Chestnut, which was set on Saint Simons Island and included references to the vast marshes surrounding the island. The poet Sydney Lanier wrote, “As the marsh hen builds her nest on the watery sod, I will build me a nest on the greatness of God.”

This Holy week leading up to Easter is a time to think on the greatness of God, for it is God’s great purpose to save the world that culminates in Jesus’ resurrection on Easter morning. Revelation says Jesus was “slain from the foundation of the world.” From the beginning God had this plan.

Even this past week, I was reading in Genesis, and these words leaped out at me—when Jacob was blessing his sons, he came to Judah and said, “The scepter will not depart form Judah nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet until he to whom it belongs shall come and obedience of the nations shall be his”(Genesis 49:10). This, of course, refers to Jesus and it would take pages to note the additional Biblical references pointing to the Savior long before he made his appearance on earth.

So, when we speak of building our nests on the greatness of God, I believe it means we have to establish our foundations on the truth that God is everything. David once prayed, “Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all . . . “(I Chronicles 29:11).

This thought is echoed by Sydney Lanier who went on to say, “Like to the greatness of God is the greatness within the range of the marshes, the liberal marshes of Glynn.” Those vast marshes only hint at how big and how magnificent our God is.

It is humbling and should make us drop to our knees in praise and adoration.

Yes, I am building my little chow mein nests, but I am also thinking of my spiritual nest and being made into someone who can be used by this One who has sacrificed His only Son for me.

During this Holy week, I pray for each of us time to reflect on the greatness of God, and where we are building our nests,

May each of you have a blessed Easter.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Here’s a link for those little nests. 

Beverly Varnado is the author of several small town romances from Anaiah Press including her latest, A Season for Everything. All are available at Amazon. A memoir, Faith in the Fashion District,  from Crosslink Publishing  is also available as well as her other books, Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees and Home to Currahee. She also has an Etsy Shop, Beverly Varnado Art. 

To explore the web version of One Ringing Bell, please visit bev-oneringingbell.blogspot.com

Beverly Varnado copyright 2022

 

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