Friday, October 29, 2004

LIVING AT PEACE


Cameron and Merci


Living at Peace
by Janice Price


"Have you considered buying a harness and a leash for your kitten?" I asked Jody recently. "Cameron is determined to follow Merci across the street and walk with us."

Merci has been cultivating a friendly relationship with Cameron ever since Bobbie and her kittens were moved from inside the neighbors’ house to their front porch. The other kittens have been adopted and Merci is finally accepting that her other friends, fluffy Kade and the black bob-tailed kitten, aren’t coming back.

Yesterday morning Cameron was hiding under a bush and this time he was determined to accompany us up the road. Nothing could dissuade him. As usual, I carried him home and tried to divert his attention, but within a few steps, he was underfoot again.

Cameron finally won the battle of the walk. He trotted proudly between us, as close to Merci as he could get without being trampled under her feet. We had a shorter walk than we usually would, but Merci didn’t seem to mind. When we reached our own block, they began to play together.

Cameron sat on the sidewalk, staring at the house, after we came inside. He looked so lonely I tied Merci outside to keep him company. He played with her chain, rubbed against her legs and eventually curled up next to her on the porch. As strange as it might seem, Cameron considers Merci his friend.

I watched them through the screen door, thinking about how children and animals can so often show us how to apply a Biblical principle without any conscious thought of what they are doing.

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (Romans 12:18 NKJV)

Merci has a strong desire to meet and greet other animals. She lives at peace with the cats in her own home and she tries to make peace with all the cats she sees on our walks. They aren’t usually receptive to this but on a few occasions a cat has followed us for a short distance.

Merci the dog and Cameron the kitten don’t appear to have much in common, but that hasn’t stopped them from being kind to one another and sharing some time together. They presented a picture of serene camaraderie as they sat on the porch steps yesterday and watched the passing cars.

Friends give each other the space to be individuals, just as the canine Merci and the feline Cameron overlook their differences and concentrate on what they can share. This is an important aspect of learning to live at peace.

The two are enjoying a drizzly morning on the front porch again today. Cameron was waiting on the sidewalk for us, and although we walked the same distance today, he stopped when we turned around. Merci tried to encourage him to keep up but he seemed tired, so I picked him up and carried him home. He purred all the way.

As I watch these "enemies" of the animal kingdom living at peace with each other, I recognize that while they are doing what comes naturally to each of them, this doesn’t come naturally to human beings. We are naturally proud, self-centered, greedy, and selfish, but God’s Spirit can change our nature so that we, too, can learn to live at peace with others.

© 2004 Janice Price
mercyandpercy@yahoo.com
www.mercyandpercy.com

Saturday, October 23, 2004

TRUST NOT IN A CELL PHONE

Trust not in a Cell Phone
by Janice Price

Jane is leaning forward, one arm resting on the back of the empty chair in front of her. The other arm is gesturing as she talks. She leans too far forward and suddenly she disappears from sight. The domino effect takes over and chairs overturn. Two or three men leap to her rescue. She reappears, unhurt and laughing, and continues talking.

In normal circumstances, I have empathy for embarrassing moments such as this one. This time I laugh, not at Jane’s sudden drop, but at the unexpected mental image of my mother’s shock and disbelief as she slid out of her wheelchair several evenings earlier.

She wasn’t clumsy. She was trying a full-chair cushion in her wheelchair to keep her warm. It’s thickness forced her to sit a little higher and a bit forward. Evidently, it was also a bit slippery because when she reached for something, she slid off the cushion.

I wasn’t laughing when I heard about it. I was terrified she was injured. She held onto her cordless telephone as she fell and called my brother to lift her off the floor. I was relieved when he called to let me know she was okay. Then I went into panic mode.

First, I thought I should get a second telephone line in case Mother needs to reach me while I am on the Internet. No, it will be easier to get a cell phone, I decided, in case I’m not home if she has an emergency. But I can’t afford either option. What should I do?

Trust me. There was that inner voice, the one that brings peace and resolution in times of unbalanced thinking. The voice of reason reminding me that God is aware of all aspects of any problem and there is a point where we have to let go and allow him to work it out for everyone’s benefit. A cell phone is not the solution.

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. If you make the Most High your dwelling –even the LORD, who is my refuge – then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. “Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.” Psalm 91: 4, 9-12, 14 (NIV)

I am human and I have limitations. I can’t watch over Mother 24/7. Cell phones have limitations also. Too often they are out of range of a transmitter in this area, as well as in other areas. But Psalm 121:3 (NIV) tells us, He will not let your foot slip – he who watches over you will not slumber.

God’s reminder that Mother is in his capable hands gives me comfort. As Jane slid out of her folding chair and I envisioned Mother sliding out of her wheelchair, I was able to laugh because I was at peace with trusting him.

© 2004 Janice Price
mercyandpercy@yahoo.com
www.mercyandpercy.com

BE STILL

Be Still
by Janice Price

Periodically, I need to be still before God. It helps me to reconnect with Him on a deeper level than can be sustained when my days are full and I have deadlines to meet.

I have always been a low energy person who desires to live a high-energy lifestyle. I have envied those who can keep going, and going, and going, like the Energizer Bunny. No diet, vitamins or exercise program has ever helped for more than a short period of time. Sooner or later, I “wind down” to where I can barely hold my head above my soup bowl and wait for my battery to be recharged. As the “winding down” process would progress, I would inevitably fall into a stage of depression. I never wanted to be “down”. I wanted to be accomplishing feats and going places.

Within the last year or two I have discovered that if I can “rest” during these down times, there is an up side to them. I need to rest my exhausted body and mind, whether I want to or not. I have no choice in this matter. But I can also choose to “rest” with God. I can stand on His promises, even as I lean on a chair for support. And I can wait on God’s Roadside Service to arrive with a battery charger to zap me back into the land of the living-and-not-just-existing.

Early this morning I sat on the front porch steps with a cup of hot coffee while I waited for the newspaper carrier. Instead of giving in to the desire to fall back into bed or onto the couch, I later stood by the back screen door and watched the family of chipmunks that lives underneath my house. I have been watching them for the past few days. There are four youngsters and they have obviously been well trained. If their mother is not around, they sit inside the rim of the main “door” to their home and bask in the sunshine. When their mother climbs out of the hole and stands guard in the tree above them or on the ground near them, they hesitantly venture forth. If she suddenly leaps and races across the yard, two shadows leap and race after her and two wait for their return.

It is her patient waiting that reminded me of God’s advice to me early this morning. Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10. She will sit on her haunches or stand on her hind legs for long periods without moving, but she is not sleeping. She is alert to every noise and movement in the vicinity of her babies. And as I watched her, I was reminded that the best times I spend with God are the quiet ones. He speaks in the stillness and I hear His voice clearly, as I did this morning while waiting for the newspaper. When I am rushed and frantic to remember and accomplish everything I should be doing, I often overlook His companionship and His words of wisdom and guidance.

This is a good time for spiritual contemplation and renewal. In due time, God will renew my physical strength and stamina and I will de-flea the cats after trimming their sharp claws, cut the thistle vines creeping across Mother’s front porch, and write my friend’s unique story. Until then, I need to rest on the advice God gave me today as I sat on the porch steps: Be still and know that I am God.

© 2004 Janice Price
mercyandpercy@yahoo.com
www.mercyandpercy.com

Friday, October 15, 2004

BETWEEN TWO DOORS


"Cinderella" Cyndi


Between Two Doors
by Janice Price

"Mew. Mew." I could hear the faint cry intermittently. What has that kitten gotten into this time, I wondered, but I was rushing to get to a meeting and didn’t check on her right away. I snapped a leash on Merci and hurried her out the front door. We walked around the house to the back yard. "Mew. Mew." The doors and windows were closed. Why could I still hear Cyndi’s tiny cries?

I turned and there she was. Spread-eagled against the screen, crying pitifully and hanging on by her claws as she pulled herself heavily up the screen door. She was inadvertently locked between the two doors when I took out the trash.

As sorry a sight as she was, I laughed. Now I know what Crystal looked like from the other side of the screen when he was locked between the same two doors. Only he’s a full-grown tomcat and there was barely room for him to stand. I don’t know how long he stood on tiptoe but ever since he moves quickly when the door starts to close.

But what struck me funny is that for one crazy moment I could see myself in that predicament -- trapped between two doors and unable to free myself. Later I realized that’s exactly where I am at present, trapped between two doors, awaiting rescue. I’ve done all I can humanly do about the circumstances and I've turned them over to God.

We have all been there. Hemmed in by circumstances beyond our control or sometimes of our own making, able to see there’s no one around to rescue us, but unable to go forward, back up or turn around. It’s a terrifying place to be, unless we have hope.

The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry. A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all. Psalm 34:15, 19 (NIV).

God once led the Israelites between two doors. He trapped them between the Red Sea before them and Pharaoh’s army behind them, and then he delivered them by parting the Red Sea.

David writes in Psalm 18:19b (NIV), (The Lord) rescued me because he delighted in me.

I opened a door for Cyndi, and I trust God will open a door for me.

© 2004 Janice Price
mercyandpercy@yahoo.com
www.mercyandpercy.com

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

FEAR GOD, NOT THE DELETE KEY


This key has no power.




Fear God, not the Delete Key
by Janice Price

I’ve been deleted. Well, not physically deleted, of course, and as far as I know, only by one person.

Delete is a well-used key on my computer keyboard. With the click of a button, I can wipe away all evidence of a mistake, whisk spam into oblivion, or edit as I write. No one need ever know I made a mistake or trashed a brilliant idea.

The delete key has no mind of its own. It responds to the pressure of a finger, even if accidentally applied. A dialogue box might ask politely, Are you serious or was this another finger spasm? Still, caution should be exercised, as some deletes are not salvageable.

Why was I deleted? I asked a question. Immediately and without warning, he programmed his email system to bounce my messages back with a notice he doesn’t exist, but the unspoken message is that, to him, I no longer exist. He deleted my name from his newsletter mailing list and his own name from my Mercy And Percy mailing list. I was systematically and thoroughly deleted, yet, I’m still alive and typing.

There are things in my life it would be convenient to delete. There are people I’ve been tried and tempted to delete and I know the reverse is true, that I’ve tried and tempted a few people who considered deleting me. But if we want to resolve these situations God’s way, we must learn to work through them with mercy and perseverance, or at least make the attempt. I’m thwarted in this instance since I can’t contact him.

As I reflect on this dramatic response to an innocent question, I am thankful God’s anger is not as hair-trigger as human anger often is. He is slow to anger (Psalm 145:8) and his anger is but for a moment (Psalm 30:5)

So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. James 1:19-20.

I’m still struggling to live this verse, too, so I don’t hold a grudge against the man who deleted me. Perhaps, in time, he will reconsider and we can be reconciled, but he’ll have to take the first step since my messages are rejected and returned.

Yes, that delete key caused a moment’s discomfort, but there will come a time when the wicked will be deleted by God, and that pain will be far worse than any wound to the pride in this lifetime because it will be permanent.

But rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:28a.

© 2004 Janice Price
mercyandpercy@yahoo.com
www.mercyandpercy.com