Have You Settled In Yet?

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.
Ecclesiastes 3:1


The storm windows are on, the garden put to bed, and I’ve traded backyard campfires for fires in the fireplace. Hot apple cider fills my travel mug now instead of the iced coffee that sustained me all summer. Flannels, sweaters and fleece hang at the front of the closet, and there's an extra blanket on the bed. I’ve stashed a stack of novels in the bookcase to await snowy days, and finally my to-do list has only a few items left unchecked.

I’m settling in for winter.


Look around and you’ll see all God’s creatures settling in. Bears, their noses dirty from digging, scoop leaves into well-hidden dens. Squirrels carry mouthfuls of leaves and twigs high into treetops to stuff into their cozy nests. Geese, in V-shaped flocks, fly south in search of a milder winter and plentiful food. Even pet cats seek sunny windowsills and spend hours curled in their cat beds, snoozing. Everywhere you look, animals and people prepare to hibernate, migrate, or adapt to the season.

We have come to November, that month of settling in, the season when we slow down with the waning light of day and prepare for quiet winter nights. Somehow, God seems closer now. Maybe it’s because in long hours of darkness we sense the need for His protection and want to snuggle in His strong, loving arms.

In Mark 6:31, Jesus said to his apostles, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place. You need to get some rest." (NLrV)

So let’s go. Let’s go away to Winter, that quiet place. Let’s spend our nights reading God’s Word, singing His praises and thanking Him for His blessings. Let’s cozy up to warm fires with family and friends and rejoice in the gift of fellowship. Let’s put aside the seasons of coming and going, the days of no leisure . . .because winter is upon us—the quiet place, the place where Jesus calls us to rest.

Hachiko: Waiting for his Master

When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Colossians 3:4

I watched a wonderful movie this weekend called “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale.” It is a special story about love, loyalty and the relationship between a dog and its master. (Warning: the following contains a “spoiler,” so if you’d rather not know the plot, please watch the movie before you read on.)

Every weekday, college professor Parker Wilson commutes to his work by train. Late one afternoon when he returns to the train station, he finds an Akita puppy abandoned there. He takes it home, and his wife discourages him from keeping it, but a bond already exists between the man and the dog. Parker names the puppy Hachiko – Hachi for short – after the Japanese symbol for luck that he finds etched on a tag on the lost puppy’s collar.

Before long, Hachi begins trotting alongside Parker when he walks to the station. Nothing can stop the dog from his daily trek. He digs under fences and jumps over them to accompany his master. And every day Hachi sits outside the train station and waits for Parker to come home.

This goes on for several years until one day when Parker doesn’t return on his usual train. Hachi waits. Another train arrives then another and another, but Parker isn’t on any of them. Finally, long after dark, an SUV pulls up to the station. Parker’s son-in-law is there to take Hachi home, and we learn that Parker isn’t coming back; he went to be with the Lord.

Although Hachi has a new family that loves him, this dear, sweet dog remains loyal to his master. Every day, year after year, he goes to the station to wait. From dawn until the last train arrives, through all the seasons, rain, sleet and snow, Hachi sits waiting. The train yard becomes his home. He exists fed by good Samaritans and sleeping under boxcars.

Hachi waits. He waits until, old and feeble, he lies down in the snow one night and drifts off toward sleep. Then he hears it, one more train. He watches as travelers pour from the station's door, and then Hachi sees him – Parker! His master has finally come to take him home. It ends a joyful day for Hachi, and Parker, too, as they run off together through a sun-filled woods.

Like Hachi, we Christians wait, too.
We wait for our Master. He was with us once here on Earth, and we know he’s coming back; so we wait. Each and every day, one generation linking to another, we return to the source of our faith where we wait for the door to open and our Master to come and take us home.

Matthew 24:42 tells us: “Therefore, keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” The story of Hachi, which by the way is based on a true story, reminds us to be loyal to our Master. He is coming someday. We won’t give up on Him. We won't give up because we know, and we’re sure . . . so we wait.

*****
Watch the movie trailer for "Hachi: A Dog's Tale"




Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Fear Strikes the Queen!

“He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart.”
Isaiah 40:11 NIV



Like most pets, Pepper hates going to the veterinarian. Her annual checkup was last week, and this time I managed to keep the appointment a secret. Pepper sleeps soundly, so in the middle of the night, veiled in darkness, I slipped the cat carrier out of the bedroom closet and hid it in the utility room by the back door. Pepper snored through the whole thing. She’d been up late watching through the window as furry, nocturnal things wandered through the back yard. I don’t want to sound conceited, but I was so proud of myself. If Pepper had seen that carrier, she would have escaped to her hiding place, a secret location that I've never found.


Pepper knows when I’m planning to go out. Earrings give me away. When I put on earrings, she eagerly leads me to the door. “You’re in charge,” I tell her. “The house belongs to The Queen of Everything.” She eats that up. Pepper is well aware that she’s the queen, and I can only imagine what the queen does in her castle when her maidservant is gone for the day.

I was ready for her when she herded me to the castle’s portal. I picked her up and shoved her into the carrier. “Your carriage awaits,” I said, shutting the door, locking her inside. Oh, the wailing that came from the queen, the obscenities that spilled from her royal mouth! On the short drive to the vet’s office, she pawed and clawed at the carrier’s door, trapped in the dungeon, no way out. Arriving in the parking lot, she let out a shrill cry that terrified a two-pound Chihuahua in the car next to us. Its owner shot me a dirty look.

“You be good!” I told The Queen of Everything. She screamed even louder. Queens don’t take orders from maidservants.

The vet moved us right in to the examining room. “Is Pepper a little upset this morning?” she asked. Whatever gave her that idea. I struggled to hang on to the carrier as it wildly swung from side to side.Then, something amazing happened. The Queen of Everything fell silent. She curled into a tight ball like a hedgehog. Pepper stayed that way, frozen in fear, while I pulled her out of the carrier and plopped her onto the baby scale.

“She looks like a taxidermied cat,” the vet laughed.

She did look like that.

We put Pepper on the examining table. She unrolled and slithered toward me on her belly. Then she pressed her little body against me and tucked her head into the crook of my arm. I felt her relax as I held her close. The vet poked and prodded her, listened to her racing heart, and gave her a rabies shot. Through it all, The Queen of Everything rested in my arms.

Everyone is afraid sometimes, even kings and queens. Fear is only overcome through trust. Pepper trusts me to protect her much the same as I trust my Heavenly Father to take care of me.

Are you frightened of something today? Are you rolled up in a tight, little ball, worried about what might happen? Then trust God. Deuteronomy 33:27 says, "The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms." Rest in God's arms today, and He will take care of you.


*****



For more about Mark Lowry, visit his website.
NEW FROM THOMAS NELSON

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FROM BARBOUR BOOKS
I'm proud to be a contributing author to the following series of humorous devotionals.
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By Max Lucado, Published by Thomas Nelson
Max Lucado has a unique way with words, and his children's book Hermie A Common Caterpillar is no exception. With simple text and bright, watercolor illustrations, the story of Hermie unfolds.

Hermie wonders why he looks and feels so common. Whenever he asks God why, God simply answers, "I'm not finished with you yet." Then, one day, Hermie feels very tired. He gets into his cozy, leafy bed, and he sleeps. And while Hermie sleeps a transformation takes place. When he wakes up, Hermie discovers that God has done something grand. You can guess what it is. Every caterpillar that lives to adulthood knows the end of the story.

Parents, please share this book and its powerful message with your children. We are all special because God loves us, and He has a unique purpose for our lives. Whenever we slump into feeling ordinary, we know that we have hope because . . .God isn't finished with us yet!


*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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