"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
April 6, 2011
The first Saturday in March, my family had an 80th birthday party for my step-mother. We had a potluck meal and afterwards were all sitting around visiting. I was at a table talking with Nicole, my nephew's wife, as well as a few other family members. Behind us was a room filled with toys where a lot of the smaller kids were playing. Suddenly we hear this cry from one of the kids. Nicole jumped up and said, "I recognize that cry; it's Lillian (her daughter)." There were probably 8-10 little girls between the ages of 3 to 6 and a couple little boys, yet Nicole immediately recognized her daughter's cry and responded.
Recently, in my morning devotionals I randomly flipped my Bible open to Psalm 86 and a couple verses reminded me of this incident with Nicole and Lillian. Verse 1 starts out, "Bow down your ear, O Lord, and hear me." Verse 3 says, "Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I cry to You all day long."
Psalm 36:12 says, "Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear to my cry; do not be silent to my tears..."
It's hard to conceive that out of all the billions of people on the face of the earth that God can distinctly hear and recognize each individual's cry; yet that is what happens. As a mother can immediately hear and identify her child's cry in the midst of a large group of children, God can hear and identify each of our cries.
I've watched a new mother with her newborn. She may be in the kitchen cooking, watching TV, or visiting with a friend as her baby naps in their crib in another room. But she is constantly listening to any noises or cries her child makes. I've heard mothers talk about being asleep at night, but the moment her baby makes a sound, she immediately hears it and wakes up. There seems to be an inner instinct where she is consistently tuned in to the sound of her child, and will respond accordingly.
I think that's how God is with us. He is constantly listening for the cries of our heart. He is instinctively tuned in to the sound of our voice. The ear of God is bowed toward us and He hears our every cry and prayer. The arms of God are always ready to wrap around us and give us comfort. Our tears touch the heart of God, and He responds when He sees and hears our cry.
Matthew 6:26 tells us, "Look at the birds of the air, for they nether sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?" The following verses says to consider the lilies of the field. If God clothes the grass of the field, which today is here and gone tomorrow, will He not much more clothe you? Don't worry about what you're going to eat and drink, or what to wear. God knows that you need all those things. Just as a mother is interested in every need of her child, God is interested in our every need. We often get needs and wants confused; God didn't promise to give us everything we want, but He did promise to provide for our needs.
I've often watched a parent's response to their son or daughter's cry. They can tell by the sound whether or not it's serious and something they need to respond to, or if the child is just faking it in order to get attention. If they know that something has happened to hurt or frighten one of their kids, they will immediately jump up and help. But if they can tell their little one is faking it, they will generally say, "You're fine!" and basically ignore them. They don't want their child to learn dramatics in order to get attention, and be like the fairy tale where the boy cried wolf.
God knows when we're just being whiny and wanting attention. He knows when we're having a pity party or faking our cry. I believe during those times, He's probably looking at us saying, "Get up; you're just fine!" We don't have to be melodramatic in order to gain the attention of God. His eyes are ever upon us, and His ears are constantly tuned to the sound of our voice.
I'm not a mother myself, but last school year I babysat my great-nephew, Jax. I actually babysat him a couple weeks during the previous summer, while my niece taught summer school. He was only a couple months old at that time. Normally when he cried, I could change his diaper, feed him or rock him and he would quieten and be satisfied. But there were a few times when it seemed as if no matter what I did, he would continue crying. I would do everything I could think of to meet his need, to no avail. Would I just give up and put him in a room by himself and shut the door? No, absolutely not! I would keep trying different things until I finally was able to calm him; and sometimes it would take a long time. I would sometimes become frustrated and felt helpless. But if a feeding, diaper change, rocking and singing wouldn't help, then I would keep trying other things. I'd walk the floor while holding him, rub his tummy, pat his back, bounce him up and down, give him a pacifier, and on and on until he stopped crying and relaxed.
I've heard people comment that God doesn't care about them, or has too many other things to do to bother with them. That's just not true. He is our Father and He takes that role very seriously. When God sees us hurting or in need, He will do whatever it takes to reach out to us and calm us. He will relentlessly pursue us and try to help us. But just as Jax sometimes seemed to disregard all my attempts to pacify and help him, we often do those same things to God. We become so overwhelmed by our problems or troubles that we push God aside. We are so focused on ourselves that we can't feel or hear Him. Then we begin to feel sorry for ourselves and think that God doesn't care. All the while He is patiently waiting for us to come to Him and allow Him to comfort us and meet our needs.
God does bow His ear to us and hears our every cry. He hears our every prayer. And God responds to our tears. He is constantly in tune to our heart and can pick our voice out of a crowd. Nothing happens that He doesn't see or know about. And God is quick to respond. God loves us much more than a mother loves her child. And when He hears our cry, He is quick to respond to us, in order to take care of us. Never forget that you have the ear of God bent towards you.
If you have a child who cries for food, it may be tempting to give them a little something sweet. It could be ice cream, cake, a cookie, or whatever. But no good parent would give them something sweet every time they get hungry, even if they refuse to eat their good food. Once in awhile, a parent has to let their kid go on crying for candy until they get hungry enough to eat some good food.
I'm not suggesting that parents should force their kids to eat Brussels sprouts. In fact, please don't! Oh, I hated Brussels sprouts. It's not my place to pick what parents serve their kids, but for all that is good, please don't force them to eat those nasty things. (My brother, Ken, once told me they were really green cow's eyes. I knew he was just kidding, but they sure do feel like eyes when you bite them.) But I digress.
As Loretta pointed out, God always does hear our cry, and will respond. But when we cry out for the wrong thing, He may give us what we should have instead of what we think we need. If we pray and pray, and don't get what we're praying for, sometimes it may be that we need to at least try one Brussels sprout before we can have our cookie.
Jon and I have recently got "hooked" on fruit smoothies. We have been having one about 3-4 times a week. The thing is, we get our daily serving of fruit and they're good for us, so we can enjoy them without the guilt. We've decided that we like fruit smoothies better than we do a lot of ice creams, and we're not getting all the sugar and calories. The thing about smoothies is, you can make them to your own personal taste. I use a lot of frozen fruit in ours, but fresh banana's added in are good. One of our favorites so far was made from frozen strawberries and a fresh banana; but frozen peaches with a banana is also really good. I fill the blender about half way full of fruit. I add in a single container of low-fat yogurt (any flavor or vanilla is fine); add approximately a couple tablespoons of honey (more or less, I just squirt some out of the bottle and don't measure); add a capful of vanilla; pour in some milk (again I don't measure, but probably about half a cup or maybe a little more; add milk according to how thin or thick you want yours; we like ours thicker so we can eat them with a spoon). Then blend away. I stop the blender occasionally to stir in order to get all the ingredients mixed together well and get the fruit all pureed. Pour into a glass, and enjoy!! Pineapple is also really good in the smoothies. We bought a mixed package of fruit that has pineapple, mangoes, blueberries and strawberries in and it was really delicious mixed together in a smoothie, but a little tart. We tried a pack of mixed berries that included raspberries and blackberries, and neither of us cared for it because there were a whole lot of little seeds in it. If you use all fresh fruit, your smoothie is going to be thinner where you can drink it, instead of using a spoon. You can add in a handful of ice cubes to crush up with the fresh fruit, which will thicken it some and make it colder. We've tried a lot of different combinations and have liked most of them, except the ones with the tiny seeds in it. If you really want to get wild and get a serving of additional vitamins and veggies in your smoothie, I've been told that you can add a handful of fresh spinach to the fruit mixture. It makes the smoothie green, but you really can't taste the spinach, and adds additional health benefits -- or so they say. I have not yet tried that.
I often keep Jon humored in how I pronounce words and some country sayings I have. I don't particularly mean for it to be entertaining; it's just how I talk. I recently read some "southern" postings a friend made on facebook that I'd like to share with y'all! All the remarks in parentheses are from me, personally.
If you do settle in the South and bear children, don't think we will accept them as Southerners. After all, if the cat had kittens in the oven, we wouldn't call 'em biscuits! (We used to have people move into the "Table Rock Lake" area and they thought they could fit right in and take up the southern, country ways. You could spot them a mile away, and they sounded goofy when they tried to pick up the lingo. Kind of like I do trying to talk proper and citified. Or when I took a semester of French in high school and tried to speak french with a hick accent. Don't try to talk country, when you're really not! We country folk don't like that, and it's a pet peeve of many of us!)
Sweet tea is appropriate for all meals (can I get an "amen"!) and you start drinking it when you're 2 years old. (I've even weaned Jon off from drinking Pepsi by the truckload and liking sweet tea instead. I always have a pitcher made up in the fridge. Unsweetened tea is the equivalent of leaving the sugar out of brownies -- it's just not right!)
Remember, "y'all" is singular, "all y'all" is plural, and "all y'all's" is plural possessive. (And don't try to say it if you're not from the south -- it just sounds wrong! I had to teach Jon how to say "down in the holler", instead of calling it a gully or ravine -- and say it right, not where it sounds like a city boy trying to talk country! We also say "youns" - and it's all one syllable; it's not "you-uns" like "country fakers" try to say it.)
"Fixinto" is one word; as in "I'm fixinto go to the store" (or "I'm fixinto go make supper" or "I'm fixingto go to the bathroom". Yep, that's one I use regularly.)
A bend in the road is not the end of the road... unless you fail to make the turn. - author unknown
We love you!
Loretta & Jon