The sun shall no longer be your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you by night; but the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.
1 John 1:5
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.
Words of Grace For Today
It sounds like an apocalyptic movie: the sun shall no longer be your light by day, and the moon will not give you light by night. Polar darkness, for ever.
Then comes our salvation: the Lord will be our everlasting light, and our God will be our glory.
John puts the words there that seal the deal for us: God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.
Thank God, because it was beginning to look like the darkness had taken a firm grip our our world leaving us just a short time before we would plunge into eternal darkness.
January 10, 2022 I wake to a rustle followed by a huge bang. Then more rustling of tarps and more bangs, loud, crisp, close and … the ground shakes. I reach for the light to switch it on, and nothing. The batteries are dead as a 100 year old mummy, and as cold as if the mummy were uncovered from melting polar ice. That’s not right, I remember thinking. The fire should still be quite warm. I try to see what the thermometer reads but cannot see. I zip open the door and wind blows in my face crisp and instantly freezing cold. That’s not right, there was a fire in the fire box sheltered from the wind by a frame hung with insulated tarps. I cannot see anything. I feel for something, anything. But there is nothing. I stumble around pulling on a parka, pants, boots, gloves. I step out to where there had been a wood stove when I went to bed just a few hours ago. I thought I’d stoke it, but it’s not there.
I walk a few steps and the piercing cold bites deep into me, so much so that as I turn I lose my bearings, I flounder around a bit. Trying to work this out, I take one step and feel in a circle. I take a step back and then one more back and feel in a circle. Then I step in each side direction. Nothing. So I repeat the search this time taking two steps. This time my hand brushes against something. I take one more step towards it, trying to ensure I know the direction I’ve come from. It’s the zipper door flapping in the wind. I crawl back into the tent.
A loud to no one I say in a prayer: Would You Hand Me a Light!
As I reach to climb into bed my hand brushes something hard, a flashlight.
I have a light. I turn it on and realize in my restless sleep I’ve turned myself all around so that I have gone out the ‘back’ door of the tent. I look through the zipper of the front door and there is the shelter and fire, dwindling to almost no heat.
I get dressed again and go out to stoke it, lay myself back down to sleep again, and thank God
… for being the Light of my Life.
Or I could have panicked and never found my way back in the tent.
In the morning I see evidence that a bear has taken on a tree not 5 feet from my tent, and the tree lost. It was left banging against the tree next to it. My night of banging waking me turned around. Thankfully God got me straightened around.
God leads us and lights our ways in so many and various ways, but always God lights our ways, even on this day to come.
Our steps are made firm by the Lord, when he delights in our way; though we stumble, we shall not fall headlong, for the Lord holds us by the hand.
In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
Words of Grace For Today
The evening dark had settled firm. My parka, long underwear under insulated work bib-overalls, cover mittens over the warmly insulated gloves and an insulate hat, scarf, hood and a prayer kept the -15⁰C and a west wind from biting. A recent storm blanketed everything with white, and high speed traffic through the day cleared tracks, though at intersections the snow was packed.
I exited town on a road that turned gravel for about a mile. Heavy trucks regularly travelled here. The week before I had found a rather smooth track just outside the regular traffic lines. The bicycle carried a heavy load of groceries from the food bank, loaded on the rear panniers and above the rack in a ‘milk crate.’
This week even with the headlight on brightly illuminating the roadway, there was not much to be seen but dark here and light there. It was rough bouncing the bike and my back with more than a little discomfort. I tried the lighter track inside the really rough tire tracks. It’s rough and slow going pushing through the snow and slush. I turn to the outside, and there turn the wheel to head straight down the road. The wheel turns easily to the left, the bike keeps going to the right far out of balance with not even a split second warning dumping me, right butt cheek to the ice, bike and groceries on top me, and my right elbow catching the weight of my upper body.
Stunned I slowly pulled my self out from under the bike as a vehicle went by without pause. I could move. Nothing seemed broken or damaged beyond use. I knew the shock would wear off and that might be different in a moment. I inspected the rear wheel. It was still good. The shape of the pannier had protected it from damage.
It took minutes, long minutes down on the roadway of black ice before I could get upright. More minutes before I could pull the bicycle upright and reset everything in the rear ‘milk crate’ carrier.
I did not dare ride on that ice again that night. I walked the mile until the pavement started again, and further until the traffic had cleared it down to the black pavement. Still when I peddled again, 22 km left to get home, I stayed clear of the dark black pavement-maybe-ice.
Our steps are made firm by the Lord, when he delights in our way.
I guess God did not delight in my way?
Though we stumble, we shall not fall headlong, for the Lord holds us by the hand.
Or maybe God had me by the hand and I did not fall headfirst, knocked unconcious.
It did take weeks for the deep buttocks bruise to not hurt and the purple-yellow-green to fade more to normal pale pink-white
In life, if we live it to the fullest and do not hide from life, there are many times we will stumble and fall, be bruised, and require time to heal.
God promises always to be with us so that
in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
Life is not safe. No one gets out of it alive.
Life is not to be lived hiding from danger. God calls us to engage, to face danger, to provide for those God loves, which means all people, including ourselves. Even if that means biking 55 km or more in the cold to get food to return in the dark on questionable roads against the wind making it a 4 hour return trip instead of the usual 2 plus hours.
If we fall …
Well, let’s be honest: WHEN we fall, God is there to protect us, to help us get back up, to heal, and if it is our day to die, to receive us into heaven where we need not fall again.
Life is an adventure (all too full of enemies that would do us in) that, for God’s beloved people, always ends well.
For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’
But when [Peter] noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’
Words of Grace For Today
There are great challenges, enough to scare any sensible person out of their skin. God walks with us, holding our right hand, reassuring us that we are not alone. We need not fear anything, not nature, nor humans, nor monsters, nor evil itself … and not even a teensie weensie virus that can kill us.
In the course of many ordinary days, Jesus calls us to be courageous, faithful, and trusting, as we venture where others fear to go … in order that we can give life abundant to others, even our enemies. Walking on water is rather simple as the miracles go that Jesus calls us to trust the Holy Spirit enacts for us. Come visit in the winter and I can show you how easy walking on water can be.
Forgiving, especially one’s enemies, is no small thing. At times it is so difficult it is beyond us. There are real monsters in human form that walk among us. It is hard to forgive the evil that incarnates itself in people, bent on destroying that person and all people around them.
Today a visitor came up to the window, and stopped just a few feet away as I pounded on the window to scare her off. It’s not that I do not like visitors. I just prefer not to be a juicy meal for a visitor, or a punching bag, or a bloody pile of bones to be batted about.
I should have grabbed the camera sitting right there near the window instead of pounding, but I was afraid. It bears considering the power in the paws, instead of the possibility of recording one’s last moments. Thankfully she ran. The question is who taught this yearling to explore near human habitat for food or fun? Dangerous.
Fear not, for God walks with us, even when big dangerous show up, or when small dangerous float about. This is God’s creation, and we are God’s people, the people God walks with through life.
So the little bear finally ran off, or rather lopped off and then carefully stepped over a few logs in it’s path.
One day, that bear will end up on someone’s table.
Face one of these up close without a wall and window between you
and you may give thanks for weeks.
Face the devil as we do each day
and there is cause to give thanks our whole life long.
Then my tongue shall tell of your righteousness and of your praise all day long.
They worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God.
Words of Grace For Today
If you have ever faced death, like in a car accident that should have killed you, and recovered from the shock, you may be familiar with that overwhelming feeling of joy and gratitude at being alive!
On a late winter day we set out to a study conference. Unknown to us … well wait for that. Climbing a hill to a right full speed bend in the highway down to the hotel and lake that we would continue by on our way … with no warning the minivan started to fishtail.
The opposing lane was suddenly filled with vehicles and a semi. I held just a touch of power and barely held the van from spinning out. The turn finished I caught the fishtailing and it was just one moment from ending … when we hit the bridge over the railroad track very far below the van lost it completely as the tail end slowly spun counter clockwise, crossing the opposing lane, missing the railing on the far side of the bridge by less than a foot.
It hit the hard snow bank a few feet high already facing backwards and did a full flip in the air down the steep embankment, rolled twice more and stopped against the tree line at the bottom.
We walked to the hotel and when the highway patrol arrived he stayed only as long as it took to ensure we were okay and to share the news that he had 75 calls due to the ice storm that covered roads with black ice for hundreds of miles. Our near death accident was nothing compared to many fatalities that morning.
The next day, sore and stiff, with cuts on our hands and faces, we progressed through the usual work day … until … about supper time … we both told the other how fully alive, engaged and joyful we were. The day before we were not depressed but we had great cause to see life dimly, for the congregation we served had served up a real sour douzer.
This joy lasted for weeks.
This kind of surviving is exactly what Jesus does for us each day, forgiving us and setting us loose, free in the world to share the Good News … of Jesus’ forgiveness for everyone!
We get to be the feet, hands and voice of Jesus freely dispensing forgiveness that brings new life to everyone.
Give praise and worship God each day, all day long, even as we work, play, and relax.
The Lord loves those who hate evil; he guards the lives of his faithful; he rescues them from the hand of the wicked.
Speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.
Words of Grace For Today
How does one say this: some people are stupid. In Canada, one does not say this in polite company. Is this right? Or maybe the question is wrong. It should be: Is this the best we can say?
This past week campers have gathered as every year for the first weekend of the summer. In the random camping area where I live on crown land, there were no restrictions possible to limit units to every other campsite, since no official campsites are designated. There are unofficial ‘campsites’ well established though. Established enough that they are named.
Doublesite is the first site on the left as one enters the area. It has the end of the circle-road bisecting, after it loops through to the main campsites and just before it joins the entrance road again. It’s large enough open space to easily fit three (four are tight) camper units on one side of the road and two units and two large tents on the other side, though more are possible. This weekend three units circled tightly the central campfire (not fired up, thankfully with the fire ban on). Tents were pitched on the other side, but only one or two. People and especially the half dozen pre-teen children freely mingled and met around the toys and food tables.
There seemed to be little concern for Covid 19 physical distance restrictions. Someone will get killed from Covid 19 because of their carelessness.
Rightsite is the first site on the right as one enters the camping area. It has a 100 metre separate roadway through trees into it’s wide opening around a huge campfire pit. A favourite site, it is usually occupied by one unit, maybe two units. There are two pathways/roadways leading away from it where other units can fit into, though it’s not all that optimal. It can work though as a group campsite and occasionally it is just that.
This weekend a bus and three camper units, plus three tents were squeezed in around the campfire pit. Set off by itself it was hard to see whether a fire was lit. But the space hardly allowed for anything but absurdly normal interactions between the people with so many units filling the area, with no concern for Covid 19 restrictions of any kind. Someone will get killed from Covid 19 because of their carelessness.
Along the loop further past the winter landing for ice fishers, two sites (Lake 1 and Lake 2) sit between the road and the lake, within 5 metres of the water. This weekend the first was empty, but the second was occupied by one unit, a truck, a truck pulling a boat, and a third crossover vehicle.
Around at the end of the loop, before it returns through Doublesite a number of roadways intertwine between the trees making up Website. Usually one or sometimes two units fit back there, not necessarily camping together. This weekend it hosted three camper units and three tents, and twice that many vehicles, with vehicles coming and going all weekend long. The older teenagers and early 20-year-olds carried on like it was a regular bush party, drinking, making lots of noise, louder as the night wore on, tossing frisbees, and setting up drinking games (with shared bottles). After they left there were a number of areas a short ways into the woods with used toilet paper and not quite empty toilet paper rolls strewn about. Someone will get killed from Covid 19 because of their carelessness. Can you spell Darwin Awards?
And at night, the perpetrators unknown, someone lit off a series of fireworks, despite the fire-ban. If they had started a wildfire the dry conditions and the huge amount of dry junk brush in the woods and dead trees would have sent an inferno rolling through and out of here.
Can one say ‘stupid’ loud enough and long enough? With Covid 19 restrictions, who knows when firefighters enough may appear to control it! Who knows how much property would have been destroyed and how many lives would have been lost!
In Cold Lake itself, when I go shopping typically people breach a one metre physical distance from me on a regular basis despite my best efforts to avoid them, forget about 2 metres. I sat at the tailgate of the borrowed truck picking up hardware from Canadian Tire. No less than a dozen people walked past me, all within a foot, two at the most. I finally pulled out a 6 foot stick that I use to pull things out of the 6 foot truck-bed and propped it against the tailgate out onto the pavement easily covering the area where all those people had walked. It forced the next dozen to walk at least 1 metre away from me, and most did that and no more, cutting from the corner right past me at the tailgate.
I’ve heard people foolishly say that there is no Covid 19 in Cold Lake. 2 tested cases were reported, but the military do not report their cases, nor could Cold Lake report an outbreak or real numbers lest threats to Canada could know our military is unable to respond due to illness.
Can one say ‘stupid’ loud enough and long enough? Someone will get killed from Covid 19 because of their carelessness.
As Monday noon rolled around the vehicle noise from that end of the camp area increased, then settled down. I sat writing and out the window off to one side I saw a black something move across the narrow view. I stood up and peered out the window where I might see the whatever if it kept moving the same direction. Nothing, then from behind the borrowed truck meandered a young adult black bear, nosing about for food. Coming right toward me, it was no more than 3 metres away, through the window.
I grabbed a camera to get a few shots. Then as the bear continued to poke about and started toward the camper itself I started shouting. At first there was no response, then the bear slowly changed it’s slow meandering course away from the camper back toward where it had emerged from the roadway to the rest of the camp area.
This young bear has already learned that human campsites are a source of food. That makes for a dangerous bear, one that is not afraid of humans, one that will easily attack humans. Someone is going to get hurt, badly and likely killed eventually, before this bear’s life ends. Who left food out and when so that this bear learned humans are a source of food?
Someone Taught this Bear
Humans Mean Food!
Can one say ‘stupid’ loud enough and long enough?
One can, but is it the wisest or best thing to say?
As we grow up into Christ we learn to hate evil, but to speak graciously and gently about others sinfulness. We remember our own and all that Christ forgives us. We extend that grace towards other sinners.
We speak the truth (about our and their sinfulness) with love (the same love God exercises for us in Christ, that erases those sins.)
The truth is, the population is rebelling against the present restrictions. Even the restrictions are not strong enough to stop Covid 19 from spreading; they will just slow it down to avoid spikes in cases that overwhelm the health care system. If we were under restrictions strong enough to stop Covid 19 from spreading, we would be in full rebellion.
Speaking the truth in love sometimes meaning saying what can be said to get people to do what can be done, and not trying to do what cannot be done, so that people rebel and do nothing to help reduce the dangers we face.
Lake 2 was the only campsite where a bunch of garbage was left scattered behind, (if one does not mention the used toilet paper around Website) though the fire-pits everywhere seem to be treated as if they were garbage cans. So there is that to thank all these campers for: comparatively little mess to clean up after them!
Now feeding that bear, intentionally or inadvertently by leaving food or garbage out for it to find … there just is no excuse for that.
Come to think of it, there is no real excuse for any sin, or for any of us to participate in evil. Yet we keep doing it, thinking it will bring us life.
Only life lived out of God’s Grace brings us and others life.
Be everything good and gracious you can be. At your worst, be kind. That will get you and yours through every challenge in these times when we are ripe pickings for the Devil’s temptations to call others ‘stupid’.