Archive | March 2018

Like March, I Can’t Make Up My Mind

March is typically thought of as a month of transition from winter to spring. So far, there’s not been much evidence of spring. The occurrence of three snowstorms, with one so quickly following the other, has caused much distress in this country. I long for sunshine and warmer temperatures. I wish like in the movie “Frozen” that spring would instantly and magically appear. I wish that this same kind of instant transformation would take place in my transition from an imperfect-performing follower of Jesus to a perfect-everyday-in-every-way saint.

What I wanted and hoped for, years ago when I committed myself to a relationship with Christ, was instant perfection and a problem-free life. I thought that these would be automatic benefits which would be granted to me without any effort on my part. These are not the promises that Jesus made.

He said,” In this world, you will have trouble”; his next words were “But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NIV). He also says to us in the words of his follower Paul, “work out your own salvation” (Philippians 2:12 ESV).  We do this through what I call the “dynamic dance of choosing grace.” 

As I said in Emotional Freedom: The Choices We Must Make, this dance with Jesus “has two basic steps–grace and responsibility. Grace is God’s step of love toward me. Responsibility is my step of love toward him”. 

 Jesus is not a magician. He does not mysteriously and instantly transform his followers from foul-smelling skunks or fearful, hiding, turtles into loving and courageous creatures. Character transformation does not occur in a straight, steady, upward line of progress. It’s marked with ups and downs, yet who I am today is significantly different than who I was yesterday. 

Like the month of March, I’m still in transition and my performance varies from day to day. I believe that God will keep his promise to complete the work of transformation that he initiated. (Philippians 1:6) Therefore, I live in confidence not shame.

Like March, I can’t make up my mind
Some days I’m cold; some days I’m warm
Fluctuating temperatures
Eventually, produce a storm

In this season of transition
Sometimes I laugh; sometimes I cry
I want to move into the future
It’s tough to tell the past goodbye

Although winter means restriction
Familiarity feels safe
In the spring of growth and freedom
Will I know how to navigate?

Like March, my days are limited
Someday, the storms I face will cease
So, I will heartily pursue
Ways that advance both love and peace

I will uncover roots of fear
And with God’s help detach my mind
From the constraints which block my joy
Through truth and knowledge, I will find

Ways to manage anger and pain
So they do not control my frame
Strengthened by grace and acceptance
I am no longer owned by shame

Jane Ault 3/8/2018

This entry was posted on March 16, 2018. 4 Comments

Inspired by Billy Graham’s Scripture-reading Habit

“I, Wisdom, live together with good judgment.
    I know where to discover knowledge and discernment.”

(Proverbs 8: 12 NLT)

The recent death of Reverend Billy Graham, who became known as “America’s pastor”, brought back special memories to me. While a teenager, I attended one of his early crusades in Minneapolis, MN. I choose Northwestern College,  a school which he founded, for my first year of study beyond high school. Years later, my husband and I heard him speak at a conference for Christian leaders in Boston. 

The thing that most impressed me about Billy Graham was the quality and depth of his character.  He displayed integrity, wisdom, and compassion. He practiced what he preached. He was truly honest and, yet, deeply humble. I believe he well represented the Christ whom he recommended. 

Billy Graham’s handbook for life was the Bible. I heard that he read the Old Testament books of Proverbs and Psalms every month. Proverbs, a book of wisdom, contains 31 chapters, so he would need to have read one chapter every day. Psalms, a bo0k of song lyrics and prayers,  contains 150 chapters so he would need to have read 3 chapters every day. I’m sure that he, also, read other parts of the Bible on a regular basis.

Although I’ve read the Bible through more than once, in recent years, I’ve chosen to read shorter or favorite parts of it. Inspired by Billy Graham’s practice, I thought about reading both Proverbs and Psalms during the month of March. But reading both of these books in one month would not be a realistic goal for me, so I decided to limit myself to one of them.  On March 1, I began reading the book of Proverbs. 

I’m freshly motivated to diligently practice the principles of wisdom that I’m reading about. One principle is prudence. Now, prudence (not to be confused with the word “prude”) is not a word that we commonly use, today.

These are dictionary definitions of prudence:  1) careful good judgment that allows someone to avoid danger and risks. 2) caution with regard to practical matters; discretion.  The opposite of prudence is naive. This is a dictionary definition of naive: having or showing a lack of judgment, knowledge, and experience.

I think that a poem might offer an interesting, as well as an informative definition and comparison of these two concepts. I just happen to have one.

Prudence and naivety were walking down the road.
After a while, they met a stranger who offered them some food.

Naivety just swallowed it; she assumed all things were good.
But prudence first examined it; she wisely understood

Appearance can deceive us–unless we’re very shrewd.
Things which, at first, taste sweet might turn sour when they’re chewed.

(p. 101 in Heart Connections: Finding Joy through Openness with God, by Jane Ault)

Questions for reflection

  • How can caring too much about our appearance affect our integrity?
  • How can caring too little about our appearance be unwise?
  • Do prudent people care at all about their appearance? Why or why not?



A Poetic Snapshot of Simplicity

In this season of life, there are days when I feel frustrated about my limitations. I want to have as much energy as I did when I was in my 30’s and 40’s. Living in simplicity and being content is my desire.  According to  Jesus’ follower, Paul, “Godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6 ESV). 

Godliness, according to Richard Swenson, author of CONTENTMENT: The Secret to a Lasting Calm is “an attitude whereby what we want is to please God”. Contentment is an inward quality of my heart and simplicity is the outward lifestyle I am able to develop because of that contentment. 

The following poem describes the kind of simplicity and contentment I desire to enjoy. On some days, it’s a reality. 

In God’s presence, find delight
Receive his blessings; live my life

Make a house into a home
Plant a rose and write a poem

Invite a friend to come for tea
Listen as she shares with me

Laugh and cry as we connect
Treat each other with respect

Don’t solve a problem that’s not mine
Assure my sister she’ll do fine

Practice daily what I’ve learned
Only speak when it’s my turn

Remember that I’m God’s employ
Do what brings us mutual joy

Write a letter or a note
Include a verse that brings some hope

Write a chapter in a book
Now and then, take a look

At the chipmunk on the deck
Watch the Cardinals as they peck

On the seeds that I’ve thrown out
Put away my fear and doubt

Trust the One who made the birds
Believe my prayers have been heard

All day long, compose a song
Remind myself that I belong

Don’t go back to where I’ve been
And revisit pain again

Believe that I have done enough
Don’t get entangled in more stuff

Go to bed and be content
About how my time was spent

Whatever happens in the night
Know that I am in God’s sight

Keep looking for that happy day
When He will wipe all tears away

When every battle has been won
And my work on earth is done

Delight, for eternity,
In God’s profound simplicity

2/21/2018 Jane Ault