Rueben Job writes these wonderful words of assurance: “To remember who creates us and recreates, who calls us again and again, who knows us completely and loves us unconditionally is to be prepared, as Jesus was, for all that is to come. We need have no fear of today or anxiety about tomorrow. We belong to God who claims us as beloved children and holds us close in the embrace of strength and love. Listen and remember today that God calls your name and be transformed and sustained in all that awaits you.”
Hard rime is a white ice that forms when the water droplets in fog freeze to the outer surfaces of objects. It is often seen on treesatop mountains and ridges in winter, when low-hanging clouds cause freezing fog. This fog freezes to the windward (wind-facing) side of tree branches, buildings, or any other solid objects, usually with high wind velocities and air temperatures between −2 °C(28 °F) and −8 °C (18 °F).
Thousands of years ago, an ancient Hebrew singer, realizing his human limitations, searched his heart and mind and wrote the opening lines of Psalm 62, “For God alone my soul in silence waits.” Too often I know how easy it is to slip into the busy actions and cares of life in La Grande. I am sure together we could make a long list of the ways we are distracted. My early morning time in Scripture and in prayer has become ever more critical to my finding spiritual, emotional, and physical rest throughout the day. I need a “still point” where I can listen, wait, and know I am not the center, but that God is.
Next to the Psalms, Isaiah is my favorite book in the Old Testament. Although the Lord, through his prophet, speaks of his disappointment and anger that Israel has strayed from Him, the overwhelming and continuing thread is His love for His people, and His forgiveness. Here are passages from Isaiah 44: 21 – 22:
“I, the Lord, made you, and I will not forget you. I have swept away your sins like a cloud. I have scattered your offenses like the the morning mist. Oh, return to me, for I have paid the price to set you free.”
I love what King David writes in Psalm 40. The most powerful man of his time willingly shared his highs and lows, always knowing the Lord would answer him. Too often, I want an answer NOW! I need to remind myself to stay focused on God. He will lift me from “pit of despair”(v.2) that David describes, give me a “new song to sing” (v.3), and protect me with “his love and faithfulness.” (v.11)
Through the dedicated efforts of a group of Union County citizens, the Mt Emily Recreation Area was purchased from timber/property company Boise. Whereas most folks use it in the spring, summer, winter months, the area offers excellent winter recreation. Meg and I have enjoyed snow shoeing here. Recently, several days of snow were followed by very cold weather and blue skies. The snow hung heavily on the pine and fir branches, creating a proverbial winter wonderland.
I took these pictures yesterday morning, but I like them as a way to end the old year and begin the new one. The sliver moon pictures were taken at early sunrise and the remainder were taken at sunset, after spending the afternoon cross country skiing up at Anthony Lake with Marshal, Jasmine, and Chung.
That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared among them and the radiance of the Lord’s glory shone around them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior–yes the Messiah, the Lord–has been born today in Bethlehem, the City of David. And you will recognize him by this sign: you will find the baby wrapped snuggly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
How wonderful to be “overwhelmed with joy,” as the prophet Isaiah writes. This is the season to be overwhelmed with joy as we wait to celebrate the birth of Christ who came to live with us and for us, “God and sinners reconciled.” Yet we do need to be reminded continually, as the angels have told us, “do not be afraid…nothing is impossible with God.” We are surrounded, always, by this most incredible and joyful assurance!