In the Blink of An Eye

I recently followed the Collegiate Baseball World Series. My team, the OSU Beavers, was among the 64 teams playing. I was hopeful that they could win their way to the top. Then, they lost their first game. One more loss and their season would be over. They were able to win the next games and make it to the final playoff. The champion would have to win two out of three games. The West Coast teams are often looked down on by the eastern colleges. I so wanted the Beavers to give the Arkansas Razorbacks a challenge. Another let down. The Beavers lost the first game. The second game was a set up for a big disappointment. We were down by one in the ninth inning. The Beavers had two outs. Razorbacks were on the edge of their seats for that third and final out, and the title would be theirs!
The Beaver batter hit a high, fowl ball. With two strikes against him, if the ball was caught he would be out. The game and the series would be over. Three Razorback players ran under the ball. I held my breath as the ball fell. It was an easy catch. I knew all was lost for the Beavers. In a split second, all my fears were proven wrong.
The ball hit the ground. The game continued. The batter hit a single and brought a runner in. The ballgame was tied. The next batter hit a home run. The Beavers were up by two.
The Razorbacks were to bat for one more chance to win the game. With one out and one on first. The batter hit a low, fast drive to the pitcher. In another split second—double play, game over. Another game would need to be played for the title.
In the final game the Beavers pitched a shut-out and easily won.
The Beavers were the National Champions!
One missed ball gave life to the Beavers dream and took it from the Razorbacks. Life can change just that fast. How many times have you given up on something because you couldn’t see how the outcome you wanted could possibly happen? The Israelites did not trust God’s promise. They were given the promised land but scouts reported that battling the inhabitants would result in their own capture. Instead of enjoying what they were to be given, they wandered for forty years because they couldn’t see the promise as possible. (Exodus 12)
Later, the Bible tells us that the Israelites knew the Philistines soldiers were more powerful than their own army. They could only see defeat and tried to help God by taking the Arc of the Covenant into battle. They were devastated by the outcome. (I Samuel 4)
Sometimes the results can’t be seen by our foresight. We have to believe God and trust Him to figure out the method.
Take a lesson from the athletes, play your best until the game is over.

Find Your Spiritual “Go To”

“Sir is in the garage again!” I huffed aloud as I parked the car in our drive. Our thoroughbred was turned out with the cattle and free to roam 130 acres of woods and meadows. But he always hung out around the house, especially the garage. With one door to the garage broken, he would push, knock over or step on anything blocking his way to the inside. “Doesn’t he realize he is free to go where ever he wants?” Apparently, he wanted in the garage.
Sir had been on the race track in his younger years. His home was a stall with regular exercise, feeding and care. He could no longer race and had retired here, free from being confined. Yet, he returned regularly to make a mess in the garage. I chased him out. I tried blocking his way. One day I realized, the garage brought him the security that the stall had provided. He was returning to what he knew and had been used to, even when he didn’t have to.
We are like Sir. We fall back on that which is familiar to us, even if it is not good for us. Nothing is more obvious to me than my unhealthy eating habits. Each day I vow to not eat between meals or not to eat large amounts but as soon as something causes me to feel unsure of how to react, I run right back to eating what ever is available. Do I feel better? For a moment. Then I hate myself.
David proclaimed in Psalm 18, “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer.” We can put our security in Him and be free of earthly desires that hold us from being the best we can be. Following Jesus isn’t a well-lit path through a comfort zone. We are often surprised or disappointed by situations. But our Lord is solid in his promises. We are free when we surrender all our human desires to Him. However, like Sir, we find comfort in the familiar and return to our old ways and the mess they have made.
Returning to old habits is not failure. It is a stepping stone. Next time, maybe I will grab only healthy food when I revert to feed my face instead of my soul. If I keep taking steps, someday I won’t even think of the physical food when I am upset. My autopilot will be set for spiritual nourishment.
What do you seek when in need of comfort? Turn off that old autopilot and purposely seek strength from the One who can truly comfort you.

Celebrate Your Freedom

Independence Day!
July 4, 1776, the day our independence from an oppressive ruling country was declared. The people of the newly founded country were free to make their own rules, laws and decisions. What a time to celebrate!
Do you celebrate the day you declared yourself free from the oppressive nature of your worldly desires? When you ask Jesus to forgive you and strive to follow Him, you are free from things that society says are important. Things like looks, wealth, job status, etc.
In Jesus you are free from the bondage of:
Self-condemnation – you can stop telling yourself you are not good enough.
Self-judgement – you don’t have to be perfect to be okay.
Self-ridicule – you can make mistakes without beating yourself up.
Instead of living by these deceptive thoughts you are free to:
Find who you were truly meant to be.
Like yourself, even with your quirky habits.
Love others because you accept yourself.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
As a new creation in Christ, you no longer have to live up to:
Family expectations.
Society’s standards.
Peer pressure.
As a new creation, the Holy Spirit is with you to help you live according to God’s will. In that freedom, we find peace.
Do you show your gratitude for the freedom Christ has given you to live in abundant peace? Today, think of all the soldiers who have died for your freedom on earth, but don’t forget to light a sparkler for Jesus who truly set you free.

Welcome!

Welcome back to my blog! In today’s world we need encouraging thoughts and that is what I hope to provide. The best encouragement comes from our Creator and His word.

During my break I’ve grown spiritually. I’m happier than I’ve ever been in my life. And I’m no spring chicken. Lifelong anxiety issues; gone. I have analyzed every possible solution for why healing has taken place now? My answer: a lot of little changes came together at one time. God’s time. I thank Him for the healing and give Him the credit.

I am looking forward to sharing little glimpses of God’s work in my life and in others’ lives. If you have a story to tell, share it. We are God’s witnesses and we shine our light by sharing what He has done for us. It is exciting and encouraging to know that He is with us in our lives, every day. If we have our eyes open, we can see and feel His presence.

God has given us so much to enjoy in nature, family, friends, and more. Let’s plant our thoughts on those things. We will face hard times, challenges or heartaches, but our joy can grow when we care and nurture our minds.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8, this is one of my favorite scriptures.

If you are concerned about how other people see you, then put down the mirror (you are looking to confirm their descriptions) and discover who you really are. Each one of us is precious to our Creator. Pick up the Bible and see who it says you are. That is the premise of my devotional and memoir, both of which I am working to get published.

Join me as I share ideas from my books to encourage others who may have struggled with finding value in themselves. If you know someone who could benefit, pass it on to them. Or they can sign up to receive each one at: www.nanceywest.com. Go to the blog page and click the button to sign up. Don’t forget the ‘e’ in Nancey.

God bless you all this week.

Reflection God’s Creation

My fear of heights was the last thing on my mind as I stepped from the car and hurried down the path toward Two Medicine Lake. My husband and I got up early to catch the morning light on the least visited area of Glacier National Park. I had enjoyed every day of our vacation with the splendor of the fall colors beneath snow-capped mountains. I was not disappointed in the lack of fellow visitors or the unusual warm weather this late in the season.

The morning was cool but clear as I made my way from the dirt path onto the rocky beach. Suddenly, my heart skipped a beat. I was starring down into a deep canyon with yellow-laden trees and green bushes. I jumped back in alarm. Where is the lake? I wondered as I gazed over the scenery for signs of water.

The fear of falling pulled my eyes and feet away from the view before me. As I looked down, I noticed rocks beneath a glassy sheet of water. The lake began only a few feet away. Looking again into the cavern below, I realized I was looking at the reflection of the mountain on the other side of the lake.

The view changed before my eyes like those trick pictures of two faces hidden in one. I saw the reflection, then turning my head there was the canyon. The reflection was so perfect the water vanished and the scene became one continual image. I sat on a nearby boulder to calm my flip-flopping stomach and thought of how we are to be a reflection of our Creator. Does His will for my life appear so clear that mine is one with it?

Later, the Park Ranger told us that this was an extremely rare day. The air must be very still for such a clean reflection and the breeze from the mountains usually ruffles the water. Like the calm waters, The Lord says we must be “still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10 NIV) Oh, how the chaos in our lives interrupts that stillness so that God is only roughly seen. We are created in His image. When we find time away from the winds of busyness to allow that reflection cover us, we have no reason to fear heights or anything else.

What ruffles your calm waters and blurs God reflection in your life?