Reflections by the Pond

#570: The Refreshing

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September 24, 2012

There are those who see life through the heavy mask of unrelieved sin—oppressive, mind-clouding, unrelenting muck that heaves the soul back down into the damp earth from which it was born. Philosophy does not conquer their frowning outlook; even their joy is muted by the emptiness of their heart. Discouraged, pessimistic, their days are a clouded blur, the distant horizon shrouded by the heat-shimmering mirage of depressed resignation.

There are others, however, who see life through the colorful prism of unfettered grace—the fresh breeze that blows cool and dry, carrying within it wisps of fragrant hope. Their feet tread lightly, springing easily upon the soil that holds no claim upon them. Their outlook is clean and open, their joy deep and real. Each new day bears new hope, new opportunity. Their horizon is sparkling as crystalline glass, near, and as certain as yesterday. They see each today through the hope and promise of their tomorrow...

#569: Rainbow Tails

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Reflections by the Pond – September 17, 2012

One benefit of rising early each day is the opportunity to witness God's creative hand in the morning sky. And this morning, walking out to the gravel road to retrieve the mail, was no exception. Reaching our mailbox I looked west to the distant hills and the darkening clouds that prophesied welcome rain.

There in the northwest, just above the horizon, was the tail of a faint rainbow. I looked toward the southwest, and there was the matching tail of the same rainbow, many miles from its mate. Remarkably, between the two tails, where the completed arc would be, was brilliant blue sky...

#568: A Grand Adventure

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Reflections by the Pond – September 10, 2012

Recent preparations for teaching the book of Hebrews to our adult Sunday School class reminded me of the time, back in February 1982, when Linda and I spent 2 1/2 weeks on safari in Kenya. It was quite an adventure.

Out on the savannahs of the Serengeti and the more mountainous regions of East Africa we witnessed sights of incredible beauty: myriad beasts gathering at watering holes at night; sunsets and sunrises a glorious backdrop to the primitive stage set of acacia trees festooned with hanging buffalo weaver nests, lazing lions, cheetahs, and wary gazelles; vast herds of wildebeest, water buffalo, and rivers and pools populated by languid yet dangerous hippos.

Along with the beauty we witnessed sights of ugliness, as well—the survival of the fittest being played out every day with one beast consuming another. We saw countless things we had never seen before—and perhaps never will again. We met strangers who became friends. We experienced ecstatic joy and profound discomfort, such as awakening one morning to a thatched hut (and ourselves) swarming with ants that had risen in the night from the surrounding rain-soaked soil...

#567: Rabbit Trails

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Reflections by the Pond – September 3, 2012

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

Sometimes, when we are headed down the drive, a rabbit that had been serenely safe and secure on the lawn will get nervous at the sound of the engine and dart out into the drive in front of us. He will leap back and forth, staying ahead of us but always on the gravel in front of the Jeep. He will thus continue down the drive, always six or eight feet ahead of us, nervously darting side to side—when all he need do to be safe is take a hard left or right and disappear into the bushes that border the drive. Frightened deer will behave the same way, traveling straight down the road in front of the Jeep, instead of leaping to the side, safely off the road.

Rabbits and deer are just simple-minded animals.

What is our excuse?

#566: A Faster Connection

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Reflections by the Pond – August 27, 2012

I always marvel at those who get impatient with the supposedly slow or unreliable speed of their Internet connection.

Speaking as one who hearkens all the way back to monochromatic computers with floppy disc drives (I mean those large, literally floppy discs) and no hard drive—computers in which you ran a program not by clicking on an icon but by typing its name on a command line, then waited while the floppy whirred slowly—I don't see what all the fuss is about...

#565: In the Waiting

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Reflections by the Pond – August 20, 2012

Save me, O God,
For the waters have threatened my life.
I have sunk in deep mire, and there is no foothold;
I have come into deep waters, and a flood overflows me.
I am weary with my crying; my throat is parched;
My eyes fail while I wait for my God.
Psalm 69:1-3

When I was a very little boy, the municipal swimming pool in my hometown was a huge and imposing ocean of chlorinated water. Having revisited that dilapidated container in Riverview Park as an adult, I can see that it was really not that large at all. But as a boy its waters seemed to stretch to the horizon.

One day those waters got the better of me. I could not swim, but I could walk on the bottom. So, spying an older friend who was swimming the circumference of the pool, I pursued, safely trudging after her as she rounded the shallow end, then headed for the opposite, deeper end. Intent on my pursuit, I failed to notice that the water was deepening, and in moments I was beneath the waves, struggling for air.

Even after the decades that have passed since that incident, I can still feel the claustrophobic sensation of being immersed in that smothering cocoon—of being utterly surrounded by something profoundly unfriendly, cut off from all sound and life-giving air. But then, after what seemed an eternity, a strong hand reached down into my watery grave and yanked me up and out onto the safety of dry land. Just when all seemed lost, my dad reached down into my abyss, and pulled me to safety...

#564: A Generous Spirit

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Reflections by the Pond – August 13, 2012

Apparently the women's gymnastic coaches in Russia use up all their training time on physical athleticism, and leave no time for teaching sportsmanship.

Aliya Mustafina of Russia considers herself to be the best; she is supposed to win. But now she was just a pouting little princess with troweled-on eye shadow. In the Women's Individual All-Around competition of gymnastics, in the London Olympics, she came up third, bested by—of all things—an American. She huffed off the stage, angrily pushing away her consoling teammates and coaches—a disgruntled, petulant prima donna fuming over not winning the event. She was supposed to win gold—not settle for bronze. Bronze! How humiliating.

A few days later a fresh-faced, smiling young man from California performed on the vault...

#563: Danger!

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Reflections by the Pond – August 6, 2012

Seeing movement out of the corner of my eye one day a few years back, I turned and peered through the glass of the library window. There was our outdoor cat at the time, Thornton, his gray bulk crouched and curious, tentatively stalking something. I was unconcerned until I saw the object of his attention. I leaped to the door, shouting, "Thornton! No! No! Thornton!"

It was a huge snake, perhaps four inches in diameter and about four to five feet long, moving across the back patio. The pattern on its back was unmistakable—as was the diamond shape of its head and the rattle at the end of its tail. It was moving toward the west workshop door...

#562: Reliable Sources

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Reflections by the Pond – July 30, 2012

"Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth."

Don't you just love it. Whenever a portion of the world experiences dramatically unseasonable cold weather, and rational folk use it to taunt the global warmists among us, the warmists come back with, "Hey, dummy, there's a difference between weather and climate change." But then, when the weather unseasonably heats up (as it has this summer) those same warmists/alarmists will indeed use the weather to confirm their claims of manmade global warming.

Who are we to believe? Who is correct?

None of the above.

#561: Living & Dying

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Reflections by the Pond – July 23, 2012

One of the more nostalgic voices in the summer chorus is that of the cicada. It is utterly illogical, but true, that the sound of an ugly brown insect on humid summer days should so fill the mind and heart with rich memories of one's youth. The metallic buzzing drone of the cicada is the sound of sticky summer evenings, the smell of charcoal and hot dogs and grilling hamburgers. It is a sound that reminds us that we once were young, and back then it didn't bother us that we hadn't air conditioning. It reminds us of the way the house smelled when mom was canning pickles.

But the humble cicada also reminds us of something considerably less warm and inviting...

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