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The Spur

Happy Birthday! It's a phrase we all hear once each year as we celebrate another milestone on our journey. We hear it from family, friends and colleagues. We hear it in restaurants as the waiters and waitresses gather around a table to sing the familiar song while the birthday boy or girl gets to wear some kind of silly hat. Sometimes we even see it posted on a lawn for all to see. I saw a big sign decorated with balloons on a front lawn last week, announcing the occasion to all who went by. (Happy birthday, Kyle!)

But not all of us want to celebrate. In an episode of a popular T.V. show aired recently, the main character avoided the subject of his birthday and became cranky when anyone brought it up. The scene at the end of the show is sad as we see him alone, downing a drink and playing Happy Birthday to himself on the piano. Sometimes we don't like to be reminded that we're getting older, but we all know it should be an occasion to be happy, an occasion to receive love and perhaps even a few gifts from those around us.

A birthday is a reason to celebrate. On a certain date in time, at a certain place, a miracle happened. You were born, I was born, along with millions of others. It's one of those every-day miracles that are easy to overlook because the event is . . .
At a certain time of day, early in the evening, I make sure the curtains on the windows in our living room are open. I don't want to miss the spectacle. Yes, right here in Ponoka, there's a grand spectacle every evening. It's a spectacle of promise.

We are fortunate enough to live on a street that is one-sided. There are houses on the east side, but not on the west. That side is still an undeveloped bush, full of birds, squirrels and deer. It's there that the spectacle of promise happens. As the sun begins to drop, the light slants, hitting thousands of small catkins hanging from the trees. When the sun hits them, they glow, making the entire bush light up. It's the promise of spring; the promise of new growth; the promise of the colour green.

As I have watched the glow become more and more intense day by day, I have been reminded of all the promises God has given us. They, too, are promises of new growth, rebirth and second chances. They are filled with words of love and protection, encouragement and comfort. They confirm the power of all believers to . . .
Some time ago, my middle daughter, Laura, called to ask my advice. She is at an "in- between" place right now. She's been working in the city but feeling restless, feeling that God has something more for her. So she has begun the process to join a mission group for the next year. Hence, her quandary. Should she stay in the city where rents are high and she has to drive some distance to work, or come home for the next few months so she can work here and save some money as the process unfolds?

As a mom I wanted to jump right in and tell her to come home. But I restrained myself. I advised her to keep praying and wait for God to give her peace about the decision. The next morning I read Psalm 84. I e-mailed Laura and typed out verses 3 and 4 because they had struck a cord.

"Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young ? a place near your altar, O Lord Almighty, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you."

Sunday 8:00 a.m. It was early, but I headed for the church. I was scheduled to do the power-point presentation of my husband's sermon and I also had to prepare for my Junior High Sunday School Class. I thought I had lots of time.

Stopping by Tim's for a coffee, I pulled into the drive-through behind a small red car belonging to our associate pastor. I wondered why they were heading to the church so early. When we arrived I noticed there were already a few cars in the parking lot. I thought there must be some kind of meeting happening.

8:15 a.m. As Pastor Jeff got out of his vehicle he said ? "I wonder how many people forgot to set their clocks?" Daylight Saving Time! I'd forgotten all about it. I glanced at my watch.

Now 9:15 a.m. I grabbed the bundle of things I needed for the Sunday School class and dashed for the door.

10:00 a.m. I managed to get the power-point done just as the kids in my class started to arrive. It wasn't until then that the feeling of panic started to subside.

Since I moved to Alberta I have been continually aware of the similarities between farmers and miners. They work equally hard, often don't get paid, but would never want to be doing anything else. They also work with expensive machinery that always seems to break down, and they are very inventive when it comes to fixing it. Both have shops full of tools and bits and pieces of machinery because they never know when they might have to rig something to keep the operation going. Both farmers and miners know a lot about half way measures that are enough to keep their equipment running until the season is over.

Half way measures are well known in the Bible too. When Jesus became man he provided a way for us all to come into the presence of God. Because of Jesus we are able to pray and know that God is listening. Because of Jesus we are able to know that God is with us every moment of the day. But in a way, what Jesus did was a half-way measure. Yes, His salvation is complete and perfect, but, as the Dad driving to his vacation destination tells the kids in the back seat, Jesus has told us - we're not there yet. Or, as the Apostle Paul said ? "Now we see but a poor reflection; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known" (1Corinthians 13:12)

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