Stretch

 “. . . stretch out their hands . . .”

“When there is famine in the land or an epidemic or the crops are destroyed by scorching winds or swarms of locusts, or when your people are attacked by their enemies, or when there is disease or sickness among them, listen to their prayers. If any of your people Israel, out of heartfelt sorrow, stretch out their hands in prayer toward this Temple,  hear their prayer. Listen to them in your home in heaven and forgive them. You alone know the thoughts of the human heart. Deal with each of us as we deserve,  so that your people may honor you and obey you all the time they live in the land which you gave to our ancestors.” (II Chronicles 6:28-31)

Patti really likes shamrock plants.  Sometime around St. Patrick’s Day she usually buys one or two and tries to keep them alive for the rest of the year – sometimes more successfully than others.  This year’s been a success story.  I took this photo of one of her shamrocks last week, just a couple of days after Christmas.  What you’re seeing is the blossoms of the plant stretching toward the sun coming through the nearby window.  The plant seemed to “know” what was necessary for it to blossom so it stretched its long stem toward the source of light giving the buds just what they needed to open.  Hmm, it got me to wondering . . .

The quote from II Chronicles in the Old Testament I used above is part of the prayer that King Solomon offered at the opening of the new Temple in Jerusalem.  The Israelites had been led from captivity in Egypt into a golden age of community building and prosperity, culminating in the building of the Temple – the place where God would reside on earth.  It was critical that they not get lost in all their new-found prosperity and forget the source of their life and hope.  That’s why the wise King Solomon was reminding them.  When in need, there was only one place to go, one place to look, one place from which hope could come – the Temple where God would reside.  If they but stretched their hands in prayer to the Lord, the One who knew the thoughts of their hearts would listen and respond. 

The flower seemed to remind me to stretch my hands and heart to the Lord.  It seemed like something important to share with you as we also enter something new together – a new year.  It’s a simple lesson, but one that’s important.  We stretch our hands toward so many things – sometimes it’s something on a shelf, sometimes it’s someone in front of us.  Oatmeal off the shelf can satisfy our stomachs, a cherished person can satisfy our hearts, but only the love of God in Christ can satisfy our spirits’ needs for hope and peace.  As we enter this new year together I pray that God will keep me stretching my hands toward the presence of God I feel in Christ.  How about you?
Happy New Year!

Blessings and Peace,
Gary
Pastor, Cross Lanes United Methodist Church
Cross Lanes, West Virginia

Help save lives! For more information on my book, “A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression,” visit http://www.survivingteendepression.com.


My new book, “Wednesday Wonderings: Spiritual Journaling Through a Lens” is available at http://www.wipfandstock.com and http://www.amazon.com.

 

 
Check out my video, “Teens Surviving the Storm”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1hSpxC_G24
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~ by revgenelson on January 1, 2014.

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