I have found it is the simple gifts that often mean the most. Yes, of course, we all appreciate those unusual or extravagant gifts but the gift of enjoying the moment; living and   finding happiness in the “now” is a choice and sometimes an art worth developing. Watch a child and see what sheer joy they experience doing simple things. Sometimes we give them special gifts, and yet they enjoy using their imagination and playing with the box the gift came in instead of the actual toy you purchased at great price.

Each day is a precious jewel, one that will never be repeated. Enjoy not only the moment but enjoy the way God desires to continually shower you with those special moments that make life so interesting.  Even in the middle of tough times when you look up you can see His light, and not only His light, but the shades of color He adds to His light so that your existence is never dull or colorless. Instead of just questioning why you’re having to go through the difficulty   your facing, why don’t you see what beauty you can find in the midst of it. It is best not to live in that present state forever but to enjoy the journey knowing that along the way Jesus is walking with you and wants to point out the special facets of His light shining at YOUR special angle or vantage point.

Some things we would never wish on anyone, such as death, disappointment, break   ups, breakdowns and loss.  All of us must travel through tough seasons periodically.  Why would we think we cannot feel some good right in the middle of it?  As a pastor I have done many funerals and though they are never fun, often they are insightful and on occasion sacredly beautiful in watching the dynamics of families as they work through their grief.  In the middle of tears we can still experience relief, laughing at our own humanity, and witnessing God’s grace. His loving hand is present with us even in the, “valley of the shadow of death.”  That ultimate snub in the face of the enemy is where we can truly say, “Oh death where is your sting? O Hades where is your victory?”  1 Corinthians 15:54.

I recently heard the story of a resident of South Central Los Angeles. Living in the midst of an urban jungle of concrete, he saw many patches of dirt with weeds and garbage but no sense of beauty. Looking at these patches of unused soil he envisioned urban gardens. Planting sunflowers and carrots he soon transformed the front boulevard to something of benefit and beauty. Soon he started receiving notices from the city for breaking the law by planting carrots. Isn’t it funny that we would allow weeds but not carrots or sunflowers to bring joy or nutrition to the community?   It is amazing what twisted priorities we develop and yet make no   room to see or think outside the box.

It may sound sappy to say, “stop and smell the roses” or to look at a sunset and see the amazing colors of the sky or enjoy simple pleasures like a good cup of coffee or tea with a friend.  Yet even as we make the choice to enjoy the little special moments, we are given the capacity to also see the great and mighty hand of God whose power was and will continue to be displayed in the big-ticket items that life seems to give, as well as the most minuscule detail of His beauty and grace.  God desires to shower you with special gifts, with the biggest gift of all being His Son Jesus Christ, given because of love. You must choose to see those gifts and to see Him. The scriptures say,  “Choose this day who you will serve,” Joshua 24:15 and along the way, enjoy each gift as you walk with Jesus. Go In Peace, Go In Love, Go In Victory.

Pastor Norman Howell / July 2014