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Mislabeled Boxes

I was going on a weekend trip and I needed a little travel bag I thought I’d packed in a storage closet. I opened the door and saw a stack of boxes. Each was clearly marked: WINTER CLOTHES, QUILTS, SNORKELING GEAR, OLD CLOTHES, and RAGS.

But I didn’t see my bag. I was sure I had packed it in that closet, but it certainly didn’t belong in any of those boxes. I poked around, but found no travel bag.

I really needed the bag, so I began searching in other places around the house. Then I thought back to the boxes in the storage closet. Were they all labeled correctly? Could it be that one of the boxes had once been used for something else, and the label hadn’t been changed?

I went back to the closet and started looking inside the boxes. When I opened the box marked QUILTS, I found the travel bag along with several other travel items—but no quilts!
I wasted close to an hour trying to find that little bag. It would have been easier if the boxes hadn’t been labeled at all. Before returning the box to the closet, I crossed out the incorrect label—and made sure the box was labeled correctly.

As I packed the boxes back in the closet, I thought about my label as a Christian. If I call myself a Christian, and don’t live up to my label, I’m doing God a worse service than if I made no profession at all.

I want to live up to my label. How about you?

Your friend,

Granite Shield

The day had been spectacular, with gorgeous views and excellent weather. But my feet ached, and my stomach growled. Rest sounded fabulous!

Cresting the hill, we laid our eyes on our destination: Pear Lake. A dozen neon tents dotted its banks, and shouts from their owners polluted the tranquility. Should we press on in hopes of a more peaceful campsite? The next lake was a mile further. Besides, my dad reminded, it could be just as crowded.

We decided to stake our claim here—but it seemed that every plot of dry, level ground was already taken. We plodded down the rocky trail, fearing we would have to hike on.

Then we found it: A private campsite nestled behind a high wall of granite. A lush meadow with a giggling brook beckoned us, and a small fire ring gave the place a cozy feel. We sank onto the cushy grass, thankful to be home for the night. That’s when we realized that the rock wall shielded us from our neighbors’ racket!

I thought of Psalm 91:1, “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” Just as the granite wall quieted the campground clatter, our private prayers with God muffle the distractions of the world. His presence brings us peace!

It works best if we have a place to be alone, and spend plenty of time praying there. Try it! Your quiet place in God’s shadow will soon become your cherished haven.

Hiking heavenward,

Teasing Brothers

Do you have brothers that like to tease? My two big brothers used to delight in inventing tall tales to trick their sisters. When I was kindergarten age, Cody convinced me that we had ferocious pythons chasing our vehicle, trying to puncture our tires with their fangs. Another time, when our parents went to the store to buy a special treat, Cody convinced me they would bring back slug ice cream. My parents returned to find me in tears. I wouldn’t eat any ice cream until my dad persuaded me that it was strawberry flavor—with no slugs at all! Cody laughed and laughed at my gullibility.

I learned to be wary of Cody’s stories, but Hud’s sarcastic remarks fooled me even in my teens. He especially liked to give bogus answers to “stupid” questions—whose answers I probably could have figured out myself. He’d keep a straight face and make his line so plausible that I often wouldn’t catch the untruth.

Today, my brothers speak honest, serious words that I value. Still, their lighthearted lies of the past taught me that human words often can’t be trusted.

Because we’ve been tricked and teased so often, we sometimes approach God’s Word with the same kind of caution I learned for my brothers’ tales. But God’s Word is different. It is always true. It is always powerful. We can always count on it! When God says something will happen, we can consider it done. By faith, we can claim every promise!

He’s trustworthy! Will you choose to believe Him?

Whitewater Rafting

I’d always wanted to try white water rafting, so I jumped at the opportunity to raft down the Salmon River in Idaho. Before we started, the guide warned that we’d encounter several rapids, but he assured us that he would get us through.

For some time after we pushed off, we floated gently down the river, enjoying the scenery and companionship. Suddenly our guide leaned forward. “Rapids just around the bend,” he called out. “Hold tight, and you’ll be fine.”

Moments later, the placid river turned into a foaming torrent. It took all my strength just to hold on, especially when the raft folded nearly in half as we slapped over a turbulent chute. My heart pounding with apprehension, I eyed a large rock jutting out of the midst of the river. Should I jump for it? I glanced at the guide, cutting through the water with clear, expert strokes, his eyes intent on the river ahead. In that moment, I knew my only safety was to stay with the guide. And, just as he had promised, he took us through without mishap.

When we arrived at the next set of rapids, I wasn’t nearly as nervous. We had an experienced guide, and I knew everything would be all right.

That expedition down the Salmon River reminds me of my Christian experience. Sometimes I encounter hard times—those uncomfortable rapids of life. At such times I can try to jump out and handle it on my own, or I can stick with the Guide.

There’s only one good option. I’m going to stay with the Guide. After all, He’s been there before me, and He knows what to do!