By Charlotte Riegel –
We moved to a Hamlet two years ago with the dream of establishing another tourist attraction, adding to the few gift shops, restaurants, art gallery, museum, and live theatre already there. My husband’s passion is model trains and this hobby has been slowly expanding over many years.
I often chuckle as people stop in front of our house in summer. They “ooooh” and “ahhhh” about the small G Scale model train display we have in our front yard. “It’s just a teaser for what’s to come,” I tell them.
I attempt to describe the large indoor layout currently in storage but discern ‘they don’t get it’. “There will also be trains running throughout our yard with one track going completely around our house.” Their happy expressions while watching the ‘teaser’ chug around a small oval track makes it hard to wait for their sure delight when they see the final product.
I often say to my husband, “They have no idea what’s coming.”
Early in February while travelling west on a major ring road around Calgary late in the afternoon, I noticed an amazing display of sun dogs. The north one was so bright, it was hard to look at directly. Because I was driving I dared not take a concentrated look. As I glanced at it from time to time there emanated a gorgeous rainbow extending both up and down, coming from this sun dog. Sometimes the rainbows were quite short and other times they were very long. It was breath-taking.
The next morning while waking up and talking to God, I thanked Him for the amazing sky scene I had seen the previous day. He whispered, “You have no idea.” He knew I would immediately understand this phrase, having used it often in relation to our model trains.
“What God has planned for people who love him is more than eyes have seen or ears have heard. It has never even entered our minds!” (1 Corinthians 2:9 CEV).
By Charlotte Riegel –
It was dusk as we headed onto the road for an appointment in the city. We had not even climbed out of our valley when I spotted a deer ambling along the opposite side of the road a short distance ahead. My husband, the driver, did not see it, so I calmly but pointedly said, “Deer.”
He did not let up speed so I repeated, “Deer!” with a bit more force, anxiety rising. Still no response from my faithful and very good driver. By this time we were almost beside the animal and I feared it might cross the road in front of us, a very common practice that often ends with dreadful, and sometimes deadly, results.
I shouted, “DEER!” which finally got his attention and he began slowing speed. We whizzed by and thankfully the animal did not cross the road in front of us. All of this happened in a few seconds’ time span and I was baffled as to why hubby had not responded sooner. While discussing it after the fact, he confessed to hearing “dear”, not “deer”.
A very long dialogue ensued as to how I might have said it differently to get his attention about the crisis we were encountering. Perhaps next time I’ll rapidly blurt, “There is a deer on the road ahead!” and point towards it as well.
This incident reminds me how easy it is to use ‘Christianese’ when speaking about our faith to others, yet in reality fail to communicate what we actually mean in a language they understand.
“The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life” (John 6:63 NIV).
Prayer: Dear God, grant me wisdom to know what to say and how to say it when alerting others to physical danger or spiritual danger, especially when there is little time to think through what we need to say.
By Charlotte Riegel –
The private Facebook message was short and cutting. I sat reeling from the news. Composing my thoughts I sent a brief reply and asked a few questions. His response was even more painful than the first message and indicated he did not wish to communicate further.
Our relationship had a long history, a considerably rocky one, but I had no idea it had deteriorated to this. Admittedly, there had been minimal communication between us recently. It had been a long time since I had mastered an all-nighter, but this turned out to be one of my best for not sleeping. My mind simply would not turn off. After drinking chamomile tea to encourage much-needed sleep I spent the next few hours eliminating it, thereby counteracting the original purpose.
The following day I felt remarkably good for not having slept. My husband and I were encouraged by a conversation with someone mutual to both sides of this broken relationship and were directed to seek counselling. Another brief message was sent apologizing for our part in his current pain and opening the door for some bridge building over the murky waters. The ball had been tossed back into his court and we would await his move, hoping there would be one.
I survived the day much better than expected, however, as bedtime approached I was on a second wind. “Oh God, I need rest. Your Word promises that You give rest to Your people. Please help me sleep tonight.” Once again I tossed and turned, then rose for a journal hunt that might give insights into my head and heart space of many years prior when some of the issues first arose. And, I had another cup of chamomile tea in hopes of better results. After a few hours without success in finding the journals, I once again tried sleeping. This time, success. “Thank You, Lord.”
The next day was Sunday. As we prepared for the typical Soup Sunday at our church, I felt anger and bitterness rising from thoughts about the broken relationship. By the time we arrived at church I felt like a witch and had little of anything pleasant to say to anyone. It seemed best to keep silent. My feeble attempts to engage in worship were useless.
I scribbled a note to my husband indicating I would not be staying for the fellowship meal and planned to give it to him just before the benediction. Then we sang the song, “Lord, Listen to Your Children Praying”. I dissolved in tears. I could not even mentally articulate a prayer but God must have heard the cry of my heart because He sent a vision of one sheep leaving its fold and being attacked by a pack of wolves. The message was clear and I decided to stay. A sense of peace wrapped around me like a warm blanket and the bitter, angry feelings dissipated.
“Stop being bitter and angry and mad at others. Don’t yell at one another or curse each other or ever be rude. Instead, be kind and merciful, and forgive others, just as God forgave you because of Christ” (Ephesians 4:31-32 CEV).
“Surrender to God! Resist the devil, and he will run from you. Come near to God, and he will come near to you” (James 4:7-8 CEV).
By Charlotte Riegel –
I left in plenty of time for the meeting, allowing for possible challenging road conditions on this cold, yet sunny winter day. The wind had picked up causing some drifting. It became increasingly difficult to see the center line or the edge of the road where drifts had filled in the ditches making the division between road and ditch impossible to determine.
“God bless the person who invented the life-saving rumble strips for the center of the road,” I muttered while driving on them whenever there was no oncoming traffic. I passed one vehicle being assisted out of the ditch. Mental note – ‘The roads are icy.’
Slowing speed, I put on the flashers to caution vehicles behind me. After turning onto a more prominent and better maintained highway I soon began sliding around. The road was covered in ice and I was severely challenged to keep control of my vehicle. When my truck began a fancy dance all over the road I realized I had lost control. A quick glance up the hill ahead indicated no traffic. Meanwhile I fought a losing battle on the ice. Spinning around and heading toward the opposite ditch I said, “Oh God, help me.” It was not a panic-filled shriek but rather a simple resigning of my fate to God.
The vehicle came to a stop with one tire resting in the snow just off the road. Breathing a sigh of relief and regaining composure, I decided to abandon my planned trip to town and head back home since that’s the way the truck was now facing. ‘Rocking’ the vehicle was out of the question as it would send me into the snow packed ditch. I was facing downhill with gravity and ice teasing my ability to get the vehicle onto the road. Each little attempt at backing up eventually got me fully onto the road and I carefully headed home.
Once safely in my driveway, I allowed my body to take over and ‘crash’. I did not cry, but felt very shaky and exhausted for nearly an hour, all the while pondering if God sent an angel to stop my vehicle from going fully into the ditch and then to help push me back onto the road.
‘Oh God, help me.’ Such an easy, simple phrase. No hype, no hysteria, just a calm plea for help.
Prayer: Thank you, God, for showing me anew how easy it is to ask You for help. May I never forget. May I also be diligent to give you praise and thanks for help bestowed. Amen.
“Every time I’m in trouble I call on You, confident that You’ll answer” (Psalm 86:7 MSG).
By Charlotte Riegel –
Have you noticed the rear-view mirror in vehicles is much smaller than the windshield? It has a purpose but is not as important to our movement as the very much larger window we look through while driving forward.
A good driver will frequently do a quick check in the rear-view mirror to note if anything is approaching from behind that needs attention. However, focusing on what is behind is very detrimental to the safety of the vehicle being driven and its passengers; unless one is backing up, in which case focusing on what is behind is definitely necessary. Elementary information to anyone who has a legitimate driver’s license.
And what about our lives as we move forward? Focusing on what is past may cause us to crash into what lies ahead. Yes, we need to look back to the years behind for quick reference points and sometimes to regain our bearings for where we are going. However, just like driving a vehicle, it is dangerous to focus on what has already past in our lives.
Yes, there are exceptions. Sometimes we’ve taken a wrong turn and it’s necessary to ‘go back’. In these instances we make a U-turn and are once again looking forward to go back in order to make a life correction. Unless the correction is a very short distance back we will not be using the rear-view mirror to go back. Maybe we have forgotten something at the last stop and need to return to pick it up. This is not an exhaustive list but I trust you will understand the message. Focusing on the rear-view mirror will not help you successfully move forward in life.
“I do not claim that I have already succeeded or have already become perfect. I keep striving to win the prize for which Christ Jesus has already won me to himself. Of course, my friends, I really do not think that I have already won it; the one thing I do, however, is to forget what is behind me and do my best to reach what is ahead. So I run straight toward the goal in order to win the prize, which is God’s call through Christ Jesus to the life above” (Philippians 3:12-14 GNT).
“If you want to drive ahead, look through the windscreen and drive, not through the rear-view mirror!” rajuda