Monthly Archives: January 2015

Stepping Stones


Little Vermillion

Those who knew my father, knew that “fishing” ran a close second to “loving God.”  Yes, he loved his family, but we soon learned that spending time with Dad meant  “going  fishing.”  The only time I ever played hooky from school was the spring day that Dad told our family, “It’s too nice a day to go to school. We’re goin’ fishin’.”

Anyone that ever went fishing with my dad also knew that he never stayed in one spot long. If he didn’t get a nibble on his line in ten minutes, he started walking along the creek bank looking for another  fishing hole.  If he had no luck on one side of the stream, he would cross to the other side.

When the creek was high from rains, he would cross by walking on a fallen log that spanned the  water. When the water was low, he would find  a shallow place and cross on rocks that protruded from either still or  swift flowing water. I balked at crossing on the logs, but often followed him across the stream on the stepping stones.

He would say, “Mart, step where I step.”  He selected stones that my short legs could reach, and I would finally make the last jump to the bank, proud that my feet were still dry.”

Sometimes, though, as we neared the other bank, I would see a couple other rocks that looked bigger and easier to leap to and I would choose those rocks rather than the ones he had chosen.  You can guess the rest of the story. I would either be stuck on a rock and wailing or end up with wet feet.

We often do that with God. He orders the steps of our lives in ways suited to our particular stride and ways that will enable us to safely reach a distant goal. Whether it be the completion of a work he has given us to do, or the completion of our life,  he wants to show us the best way to go.  Instead of patiently following his steps, though, we rush to complete the work in our own way , or we take a path that seems a little easier and we find ourselves in a mess or stranded and wailing, “Help!”

           God’s Word emphasizes the importance of following his steps.

 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 1 Peter 2:21
LORD, I know that people’s lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps. Jeremiah 10:23
A person’s steps are directed by the LORD. How then can anyone understand their own way?  Proverbs 20:24
In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps. Proverbs 16:9
The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him.
Psalms 37:23

Martha Hawn VanCise©2015
Photo: Martha VanCise


Outer Fringes

Hubble Telescope

Job spoke of the suspension of earth over nothing, the spread of the northern skies,  waters bundled in clouds, and the powerful churning of the sea. He ended his observations by saying about God, “And these are but the outer fringe of his works; how faint the whisper we hear of him! Who then can understand the thunder of his power?”

Millennia later, we see farther into  God’s creation and his works than Job could see. The Hubble and ever-larger telescopes reveal planets and galaxies considered to be billions of light years away. A recent headline “Secret worlds ‘lurking’ in the outer fringes of the solar system,” reveals how little we still know.

No matter what we discover with our telescopes, our electron microscopes that can make images to a resolution half the width of a hydrogen atom, or the Large Hadron Collider we will still see only the outer fringe of God’s works. God’s paths are beyond tracing out.

How faint the whisper we hear of him!
Who then can understand the thunder of his power?

Martha Hawn VanCise©2014
*Job 26:7-8, 12a, 14; Romans 11:33
Photo: Hubble

A Fresh Battery

A Fresh Vision

The rechargeable batteries for my Nikon camera carried a strong charge for several years, but after a while the batteries would only recharge enough for a couple shots. I finally had to admit, it was time to buy a new expensive battery.

In my young adult years, I heard older people longingly speak about the six-week revivals that changed communities. To me, what I was experiencing and witnessing in my generation was powerful and satisfying. I thrived on ten-day revivals and camp meetings. Now that I’m older I find myself wishing my grandchildren could experience the awe I felt when walking into a camp meeting where we worshiped God with exuberant singing and left spiritually satiated.

Here and there, people still find refreshment in scattered revivals and camp meetings, but these events are increasingly rare. While stadium crusades currently draw crowds in the southern hemisphere, they now have little appeal to North Americans or Europeans. Some methods of communicating Christ no longer carry the power that they did in the past. It’s time to ask ourselves, “Should we keep trying to go back and revive what served one generation well but carries a weak signal to a  rising generation?”

Charles Cowman, co-founder of OMS* said, “Find God’s plan for your generation and get in line with it.” Where and how is God changing lives in the rising generation?  We must ask that God reload our lives with a new vision – the vision he has for the rising generation. We must ask how to encourage and support those who are battling evil that never entered our mind or imagination when we were young. God’s plan continues through all generations but each generation must embrace a fresh vision of God and his plan for their generation.

Fresh visions are costly. They come through prayer, study of God’s Word, fasting, cultural awareness, a concern for those who have never known God’s forgiveness and for those who struggle in their walk with God. Fresh visions come through willingness to set aside our familiar, comfortable,  way of thinking and allow God to show us his ever-unfolding plan.

Martha Hawn VanCise ©2015

* (Formerly Oriental Missionary Society, now One Mission Society)