Posts Tagged With: God

The Tale of a Honey Bee

I sit at the front desk in my office, facing large glass double doors. Just outside the front doors are flowers and bushes that attract honey bees and hummingbirds. I love watching them through the window throughout the day.

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This morning, however, I heard a buzzing sound and noticed that a honey bee had been trapped inside. He was flying against the glass door on the right, frantically trying to get out. In an attempt to rescue him, I walked over to the door and discovered that it was locked. So I opened the door on the left instead. This poor little honey bee wouldn’t leave the door he was at to fly to the open door. His escape was a mere two feet to his left, and he didn’t know it was there.

I tried to move him to the left using a business card, but he flew away from my business card and went straight back to flying against the door. Exasperated, I propped the left door open with a rock and went back to my desk. By now, I was completely invested in the fate of my little honey bee. I watched.

He flew closer to the ground – always against that door – and then suddenly he was hovering a couple inches above the floor without moving around. Confused, I walked over, only to discover that my little friend had been wrapped in a spider web, with the spider crawling toward him. I panicked, grabbed my business card again, moved the spider away, gently brushed some of the spider webs off the bee, and then picked the bee up and carried him outside through the door that had been open to him the whole time.

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This little honey bee has been on my mind all day, and I have learned a couple of very valuable lessons.

As I watched him fight against that door, which would never open for him, I pictured myself stuck against my own doors throughout life – bad habits, sins, dead-end jobs or relationships, activities that have wasted my time away – any situation where I am no longer moving forward toward my goals.

How often are we so stuck that we cannot see the open door two feet away?

And then, to my dismay, when he didn’t move away from that door, he found himself trapped. He was no longer in control of his situation, or his life, for that matter. Had I not interfered, he would have died there.

But here comes the second valuable lesson: I did interfere. I found myself in the position of a rescuer (albeit a frantic one). Despite my frustrations when he wouldn’t fly in the direction I wanted him to move, my love for that gentle little honey bee – small and insignificant as he might seem – would not allow me to sit back and watch him die. And I thought of my Savior and His ministering angels interfering in my life when I have simply lost control.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said, “My beloved brothers and sisters, I testify of angels, both the heavenly and the mortal kind. In doing so I am testifying that God never leaves us alone, never leaves us unaided in the challenges that we face. …On occasions, global or personal, we may feel we are distanced from God, shut out from heaven, lost, alone in dark and dreary places. Often enough that distress can be of our own making, but even then the Father of us all is watching and assisting. And always there are those angels who come and go all around us, seen and unseen, known and unknown, mortal and immortal.”

My question for you today: Against what closed doors are you flying?

I challenge you to examine your life. Look for those bad habits, those unnecessary ruts, those sins that are holding you back. Then move away from them! When one door closes, another one opens. We just have to be brave enough to move so that we can see the open door.

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We Are Saying Thank You, Jesus

Each morning at Potter’s Village, they have a “devotion,” where they sing several religious songs, pray, and hear a spiritual message from one of the resident reverends or one of the older kids. One of the songs has been stuck in my head all day. It says, “We are saying thank you, Jesus. Thank you, my Lord.” I think those are the only words, but repeated many times.

First of all, I love starting each day with this devotional, even though I only understand half of it. I hope to learn many of their songs while I’m here. Anyway…because of this song, I’ve been contemplating the many tender mercies God has shown me since I left home – and they are many. No bug bites, no sunburn, only minor sickness, easy-going fellow volunteers, safety in crowds, running into the missionaries from my faith on Saturday so that I could find the church Sunday morning, two fellow volunteers who joined me for church even though they knew nothing about it, children who warm up quickly and show love constantly, a cook who makes popcorn (a snack I eat nearly every day at home and thought I would really miss) every morning which helps me feel at home here, a baby who contracted malaria and was able to come home from the hospital today, and many, many others. “Thank you, my Lord.”

Today I successfully and safely rode a trotro by myself to Madina and back (about 45 minutes each way). I also learned how to wash my clothes by hand…and realized what a wussy American I am when a 15 year old girl (Mawrine) took pity on me and began to help. I have only washed my underwear so far, and yet my hands are actually raw. But I’ll get it down!

At the orphanage, I spent some time having the kids read to me. Some of them are really good at it!

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Speaking of tender mercies, three new volunteers came today, just as we were beginning to worry that we wouldn’t have enough help. They are only here for a couple of weeks more (they transferred from another orphanage placement in Ghana), but it’s great to have them!

Today I also said goodbye to seven of our teenagers who, thanks to a lot of time and dedication from one of the volunteers, are heading to senior high school (boarding school) in the morning. They are each receiving money from sponsors, which allows them to finish their education! It’s very, very cool. There are still a few who are waiting for sponsor money in order to go, but this is a great start!

Stay tuned for my experience with a Ghanaian band. It’s a great story with some fun videos. For now, goodnight!

Categories: Ghana Volunteer | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Re: Messages or Medicine?

A thought related to my post Messages or Medicine?

A friend, after reading my blog, pointed out the connection between Moses’ staff and serpent and the medical symbol. I’m a little ashamed I have never made the connection, but I feel it is also a story that deserves to be told (as an alternative to the Rod of Asclepius).

This one comes from the Bible, in Numbers 21. The Israelites, while wandering in the wilderness, are plagued by fiery serpents with poisonous, deadly venom. Moses prays in behalf of the Israelites, and then, as instructed by the Lord, he makes a serpent of brass and puts it on a pole. He then tells the Israelites that to be healed from the bite of the fiery serpents, they need only look at the brass serpent on the pole.

The New Testament, in John 3, adds another perspective by teaching that the serpent is a symbol of Jesus Christ. John 3:14-16 says, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Thus, the medical symbol becomes a symbol not of Asclepius the healer but of Jesus Christ the Healer.

As I have studied world religions, these types of connections dominate the stories, traditions, and legends taught by various cultures. They have differences (mostly, I believe, due to passing the stories down verbally before they were ever written), but the similarities are astounding. This is not to lessen the truth of them–as I personally believe the Bible story to be true–it’s just interesting that they seem to sprout from one common thread.

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Courage

Courage

COURAGE

A dear friend of mine gave me a framed photo this weekend that had this quote:

“Courage is the decision to place your dreams above your fears.” -Unknown

I can’t stop thinking about it. Maybe it’s because I am about to embark on an adventure (See Beginnings of an African Adventure) that is both dream-fulfilling and somewhat terrifying. Or maybe it’s because I have been pondering a lot lately on the idea of trusting in God versus trusting in oneself–and somehow the battle of courage versus fear seems to mix well into my ponderings.

It’s difficult for me to think about courage without also thinking about the God in whom I find my strength. I believe that fear always comes from the devil and never from God–same with discouragement, inadequacy, and many other feelings that keep us from living our dreams. God sends peace, hope, strength, and yes, courage. But yet that unsettled feeling we sometimes get can be God telling us–warning us–not to make certain decisions. So where do we draw the line? How do we know that it’s fear coming from Satan instead of a warning from God?

There’s a passage in the Book of Mormon that I absolutely love (well, there are a lot of passages that I love, but this particular one is relevant here :)). It’s found in Moroni 7:12-13. This is the prophet Mormon, speaking to his people. He says, “Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually. But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.” The chapter continues on to discuss the Spirit of Christ which is given to all of us to judge good from evil (what many would describe as a “conscience”).

There’s the answer. If we are doing something good, and we feel fear about it, that is the devil trying to influence us–to stop us–from serving God and our fellowmen. We should press forward, trusting in God, working to do His will, and spreading goodness and light. Hopefully those dreams we’re pursuing will positively impact the world.

Here’s where the trust in God vs. trust in oneself discussion comes in. In Proverbs 3:5-6, it says, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” I think sometimes we say we trust in God, and then we struggle with feelings of personal inadequacy–as if somehow believing in the greatness and power of deity lessens our own worth or our own abilities. I think it’s actually the opposite. I am a daughter of God. As such, I have been blessed with sense, good judgment, talents, intelligence, and many other blessings. The Lord expects us to use the judgment He has given us to make our own decisions. He never intended to make our decisions for us–guide us, help us, warn us, yes–but not dictate our every move.

One more thought on this, which comes from a discourse Moses gave to the children of Israel. Deuteronomy 31:6 says, “Be strong and of good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” When we are doing His will, we have no reason to fear.

I would define courage, then, as the ability to choose a good path, trust in God to guide you on that path, and fight against the devil’s disabling fear in order to accomplish your dreams.

But then again, maybe that’s a little too long for a quote on a framed photo.

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