David C. Hughes, Writer

“For the LORD your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your JOY will be complete." –Deuteronomy 16:15

Archive for the month “November, 2013”

Out of the Mouths of Babes (2013-11-21 Daily)

The blind and the lame came to [Jesus] at the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant. 

 “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him. 

“Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, 

“‘From the lips of children and infants

    you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?”

–Matthew 21:14-16 (NIV)

 

After gymnastics one afternoon, I took my daughter, Hannah, then five, out on a Daddy-Daughter date at her favorite Mexican restaurant, Taco Cabana.  After we arrived and ordered our food, Hannah, volunteered to choose our table while I filled up her drink cup with lemonade and gathered plastic ware and napkins.  We sat down across from each other, and after our dinner arrived, I took her hand in mine and asked her to say Grace.  What came out of that little 3 foot 4 ½ inch, 35 pound five-year-old was totally unexpected.  Normally it’s a quick “God is great; God is good.  Let us thank him for our food. Amen,” in all sorts of silly voices, accents, and animal sounds.  But that evening it was different: it was the first time Hannah said Grace off-the-cuff, total improv.  At that moment heaven wrapped earth in its arms and I saw God’s Glory in the face of my daughter, heard God’s voice in the prayer of one of His dearest children:

“Daddy . . . Thank You for this food, and keep everyone safe who are in their cars.  Please bless this food.  Amen.”

She punctuated “Amen” with a sparkling brown-eyed smile, and I tell you, it was one of those moments that affirms the job I’m doing as a Daddy, and what my wife, Mary, is doing as a Mommy.  It was truly a kiss on the forehead from our heavenly Daddy!  Such simplicity out of the mouth and the heart of His precious daughter.  I melted with both pride and humility. This is what it’s all about, I thought.  This . . . moment . . . .

That same night, as I tucked Hannah into bed, I put my hand on her chest and began to pray my usual thanks and covering over her, but she interrupted me.  “Daddy,” she said, “let me say my prayer.”  She then launched into a prayer unlike any I’d prayed over her since she was hidden away in her mommy’s womb.  It rang so natural and true and clear and appreciative and so . . . in tune with the God of the Universe, her true Daddy.  When she finished I whispered “How can I top that?” and completed it with our “only good dreams” coda, which Hannah finished with “and no bad dreams!”  I wagged my finger and repeated “And no bad dreams!”  I kissed her goodnight, snapped off the lamp, and closed the door quietly behind me.

They say the children still have one foot in heaven and one foot on earth, that they see what we don’t see as adults, that they hear what we don’t hear as slaves shackled to the world and all its selfishness and distractions.  I believe it, I’ve seen it, I’ve heard it, I know it’s true.  My daughter’s got it, man!  She’s truly in touch.  She knows who her Daddy is despite my poor modeling of Him, despite my grumpiness and Mary’s yelling and my distractedness and our busy-ness.  Hannah knows and, despite us, she demonstrates joy and silliness and fun and life in the Spirit right here before our eyes.  She’s our teacher, not the other way around.

I kissed my tired daughter goodnight, turned out the light, and left her to her dreams.  Only good dreams, no bad ones . . . .

 

Copyright © 2013 David C. Hughes

Praise for His Works (2013-11-19 Daily)

Great are the works of the Lord; they are pondered by all who delight in them.

–Psalm 111:2

 

There’s no such thing as coincidence.  Period.  I’m convinced beyond a doubt that nothing “just happens,” that everything occurs for a purpose, that our experience of life is orchestrated within the realm of free will for our benefit, our protection, and our joy.  As Paul declared in Romans 8:28 “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  God connects the dots, even when we draw our lines way out of bounds, and He leads us gently back through the darkness of our wanderings by dropping white stones of destiny along our paths.

During my entire existence here on earth, but especially over the last several years, I’ve witnessed dozens of events the world would view as “coincidences,” but are too perfectly placed and impeccably timed to call them flukes, quirks, or happenstance.  I’m convinced what I’ve witnessed are God’s works, God’s movement among us, God’s little kisses on the cheek and big thwacks on the head confirming His very real presence in our lives.

Throughout my life God has dropped little stones and huge boulders of wonder along my path, and each time He zings me with another “happening,” I just gotta smile.  Then I run out and go tell it on the mountain!  Recently, as I turned the crank on Chapter 12 of my book, The Epiphany of Joy, I got bogged down in organizing my thoughts and words on the joy of giving.  The virtue of giving, this gift of the Spirit, is illustrated throughout Scriptures, but I was having trouble tying the words “joy” and “rejoice” to a Bible passage on giving to use as a good introductory quote.  So I turned to the next best thing: the internet.

There I found a couple of good quotes on goodreads.com and went on to incorporate them into the beginning of the chapter.  For the next hour or two I molded the first two-thirds of that chapter out of the clay of disjointed thoughts and misplaced themes, and finally had what I construed as a passable opening.  I was then poised to dive into the heart of giving as illustrated in Scripture, and needed to consult my ragged old New American Bible, a faded book plump with holy cards, study guides, and homemade bookmarks annotated with Scriptural citations.  But before I picked the Bible up off the floor (you should see my office . . . ugh), I turned back to my laptop to close the goodreads.com webpage.  I scrolled down the page a bit more to see if any additional quotes caught my eye, and a quote misattributed to St. Francis of Assisi popped out:  “For it is in giving that we receive.”  Yes!  The key quote to tie my thoughts together and conclude my chapter!

I cut and pasted the words into the document, then bent down to pick up my Bible.  As I lifted it from the floor, a 4×6 card the color of yellowed parchment cartwheeled out of the book and landed upside down on the floor.  I leaned down again and snatched it up to put back, and I couldn’t believe what I saw when I flipped the card over: “St. Francis Prayer,” the card was titled.  The third-to-last line in the prayer: “For it is in giving that we receive.”  I had not seen that card in years–maybe decades–and it had remained snugly in place while I’ve used that Bible time and again during the past several months.

Later that afternoon, as I pieced together stories and quotes from the books of 1and 2 Chronicles, Acts, Philippians, and 2 Corinthians, the Spirit revealed a common thread among all these passages: God looks at the heart of the giver more than at what we give.  And in the book of Philippians, God also confirmed His response to a giving attitude: “My God will fully supply whatever you need, in accord with his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19, NAB).  That particular passage rang true for me due to my continued insistence on holding on to the security of money rather than relinquishing total control of everything I own to YHWH Yireh, Hebrew for “The-Lord-Will-Provide.”  That scripture excited me and brought me a breath of peace.

The next morning, as is my habit, I began my quiet time by reading the day’s devotional from Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling.  “Rather than fearing your inadequacy,” the passage from October 10th read, “rejoice in My abundant supply.”  When I got to the bottom of the page for the Scripture readings for the day, one lit up with the brightness of God’s glory: Philippians 4:19.  Gotch ya!  Daddy had done it again!

Recently my wife, Mary, recognized that our six-year-old daughter, Hannah, needed new clothes–the girl is built like me: she’s about 40 inches tall and still weighs about 33 pounds, 13 pounds lighter than the average six-year-old girl according to the Body Mass Index charts used by pediatricians.  Chalk it up to her four-hour-a-day training sessions in the gym, and her birdlike appetite.  Needless to say her pants and shirts had gotten too short, her 4T underwear too tight.  A day or two after Mary assessed Hannah’s wardrobe and had resolved to start clothes shopping, she sent a text to one of our neighbors telling her she was on her way up to leave the ice cream maker we’d borrowed on her front porch.  “Sounds good,” our neighbor texted Mary. “I’ll leave your dog leash I borrowed and the latest round of clothes from Kelly.”  Kelly has two young daughters and she passes on the clothes they’ve outgrown.

Mary dropped off the ice cream maker, picked up the leash, and grabbed the plastic shopping bags full of clothes.  When she got home and opened the bags, she found all the clothes were size 6–exactly Hannah size! In six years I don’t think we’ve bought more than a dozen brand new articles of clothing for Hannah, yet her closet and dresser are almost full to overflowing.  Ka-ching!  Yet again!  YHWH Yireh, “The-Lord-Will-Provide.”

I’ve experienced so many of these incidences–both small and playful, and gigantic and life-changing–that I plan to write a book about them; my life is one giant connect-the-dots puzzle, and I’m now beginning to see the picture revealed by all those linked dots!  Jesus said in the Gospel of John: “Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.” (John 14:11).  God has placed too many of these dots throughout my life to call them anything other than miracles rather than mere coincidences.  Each incident, each work, is an outpouring of God’s grace, indisputable evidence wrapped in a miracle.

As the Psalmist exclaims in Psalm 96:3 “Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.”  As I continue to recognize the dots, I can’t help but declare His glory, because I clearly recognize His hand’s been on mine all along, guiding the pencil between the dots of my life, and creating an amazing picture for the world to see.

Copyright © 2013 by  David C. Hughes

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