Change of Shell or Scenery: Christmas the Crab, Apostle Paul, and Us

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Although the cat will contest that she was the MOST neglected those two weeks that we were away on vacation, it was actually Christmas the crab who had the least attention. And while we were away, Christmas took on a new shell, a lighter weight one for sure, and maybe more roomy? Maybe not. At any rate, it’s a different style and a change of shell (even temporary) when you are not afforded a change of scenery except a short few minutes out of the aquarium once a month or so… (The cat actually gets a lot more attention, including her “net time” outside. No, it’s not as good as exploring outside but it will have to do. She escaped yesterday but all three of us surrounded her as she slows down so curious about outside.) 

Christmas moved back to his regular shell a few days later, maybe just not the right fit, who knows. Christmas seemingly never gets a change of his limited living space. But we do! We often have an opportunity to step away from the norm, to take a vacation day, a weekend away…. at least hopefully we do and hopefully we take advantage of it.  Change of scenery is what I appreciated during my recent vacation with all the sightseeing activities and new opportunities for learning, and just sitting outside with no mosquitoes, unlike here. I’ve now had dozens land on me in just a few days back home. 

In our vacation destination there was a hum of life late until the evening. In the countryside there were birds chirping and the hum of quiet – yes quiet makes a noticeable buzz of a vacuum of removing stress, matched with brilliant sunsets. In the countryside I heard dogs yammering to each other.  Dogs are allowed in parks and dining patios, castles and everywhere. A dog’s life is not having to be working except companionship… however we have to work, and what a blessing for vacation… what a blessing when we become companionship and others to us.

Plus vacation meant knowing happily that I took the journey. One week later now home, the vacation feeling slips away but remembering to sit and relax remains, and knowing that entering storms does too. God will always be with us in all situations. We have to hit the ground running quite often. 

What most I noticed in me was reminding myself to NOT have to hussle (except for one airport connection, and when we had to get to that boat tour). I mentally had to say to myself, SIT HERE! Absorb the moment. Take advantage of the change of pace and to relax. I noticed that I didn’t need chewing gum at all this vacation to deal with stress!

Stress – we flee from it but sometimes the Lord sends us INTO the storms not just out. Sometimes He calms the child instead of the waves. My scripture connection is with Paul being moved around but with purpose. 

Apostle Paul was one of those people God sent into situations,  storms, changes of scenery. (Even many months, God said “Sit here” – and Paul took the time to write letters which are now crucially in the Word.)… 

Paul, traveling with Luke (Dr. Luke who wrote down the book of Acts), got a major change of scenery when he being taken prisoner to Rome, was held up in bad seas and crash landed in Malta. A change of scenery came happily when he recognized the people who loved him in Rome. A change of scenery purposefully when he was speaking to the Jewish leaders in Rome. God told Paul that he would go to Rome because God wanted him there.

Today, where will God take us or command us to go? Where will we crash land? What prison will still be purposeful? What people will He drop in front of us? Hmmmm…

Yesterday I got an unusual call, I didn’t even blink, it was like automatic motion. I was listening to a prayer service on the radio and the preacher teacher Pastor Joe said pray with the people who had stood at the service because they just were feeling at the end of their rope, throwing in the towel, needing prayer. Immediately I was driving by 3 people abandoning their broken down car on the turnpike, parked safe, they decided to start on foot. I felt the frustration on their faces before I saw them, just kinda knew to pull over and said hop in. I believe God’s timing is perfect and I believe we are all called into action if we pick up on tiny clues and big ones. It was about 20 minutes out of my way (10 up 10 back) but I still got my kids’ food orders in, pizza picked up etc. Three at home fed, got home fine). And they did have a destination of a brother’s repair shop and a plan and although someone else surely would have helped, this seemed like it was presented as a window God made available to me to do this. 

In the car we did have one of the best faith conversations that I think I have ever had, speaking of Jesus and Heaven, Revelation 22 and Rapture, mega churches and little ones, how we were raised, etc… (of course the music I had on and the cross dangling from my mirror probably cued the conversations). This was a bigger condensed conversation with strangers traveling than with close relatives nearby. I think this is how Paul felt his opportunities for preaching teaching conversations. Presented. God’s change of scenery brings opportunity. One of the three said he had just asked Him (the big Him) for a safe ride, and that’s when I pulled up. We ARE God’s taxi service aren’t we? as well as His passengers? Yes.. 

No, I don’t normally pick up strangers, but God just gave me the right feeling at the right time and action and ability, and a semi-empty Subaru too. It will be a distant memory soon, like my vacation memories fade, but the feeling of God calling me into service? So clear.

God’s change of scenery brings opportunity:

That’s a clear call. 

God knows all.

Answer God’s call.

Amen

—-

Acts 28:23-end

They [the Jewish leaders in Rome] arranged to meet Paul on a certain day, and came in even larger numbers to the place where he was staying. He witnessed to them from morning till evening, explaining about the kingdom of God, and from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets he tried to persuade them about Jesus.  Some were convinced by what he said, but others would not believe. They disagreed among themselves and began to leave after Paul had made this final statement: “The Holy Spirit spoke the truth to your ancestors when he said through Isaiah the prophet:

“‘Go to this people and say,

“You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.” For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes.

Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’

“Therefore I want you to know that God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen!”  After he said this, the Jews left, arguing vigorously among themselves.

For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!

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