Tuesday, November 13, 2012


The air was still as a whisper here in Wisconsin, while in the east the wind and sea were raging. Our emotional or spiritual storms also rage, at times so loud we can’t hear or see anything else. How encouraging and empowering to know that Jesus is in the midst of our storms, always ready to bring us stillness and peace. His words to the disciples during a storm at sea are meant for us, too. “Peace, be still.”


What Are We Crowing About?

Recently a huge flock of crows flew across the road and lit in the tall trees nearby. Their continual, raucous caws dimmed all other sounds. So much for my quiet musing as I puttered in my garden.

As scavengers, crows have a specific purpose on this earth, but they do not have a good reputation. They're infamous for stealing corn and for being incessantly noisy. Crows are even the focus of some sayings we've grown up with, such as, "She's an old crow," or "What are you crowing about now?"

The noisiness of crows reminds me of a story in the Old Testament. Following the exile of the Israelites, they returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. When the builders laid the foundation, the religious leaders led the people in thanksgiving to the Lord. Most of the people gave a great shout of praise. The older ones who had seen the former temple, however, cried aloud. They mourned its past beauty and splendor.

Ezra 3:13 tells the story clearly. "No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping, because the people made so much noise. And the sound was heard far away." Talk about confusing cacophony! Like a big flock of crows, those who wailed nearly drowned out the voices of the joyous people.

Sometimes unpleasant noises arise in and around our own lives, too—even in our churches. The world finds it hard to distinguish the sounds of joy from those of complaining or weeping. All of us would do well to ask ourselves what kind of noise we're making. Do we grouse about the changes that have happened to us, forgetting that change can mean new opportunities? Are we so stuck in our ruts of mediocre, unproductive, or senseless living that we can’t seem to move forward? Are we dwelling on what we've left behind and crying about it?

Pity parties are not fun to listen to. God forbid that we should be a part of them. The world needs to hear our joy in the Lord, which comes through experiencing a close relationship with Him. Then His joy will be evident as we share it through our own. Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs." (Psalm 100: 1-2)

Lord, forgive us for crying, like noisy crows, over the past. Help us remember Your countless reasons to be joyful. Train our voices to sing joyfully so the world will hear our praise. Fill our hearts with the joy that comes in knowing and serving You, our King. In Jesus' name, amen.

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