A Lesson in Sudoku

Photo by John Morgan on Unsplash (cropped)

“You have taken account of my wanderings. Put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book?” Psalm 56:8

Lately I have been going through a tough time, and have repeatedly cried out to the Lord to have it end. Enough already! Uncle!! This is me, waving my white flag!

The Lord always gets His points across in unusual ways, doesn’t He?

This morning I was playing a game of sudoku on my phone. You know, they say that brain games keep our minds sharp (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it).

I set the game on the medium setting. Not too easy, but not so challenging that it is discouraging.

I’m not sure how others play, but I have a system. I begin with the number 1, and go in order through the numbers, repeating until I have completed the game – unless an obvious move jumps out at me. I played the number 1, and placed all 9 of them on the board in one round. I then played the number 2, and placed all of them in one round. “Wow, that’s surprising,” I thought.

Number 3 was the same, followed by 4, and then 5. When I got to number 6, I couldn’t place them all, but I placed all the 7s and 9s. I only had to repeat numbers 6 and 8 one time each, and then the game was over.

There was no challenge at all. It was so easy. It was actually pretty… dull.

I quickly understood the object of the lesson the Lord was teaching me. If things were as easy as I would like them to be, my life, too, would be dull. It is anything but that!

Imagine planning a trip to your favorite amusement or theme park. You’ve rented the car, booked the hotel, and purchased the tickets online at a discount. You have a cooler full of snacks and drinks to help ease the long drive, and you set off, eagerly anticipating your arrival.

You step foot inside the park and see toddler rides. A carousel here, a giant swing over there. You keep walking and find more of the same. You eventually cover the entire park, completely baffled. Where are the water rides? Where are the adventure rides? Where are the rollercoasters?

You inquire of a worker and discover that the park owners had played it safe and stuck to the gentler, smoother rides. You feel kind of cheated. You came all this way for… dull?

“Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual, but as worldly – as infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for solid food. In fact, you are still not ready, for you are still worldly.” 1 Corinthians 3:1-3

“When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child. When I became a man, I did away with childish things.” 1 Corinthians 13:11

King David didn’t play it safe. Neither did Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Noah, Joseph, Samson, John the Baptist, Peter, Paul or Jesus, Yeshua. They lived, they conquered, and their lives inspire us to do the same.

As always, You’re right, Lord. The easiest path is not the most rewarding. Help us to remember that Your plans are good, and that You are growing us up into the mature believers that You created us to be.

“As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the bones are formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.” Ecclesiastes 11:5

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash


Photo by Daniel o’dowd on Unsplash

This post is part of a writing challenge I took part in to stretch my writing. Five Minute Friday’s word for the day was “Quiet.” This is spontaneous writing in only 5 minutes.  

“Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; like a weaned child rests against his mother, my soul is like a weaned child within me.” Psalm 131:2

It’s a funny thing about writing prompts. I saw the word for the day, quiet, and immediately several Bible verses came to mind. I had no clue about what to write, mind you, but I had the verses. The first one that came to mind is the one above. What a word picture. These soon followed:

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.” Psalm 46:1-3

“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3

I couldn’t leave out these two verses, because they have been everywhere I’ve turned lately:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

These verses prompted me to wonder two things:

  1. Does my life look anything like what is portrayed in these verses right now?
  2. Why is the Lord repeating those two verses over and over again?

Well, a bit of introspection has shed light on both.

First, the Lord loves me, and knows exactly what I need, and when I need it. He knows when I’m discouraged and need a prod to get me back on track. I know that He’s good, He’s in charge, His plans for me are good, and that all things will work together for good because I love Him, but sometimes… sometimes I need to be reminded to live what I believe and trust, even when it is hard.

Second, no, right now my life looks nothing like what I read in those verses. That’s where I want to be, though. I want to be so close to the Lord, wrapped in His enveloping presence, that the storms can’t even touch me.

Wouldn’t that be nice? You probably feel the same. You may have already accomplished it. You might be thinking that you learned those lessons long ago in Christian Living 101.

I did, too. I’ve been up on the mountain top, but I’ve spent a lot more time in the valley. It seems to me that the valley is where we grow the most. That’s where the fruit grows best, after all. If you’re in the valley, too, be encouraged. You’re not there alone, and because the Lord is good, and in charge, has good plans for you, and works all things together for your good, He will see to it that you bear good fruit while you’re there.

I’m reminded of an old song that I haven’t heard in years by 4Him, Where There is Faith. This is part of the chorus:

Where there is faith
There is a voice calling,
keep walking
You’re not alone in this world
Where there is faith
There is a peace like a child sleeping
Hope everlasting in He who is able to
Bear every burden, to heal every hurt in my heart
It is a wonderful, powerful place
Where there is faith

Here is a link for your listening pleasure: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sm6MG4HTKSU

Quiet. In the middle of chaos, quiet. Like Peter walking on the water in the middle of a storm and being rescued by Jesus, Yeshua. Let’s keep our eyes on Him and not the storms that surround us. Quiet.

A side note on Jeremiah 29:11:

The word translated here as prosper is also translated as welfare in some translations. The original word in Hebrew is shalam, meaning to be complete or sound. A word study also linked the word to shalom, defined as completeness, soundness, welfare, peace. I was listening to a teaching recently on prosperity, and the speaker mentioned that our Western mindsets view prosperity as an accumulation of wealth, but that’s not what they understood when the Lord spoke that to Jeremiah. They understood it to mean complete, lacking nothing. As in Psalm 23, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” Or in other words, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I lack nothing.”


Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash

This originally appeared on my personal Facebook page as part of a writing challenge I participated in to stretch my writing:  Five Minute Friday’s 31 DAYS OF FIVE MINUTE FREE WRITES. This is spontaneous writing in only 5 minutes. The word for the day was “Voice.”

“Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth; break forth—let your cry ring out, and sing praises!” Psalm 98:4

I have always wanted to have a beautiful singing voice. I would love to sing confidently in church and not worry about hurting anyone’s ears. Alas, that I do not have that much desired gift. There’s a verse for people like me – make a joyful NOISE to the Lord. And so I do.

The Lord may not have given me that prized singing voice, but He has given me a voice nonetheless. For most of my life, I was very quiet. I was afraid to raise my hand in school, and afraid to talk in front of people. That followed me into adulthood, where I preferred to stay within my silent cocoon, too afraid to step out of my comfort zone and even start a conversation with someone. People labeled me as shy, but in reality, my quietness was just to cover up my belief that I had nothing of importance to say. If I had nothing of value to speak, why embarrass myself by opening my mouth?

The Lord has been working on me, though. He has been so gentle with me, giving me opportunities to speak with many people through a new position my employer has given me. I speak with people I don’t know every single day.

Someone recently told me I have a voice, and that the Lord wants me to use it. He seems to want me to use that voice in writing, and only He knows the reason. 

You have a voice, too. You have a story, a testimony, a piece of wisdom that can help someone else. Don’t be shy, and don’t believe the voice that tells you that you have nothing to say, or that you can’t say it well, or that it doesn’t matter. It matters, and YOU matter. You never know whose life you may influence, and that influence just may change the world. 

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows if perhaps you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14

“Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’” Isaiah 6:8