Blink

LORD, what is man, that You regard him, the son of man that You think of him? Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow. Psalm 144:3-4

I knew I hadn’t written in awhile, due to many life changes over the last year, but I had no idea that so much time had passed since I last sat down to write.  It seems like I blinked, and here I am.

My last remaining grandparent left his earthly body on the 4th of July.  He was 99 years old.  My youngest son and I had plans to go visit him and my parents, who live in another state, in August. In the Father’s Day card I sent my grandfather, I expressed my excitement to see him soon, but that was not to be.  Instead, on the night we celebrate our freedom here in the United States, he was set free from the earthly body that was worn and tired.  A night of celebration across the country.  Was there celebrating in heaven as well?

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business, and make a profit.” You do not even know what will happen tomorrow! What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord is willing, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:13-15

My grandfather was a WWII veteran, and proudly wore a WWII veteran hat whenever he left the house.  The small town he lived in during his senior years is a military town, and they treat their veterans very well.  It was not unusual for him to go out to dinner and have his entire meal, including tip, paid for anonymously.  When I was with him out in public, I saw how appreciative people were, often stopping to thank him for his service.

Some of my best childhood memories include my grandfather.

He and my grandmother lived on a lake when I was growing up, and he would take me fishing early on the mornings when I was visiting.  He taught me how to bait a hook, cast the line, and wait quietly and patiently until we had enough fish for breakfast.  We would come home with our catch, where he would clean and cook it.  The two of us would eat our delicious breakfast on the back patio with a view of the lake.  If the weather was bad and we couldn’t fish, he would make pancakes, and he always had strawberry or blueberry syrup in the pantry.  Breakfasts with my grandfather are my favorite memories of him.

My grandfather taught me to swim, and tried, unsuccessfully, to teach me to water ski as well.  He taught me how to drive a snowmobile, and told me to never say, “I can’t.”  He hung a wooden swing with rope on a huge tree for me, where I spent many hours singing songs and thinking about life.

My parents and grandparents came to one of my elementary school music performances.  I was just learning to play the saxophone, the very one my grandparents had purchased for my dad when he was in school.  I was so nervous, and looked out often to see the familiar faces of my family for reassurance.  My father and grandfather both worked in construction, and my grandfather had been involved in the building of my school.  Throughout the performance, he kept looking up at the ceiling, proudly declaring it a job well done.  And it was.  If anything is worth doing, it’s worth doing well.

It seems that I just blinked, and he was gone.

Wisdom is found with the elderly, and understanding comes with long life. Job 12:12

My youngest son is visiting from overseas, and he will leave for a country in Africa with his father when the summer is over.  It has been a busy summer, but in the quieter times, I have reflected on how quickly time passes, and have been thankful for the Lord’s constant presence and guidance throughout the years.

It is not easy preparing for my son to leave again.  He celebrated his 15th birthday here with family and friends.  It seems like just a few years ago he was born, the dark-haired little bundle who was brought to my hospital room.  He was wrapped tightly in a blanket, and he wrapped himself just as tightly around my heart.

I blinked, and was in Mongolia at a crossroads with my ex-husband.  Would our young son, seven at the time, live with him and travel or live with me near family and have more stability?  I prayed and prayed, planning what I would say in my defense.  When the time for a decision came, I said not a word.  I could not, and need not.  His father stated that he thought it best that our son be with his mother at that young age, and we would arrange summer visits with him instead.  My heart rejoiced, even in the midst of the grief that I felt over our marriage ending.  I knew the Lord had intervened, and I was thankful.

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. Proverbs 3:5-6

I blinked again, and was back in Florida, where my 12-year old son was preparing to go live with his father in Barbados.  I felt like my heart was being ripped from me.  It wasn’t supposed to be this way!

God hates divorce.  The devastation that it causes was never meant for us to experience.  We cope, and God can mend our hearts, but there is still pain along the way that He would spare us from.

I struggled with letting him go, but in the end, the Lord made it clear that he needed this time with his father, and so I had to let him go.  It was agreed that he would return for the summers, but the Lord has been SO GOOD to me that He orchestrated it so that I have seen him multiple times over the last three years!

It has not always been easy, but the Lord provides the grace for everything that we encounter if we but ask for it.  He is our comforter, our refuge, and our strength.

The steps of a man are established by the LORD, and He delights in his way. When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, because the LORD is the One who holds his hand. Psalm 37:23-24

I blinked again, and now prepare to say goodbye again as he travels with his father to the other side of the world.

He has grown in ways that he would not have here with me.  The experience of being educated in an international school has shaped him in ways that cannot be measured.  It has been a necessary part of his development and I believe this is all going to be used by the Lord in ways we can’t even conceive.  Although I miss him like crazy when he is away, I know this is God’s will for him, and that gives me peace.

Goodbyes are hard, whether we’re saying goodbye to someone who has lived a long, full life or someone who has not been with us long enough.  While we have them with us, we need to love them well, pray for them often, and keep entrusting them to the Lord.

If you are facing a similar circumstance, I pray that you will seek the Lord for His comfort and His peace.  I cannot imagine going through these trying times without His constant presence.  He is only a whisper away.  Talk to Him.  Let Him in the middle of your pain.  He is faithful.  He will walk with you and guide you if you but ask.  He loves you so much.

Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts before Him. God is our refuge. Selah Psalm 62:8

Friends by Michael W. Smith

Focus

I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.  Psalm 16:8

I was in my bedroom one afternoon, looking out at the backyard through the sliding glass doors.  The doors have old, cracked, and peeling window tint to help keep out the heat from the hot Florida sun.  The sun beats down on this second story room for most of the day, and the window tint helps significantly.

I watched the branches of the tall palm trees in the backyard as they swayed with the breeze.  It was so beautiful, and so peaceful.  After awhile I began talking with the Lord, thanking Him for His provision and the many blessings in my life.  Soon I began pouring my heart out to Him about the challenges I was facing. This was such a difficult season of my life.  It’s hard to admit, but at times I even questioned whether I would make it through.

As I continued gazing at the branches, the Lord opened my eyes to something right in front of me that had somehow gone unnoticed.  He showed me that when I focused on the peeling window tint, the beautiful palm trees faded into the background, just a blur, and barely noticeable.  When I focused on the palm trees, the cracked window tint faded and I saw the splendor and magnificence of the stately palms.

His lesson that day?  What we focus on can completely change our perspective.

So what are we focusing on?  And Whom are we focusing on?

When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You, “Your face, O Lord, I shall seek.” Psalm 27:8

My mother is an amazing woman.  When she turned 50 years old, this quiet homemaker decided that she was no longer content riding on the back of my father’s motorcycle, so she enrolled herself in a motorcycle course and learned how to drive one herself.  After successfully passing the course, my father rewarded her with a Harley Davidson motorcycle of her own.  We were all so proud of her!

During the course, one of the points the instructor kept drilling into his students was WYLIWYG – Where You Look Is Where You Go.  He reminded them to keep their eyes on the road ahead, and not be distracted by the things around them.  After a few mishaps, they learned the lesson well.

That lesson is for us who are Christ followers as well.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2

Yet the problems of life loom large at times, blocking our view of everything else.  We lose sleep, we lose our peace, and the problem in front of us seems to grow bigger with each passing day.  We know the Lord could step in and fix it, remove it at any time, and we question His goodness in letting it remain.

What if we were able to see past the problem, and focus on the presence of God instead?  And what if we stopped worrying about the worst that could happen and instead focused on His promises?  His promise to never leave us nor forsake us.  His promise to never give us more than we can bear.  His promise to provide what He knows we need to eat, drink and wear.  His promise to work all things together for our good.  God is not a man, that He should lie, and He can be trusted.  He truly can.  He is faithful, day in, day out, and always, always keeps His promises.

Abram believed the Lord, and it was counted to him as righteousness. Genesis 15:6

None of our lives are perfect.  We are all works in progress, and the process is messy at times!  Sometimes things in our lives may look pretty rough – cracked and peeling even, but that can’t be our focus.  We can and should do some clean up work, but the Lord helps us with it.  He instructs us what to do and how to do it, and brings along the tools to complete the work.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

Lord, remind us, over and over if necessary, that You are our ever present help in times of trouble, and that You are with us always.  When we have a tendency to look at what is wrong, or broken, remind us that You are a miracle working God with a master plan, and that You are working in the background and will bring deliverance at just the right moment. Help us to trust You even when it looks hopeless, because with You, there is always hope.  Help us to look beyond the cracks and see the beauty in our lives.

If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

He is Enough

How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.  Psalm 36:7

I so long for the simpler, easier days.  I long for the days when my house didn’t need repairing.  I long for the days when the floors were easier to keep clean (though we love them all, we had fewer pets).  I long for the days before my youngest son went to live with his father in another country.  I long for the days when I was debt-free.

Those days were good.  After the emotional rollercoaster of divorce and the slow but steady re-building of our lives, it was good…peaceful…and as I clung to the Lord, our relationship grew deeper and sweeter.

I look around me now, still in the midst of a house renovation that seems to be taking forever, missing my son more than I ever thought possible, and I have to wonder…what happened to my peace, and my joy, and my contentment?  When did they leave, and how had I not noticed their absence before?

Pondering this, I cry out to the Lord, “When did You stop being enough?”

The answer comes swiftly.  It was when my focus shifted from Him to my circumstances.

Ouch.

Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” Matthew 14:28-31

Peter went from walking on the water…walking on the water…to looking at his surroundings.  He saw Jesus, Yeshua, walking on the water, and he did the same…until he looked away, and his eyes told him that what he was doing wasn’t possible under those conditions.

Did you catch what happened next?  When Peter took his eyes off of Jesus, he began sinking, and when he called out for help, Jesus immediately reached out for him.  Immediately.

Isn’t that so reassuring?  What He did for Peter, He will surely do for us.

Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence. Psalm 42:5

The Lord fills our lives with good things.  Family, friends, pets, jobs, and homes are good.  We enjoy these gifts, and thank Him for them. If we’re not careful, though, we can allow them to become idols without even realizing it.

You don’t think that can happen?  I didn’t, either, until the word divorce came up and I was suddenly faced with the possibility of separation from my youngest child.  The Lord was so gracious to me.  He showed me my heart, and it wasn’t pretty, even though it already belonged to Him.  I had to give my son completely to the Lord, even if it meant separation from him.  It wasn’t easy, and I cried many tears, but I felt such freedom afterwards, and peace like I had never known before.  In His mercy and kindness, the Lord allowed my son to live with me for the next five years.

When we allow anything to take the place of our Savior, when we hold on to anything tighter than we hold on to Him, we err.

The Lord allows it, too.  He allows us to fret and fuss and become miserable until one day we reach the end of ourselves and know we cannot continue down this path any longer.  And so we repent.  We return to the lover of our souls, no matter what we have to let go of in the process.  His peace, joy, and contentment then return.

For thus the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, has said, “In repentance and rest you will be saved, in quietness and trust is your strength.”  Isaiah 30:15

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

Is there anything you’re holding onto tighter than you should?  Is your focus on your surroundings or someone other than the Lord?  May I encourage you to let it go, and readjust your focus?

Jesus, Yeshua, is enough.  He is more than enough.  He is truly all we need, and in the end, our relationship with Him is what will matter.  Truly.  Call out to Him, and He will come, immediately, and stretch out His hand to you and rescue you.

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

Lord, thank You for Your patience with us.  Please keep a tight grip on us so that we won’t wander, but when we do, thank You for bringing us back and reminding us how deeply loved we are, and how freely You forgive us when we ask.  Help us to let go of the things that hinder us, or keep us from fully following You.  Help us to keep our eyes firmly fixed on You, for You are more than enough.

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30

Best Friends

How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! Psalm 133:1

I lay in the dark, waiting for the alarm clock to sound, with an old familiar theme song running through my head.  We’re talking OLD.  Think late 1960s.  I haven’t heard it in many, many years.

     People let me tell you about my best friend

     He’s a warm hearted person who’ll love me till the              end

If you grew up watching reruns of the television show The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, you recognized those lyrics immediately.  Yes, I’m dating myself, as I was a child when the show was on the air.

The song remained on my mind throughout the day…and throughout the week.  I would find myself humming it while waiting in line to pay at the grocery store, or while driving through rush hour traffic on my way to work.  Standing at my kitchen sink, in the middle of washing dishes, I’d find myself singing it.

I began thinking of the friends I have had over the years.  Each one special, each friendship for a specific period of my life.  Friends have come, friends have gone, and some friends have even come back, thanks to social media.  That’s just a part of life, and you have likely experienced the same.

I thought of my best friend when I was growing up, who read my heartfelt, and at times dramatic, teenage poetry, where I poured out my heart while trying to find out how to make sense of life and figure out where I belonged. From Barbie dolls to bicycles to boys; Detroit, Sault Sainte Marie, and Mackinac Island, where we watched Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour filming Somewhere in Time. Riding our bikes to McDonald’s with coupons from her church bulletins, where $1 each would get both of us an entire meal. Frances, I know I’ve said it before, but I’m so glad you found me again (thank you, Facebook!).

From Girl Scouts to heated political discussions to renewed hearts and minds; to new churches, and both witnessing and participating in healings, and blessings beyond our wildest dreams. Melinda, you have journeyed with me as we began delving deeper into scripture, where we discovered that the Bible, true when it was written, is still very much true today – miracles and all. I have so enjoyed this journey with you.

From sibling rivalry to love and acceptance, through marriages and remarriages, Girl Scouts, softball, and living across the world from each other. My friend and sister, Sandy, who listened as I cried and helped me through the very hardest thing I’ve ever gone through – divorce – and helped me find that life could still be good, and even become normal again. Sandy, there is no one I would rather call sister than you.

Of course, my mom, who has always loved me, encouraged me, believed in me, and who drew me to the Savior. Through nights of grueling homework, teaching me everything she knew about cooking, cleaning, sewing, and crafting. I will never forget that when I was away for a few days, she completely redecorated my bedroom, and refinished pieces of beautiful, antique furniture for it. Mom, I am so thankful to have you for my mother, and to have you as a friend as well.

Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up. Also, if two lie down together, they can keep warm; but how can one person alone keep warm? And if someone overpowers one person, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not easily broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

So many other friends throughout the years, too, all put in my path at just the right time, to provide encouragement, education, and fun! I’m thankful for each one of them.  There is another Friend, though, who was there the whole time, loving me, guiding me, even when I wasn’t aware of it.

I mentioned in my last writing that I participated in a church-wide fast recently.  I’m not ready to discuss the two biggest revelations to come out of that time, but suffice it to say that this song was a prelude to what was to come.

So people, let me tell you about my Best Friend! 😊

He is the one spoken of throughout the Bible, in both the Old Testament and the New Testament – the Redeemer, the Deliverer, the Savior, the Messiah who was to come, and come He did.  Yeshua, Jesus.  He came to bridge the gap between a holy God and unholy people.  He came to be the final sin sacrifice so that we could be forgiven for everything we had ever, and would ever, do wrong.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then He appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared also to me. 1 Corinthians 15:3-8

He is a Friend of Sinners

But the Son of Man goes around eating and drinking, and you say, “That man eats and drinks too much! He is even a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” Yet Wisdom is shown to be right by what it does. Matthew 11:19

Yeshua didn’t hang around the popular ones, or the rich ones, or the ones with high status in society.  Not that they weren’t welcome to follow Him, too, but the people who followed Him were typically overlooked, disliked, unpopular, and rejected by society.  They knew who they were.  They knew their faults.  So did He, but He saw them as they could be.  He saw how very important they were to His Father, and if they were important to His Father, they were important to Him. Can you imagine how they must have felt?

You are important to the Father, too, and if you’re important to the Father, you’re important to Yeshua. And if you’re important to them, you are important to me.

He Leads by Example

I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.  Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. John 13:15-17

Although He was abused, He never tried to get even. And when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead, He had faith in God, who judges fairly. 1 Peter 2:23

Yeshua taught that it is better to give than to receive. He taught that we should put others first – that we should treat others the way we would like to be treated. He taught that who we are on the inside is more important than who people see on the outside because our Father sees it all. He didn’t repay evil with evil or insult with insult, and He received plenty of both. He was obedient in everything, going as far as to allow Himself to be nailed to a cross, where He would give up His life for us.  Even in death, He asked the Father to forgive those who had betrayed Him.

He is Compassionate

Then Jesus went to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every sickness. When He saw the crowds, He felt compassion for them, because they were weary and worn out, like sheep without a shepherd. Matthew 9:35-36

Yeshua consistently put the needs of others before His own needs. He even woke early in the mornings to spend time with His Father, praying. Once His day of ministry began, it was nonstop.  Connecting with crowds of people, healing the sick, teaching His disciples, talking about His Father, casting out demons, confronting religious leaders who were outwardly perfect in conduct but lacking in love, and that barely scratches the surface. He even provided meals on occasion! Throughout His busy days, however, He never failed to elevate others and put their needs before His own.

He isn’t the type to see a need and not do something about it. His compassion led Him to heal the sick that came to Him and feed the hungry. He uses us, His modern-day disciples, to do the same.

He Loves Me Enough to Tell Me the Truth

Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not conceited, does not act improperly, is not selfish, is not provoked, and does not keep a record of wrongs. Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

He loves me like no one else ever has, or ever will. He loves me enough to tell me the truth, even when it’s not what I want to hear, and even if it hurts. But that’s what love does, right? It always does the absolute best for the object of affection. He loves me, and He loves you, too.

He Desires Unity

I pray not only for these, but also for those who believe in Me through their message. May they all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You. May they also be one in Us, so the world may believe You sent Me. I have given them the glory You have given Me. May they be one as We are one. I am in them and You are in Me. May they be made completely one, so the world may know You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me. John 17:20-23

Notice He didn’t mention anything about skin color, gender, or any other division. He wanted unity then and He still desires it now. There won’t be any denominations in heaven – no separation by skin color, either. So if we pray, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” and there is no separation in heaven, why would we continue to allow differences to separate us here?

There is so much more that I could write about Yeshua, but this is enough for now. If you don’t know Him, I’d be happy to introduce you. His Jewish name is Yeshua. His name translated from the Greek texts into English is Jesus, and you can call Him either one. Yeshua, meet my new friend. New friend, meet Yeshua, Jesus. Now, new friend, just start talking to Him! He’s the BEST listener! You can also read about His life in the Bible, especially in the New Testament books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, where you can read the actual words that He spoke.

Oil and incense bring joy to the heart, and the sweetness of a friend is better than self-counsel. Proverbs 27:9

Whatever He Says, Do It

I will instruct you and show you the way to go; with My eye on you, I will give counsel. Psalm 32:8

I was recently given the opportunity to write something in which I mentioned some of the ways that we can hear God speaking. Some of the ways we can hear Him include Bible verses, songs on the radio, a still small voice within, conversations with friends, a stirring in your spirit when you read or hear something, and dreams and visions. The Lord will give confirmations as well when they are needed.

Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.  Jeremiah 33:3

Another way the Lord speaks is that an idea will come to mind, and it will be the very last thing you would ever choose for yourself, because it is costly.  Not necessarily monetarily, although that is certainly a possibility, but costly with regards to our lifestyles and comfort levels.

One biblical example is the prophet Hosea.  Hosea was a righteous man, and he was commanded by the Lord to marry a promiscuous woman.  The Lord used that marriage to illustrate His love for Israel.  Though Israel wandered and would get entangled in the pagan worship around her, God loved her and continually sought to bring her back to Him. As I read the story of Hosea and Gomer, I find it interesting that nowhere does it say that Hosea questioned God, questioned His motives, or had second thoughts about obeying.  He obeyed, and the Lord was able to use that obedience to both warn Israel and give her hope.

Jesus replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”  Luke 11:28

It reminds me of a time when I was asked to take in a young woman who was going through a difficult time finding a place to live.  The person making the request knew her well, and spoke very highly of her, mentioning that the young woman, like me, was a follower of Yeshua (Jesus).

I said that I didn’t think so, but that I would pray about it.  I didn’t pray about it very much, though, not like I should have.  See, I had already experienced a roommate situation years before that began well but ended badly, and the last thing I wanted was to repeat the experience.

In addition to this, between family members and all of the pets, we already had a full house, and this full house needed repairs. So yes, I prayed, but only halfheartedly, and I really wasn’t listening for God’s answer.

One night, a few weeks later, I was getting ready to feed our pets, and realized that we were completely out of cat food.  It had been a long, busy day, and I was tired.  For this reason, my daughter and I drove to a higher priced store just a few blocks from our home instead of driving to the less expensive store farther away where we normally purchased pet food.

My daughter offered to go inside and purchase the cat food while I stayed in the car.  I gratefully accepted her offer, and within minutes, she returned to the car, with a bag of cat food in hand.

As we pulled out of the parking space, we saw something dark moving on the ground several yards ahead of us, moving between the parked vehicles at the end of the parking lot.  As we got closer, we saw that it was a kitten limping on three legs.  The fourth leg was missing.  Our hearts melted.

My daughter scooped some of the cat food into her hand and headed toward the kitten.  As she put the food down on the ground, several other kittens came running toward the food.

As I watched this, the Lord clearly spoke to my heart.

“You’re concerned about the kitten, and that’s a good thing.  How much more should you be concerned about My child?”

Ouch, that hurt!  Teary eyed, I drove home knowing that we were soon going to be sharing our home with this young woman.

I wish I could say that by now I have learned that what the Lord does in my life is always for my good, and that I bend obediently to His will, but there are times when I still question what He could possibly be thinking.  During those times, He calls me – calls us – to walk by faith and not by sight.  Obedience always brings blessings.  It may not be immediate, or even apparent until years later, but this is a truth clearly stated in the Word of God.  In this case, it was immediate, and the blessing far exceeded my “sacrifice.”

When Jesus had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon answered and said, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets.” When they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish, and their nets began to break; so they signaled to their partners in the other boat for them to come and help them. And they came and filled both of the boats, so that they began to sink.  Luke 5:4-7

I am now facing another challenge, which I will write about another time.  It is another “opportunity to excel,” as a previous supervisor of mine was fond of saying whenever someone in the office was faced with a difficult task.

Have you experienced something similar?  Have you been feeling like the Lord has been leading you (okay, sometimes it feels more like pushing) into a place where you don’t feel comfortable, and don’t particularly want to go?  Trust God.  Seek Him.  Ask Him for confirmation.  Then, whatever He says, do it.

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; and both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” Now there were six stone water pots set there for the Jewish custom of purification, containing twenty or thirty gallons each. Jesus said to them, “Fill the water pots with water.” So they filled them up to the brim. And He said to them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.” So they took it to him. When the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom, and said to him, “Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.” This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him. John 2:1-11

Worth More than Many Sparrows

The steps of a man are established by the Lord, and He delights in his way. When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, because the Lord is the One who holds his hand. Psalm 37:23-24

The text read, “My husband noticed that one of the turbines on your second story roof is broken and opened up.  If it rains you could get rain in there and then a leak into your house.”

Sigh.  The second story?  An added expense with the holidays right around the corner?  Another sigh.

I was thankful that my neighbor had noticed, and was somewhat surprised that I hadn’t noticed it myself.  We had had several windy days over the last week due to a tropical storm off Florida’s coast.  Branches had fallen down from the trees that had already been pruned by Hurricane Irma.

A quick review of the money in hand and upcoming expenses led to the realization that hiring a repairman was out of the question.  Someone was going to have to gather up the courage to brave the second story roof, and that someone was going to have to be me.

I don’t know about you, but I am no fan of heights.  I don’t even like ladders.  This began during my first pregnancy, when I was standing on a small ladder and suddenly felt dizzy.  It has remained with me even after more than two decades.

I didn’t know what the job would entail, but I needed something that would last through the holidays until I could hire someone to fix it properly.  A metallic tape that I had used before seemed like a good choice, so I grabbed the roll and a pair of scissors and made my way to our back balcony, which provided easy access to the first story roof.

I made my way carefully along the roof to the peak, where the two roofs were the shortest distance apart.  Turning around slowly so that I was facing away from the second story roof, I cautiously sat down on the higher roof.  My feet barely touched the lower roof below me.

My heart was beating rapidly as I viewed the street below.  My daughter smiled at me from the grass below, with phone in hand, ready to call 911 if the unthinkable happened.

She prayed, I prayed, and soon my heart slowed to a normal beat.  I slowly scooted backwards up the roof toward the peak, where the turbine sat crookedly.  Inch by inch I drew nearer, and was soon examining the turbine, where I discovered that a large screw had come out of one of the brackets that held the turbine in place.

Well, that was good news, right?  Just a screw?  Yes!  Well, except for one thing.  The thought of climbing down and repeating the climb back up was not exactly appealing.

I sat up there for a moment, trying to decide whether or not the tape might do to secure the turbine until I could gather up the courage to do this again.

As I contemplated the situation, my eyes were drawn to the other side of the turbine.  To my surprise and delight, not more than four inches from the turbine sat the missing screw.  Four inches away, on a slanted roof, after days of high winds.  Mind blown.

I twisted the screw back in and covered it with the tape for good measure, and slowly made my way back down, thanking the Lord with each little scoot.

A verse immediately came to mind.

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Luke 12:6-7

And if He remembers even the little sparrows, and cares enough to keep a screw on a slanted roof just for me, certainly He is more than able to help with the bigger things, too.

I think the Lord allowed this not only to build my faith, but the faith of my daughter.  See, my daughter knows how I feel about heights.  She had just seen her mother face her fear, and not only live to tell about it (smile), but experience the miraculous.  Maybe, just maybe, when she is faced with something that causes her to fear, she will resolutely face her fear, step out in faith, and will experience the miraculous, too.

Yeshua (Jesus) was tempted in everything we are, and yet was without sin.  He knows our struggles.  He knows our fears.  He doesn’t ask us to do anything that He Himself wasn’t willing to do.  His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16

When Peter wanted to walk on the water with Him, “Come.”  He says the same to us.  Keep your eyes on Him.  If you falter, rest assured that His hand is there, ready and willing to catch you.

Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”  And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” When they got into the boat, the wind stopped. And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “You are certainly God’s Son!” Matthew 14:28-33

Perfect Timing

Wait for the LORD; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the LORD. Psalm 27:14

My home is under renovation right now, and things are in disarray all around me. My house has two balconies, and both have wood that has to be replaced, after standing faithfully for more than four decades. Our plan was to also replace the wood siding on the second story of our home, in addition to several minor things that needed some attention.

The process is slow, and at times, frustrating.  There have been many delays.  I was particularly concerned when the contractor was unexpectedly called out of town shortly after being paid for the siding materials.  The materials were purchased and sat on the side of the house.  Each day that went by and the work did not begin, I grew more impatient. I thought surely the contractor would have arranged for one of the sub-contractors to install the siding while he was away.

He returned, but still the work was not begun. Finally I received a call from the contractor, and he informed me that the siding we had selected was no longer up to code. It seems that with every hurricane, the code gets stricter.

As I reflected on this turn of events, the Lord spoke a familiar, yet unwelcomed, truth to my heart: His delays are always for my good. Always.

See, had the contractor installed the wood siding when I wanted it installed, it would have had to be removed, and it would have cost me greatly, both in time and materials, and we would have had to pay for the more costly option of stucco. The delay saved me time, money, and a bigger headache.

But they that wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

Not long after that, Hurricane Irma came onto the scene. I prepared my home as best I could, but there were some things I didn’t have the time, knowledge or strength to do – such as putting boards over my windows.

My beloved came to my rescue. Using leftover wood that the contractor had not yet removed, he, my daughter and I measured and cut the wood, and then covered our windows. My heroes!

I had not been happy that the unused wood was still here, but yet another delay worked in my favor.

The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him. It is good that he waits quietly for the salvation of the Lord. Lamentations 3:25-26

I am in awe of the Lord’s goodness to me. If He loves me so much that He allowed these delays for my good, I can rest assured that delays in other areas are for my good as well.

That means your delays are for your good, too. Maybe you’re waiting for the Lord to send you a spouse, or a baby, or a job, or a car, or a house. Maybe you’re waiting for a loved one to come home, or come to the Savior. Maybe you’re waiting for healing.

Waiting is hard! We try to wait without complaining, try to remain cheerful and hopeful, but sometimes we fail. The Lord knows. He sees, and He understands.

Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust. Psalm 103:13-14

Sometimes He sends us reminders through Bible verses at just the right moment, or a message that we hear on the radio or television, or a conversation with a friend. Sometimes He sends us heroes.

I read recently that God is never early and never late. He is never in a hurry, but is always right on time.

Delays. I don’t know what it is that you’ve been longing and praying for, but I know this – the Lord hears you, He sees you, and everything is going to work out in His perfect way and in His perfect time.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28