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The Ride of Our Lives

 

aeroplane-aircraft-airplane-45230

My husband was driving and our daughter was in the backseat as I held the map and “helped” watch for danger on the highway. (Note: I help by pointing everything out, overreacting by slamming my foot to the invisible brake on the passenger-side floorboard, and driving everyone around me nuts. Basically.)

But dangers on the road are all too real. You and I know that. We have to watch for drivers texting, deer or armadillos (still waiting to see a LIVE one) making the mad dash to the other side, and airplanes.

Yes, you read that right. Airplanes.

We could see the small plane miles up ahead, and I can honestly tell you I thought it was a drone or a remote controlled plane someone was using to scare drivers by dive-bombing them.

But the closer we got, the more we could see it was not a teeny tiny plane someone was maneuvering with a remote control, but a life-sized one, circling the highway and disappearing behind a group of trees.

It appeared, circled around again, and plummeted, aiming for the other lane of traffic. My hand went to my mouth, and I gasped.

But the plane didn’t crash. (Thank you, Lord!) And when we drove past the group of trees, we could see the pilot was actually in full control, crop dusting.

It made me think about God and how He is in full control of our lives.  But some of us (ahem…me) think they know what’s going on. We trust our eyes or our minds and think we have it all figured out when really, we don’t have a clue.

It’s easy to trust what we see, but it’s not always right. It’s easy to believe the plan we have in our minds must be what God put there because we want it so much. But that’s not always the case.

His plan is always going to be better. Easy? Probably not. Worth all the gasping and holding on and crying out to Him? Absolutely.

We may even feel like we’re plummeting to the ground and can’t stop ourselves from crashing, like the controls are broken and we can’t set things straight.

But wouldn’t it be like God to rescue us just when we’re about to give up and into despair, thinking it’s all over?

When we finally let go of our measly remote controls and surrender to Him, we’ll know without a doubt the rescue, the honor, and the glory all belong to Him.

All we have to do is trust Him, lean in closer, and hang on for the ride of our lives.

“My help and glory are in God – granite-strength and safe-harbor-God – So trust him absolutely, people; lay your lives on the line for him. God is a safe place to be.” (Psalm 62:7-8 MSG.)

 

 

 

 

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When God is Working On You

renovation2

I’ve been struggling this summer with various trials, and I’m sure I’m not alone. Health, finances, direction…whatever you’re dealing with, I pray this revised post brings you some clarity and peace as it did for me. (If you’d like to read the original post, click here.)

When you ask God for more of Him, sometimes things can get painful as He works on you, as He renovates you.

But it’s okay. God is in the renovation business.

He is like the silversmith that heats the silver, revealing the dross, those impurities in your heart, so He can scrape them off and toss them out of your life.

But before He removes them, He lets you see them. All of your bitterness and anger surface and sit there like ugly black chunks beside the bright, hot metal.  God allows you to get a good look at it, to really see it for what it is.

You get more and more uncomfortable the longer He allows it to stay. You want it gone.  You want God to hurry up and dispose of it because it’s painful to see.

And you can’t help but notice the striking contrast:  His blinding, powerful light against the darkness of your sin.

But again, you asked God to draw you closer to Him. This isn’t a task to simply point out your flaws but to point out your need for Him.  He’s the only One who can remove such agonizing and toxic things from your life.

He’s the only One who can prepare your heart for the blessings that are coming.

So you take a deep breath, acknowledge what you see and ask for forgiveness and for help. And then you let go.  You let go of the control. You let go of the situation. You lower your head because it’s all to much for you to handle. You just can’t. You’re too overwhelmed to fix anything, and you realize you shouldn’t be trying anyway.

It is God who is in the renovation business; taking the old, worn, and broken and making it new.

So you focus on Him. You imagine His mighty hand removing all the dross, all the poison, refining you.  Perhaps you hit your knees, completely falling apart knowing He is about to rebuild.  Or maybe you stand taller, tears streaming down your cheeks as you close your eyes and lift your face heavenward, knowing He is watching you… and smiling.

His renovation has brought you not only closer to Him but to a place of peace. You can let go. You don’t have to try to figure everything out. He’s got you. And He’s got this situation.

Which means you don’t have to let the stress of everything suffocate your joy.

You are free to walk even closer to God. It’s where He’s wanted you all along.

“For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver.” (Psalm 66:10 NIV.)

 

A Ride with God

roller coaster

Are you waiting in line for the ride of a lifetime? I’m excited for you! (This is a shorter version of an older post. If you’d like to read the post in its entirety, click here. )

There’s nothing like waiting in line with some of your favorite friends for three hours to hop on an amusement park ride that will last approximately ninety seconds. You’re sporting your favorite sunglasses with a wad of money crammed in your front pocket, and you made sure to wear your comfortable sandals because you knew you were going to be standing in line for a long, long time.

It’s a great thing, really, and you don’t mind the long line because you’re with friends and you know you’re waiting for something thrilling, something that will probably take your breath away.

You’re not ignoring your friends, focusing solely on the twists of the ride or the screams of those ahead of you. And you’re not standing there with your arms crossed and a scowl on your face because the waiting is just killing you.

That’s what it’s like when you and I focus on what God is going to do for us and where He’s leading us instead of just being with Him and enjoying His presence.

Maybe we can spend the time in line reliving some favorite memories with Him, remembering one of His many rescues in our lives. Perhaps we can talk with Him about the ride, expressing our joy and anticipation, remembering to thank Him in advance; knowing He’s the Creator of the ride and it’s not only going to take our breath away but will leave us leaning in closer to Him as the air comes back fuller, deeper.

And when it’s our turn to hop on the ride and buckle our seat belts, we wouldn’t even think about not scooting over to make room for God to sit with us. We wouldn’t even think of not sharing this ride with Him, not wanting Him to be a part of it, of leaving Him to stand on the platform while we ride alone or with someone else.

We want God to be right there with us as we climb higher and higher and as the twists and turns leave us breathless. We want Him to be right there, holding our hand when the thrill shifts to fright. We want to laugh with Him and experience the view with Him.

Really, we can’t imagine riding this ride without Him.

“You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.” (Psalm 16:11 NLT.)

 

 

When You’re Faced With an Overwhelming Obstacle

overwhelming obstacle

Are you facing an overwhelming obstacle and you’re at your wits end? Maybe debt is circling around you and you can’t see a way out; all you see is how it’s about to cave in and crush you. Or maybe you’ve got a health issue the doctors can’t solve, and you’re so tired of being sick and tired.

Whatever your obstacle is, no matter how hard you try to fix it or figure it out, you can’t. You just can’t.

You’re stuck.

It’s an uncomfortable place to be, isn’t it? Feeling helpless. Feeling as if you have no control in the matter. It’s as if you’re waiting for a strong wind to knock you over. At least then, you begin to think, I can get a break.

But what if I told you this is a good place to be?

That’s right. When you are completely helpless and you’re facing a situation that you simply can’t fix, there is only one thing to do.

Cry out to God. Cry out in your faith.

Think about it. If you just escaped a terrible situation and there were some awfully cruel people chasing you to bring you back and suddenly you found yourself stuck as they closed in behind you and before you, lots and lots of water, what would you do?

Another scenario to think about:

What if you were facing an enormous, monstrous man dressed in armor (armor that probably weighs more than you!) who wants to squash you, your family and friends, and your way of life? What would you do?

Would you, like Moses and David, cry out to God and declare your faith in Him? Would you brace yourself for God to move on your behalf?

Would you stand back in awe as water lifted from its place and formed walls on both sides of you, the ground becoming dry so you and everyone with you could walk safely across?

Would you run to the battle line, reaching for a stone and knowing in your heart and in your gut that God Almighty would never let you down? Would you remember how He helped you in the past?

What obstacle are you facing? What is impossible for you today?

Cry out to God in your faith and brace yourself for the impossible to take place.

“Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:13-14 NIV.)

“Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.” (Exodus 14:21-22 NIV.)

“And David said, ‘The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.’” (1 Samuel 17:37a ESV.)

“David said to the Philistine, ‘You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.’” (1 Samuel 17:45 NIV.)

“And everyone assembled here will know that the Lord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord’s battle, and he will give you to us!” (1 Samuel 17:47 NLT.)

“As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.” (1 Samuel 17 48-49 NIV.)

“For nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37 NLT.)

Witches and Mediums

witches and mediums

We were recently watching TV and saw a woman who claimed to be a witch, praying to her “goddess.” Moments later there was an advertisement for a program where the central character is a medium. (If you look it up in the dictionary, you’ll find a medium is someone who claims to be able to communicate with the dead.)

My dear friends, if you’re into this sort of stuff, I’m about to step on your toes.

You see, I’d rather step on your toes here and bruise them a bit than ignore the truth and leave your toes and the rest of you to be in big trouble.

But wouldn’t you rather know the truth? I mean, if you have something stuck in your teeth, wouldn’t you want someone to tell you rather than going through your day with dark green spinach right there in the front of your smile?

So wouldn’t you rather know the truth about much more important things like what’s going to happen if you are involved with witchcraft and mediums?

In the Old Testament, God warns the Israelites not to imitate those around them (like us here today!), so we can see how He feels about this sort of stuff:

“When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord, and because of these detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you.” (Deuteronomy 18: 9-12 NIV, emphasis my own.)

Again in the New Testament, Paul warns the churches in Galatia:

“The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21 NIV, emphasis my own.)

And again, Jesus Christ revealed to John in the book of Revelation what is going to happen:

“He said to me: ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murders, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars – their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.’” (Revelation 21:6-8 NIV, emphasis my own.)

I know that’s a lot to read, but isn’t it good to know the truth? I know sometimes the truth can hurt. It reminds me of the time I spent hours crimping my hair when I was in high school only to have my grandma stare at me and shout, “You look horrible!”

Ouch. But it was the truth. What loving grandma wouldn’t feel obligated to let her grandchild know she was walking around with crazy scarecrow hair? And you know what? I never crimped my hair again.

As a Christian following Jesus Christ, I have an obligation to tell you the truth as painful as it may be.

As you read above, witchcraft and mediums are detestable to God, not something to enjoy or be involved with in anyway. And if you are claiming to be a witch or a medium, please stop immediately and ask God to forgive you.

Why? Because I’d like all of us, each and every one of us with bruised toes that someone had the courage to speak the truth to, to be together in the loving presence of our Heavenly Father when our time here on planet earth ends.

Oh, and another part of being a Christian following Jesus Christ: I also have the privilege of loving you by praying for you.

And that’s just what I’ll be doing.

 

 

 

You Are More Than Just a Number

number

When I was in college, I had a student ID number I would use to buy my lunch and check out books at the library. Later, I had a job and was assigned a clock number that became my identity to my employer.

Today, if I call about our car insurance, they can’t divulge any information until I give them our policy number to prove who I am. And when I write a check to pay a doctor bill, I have to put our account number on the check to make sure we’re credited the amount.

So many numbers.

Do you ever feel like you’re just a number?

It’s pretty easy to feel that way, to wonder in this great big world if you’re just a blemish, a spot; unnoticeable or easily forgotten. It’s easy to get discouraged and wonder if anyone sees you for who you really are or if your life has become nothing more than a series of numbers.

But you are MUCH more than just a number to God.

In my teeny tiny mind I see it like this: God is so mighty and BIG, encompassing all of the space in space. Then He moves in REALLY close, traveling quickly through space and time at speeds unknown to the human mind. (Imagine racing to the earth from space at breakneck speeds, seeing panoramic views of the land as greens and browns and the massive bodies of water on planet earth as your focus becomes narrower. You see less and less until you close in on one single, tiny object.)

God’s sight is fixed. He’s closing in and focusing on the sliver of an object. From His viewpoint He could have stopped midair and taken in the entire planet, but He kept going. He kept moving in. He kept coming closer and closer.

What was this object He was focused on? What tiny detail captured His attention?

A single hair. And it’s on your head.

God knows every single thing about you. Not a moment of your life goes unnoticed by Him. He’s counted every hair on your head, and He’s seen every tear you’ve cried.

That means He’s been there even when you thought you were all alone. He’s been there when you fell apart, trying to keep it all together; in the shower, while driving, folding the laundry, before you left your car to walk through those doors at work.

God was even there when you forced that smile, making everyone believe you were okay.

With God, you can relax. He already knows. He already sees you. You can let Him in closer.

He’s already there anyway.

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten by God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:6-7 ESV.)

“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” (Psalm 56:8 NLT.)

“You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.” (Psalm139:15-16 MSG.)

 

 

Chasing God

Peter hawk

It seems like I try too hard. My husband tells me that all the time. Close friends say it too. And yes, I’ve heard God whisper it to my heart quite a few times. I’m like that little puppy dog who chases his tail and falls over, worn out and dizzy.

A rather silly example: We have a hawk named Peter (yes, I named him, and no he’s not really ours). Peter has been flying around and landing in our yard for the past two months, and I’ve been chasing after him (not literally!) in order to get a picture of him.

But nearly every time Peter shows up, my camera is in the other room, or I’ve got on the wrong lens, or I forgot to delete some pictures and that little card that holds a thousand or so photos is blinking “full,” refusing to let me squeeze in just one more picture. Sheesh. Chasing him down for one picture has been a real chore and has left me with his oh-so-lovely, and yet blurry, portrait you see above.  🙂

We chase a lot of things, don’t we? Maybe not literally but we sometimes over-analyze, over-think, and maybe try too hard or worry too much about things we think we should have or need to get done. It’s kind of like chasing butterflies with a pole and no net; exhausting and unproductive.

And sometimes when we get tired of all that running around and chasing after things, well, we’re not above using a hammer to smash those square pegs of our lives into those round holes just to try to make something come together. We like it when things come together. When things are happening and moving forward.

But when it comes to God, we don’t have to try so hard. (Cue happy dance!) We don’t have to work ourselves into a tired frenzy. We don’t have to chase God down like He’s running away from us. It’s not like this is some sort of hide-and-seek game and He’s cheating, hurrying off to find another hiding place when we get too close.

God wants a relationship with us even more than we want one with Him. All we have to do is honestly seek Him.

And when we do, guess what? We’re going to find Him. And we’re probably going to discover that we need to take a moment and catch our breath.

Not because we were chasing Him down and we’re winded, but because being in His very presence can leave us breathless and totally in awe.

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13 NIV.)