Will You Dance With Me?

I saw a post the other day about dancing with the one you love. And suddenly I felt like the Lord said to me, “Will you dance with me?”

I thought that was strange and different.

Would I dance with him? What does that even look like?

Would I allow him to take me to a place where my heart does not look at the circumstances? Could I just look into my Lord’s eyes and see nothing else that swirls around my world? Could I spend quiet time with him and relax and enjoy the music that comes from his heart as I follow his lead?

“Will you dance with me?” he asked.

There were many seasons of victory when his children danced. I think of Miriam and the other women who danced victoriously after the children of Israel crossed the Red Sea. The Egyptians, who were in a mad chase close behind them, were determined to kill all of them. Instead they drowned and fell to the bottom of the sea. Afterwards praise and worship before the Lord filled the sojourners hearts as they worshiped the Lord in dance and song.

“Then Miriam, the prophet, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine and led all the women as they played their tambourines and danced.” Exodus 15:20 (NLV)

What about King David? This man, known for having a heart after the Lord, would often dance before his Lord. His heart was filled with gladness. He couldn’t dance enough before the God who rescued him time after time! God had been faithful to deliver him from a lion, a bear and from Goliath, the arrogant giant of a man. The Lord gave him victory on the battlefield over and over. He worshiped the God who forgave him for making a choice to sin and took him back as his own. He was in love with his Lord and his worship showed it!

Those dances were part of worshiping the Lord. What does it mean though, to dance with the Lord? The key word: “with”.

To dance as a unit takes a lot of time, a lot of practice. It takes getting to know your partner so intimately that you can flow as one, each hearing the rhythm of the music, yet stepping in unison. It takes learning the steps together and already knowing what your partner will do, trusting his every move. Your eyes become connected, as does your heart.

When one of my children was very young, a neighbor dog ripped open his leg with his sharp teeth. We rushed him to the emergency room where they had to stitch up the wound. The doctor told me to look into my son’s eyes and distract him so they could insert a shot into the wound to numb his leg. I got as close to him as I could, eye to eye, speaking gently and confidently to him. He never took his eyes off me and was able to endure the pain.

That is what Jesus wants for us. He wants us to keep our eyes on him, always!

The world around us may seem to be growing darker. But as we keep our eyes on him, all we see is his glory. That is what Peter experienced when he walked on the stormy waters towards his Lord. If he kept his eyes on Jesus, instead of the storm, he could walk on the water. (Matthew 14:22-23)

The Lord wants us to keep our eyes on him. He wants us to focus on him instead of the storms in our lives. He wants us to live in peace and hear the rhythm of his heartbeat.

If I am to be his dance partner, I must know him more deeply. I must learn to instinctively know his moves; keeping my eyes focused on him so I can follow his lead. And when he throws me into the air, I have to trust that he will catch me, as we have done throughout our time practicing together.

It takes dance partners time, practicing over and over, until they have learned to dance in harmony.

Those words came back to me. “Will you dance with me?”

My reply:

“Will I take the time to get to know you? Will I learn to follow your lead and the steps you have already prepared for me? Will I listen intently to the music that vibrates from your heartbeat into mine? Will I learn to keep my eyes on yours, trusting you wherever you lead me?

Will I spend time with you so we can learn to dance as one?”

My answer: “YES!”

What will your answer be?

The Lord asks, “Will you dance with me?”

Following his path

The ferocious wind is howling like a hungry wolf. It picks up what it wants as it races through my life. All that I thought was valuable is being lifted into its merciless vortex and speeding violently in circles around me. I grasp at items in frantic despair.

Then, suddenly all is quiet again. Nothing fills the void of quietness. Nothing fills the void of emptiness. All I see is utter darkness. The things that swirled around me have disappeared. Loneliness takes their place.

I hear a voice say, “Come this way.”  I turn towards the voice and squint, hoping my eyes can focus in the darkness so I can get a glimpse of who might be calling out to me. From another direction a new voice is heard from the depth. Its loud demanding voice pleads for my attention. “No, this way is the best. Follow this path.”

I struggle to know what I should do. Several voices join the plea. Though they seem to be growing louder, the voice I hear clearly is not heard with my ears. It is heard with my heart. I know the voice. I have heard it before many times. This voice is soft, yet vibrates throughout my entire being. This voice speaks with authority but is consumed with peace. I choose to follow the voice inside of me that I have grown to know and love.

It is the voice of my Lord.

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27

As soon as I take a step in the direction he is guiding me, a light shines on my feet. I slowly see where I am going, one step at a time. I notice that I am on a path that has not been well-traveled. There are dips and bumps but the light shines bright enough so that I can get a good footing. A peaceful sound, almost like the heartbeat of music vibrates from the light, as if it is alive. Though the other voices are relentless they soon begin to fade into the darkness behind me, as do my cares and anxieties. I know in my heart that if I continue on this path, things will work out for my good.

A thought flickers in my mind then travels to my heart.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart And lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6″ (NKJV)

I trust you Lord, ” I think to myself. And then I say it out loud with bold confidence, “I TRUST YOU LORD!”

And hence I keep following Him though I don’t always see the rainbows nor smell the roses. I walk in His peace, regardless of distractions that try to encourage me otherwise. I walk by faith.

This is a synopsis of my walk with my Lord. It is definately an adventure, as is your journey with Him, I am sure.

treasure map

Trust is like a treasure map. As you follow it, you will eventually find God’s purpose for your life.  I trust that the Lord has called me onto this path I am currently traveling . He is the one that has opened doors that no one could open. He has also shut the doors that were wide with wonder, but not filled with wisdom.

Why? Because he loves me.

It is amazing what he is doing in my life! I don’t always see his hand at work directly in front of me. But I always see it when I look behind me. I see the miracles from my past which confirms to me that he is working in my future.

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

There are many voices in each of our lives that call out to us with soothing tones. They are not always bad, though they can become distractions, and not always the best choice for our lives.” Come this way and follow me,” they taunt.  The distractions simply keep our eyes off of the Lord of our salvation and can fill our minds with clutter that carry confusion.

That is when we have to close our eyes and focus on the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. Everything else…and I mean EVERYTHING else, even the blessings and good things we do, such as helping the poor, must NOT be our MAIN purpose and goal. Being good alone, though it is a good thing, CANNOT save anyone. Even that can distract us from God’s purpose. He desires a relationship with each of us.

That is why the greatest commandment is to “Love the Lord your God with all our heart, with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Mark 12:30 (NIV)

Jesus explains:

“Many will say to me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name, drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles? Then I will tell them plainly, “I never KNEW you. Away from me, you evildoers!” Matthew 7:22-23 (NIV)

Not all endings are going to be happy, especially if we are determined to follow our own path. But even when we follow the Lord’s leading we will still need to utilize trust. One of my grandsons experienced that this summer.

I had the opportunity to take a couple of my grandkids to a theme park. One of my grandsons suddenly got filled with fear as we got closer to the front of the line of a rollercoaster. He wanted to back out. But I kept reassuring him that he would have fun.

So the brave (well not so brave) child got in the seat next to me. The person controlling the ride overheard us talking. She asked him if he was sure he wanted to go. I gave her the thumbs up.  I had never been on this particular ride but it definitely didn’t look as frightening as the one we had just ridden. I told him that there was only one big drop, the rest were little dips, at least that is how it appeared in the description.20180731_141155.jpg

Well, to my amazement those “little dips” were not as little as I thought. My poor grandson looked straight ahead and without any other visible emotions squeezed tightly onto the bar that held us in the seat.  With each drop he said in a monotone voice, “Nana, I thought there was only one drop.” He continued saying this statement several more times as we went down one “dip” after another.  A couple minutes later as the coaster cars pulled up at the end of the ride the girl who spoke with us earlier asked if he liked the ride. He said, with a straight face and a lot of pride, “I didn’t scream one time.”

He was so proud of himself, as was I.

Sometimes trust may mean that all you can do is hold on. But you don’t have to scream. You can hold on to the words of the Lord. You can hold to his promises and trust him. You can sit with someone who will endure the trials along side of you and encourage you all the way. And when that adventurous chapter comes to a close you can look at the operator and say. “I didn’t scream one time.”

The winds may blow, things may be stripped from your hands, voices may try to distract you, darkness and loneliness may encompass you, and your ride might be pretty wild. But remember what Paul said to the Philippians.

“Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you WILL complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6 (NKJV)

Be at rest. He is holding you. Trust his voice.

TRUST HIM.

 

The Eye of the Storm

Photo Courtesy - Morris Goen / Palestine Hearal-Press

Photo Courtesy – Palestine Herald-Press Morris Goen

 

I woke up with these words on my mind, “you are in the eye of the hurricane”.   I know that there is a lot of craziness going on in our world and a lot of turmoil. And there are times lately that I have felt I was in a storm, but as I opened my eyes to the new day peace swept through my being.

The eye of the hurricane appears very peaceful, so much so that it can deceive a person into believing all is well, and the storm has passed. Unfortunately the backside of the storm is just behind the deceitful peace.  If a person goes out into the elements without being aware that the storm is not over, they can get broadsided.

I enjoy the Weather channel and watching storm chasing shows. It is amazing how extremely powerful weather systems and nature itself, can be. During a particular weather show the narrator was sharing his adventures via video during a ferocious hurricane.  The winds were horrendous and they were getting quit concerned about their location. Soon the “eye of the hurricane” reached them. It was during that time that he and his crew decided to take cover in a safer location. They were glad they did. When the backside of the hurricane hit they continued to video tape the area where they were originally standing and it was destroyed by the winds.

Have you ever personally encountered a tornado or hurricane? We were hit by a tornado in the fall of 1987 when we lived in Texas.

My family and I just left a restaurant on a warm fall Sunday afternoon. Walking to our car we noticed that the sky had sort of green haze and an ominous quiet filled the atmosphere. Today I would have been more aware that those signs can proceed a tornado.  Then I wasn’t. We casually got into our car oblivious to the impending doom that was approaching our town. One of our sons went home with some friends while we drove out of town to check out a piece of property.

We didn’t get too far down the road when we were caught in an unimaginable hail storm. We had to pull over because we couldn’t see in front of us. Quickly we decided to turn around and head back home. As we entered town we approached a nightmare.  It looked like the town had just been bombed. Semi-trucks had fallen onto their sides, a lumber yard was destroyed and wood was scattered for miles. Gas stations were obliverated and a church was demolished, as was part of the elementary school, a motel and several businesses. Debris was scattered in yards and in the streets. Houses were pulled off of their foundations. Many houses that still stood had no roofs. I heard that the tornado traveled 4 miles and was 1/2 mile wide. I was in shock — what happened?

Of course the main thing on my mind was my son’s well-being. We headed in that direction. The subdivision was thrashed. The national guard was already at work helping people and was not letting anyone enter the area. After I frantically explained that our son was in the neighborhood and probably looked like a crazed woman who was out-of-control, the guard let us pass.  I was overwhelmed with relief when I saw that our friend’s house was still standing in the midst of the debris. My 6 year-old son ran out of the house and jumped into my waiting arms.

We have all seen the images on the news of the aftermath of tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis etc. It is devastating. Someone told me a couple of years ago that there was a tornado warning in their area. They were advised to seek shelter as best as possible. She watched the news after the tornado devastated a neighborhood. A woman said in the interview, “There was no warning. This hit us out of no where.”

The individual telling me the story knew that they were warned over and over regarding the intensity of the storm that was approaching.  A thought suddenly entered her mind, “There has been warnings for over 2000 years regarding the return of Christ. But people ignore it.”

Those of us that are looking for Christ’s return will not be caught off guard. But those who think that God is slow or that they have heard this over and over and it hasn’t happened or simply think it is a hoax, will be surprised and say as the woman did in the interview. “There was no warning.”

“For you know quite well that the day of the Lord’s return will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night. When people are saying, ‘everything is peaceful and secure,’ then disaster will fall on them as suddenly as a pregnant woman’s labor pains begin. And there will be no escape.” 1 Thessalonians 5:2-3 (NLT) 

Perhaps the time it has taken for our Lord to return is for your benefit or for those you love. Peter writes, “Think of our Lord’s patience as an opportunity for us to be saved.” 
Peter 3:15a (GWT)

But there are other storms in our lives that catch us off guard and hit with such intense power that it can be devastating! Other people may not see the storm that you are walking through. What if someone we love dies, we lose our job, we are dealing with an illness or are emotionally hurt by those we trust? Or perhaps things just do not go as planned. Will we be prepared for the storms that hit our lives?

My question: will I be prepared?

I thought about that question when I heard the words, “you are in the eye of a hurricane”.  What do I do to prepare for the backside of the storm or for other storms that are sure to come? What can I do while I am sitting in the “eye of the storm” while there is peace?

I can only run towards safety and hide in a shelter. Where is that hidding place? Where is that shelter? Many places in the Book of Psalms states that the Lord is our shelter, our refuge and our hiding place.

Being hidden with him is walking in the will of our Lord. In his will there is safety and peace in the midst of the storm. It is taking time to know him through reading of his Word, through spending time to talk with him in prayer, through listening to words of hope from other believers and rubbing shoulders with those who speak life into our lives. In that place I am prepared for any storm that may come.

I suddenly realized what the Lord was saying. HE IS THE EYE IN THE HURRICANE.  He was encouraging me. I have found that place of safety and peace BECAUSE I am already seated with him. (Ephesians 2:6)

What a fantastic thought!

We can experience peace though the winds are howling and the mountains give way. We can experience peace though the world is crashing down around us. HE is our EYE in the storm. HE is our PEACE.

Shortly after hearing those words, “you are in the eye of the hurricane,” I heard the song, “In the Eye of the Storm” by Ryan Stevenson.  The Lord promises to never leave us. He will walk WITH us through many storms. I believe there may be stronger storms coming in the days ahead. NOW is the time to prepare our hearts. We do not know what our futures may hold but I rest in him.

Do not be discouraged or afraid because the Lord has your back and the backside of the storm. He IS in control. He is the EYE of your storm.

This is the first few lines to the song. Click the link to hear it in its entirety. It is beautiful. God bless each of you.

In the eye of the storm, You remain in control
And in the middle of the war, You guard my soul
You alone are the anchor, when my sails are torn
Your love surrounds me in the eye of the storm

in the eye of the storm

 

Celebrations of victory on the altar of my life.

To those who may use FACEBOOK you might be familiar with the “On This Day” memories. They are memories you posted on your account the same day a year or more before. It is fun to view the change in your life or memories shared from year to year.

Some monumental moments may be that of a wedding, a birth or even the memory of a loved one who has gone on before us. Other memories are those of individual victories; perhaps the day your son took 1st place in a track meet or your daughter took her first step.  I followed a couple whose daughter was seriously injured. Thousands of people stood with them in prayer and watched her progress as she began to miraculously recover. That victory was celebrated by total strangers.

Like FACEBOOK, there are memories that come up year after year in our lives. Some memories are filled with moments of God’s miracles. If we took a personal inventory of what the Lord has done for us in our individual lives, we might be surprised of his greatness and compassion and love.  I could write a book of his faithfulness in mine; how he came through for me in hopeless situations, how he miraculously healed those around me, how he supplied my needs when my pockets were empty and delivered me, even from myself.

These personal inventories are testimonies that inspire us and ignite hope in our hearts.

One of those times was during our futile attempt to sell our house. It needed so much work. Either we needed to have a lot of money poured back into it or sell it, as is. It seemed simple enough but I felt trapped because we were paying on a mortgage for our house while living elsewhere. The day it was sold was so exhilarating.  I felt like heavy chains were broken off of me. I knew the Lord had a hand in leading a buyer to us who was willing to buy it, as is.

Each March I remember that miracle and I thank God again for his provision and goodness. It is a celebration I place on my altar of remembrance.

Another time we had a car issue. Since we bought our car new, we assumed it would be trustworthy for several years. Vehicle hunting was exhausting but necessary as we were without transportation. My husband and I came to a compromise. He wanted a pickup and I wanted an SUV so we decided on a car that we both liked.

Not long after we purchased it, it quit when I approached a stop sign. I mean it completely shut-down. I didn’t think too much about it as it started again. We brought it to the shop anyway. They didn’t see anything wrong with it. Then it happened a couple more times within the next couple years. Everything would simply shut down at once, without warning.

Twice I was on the highway when it “shut-down” and once I was almost hit by a semi-truck. Each time we brought it in nothing was ever found wrong with the vehicle. We couldn’t claim it under the “lemon law” because we had to have an issue repaired first. The problem was that there seemed to be no issue to be repaired.

We still owed money on the car and though we just wanted to trash it, we couldn’t.  I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do. It was my only vehicle but it seemed dangerous. Each time I drove it I felt like I was gambling with my life and whoever was riding with me.

I prayed about it for some time and felt that I was supposed to go to the dealership and speak with one of the managers. I visited with him and explained my situation. He was very understanding, so much so that he had it thoroughly gone through without any charge. Again nothing was found.

I sat in his office, knowing that I could not leave without something being done. We both looked at each other in contemplation. I was praying under my breath while he sat quietly in thought. Suddenly he asked me if I would like to talk to the sales manager.

I knew we weren’t currently at a place to purchase another vehicle and I explained that to him. He still was convinced that was my best option. He had me sit in his office while he spoke with the sales manager. I thought, “Ok, God, I really don’t know how you are going to work this out, but I trust you.”

After I told my story again to the sales manager, he explained that he was going to do a miracle for me. “Okay”, I thought. He then asked me what kind of car I would like. I was assuming he was going to lead me to the used cars on the lot. I answered, ” I want one that doesn’t quit on me while I’m driving.” He laughed. “No really, what do you want?”

I boldly told him that I wanted a SUV. (Remember I had wanted that in the first place.) He left me in his office for a moment. Then he returned and brought me out to the new cars in the lot. Parked right in front of me was a brand new SUV.

“Do you like this color?” he asked. I couldn’t believe it. He was offering me a NEW vehicle. I was flabbergasted!

“Really? But..I don’t have the down payment.”

He asked again, ” Do you like it?

“Sure!”

I don’t know how it happened but I walked out of the dealership that day with a brand new SUV! NO down, NO credit check. I was amazed.

20180312_220828.jpg

It was during the Christmas holidays and I knew it was my Christmas present from the Lord. I didn’t deserve it, but God heard my pleas and met my need. Actually he went over and above what I thought I needed. My husband laughed when I pulled up in my new SUV.

“Well, I guess you got what you wanted after all,” he said in disbelief.

Each December I remember that miracle, placing another celebration of victory on the altar of my life.

There are several occasions mentioned in God’s word when an individual or a group of people marked a certain event in their lives. As a reminder of his faithfulness and their victory, God had them build an altar or mark the event with a day of celebration.

In Genesis 35, Jacob built an altar to the Lord because God had heard his pleas of help when he was in trouble. He wanted a reminder of God’s faithfulness and goodness.

Most people know the story of Moses leading the children of Israel onto dry ground across the Red Sea. That was a significant time of celebration, remembering God’s power and faithfulness. But God did a similar thing when Joshua crossed the Jordan river. It was such a miraculous event that the Lord told him to set up an altar to remember how he opened the river for them.

Joshua 4:6, ” This will be sign for you. In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these stones mean to you?'”

Each time they looked upon the altar they could remember the time the Lord miraculously made a way for them and could explain it to their children.

There are many more monumental events scattered throughout the Bible. The Jewish faith if scattered with days of celebrations and feasts to remind them of God’s miracles and his deliverance in their lives.

As believers, we take part in communion to remember Jesus’ greatest sacrifice. He encouraged us throughout the gospels to continue to take communion in remembrance of HIS sacrifice and of OUR victory. That is why the cross is so extremely important to believers. It is a reminder of God’s victory in our lives.

We need to REMIND ourselves and those around us of the faithfulness of our Lord. He promised that he would never leave or forsake us. He will meet our needs no matter how small or how big. I have several testimonies of God’s goodness. I thank him each time he has met my needs or given me my heart’s desire. It encourages me as I look into my unknown future. What he did before, he will do again. He is a faithful.

How about you? What miracles has he performed in your personal life?  Celebrate his goodness. When you remember what the Lord has done for you or for others it can give you strength during the times when you feel frustrated or overwhelmed.

Remind yourselves of his faithfulness in the past as you walk through the doors of the future.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21

God bless.

 

 

Grace in time of need

What if you had no control? What if darkness swirled so thick around you that it felt like you could not see your hand in front of your face? What if the silence in your head was so loud that you could hear your own heart beat and wondered what was in your future?

Have you felt that way before? Lost– bewildered–alone? Or worse, witness the horror of suffering or smell the sting of death?

When I first think of a time of great suffering my mind races to World War II and the horror stories that have been shared by the Holocaust victims and I shudder. But I know that suffering has taken place in different parts of the world and different times in our history over and over. Even today people are going through horrific experiences. Just listen to the news.

I simply do not understand pure hatred and violence on a level where humans care so little about another human life. But then I do not understand the evil that the enemy of our souls possess, nor of his bitter rage to destroy anything that represents joy, life or peace.

On the other hand I also don’t pretend to understand nor comprehend the love that our Lord has for us, so much so that he sent his son into this sinful world to defeat sin and death. He could have easily destroyed the world in a combustion of fire.

The Word states that before Jesus took on all the sins of the world he was beaten so brutally that he was unrecognizable. You see crucifix emblems that portray a sweet man wearing a crown of thorns on his head while being nailed to the cross. That is bad enough, but I dare say that the real visual was FAR worse!

He didn’t even look human.

Isaiah 52:14 -“But many were amazed when they saw him. (Jesus.). His face was so disfigured he seemed hardly human, and from his appearance, one would scarcely know he was a man.” (NLT)

On top of the physical degradation; every piece of hatred already spewed out and the hatred that had not even existed in the eyes of those born, he paid for; as well as sickness, lies and sin and even death. All those things were unseen in this dimension. But if we could have seen beyond the physical world into the spiritual realm it would have been a more horrific sight as he carried them into hell.

Isaiah 53:3-6 “He was despised and rejected a man of sorrows, acquainted  with deepest grief. We turned our back on him and looked the other way. He was despised and we did not care. Yet it was OUR weakness he carried; it was OUR sorrow that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for OUR rebellion and cursed for OUR sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. We have left God’s path to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us ALL.” (TLT)

Powerful. The suffering that he endured so we might have an abundant life is a gift of sacrificial love beyond what we can imagine. Yet we quarrel about having to give up sinful lifestyles and think that perhaps he might wink at our sins. Listen! He suffered unimaginable pain and sorrow to set us FREE from the very things we don’t want to give up and lifestyles we have pushed as acceptable.

Or look at the sorrows we see around us; death, brokenness despair. We live in this sinful world where innocent lives are destroyed unmercifully. It’s a world where the thirst for revenge or the thirst for power supersedes all else. The evil filth is sometimes too much to ignore and can weigh us down. Hebrews 12 encourages us to NOT give up.

“We must focus on Jesus the source and goal of our faith. He saw the joy ahead of him so he endured the death on the cross and ignored the disgrace it brought him. Then he received the highest position in heaven, the one next to the throne of God. Think about Jesus, who endured opposition from sinners, so that you don’t become tired and give up.”
Hebrews 12:2-4 (GWT)

Remember what John 10:10 says. It is one of my favorite verses: “The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy; but I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

Often in this world you will face heartaches, some that may seem unbearable. But nothing catches God off guard or is hidden from his view. He knows the beginning of your life until the end. He knows the beginning of this world until its end. He would not have allowed his son to die such a wicked death for nothing. He came to give us abundant life, in this life and into eternity.

Sometimes our circumstances do not seem to dictate abundance. But an abundant life is one that is surrendered to the Lord. It is like Paul who said, “God’s grace is sufficient”. He knew. He suffered for him yet tasted God’s goodness. When the darkness of evil creeps across the land and you cannot seem to see your hand in front of your face– you can still know that the Lord will pick you up and his grace will fill your soul. That is what he does as a loving Father.

Hebrews 4:16
“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find GRACE TO HELP US IN OUR TIME OF NEED.” (NIV)

Do you need God’s grace and mercy today? Your Father is willing to pour it into your lives. Ask. He is a great God despite the darkness, because HE is the light that destroys it! AMEN!

God bless.

 

What are your plans?

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

I love plans. I thrive off plans. They give me peace and a sense of direction.  I am not really a “spur of the moment” type of person. Now my husband is completely the opposite.  He floats through life, catching the wind as it blows, excited for where he might land.

Let me give you an example: on our honeymoon I made “plans” and got us into the bridal suite. We stayed there the first night but my husband thought it would be fun to take a ferry to the nearby islands the next day. It was fun. But since he didn’t get a motel reservation we ended up spending the night in our car on the ferry because there were zero rooms available. A convention was in the area. That went over well.

It is also the same with directions. I use to constantly have to do everything exactly by the book. As the years have slipped by I have realized that not everything has to be done according to some unseen book. Yet, general directions are given for a purpose. Without reading the directions my husband decided to build a swing set in the backyard. After he was done he realized that a couple of pieces were not connected properly and that there were extra parts he wasn’t sure what to do with. He looked at me with a sheepish grin and said, “Perhaps I should have read the directions.”

Throughout the adventures of our lives together we have seen the importance of both aspects. And we have changed some viewpoints that we thought were cemented in our personalities.

When I was a little girl my parents moved many times. I didn’t question their purpose or decisions; I just went for the ride. I never knew that there were occasions when they didn’t have definite plans or that they were not always sure about the future. I was just a happy child and simply trusted that whatever they decided to do would be in my best interest. (Of course I didn’t analyze it at the time.) Later in life I discovered that there were times that their only option was to trust God and not themselves, as they entered into the next chapter of their lives.

Unfortunately we are not given a map for every choice we make in life. We are not told to go here for 2 years, then take this job, marry this person, put your kids in this school and perhaps go on a mission trip during this season…blah, blah, blah…

In fact James 4: 13-15 states, ” Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit. Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you out to say, “If the Lord WILLS we will live and do this or that.” (ESV)

We often ask “Lord what is your will?” God says that HE has a plan for us. HE holds the plans for each of our lives. And he states that HIS plans are for our good. There are times I have mentioned to God that I just wish he would hand over those plans. It would be so much easier to navigate through my life if I could simply look at the plans.

Instead he desires for us to trust him and relax in his goodness just like I trusted my parents. I didn’t have a care in the world, except maybe what my new school would be like or who my new friends would be.

He doesn’t always give us a complete picture regarding our future. Sometimes it might start as a desire that begins to stir in our hearts, a thought that crosses our mind, a dream that we had the night before or a longing that cannot be quenched. As soon as we pray about a decision and take a step in that direction, the stirring becomes more evident and doors of opportunity begin to open to make the desire a reality.

The Psalmist states, ” The steps of good men are directed by the Lord. He delights in each step they take.” Psalm 37:23 (TLB) 

He delights in OUR steps! It is like parents that watches their toddler take his first step. They watch him with eagerness and anticipation. And when the child falls they pick him back up and encourage him in his next step.

If God gave us everything at once we wouldn’t need his hand of guidance. We would become self-sufficient and may not seek his advise for direction. We would lose communication with the one that loves us more than anyone can. He created us in his image. He desires that we seek him. He desires that we commune with him. He desires that we dig into his Word (the directions for this life) and get to know him, personally.

He doesn’t give us a bunch of dos and don’ts. He gives us relationship and guidance and comfort and peace and direction. And as much as he delights in our steps he asks us to learn to delight in him. Like I mentioned earlier, he created us in his image. He wants a two-way relationship with us.

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord: trust in him, and he will act.” Psalm 37: 4-5 (ESV)

Do you recall the game, Marco Polo? One person closes his eyes and says, “Marco”.  The others say, “Polo”. Even though the person who is “it” cannot see the other players he follows the voices until he is able to tag another player.

Though not completely the same, it is what we are doing. We may have a blindfold on in life, yet we listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit and follow his lead. When we come to the place where the Holy Spirit leads doors begin to open for us. As we fellowship with the Lord we learn the sound of his voice. He may call us down another path as we enter our next chapter in life.

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me.” John 10:27 (NIV)

It is similar to the children of Israel that wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. The spirit of God led them by a pillar of cloud during the day and fire by night. (Exodus 13:21) That same God leads each of us in our lives, as well.

Listen. What is the Holy Spirit saying to you? Is he calling your name? Is he leading you in a new direction? You can trust that what he starts in you he will surely complete. (Philippians 1:6)

One day as we look into our past we will see the many doors we traveled through that led us directly into God’s arms. We will be thankful for the doors the Lord opened and the doors that sometimes felt slammed in our faces. We will be grateful that the Lord in his goodness, ordered our steps and grateful that we obeyed his calling; and extremely grateful that he picked us up when we fell.

God Bless.

 

 

 

 

Laughter of the Lord

You read about God’s judgements. You read about his glory. You know that he is all-powerful, but does he laugh?

We’ve had so much conflict in our great land. Racism has been fed by angry souls and taken an embodiment of hostility. The earth itself seems angry as it is spurring raging storms and floods in our nation. Laugher –that is accompanied with joy –seems foreign.

The writer of Psalm 37 explains that we are not to worry or fret about evil people but to trust God. (Good advise during the times we are experiencing right now–a must read). He continues to explain that as we commit everything to the Lord he will help us. He encourages his readers to let go of anger and trust God. The Psalmist sees that madness (wicked people with evil schemes) is surrounding him, but he is reminded that God will take care of those that put their hope and trust in Him.

Despite what we he sees with his eyes the writer continues in verse 13: “But the Lord just laughs for he sees their day of judgement coming”. (NLT) In other words those that are fighting the Lord, those that are putting up their fists in anger and trying to destroy his goodness do not phase him. It would be like a toddler arguing with his parent. His parent looks at him smiling as he knows that no matter what the child does or says, he is ultimately in control of the situation.

Psalm 2:4 is another example, “But the one who rules in heaven laughs. The Lord scoffs at them.” ((NLT) Again people think that they have the power to destroy his plans and destroy those he has anointed but God is ultimately in control.  David explains in Psalm 59, that Saul and his men are trying to attack and destroy him. But he trusts in his Lord and knows that the Lord laughs at those who think they’re stronger and more mighty than his plans. That is why David is able to trust in his God.

It’s like being in 1st grade and another 1st grader comes over to bully you. Suddenly your Dad walks up behind you and shakes his head and laughs. He knows he can protect you. The bully sees your father and quickly shrinks away. We have a God that is our refuge and strength. He delights in his people. He delights in us individually. And we actually bring him joy because we are his children.

Zephaniah 3:17 states, “For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fear. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” (NLT)

God desires to give us that same laugher in the midst of our trials. When Job was going through so much excruciating struggles his friends actually said something positive to him.  They told him that God would fill his mouth with laughter once again and his lips with shouts of joy.  When Sara was told that she would have a child in her old age, she laughed in unbelief but God fulfilled her desire and she named her child Isaac, which means laugher.

There is power in joy. That is why James states to count it all joy when trouble of any kind comes your way; because when your faith is tested, it will give you an opportunity to grow.  (James 1:1)

In the days of Nehemiah the people of the land wept as they heard the law of Moses being read. But Nehemiah encouraged them and said, “This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the JOY of the Lord is your strength!” -Nehemiah 8:10 (NLT)

So the question is, does God laugh? I believe he does. He is consumed with joy and expresses it with laughter. On a personal note:  When I was younger I remember calling out to the Lord to meet my needs and wondered if he cared. Deep inside the very depths of my being I heard a deep and jolly chuckle. Then I heard the words, “I will always take care of you!” I hold on to those word still in this hour knowing HE WILL take care of each of us.

He is a God of judgement, a God of strength and power and yet a God of joy and laughter.  Amen.

“Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again — rejoice!” Philippians 4:4