Just Look Up

God, prayer, guidance, inspirationI was being careful of my footing that morning. The tide was in, forcing us higher up the beach than normal. My eyes were focused on where to safely place my next step to avoid slipping. As I picked my way over rocks, shells and sandbags.

Ahead of me I realized my husband had come to a stop. When I started to look up to see why, a shadow just above caused me to duck. My head narrowly missed the base of an overhanging deck. I had been aware of the wall beside me but not the danger looming slightly higher.

This was a vivid reminder of what can happen when I focus only on my next step. I become so self absorbed that I am unaware of dangers that are right in front of me.

By starting each day in prayer, asking for God to lead me, I am looking up for direction. He knows the difficulties I will encounter and will guide me accordingly.

Sometimes he will enable me to avoid them and in other situations will walk with me through them. In either case, my life improves when I practice looking up to the one who has promised to take hold of my hand and help me.

I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand and say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid; I will help you.’ Isaiah 41:13 GWT

Doors of Life

God, guidance, patience, inspirationOne of my volunteer roles at a recent seminar was to open the doors at the start of each session to allow the participants to enter. As strange as it seems, this simple task pointed out some life lessons to me.

There were two main sets of doors to enter the training room. Line-ups formed at the closest set of doors, while the other set, just steps away, had few people using them. I realized that the majority of people follow the crowd. The ones that bypassed the line-up and walked to the second set of doors shook their heads in disbelief that so few thought to do this.

The metaphor was not lost on me. I wondered how often in life I have waited in line, following the crowd, when I could have moved ahead quickly if I’d taken the time to look for another open door.

The second thing I realized is that there is usually a reason for closed doors. In this case it was because there were preparations for the next session going on behind those doors. That’s why participants were asked not to enter until the doors were opened for them.

I thought of the many times in my life I’ve been frustrated because the door I wanted to walk through was closed. Perhaps the closed doors were there because I had more to learn before I would be ready to go through them. Maybe I was trying to do too much in my own strength rather than waiting for guidance from God.

All I know for sure is that the plan is not my own. My job is to be aware of the doors before me and learn from both the open and closed ones. I have faith that God will open the right doors for me as I walk closely with him and pay attention to his leading.

The Lord isn’t slow to do what he promised, as some people think. Rather, he is patient for your sake. He doesn’t want to destroy anyone but wants all people to have an opportunity to turn to him and change the way they think and act.( 2 Peter 3:9 GWT)

I’ll Do It On My Own

God, Inspiration, plan, guidanceThe pool in my city was to be closed for three months while maintenance and upgrades were done on the facility. This meant that I would need to find a replacement for my aquafit class.

As I put my membership on hold, I thought of all of the other forms of exercise I could do. It shouldn’t be a problem to keep myself motivated to exercise on my own.

That’s where I was wrong! My intentions were good, but the follow through was not.

The pool reopened this week. I was pleased with my progress as I worked through the class. Thinking the hour was almost up I glanced at the clock on the wall to see we weren’t even half way through!

The next class caused a few muscles to scream in protest. It was then I realized that I achieve better results with guidance from an instructor than I do on my own.

This applies to more than exercise. There have been many times I’ve thought I could do something on my own instead of enlisting the help of others. It may have been my pride, not willing to ask for help. Maybe I was trying to prove something to myself.

What I do know is that I have often decided to do things on my own instead of taking them to God for his guidance. This doesn’t usually end well. God knows the plan for my life and what needs to be done to accomplish it. His ways are far better than mine. With him guiding my life, I never have to do it on my own.

Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny. (Psalm 73:23-24 NLT)

What Do You Tell Yourself?

God, care, comfort, guildanceHave you ever been caught in a situation that took you by surprise and left you wondering what happened?

That was my experience recently. The situation itself is not important, how I dealt with it is what I need to focus on.

I sought a neutral party for guidance in how to proceed. After listening attentively to my story, I was asked how I was doing. My immediate response was, “I’m alright.” After assurance that this really was the case, we moved on.

The truth was that although I knew I would be alright, at that moment I was hurting. The person I was speaking to was in demand from other sources so I decided it was better not to add to her burden.

When I examined this the next day, I realized that this was a self-defeating behavior. By not acknowledging my feelings, I didn’t allow the other person the opportunity to comfort and reassure me. It was not my place to decide that for someone else.

Deep in my subconscious was the lie that I didn’t deserve the time and attention another was freely offering. I was suddenly struck by the thought that it’s not only other people I do this with. I have done the same with God.

Frequently I feel that my little issues are not worth taking to him. He has much more important things to take care of. That, however, is not the way God works. He cares about every aspect of my life and is always willing to give me the comfort and guidance I need. All I need to do is ask.

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. (Psalm 139:23NIV)

Looking For Reason

Jesus, faith, trust, meaningThere are many interesting sculptures along the waterfront walkway in Puerto Vallarta. One in particular captured my attention.

It was in two parts. One was a large figure with outstretched arms. In front of this was a ladder with two other figures climbing it. There were each holding onto the ladder with one hand reaching out with the other.
Upon speaking to a local, I found out that this statue was called Looking for Reason. It is also known as Looking for the Answers.

This was a vivid portrayal of something most of us spend our lives doing. I know that I have often looked for the reason behind events in life. It would be nice to have the answers and not speculate at the outcome.

As in the figures on the ladder, I have held onto what is secure with one hand while reaching for the unknown with the other.

In hindsight I’m grateful that I didn’t know ahead of time what was in store for me. Many experiences would have been lost by my not wanting to face what preceded them.

This is where faith comes into play. My faith in Jesus allows me to trust in him for the outcome. I don’t need to know the answers when I’m holding on to him. Jesus knows my life from beginning to end. Every event I encounter will bring me closer to the purpose he has for me. That’s all the reason I need.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1 NIV)

Successful Merging

God, prayer, Guidance, InspirationWhile driving along the highway I noticed the many times I encountered a sign warning motorists their lane would end. This notice was to give time to merge with the lane beside them.

Usually this was done smoothly but I did observe occasional problems. Sometimes the person merging didn’t consider the other vehicles and cut someone off. Other times they held back, staying in their lane until there was no option other than to merge. It seemed they’d rather come to a standstill than join with the other traffic.

To me this had a far greater significance than highway traffic. A visual reminder about reacting to the changes in life was being played out.
My life path seldom has completely unexpected endings. If I’ve been paying attention there has usually a warning sign or two. Knowing that change is imminent, it’s up to me how I will continue. At some point I will need to merge with others going the same direction as I am. This is the only way to keep moving forward.

If I approach the change with hesitancy I run the risk of coming to a standstill. I need to be prepared for the new challenge ahead of me. Conversely, I may rush in without evaluating the timing. This can cause problems with those I cut off in my rush to get ahead.

There is an alternative. I need to pray and ask God for guidance. He is the one that knows where he is taking me and the best way to get there. When I spend time with him my journey will be much smoother.

Call to me and I will answer you. I will tell you great and mysterious things that you do not know. (Jeremiah 33:3 GWT)

Are You Under Pressure?

sprite bottleThe wording on labels can sometimes evoke a meaning for me that I’m fairly sure is not what the manufacturer had in mind.

Such was the case when I spotted some old glass pop bottles at a yard sale. The Sprite bottle’s green glass had a white banner on the neck with the words Contents under pressure. Handle with care. I called my husband over to see it and said, “Some people should have that warning label!”

My amusement faded when I realized that I have often qualified as one of those people. Too many things to do and not enough time to accomplish everything can put me under pressure. This is usually something I’ve brought upon myself, either by taking on more than I should or procrastinating until I’m short on time. Even so, the pressure builds and those around me need a warning to stay clear, lest I explode.

This doesn’t happen as frequently as it did in the past. I am learning to bring my plans to Jesus. When I ask for his direction on what to say, “yes” or “no” to, my life runs much smoother. By making time with him the number one priority on my list I am better equipped to handle whatever comes my way. His guidance will enable me to keep the pressure under control. There is no better way to start my day than letting Jesus handle it with his loving care.

In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly. (Psalm 5:3 NIV)

How Do I Work the Shower?

Jesus, prayer, guidance, faith, inspirationI was alone at our trailer and decided to start the day with a nice, hot shower. The only other time I had used this shower was last season, but how difficult could it be to operate?

When I turned on the tap I got a blast of water through the open shower door! Quickly I adjusted the shower head, climbed in and closed the door.
My next challenge was adjusting the water temperature. This was not an easy task as the water was either hot or cold. How could I find a happy medium?

The most difficult part was still to come. I couldn’t seem to get the water turned off! I know it sounds like a simple thing, but that was not the case! After much trial and error I discovered that the taps did not move in the same direction. One turned left to go off and the other turned right.

These problems could have all been avoided if I’d only paid attention to the position of the shower head and the taps before I started.

At the risk of sound like a slow learner, lack of attention has been the cause of many difficulties in my life. I tend to race forward into a situation without taking time to gather the necessary information. That being said, I could spend all of my time gathering information and never actually DO anything.

The best way that I’ve found to make important decisions is to take them to the one who sees everything. Jesus is able to take anything and use it for my good. I can save both of us a lot of unnecessary detours by paying attention.

There are three simple steps I need to do. The first is to pray for guidance. Next I need to take the time to watch and listen for the response. Thirdly, I need to step out in faith. Jesus can then use me to make a difference in the world.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Ephesians 6:18 NIV

Weather Systems of Life

God, safety, guidance, inspirationI was driving home from an out of province speaking engagement. On my own for the eight hour drive, I had plenty of time to listen to my favourite music and reflect on life.

When I started out the sky was a brilliant blue with few clouds. After a couple of hours I saw a dark cloud with wispy tendrils reaching to the earth. As I approached, a faint image of fluffy white clouds could be seen behind it. Intrigued, I pulled over to take a picture.

No sooner had I returned to the highway when there was a flash of lightening, followed quickly by torrential rain. In moments the temperature dropped 11 degrees. I kept driving and soon passed through the storm. The dark cloud was behind me and the sunshine and warmth had reappeared.

This sudden and unexpected weather system made me think of life. I have no idea when my sunny life is going to be hit by a sudden storm of troubles. What I do know is that these storms are inevitable.

One of the songs I listened to as I drove had the words, “If I never had a problem, how would I know that God could solve them?” This is yet another reason I choose to walk with God. I trust him and know that he allows the storms for a reason. When I stay close to God I will be led safely through the darkness to a bright future waiting on the other side.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. (Isaiah 43:2 NIV)

The Coronation that Wasn’t

God, purpose, talents, inspirationMy son-in-law is a busy man. As well as being a husband and father of four active kids at home and one outside the home, he is a fireman / EMT. He also teaches courses in fire safety and is a volunteer on the local fire department.

On his days off he is working on home renovations. Somehow in the middle of all of this he made the time to earn a degree. This weekend is his convocation ceremony as he receives his Bachelor of Applied Business for Emergency Services.

My six year old granddaughter is especially proud of her daddy and is telling people she gets to go to his coronation this weekend! I know he wears a lot of hats, but I’m pretty sure that a crown is not one of them!

Her choice of words made me laugh. I love the way children can twist words and give the situation a whole new meaning.

As I thought about this, I realized how often I have looked at someone with admiration and elevated them to a higher position. They are smarter, wittier, better looking so I feel less than in comparison. In essence I have crowned them with authority and relegated myself to peasant status.

The truth is that God created us all equal. There is no need to feel inferior to anyone else. He has given each of us unique gifting and talents. God created us with a purpose in mind and has planted within us everything we need to fulfill that purpose. My role is to trust that he is able to accomplish his will in my life. I need only put my ego aside and let him work.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (Psalm 139:14 NIV)

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 )