My daughter and I were going on the trip of a lifetime. We were heading off on a Caribbean cruise. Neither of us had ever cruised before so this was an exciting new experience.
Our flights were booked to ensure we would arrive in plenty of time to board the ship. We would fly all night and arrive in San Juan, Puerto Rico early the next morning. It looked like there would be time to do an island tour before going to the ship.
On departure day we arrived at the airport to discover that our flight was delayed. This meant that we couldn’t make our connecting flight. The solution offered to us would allow us to board the ship just before the deadline. I was concerned that this would be cutting things a little too close so asked the airline agent to look for a better alternative. She replied, “If you let them know you’ll be late, won’t they hold the ship for you?” We told her that this was just not done, and my daughter added, “I don’t want to miss the boat.”
Metaphorically, there have been times in my life that I have ‘missed the boat’. Sometimes I have taken so long to make a decision that the option I wanted was no longer available. Other times I didn’t believe in myself enough to go for the opportunity that was presented.
What I have learned is that I need to embrace each new day. The challenges and opportunities that I face are there for a reason. God is in control and wants me to trust in him and not my own limited understanding. By following him, even though I may not understand where he is leading or why, I won’t have to worry about ‘missing the boat’ for my life.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight(Proverbs 3:5,6 NIV)
Lately I’ve been starting my day with a slice of fresh lemon in a mug of hot water. I enjoy the taste, and have also heard this is good for digestion.
The last lemon we purchased had a very thick rind on it. This made the skin to pulp ratio higher and produced a bitter taste. It also meant the slice was bigger and took up more room in my mug.
When I mentioned to my husband that this lemon had a very thick skin, he asked if being thick- skinned was a bad thing. I replied that I prefer my fruit to be thin-skinned but it’s not good for me to be that way.
If I’m referred to as thin-skinned it means that I am oversensitive. My feelings get hurt very easily. Everything becomes about me. This can make life very uncomfortable.
Conversely, being thick-skinned would mean I have set up a barrier between myself and everyone around me. Although I would not be easily offended, the fact that I would be largely unaffected by the needs and feelings of others would not be positive. Again everything would end up being about me.
Neither of these scenarios is where I want to be. I am aware that my life runs much smoother when the needs of others are as important, if not more so, than my own self-interest. Spending regular time in prayer with God will ensure that I don’t become too thick-skinned to follow his direction for my life.
And then what happened? Well, when Israel tried to be right with God on her own, pursuing her own self-interest, she didn’t succeed. The chosen ones of God were those who let God pursue his interest in them, and as a result received his stamp of legitimacy. The “self-interest Israel” became thick-skinned toward God. (Romans 11:7 The Message)
My husband and I were walking along the beach when I reached for his arm so I could point something out to him. Since I was walking in one direction and looking in another I wasn’t paying attention to my footing.
My foot became ensnared in the fibrous strands of a sand bag that was being destroyed by the elements. This caused me to stumble. I caught myself before falling completely but still felt foolish.
Before long I was wondering how this was a mirror of my life. Do I frequently focus on something other than the direction I’m travelling in? Is this what has caused me to stumble along life’s path?
Sometimes a stumble is what I need to bring my focus back to where it needs to be. It is the complete fall that’s harder to recover from.
When I keep my focus on Jesus, the obstacles in my way won’t be a problem. He will guide me safely through them. It’s only when I look away from him that I become ensnared and stumble.
though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand. (Psalm 37:24 NIV)
We had spent several days walking along the shore enjoying the heat of the sun and the clear waters lapping on the sand.
Then a north wind blew in. The sea frothed with white caps as it crashed to shore. The sand and debris that it stirred up rode in on the waves. Our once clear water was now muddied.
Before the wind, people swam on this beach without encountering seaweed. Now I was amazed to see the volume of it being carried to shore. Where had it all come from?
This was a strong visual of what my life can be like. One day I can be walking in the sun, enjoying my peaceful life. The next day I can be hit with a storm that strews garbage all around me. Some of this may be unexpected, like the seaweed. Others might have been hidden well below the surface, like the debris churned up from the bottom of the sea. Out of sight, out of mind is a saying that comes to mind. Either way, I am caught off guard, my tranquility now a distant memory.
When I remember that God can make all things work together for my good, I know I will survive this. He will guide me safely through the muddy waters. When I once again reach the crystal clear waters and serenity, I will have a new appreciation for the life I’ve been given.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 NIV)
I’ve just returned from a conference in another city. This is a city I don’t normally drive in so didn’t know my way around. While there I had to find my way to three destinations, all in different parts of the city. This was accomplished with the help of a navigation system.
I had gone online and printed out directions, but since I was traveling alone it was difficult to read them while driving. The navigation system took much of the stress out of driving in an unfamiliar area. In a calm, clear voice, it would let me know when my turn was coming up and which way I would be turning. All I had to do was enter my destination into the system and it took care of the rest for me.
On my drive home I reflected on this navigation system and realized that I have a constant one in my life. Jesus not only guides me, he knows the destination before I do. My role in this is to stay tuned into him and to follow the directions he gives me. By coming to him frequently in prayer he will lead me in the best route from my life. He constantly watches over me so I know that even if I make a wrong turn, he will navigate me safely back to where I need to be.
The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. Psalm 32:8 NLT
One of the major roads in our city was undergoing road works. This caused a portion of the road to be closed. Instead of traveling their normal routes, drivers were faced with a detour that took them through residential neighbourhoods. This caused an unwelcome delay for countless motorists.
I looked at the large flashing arrow pointing to the detour. The road beyond was torn up and there was heavy equipment working. Several ‘Road Closed’ signs had been set up. All of the warnings were there to tell me that I couldn’t take this route.
There have been times in my life when I thought I knew where I was going, only to be met by an unexpected detour. The route I intended to travel was closed to me. This led to confusion. The detour would take me through unfamiliar territory which would slow me down. Not only was this inconvenient, it was also disorienting.
The direction my life was to go had been planned. Now everything changed. My initial response was to worry. What if I got lost and couldn’t find my way? Then I learned to trust in Jesus. I soon found that His direction for my life was far better than any route I had planned. Sometimes the detour would show me new things I needed to know. Other times it would lead me in an entirely new direction. Instead of focusing on what I thought I needed, I learned to pray to Jesus for guidance. If I was on the right route, I would ask that the way be clear. I would also ask him to close the road ahead if it wasn’t where He wanted me to be going. He is the one that knows my final destination and know the best way to get me there.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV
Traffic Circles or Round Abouts as they are also known, are meant to improve the flow of traffic. Knowing this doesn’t keep me from sometimes finding them quite intimidating. As you enter the circle, you yield to people on your left. If they are exiting the circle at the spot you are entering, you’re fine to go. It’s when they are heading around it and changing lanes that things become tricky. The ones with 3 lanes can get a little crazy. I need to not only consider where I am going, but also figure out where the others are going.
The plus side to this is that if I am uncertain as to my exit, I can just keep travelling around in a circle until I decide which route I want to take and am able to plan my moves safely.
Sometimes I feel that I am living my life as if I’m caught in a traffic circle. I go around and around the same things, uncertain as to which route to take. When I finally make a decision, I need to evaluate the timing. Is it safe to make that move now, or should I go around one more time, just to be sure? Staying in the circle may seem safe, but it is also frustrating. How can I move forward into a more purposeful life if I’m afraid to leave the safety of my familiar circle?
On my own, decisions like this can paralyse me. When I pray and put my life in the hands of Jesus, I know that he will guide me safely along the route he has chosen for me. It’s time to quit going around in circles and embrace the adventure that a life of following Jesus will bring.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV
The store that I work in was in the process of moving locations. I have moved my home to a new location before but it was the first time I had been involved in the move of a store. Neither of these are my idea of fun!
It took days to get everything packed and although it didn’t seem like it at the time, this was the easy part of the move. Far more difficult was unpacking and finding the right spot for everything. This is even more of a challenge when moving to a smaller location. As I stood, surrounded by boxes, I was overwhelmed. Not knowing where to start caused me to panic and instead of getting to work, I froze, afraid that this was more than I could cope with.
Thinking about this later I recalled the many times I have been in this kind of situation. Part of the problem is having too much stuff. It collects slowly, without me noticing it, and one day I realize that all of this is cluttering up my life and causing me to be overwhelmed and stressed.
It isn’t always a physical change of location that causes this feeling. There have been things I have wanted to do in my life that I am unable to start because of emotions and limiting beliefs that are cluttering up my mind. The only sensible thing to do is to purge. The trouble is that when I reach that state, I want to retreat and hide, not to face things head on.
Instead of letting things build up to this point, I need to remember to continually bring my life to the Lord and rely on his guidance. He will teach me what to hold onto and what to let go of. He constantly watches over me and sees the whole picture, not just the part I am stuck on. My role in this is to pray and ask for his guidance and then trust as I wait for his answer.
The Lord says, “I will instruct you. I will teach you the way that you should go. I will advise you as my eyes watch over you.” Psalm 32:8