Falling Down

firm foundation, Jesus, inspiration, relationshipOne minute I was walking beside my husband and the next I was on the ground. It happened so fast that I didn’t realize I was falling until I hit the ground.

Loose gravel on a slight slope had been the cause of my tumble. We’d walked this area several times over the previous days and I’d never noticed the gravel. I hadn’t noticed it this time either until it was the cause of my fall.

Fortunately I landed on the grass beside the paved path. This cushioned my fall somewhat. Things could have been far worse.

I had instinctively put my arm out to brace myself as I collapsed to the ground. Initially I thought that my sore wrist was the only injury sustained. Over the next few hours an ache started in my shoulders and continued down my spine. This little fall had a bigger impact on me that I’d realized.

If only I’d been watching my steps this accident may have been prevented.
In my everyday life I also need to watch my step.

When I don’t have a firm foundation to stand on there is a good chance I’ll slip and fall. It may not be physical but the consequences will be suffered just the same. Poor decisions can cause a unpleasant reaction that I don’t see coming. Seldom will I be the only one affected.

My firm foundation is built on a close and personal relationship with Jesus. When my focus is on him my steps are secure. The danger comes when I cease to rely on him.

The times that I am not looking to Jesus are the ones when I still stumble. Through his love and grace he provides a safe landing place and protects me from the fall.

The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.  (Psalm 37:23-24 NLT)

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)

Where Is Your Focus?

God, imspiration, trust, solutionSometimes it takes an unusual situation to show me that I’ve been focusing on the wrong thing. A recent experience pointed this out.

I had arrived at work one morning to find it unusually cold inside. I put the heat on and waited. Hours later it was only a degree or two warmer.

I called my employer to let her know of the problem. She gave me suggestions on dealing with our sometimes finicky heating system.
Nothing seemed to make a difference. Periodically through the day I tried again and was always frustrated at the lack of heat.

The next day I received a message from my employer saying that the reason the heat didn’t work was because the switch on the thermostat had been turned to “off”. It seems that the problem was with the operator and not the equipment.

Wanting to create value in this situation, I looked for the lesson. It wasn’t as difficult to find as the off switch had been!

There have been times when the discomfort I was experiencing was something I had control over. When my focus was solely on the problem that was all I could see. It was the solution I needed to focus on.

Often I forget where my solution lies. My knowledge and resources are limited. It’s God that sees the whole picture and is able to direct me. He cares about every aspect of my life. I need to continually focus on him and trust that he will provide what I need.

Those who know your name trust you, O Lord, because you have never deserted those who seek your help. (Psalm 9:10 GWT)

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)

Overcoming Fear

trust, calm, Jesus, inspirationI am a non-swimmer and don’t like to be in water if my feet can’t touch solid ground. In the interest of full disclosure I admit that a big part of this is because I won’t put my face in the water. I can splash water on my face to wash it, but other than that, forget it!

My daughter and I were recently on a tropical vacation when the opportunity to snorkel was presented as an optional part of our excursion. Others quickly found flippers, masks and snorkels and entered the water. There was no thought in my mind of doing the same.

My daughter gently encouraged me to give it a try. There was no pressure from her, just a genuine concern that I may regret not having the experience. She promised to be right there with me.

I didn’t have the courage to jump from the side of the boat, but there was a ladder at the back I could use. My mind and body were screaming, “You can’t do this” as I donned the gear. The thudding of my heart was deafening as I slowly descended into the sparkling turquoise water.

My daughter was right behind me, helping me to calm down and breathe properly. As she held my hand and swam beside me I put my trust in her. Soon I was admiring tropical fish and my fear faded. I even managed to let go of her hand and paddle around a bit on my own. It was an incredible experience and one I am grateful for.  fish up close

The memory of my daughter holding my hand, calming me and guiding me safely through this challenge brought another image to mind. Jesus has done this for me many times in my life. When I’m anxious or frightened all I need to do is call on him. His calm assurance gives me courage. I know that he is always there to take my hand and lead me safely to my destination.

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. (Isaiah 41:10 NLT)

Do You Have Transmision Problems?

God, prayer, guidance, inspirationOne evening I pulled into our driveway and was surprised when my vehicle would no longer move forward. Before you ask, it wasn’t because I bumped into the building!

Eventually the vehicle did move but there was a resistance that felt like something was holding it back. The brake wasn’t engaged so the problem had to be with the transmission. Once it was serviced, everything was good again.

This made me think of times I’ve been moving full speed ahead in my life and suddenly felt a resistance that stopped me in my tracks. Looking back, I realize this was caused by a different kind of transmission problem. It had nothing to do with a motor, but with a message that was being transmitted to me.

Many times I have set my own course and not stopped to pray about it. God has been patient with me when I made mistakes that wouldn’t have occurred if I had been relying on him. When it feels like something is holding me back, I need to stop and evaluate if this is God’s way of letting me know I’m not heading in the right direction.

He is always willing to forgive my disobedience and set my life back on track. By being tuned into his transmission of love and guidance my journey of life will be much smoother.

Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty! (Psalm 32:1-2 NLT)

How to Pack Hand Luggage

hand-luggageIn my last attitude, negative thoughts, God, trustpost I told you about not wanting to miss the boat due to flight delays en-route a cruise vacation. My daughter and I managed to board the ship on time even though our delays put us eight hours behind schedule.

When we finally reached our destination we were dismayed to find our luggage had not arrived with us. After checking our claim tickets, we were told that our luggage was on the next flight and would be there in two hours. We were extremely relieved when we finally had suitcases in hand.

This experience caused me to re-evaluate what I pack in my hand luggage. Most of the bag was filled with snacks, although I also had a book or two, some paperwork and my sunglasses. What it lacked was a change of clothing and my swimsuit. If I had been forced to leave on the cruise without my luggage, how would I have coped?

Relating this to my life, I realize how often I pack around thoughts I don’t need at the expense of those that would be beneficial. Just like an overabundance of snacks for the flight, my attitude can be something that provides no provision for the future.

By putting my faith and trust in God, my negative thoughts will diminish. I will have the confidence to handle whatever comes my way. When he is with me, I have no concern about coping with the days to come.

The Lord will be your confidence. He will keep your foot from getting caught. (Proverbs 3:26 GWT)

Don’t Miss the Boat

trust, God, opportunities, adventureMy 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)

Hiding in Plain View

trust, God, inspirationWe were walking along the beach when my husband suddenly stopped and looked at the sand behind him. He pointed out a small crab. It was very still and blended well with the surroundings, making it difficult to see.

I commented on his good vision at spotting the crab. He said his foot had brushed it and he’d felt the scurry. He’d stopped so he could see what had caused this.

For the crab, being able to hide in plain view is a method of self-protection. This ability helps to keep it safe from predators.

I thought of how I have used this method of self-protection in my life. I’ve done this when I’ve been in uncomfortable situations or ones in which I feel threatened. At these times I withdraw and do my best to blend into the background. In effect I am attempting to make myself invisible to those around me.

The result is feelings of isolation. This is not what I want and is definitely not comfortable.

When I remember that my value does not come from others but from God I am much happier. I turn my focus to the fact that God knows me intimately and still loves me unconditionally. From him there is no hiding, nor does there ever need to be.

Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe. Proverbs 29:25 NIV

When I am afraid I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise – in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? Psalm 56:3,4 NIV

Snowsqualls

Storms, Jesus, safety, reliance
image from globalnews.ca
I had heard of squalls before but generally thought of them as sudden winds coming up on the water. They were something boaters had to be wary of.
Our weather report called for a snowsquall. Since this was something I was unfamiliar with, I decided to do a little research.

According to Wikipedia, “A snowsquall is a sudden moderately heavy snow fall with blowing snow and strong gusty surface winds. It is often referred to as a whiteout and is similar to a blizzard but is localized in time in space and snow accumulations may or may not be significant.”

Essentially, what this told me is that we will be hit with sudden winds and blowing snow producing conditions that make it difficult, if not impossible to see what’s in front of us. As if that wasn’t bad enough, we have no idea if it will leave significant accumulations to clean up after.

When I examine this, I can see parallels to my life. There have been times I’ve had the emotional equivalent of a snowsquall. Suddenly I’ve been hit with unexpected gusts that make it difficult to focus on taking the next step forward. I have no idea what the fallout may be. Will I have a huge mess to clean up or will the storm temporarily throw me off-balance but leave me unscathed?

I have learned that the way I handle these squalls has a direct result in how well I come through them. Left to my own devices, I tend to panic. It’s easy to get turned around, confused and end up creating bigger fallout for myself.

When I walk with Jesus, the results are much different. He doesn’t keep me from the storms. Some of them are necessary for my personal growth. By calling out to him, I know that he will calm me and guide me safely through. I will come out not only intact but stronger due to what I’ve gone through. I don’t need to see the outcome, just Jesus by my side to have the reassurance that everything will be alright,

“Your strength will come by settling down in complete dependence on me – the very thing you’ve been unwilling to do.” Isaiah 30:15B The Message