The pastor started his sermon by telling us the choices we make shape our future and determine our destiny. This was something I already knew. The question remained; how often do I think about it when making my choices?
Life gives plenty of opportunity for making choices. I can face these with faith or with fear. I’ll admit, making choices is not easy for me. When it comes right down to it, I think the fear of making the wrong choice is what causes my inability to be decisive.
What I fail to remember is that the faith I need to move forward isn’t faith in my own judgment or ability. I only see the short-term and what looks like the easiest and most productive path for right now. God is the only one who sees the whole picture, beginning to end, and can guide me to make the right choice.
How strong is my trust in God? I know He can take care of me but do I fully believe that He will? Do I succumb to my fears or wholly trust in the Lord?
The answer to those questions will shape my future and determine my destiny. The decision is mine to make. God will never force himself on me. It’s my choice and I choose to trust in Him.
The Lord will work out his plans for my life— for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever. (Psalm 138:8 NLT)
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT)
My husband and I went to the mountains for a weekend escape. We arrived at night so weren’t able to take in the view until the next morning.
Our room promised a scenic vista and I was eager to check it out in the daylight. Although the mountains loomed close, they were shrouded in clouds so not as picturesque as I had hoped.
The next morning I saw an entirely different view. The mountains were the same but sun shining on the clearly defined peaks made them magnificent.
I took pictures at the same time each morning and they tell the story of the difference a day can make.
There are times in my life when the picture in front of me isn’t what I had hoped for. The days are gloomy and the future is anything but clear. It would be so easy to give in to despair.
Instead, I need to keep moving forward. My steps might not be as quick and lively as they once were but I can’t let that stop me.
I take comfort in a well-known Bible verse which says God will be with me as I walk through the dark valley. He doesn’t abandon me there. He is beside me every step of the way and will lead me to the bright sunshine once again. It may not be today or even tomorrow. All I need is the faith that a new day can make all the difference.
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1-2 NIV)
Brian saw it first. There on the top of one of the tall towers supporting power lines, was a huge eagle nest.
We pulled over and got out the binoculars to have a closer look. The black speck we could see from a distance was actually a young eagle standing slightly to one side of the nest. Upon scanning the area, we discovered an adult eagle on a nearby tower, keeping watch.
I looked at the tremendous height and thought of those eaglets learning to fly. This doesn’t happen quickly, it’s a process. I’ve been told the immature eagles often stand at the edge of the nest, frightened to take the risk to fly. When the parent thinks the eaglet is ready, it will push the young one out.
Sometimes I’ve done the preparation needed but have been afraid to take the risk to fly solo. My faith is still immature. In cases like this, I’ve appreciated a push that forced me to trust in my ability to soar. God has many ways of giving me the push I needed.
Like the adult eagles standing guard over their young, I know that God is always nearby, watching over me. Even when I’m not aware of his presence, he is there.
He teaches me what I need to learn and I am confident when he asks me to step out in faith, one of two things will happen. Either he will catch me when I fall or teach me to fly.
…but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:31 NIV)
Ominous looking clouds filled the sky, blocking the sun I’d been enjoying. The air cooled as the first raindrops hit my exposed skin. It was time to fold up my lounge chair and move inside.
A flash of lightening lit up the sky. Very close behind was a boom of thunder that shook our trailer. I was thankful for shelter as we watched the windswept rain bounce off of our table.
In less than an hour the sun reappeared, bringing with it heat that soon dried the ground.
We went for a walk along the lake shore enjoying the warm breeze. On our return we took a path through the trees and stopped to admire the black and white butterflies flitting around us.
Many people packed up and left the campground as the storm clouds gathered. We chose to stay and wait out the storm.
In life I’m also hit with sudden storms. One minute I’m relaxing in the sun and the next minute a roar of thunder shakes my world.
My initial reaction is to retreat. On my own, I don’t know how to deal with the storms. Fortunately, I’m not on my own. My faith in God tells me that he will be my shelter in the storm. I know when I rely on him he will keep me safe. There may also be lessons in the storm that I couldn’t learn any other way.
His timing is perfect and I trust that when Good leads me back to the sunshine it will be with a greater awareness of the blessings that surround me.
For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock. (Psalm 27:5 NIV)
“My hair is the bane of my existence,” my friend said. “I can never get it to look like I want it to.”
She has straight hair and wants to add some curl to it. I, on the other hand, have spent a lifetime attempting to straighten my natural curls.
We discussed that this is about more than wanting what we don’t have. For both of us, this is a sign of our need for control. Controlling my hair is a small step in controlling my life. If my hair falls into place I have more confidence other parts of my life will do the same.
What I fail to remember is that my plan is not always the best one. God has a much better plan for my life than anything I can imagine.
Giving up control and stepping out in faith has been a challenge. Uncertain circumstances are difficult for me. I want to know the next steps to take and what the outcome will be. Anxious thoughts can hold me back.
My trust in God is what can calm my fears. When I let go of my futile attempts to controlling my life I am more peaceful. I know that he is able to handle every aspect of my life. When my confidence is in God, even a bad hair day can’t stop me!
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT)
You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! (Isaiah 26:3 NLT)
“It must be the middle of the night” I thought. Our bedroom faces east and the early morning sun often wakes me earlier than I’d like. What I heard didn’t make sense in the darkness that surrounded me.
The sound of birds in the back yard was unmistakable. It was normal to hear their cheerful chirping n the daylight but not during pre-dawn hours.
The memory of their song danced around the edges of my mind when I arose in the morning light. I realized the sounds in the night had a message for me.
It’s easy to sing and be happy when the sun is shining and all is bright in my little world. The test comes in the blackness of the night. When all is dark around me, how do I react? Am I sure the darkness that seems to consume me will never retreat? Or, do I trust in the Lord?
God’s Word says not to be afraid in the dark times because he is close beside me for comfort and protection. He causes all things to work together for my good. I know from past experience that God has birthed incredible blessings from some of the darkest points of my life. My faith tells me to sing praises and to watch in anticipation for the dawning of a bright new day.
Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. (Psalm 23:4 NLT)
Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV )
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. (Romans 8:23 NLT)
One 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)
Let me start by saying that I am not a swimmer. I enjoy being in the water as long as my feet can touch a firm surface and my face doesn’t get wet.
Our vacation was nearing an end. I had walked along the shore daily but had not ventured into the sea. The conditions were perfect with sunshine, hot temperature and calm water and I knew I needed to make the most of the opportunity.
I waded into the refreshing water. Soon I felt adventurous enough to take hold of a small boogie board that was handed to me. My intention was not to ride it but to lie across it and float.
Balancing my body across this board without tipping was a much bigger challenge than I anticipated. When I achieved my goal I was filled with satisfaction.
I relaxed, laid my head on the board and closed my eyes. What a wonderful feeling! It seemed like only moments before I looked around and realized I had drifted quite a distance from my husband. The water was now deeper than I was comfortable with. My feet could no longer touch the bottom.
I hung on tightly to the board as I kicked my feet and fought back the panic. The tide seemed to be working against me and the shore was not getting any closer.
Then I saw my husband making his way towards me. He took hold of the cord attached to the board and towed me to safety. I was so relieved that I didn’t mind his admonishment that I should have been more attentive to my surroundings.
This was an example of what happens in my life when I drift along without paying attention. Soon I’m in over my head. The Lord is always there to rescue me. Sometimes he waits for me to call for help. Other times he sends someone to help me even before I realize I’m in trouble.
Drifting aimlessly is never going to get me where I want or need to be. The prudent thing for me to do is to be attuned to the wisdom only he can give. Then I will have clear direction and not drift off course.
The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice. (Proverbs 12:15 NIV)
It is the Lord who gives wisdom; from him come knowledge and understanding. (Proverbs 2:6 GWT)
I 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
My husband and I attended a gluten-free expo recently. The majority of the booths had samples of products for us to try. This gave us the opportunity to taste items before we made a decision to purchase them.
Some things, like Portobello mushroom jerky, were interesting but one bite was enough for me. Others, like the cinnamon sugar donuts were treats I could have eaten much more of.
The booths with the longest lineups were the one giving away sample packages to take home. We added pasta, crackers, chips, popcorn and bars to our tote bags. Coupons to receive a discount on some of our favourite products were also appreciated.
Attending this expo reminded me of life. Each day I am presented with new experiences to try. Some are sweet, some are nutty and others leave a bitter taste in my mouth. My task is to sample the experiences that are presented to me and to find value in all of them.
The gifts that God has given me are far more valuable than a box of pasta. Yet, they are freely given and I don’t have to stand in line to receive them. The investment I need to make is not like the money I need to spend in order to use coupons. What I need to do is to invest my faith in God. This not only pleases him but also produces benefits far greater than I deserve.
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:6 NIV)