Ecclesiastes 3:11 “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
We all seem to have our own expectation of how things should turn out, whether it’s for a specific project or a much larger life goal. We hold ourselves to a certain level of performance and gauge our accomplishments and satisfaction on how we’ve matched up with these expectations. We do this with others too; our family, our friends, our coworkers, and even strangers. Success, through human eyes. Judgement, whether accurate or not.
I recently recounted the details of my drive to work, to a friend. We’ve all had days like this, where no matter how hard we try to get ahead, we are clearly being slowed down. Whether we’ve started out behind schedule and are now trying to catch up, or we were simply trying to gain some ground early on and get a jump on what we know will be a full day, our efforts to set our pace seems to be met with delays and obstacles. How we respond to these delays says a lot about how we react or rely on God’s timing for bigger things in our lives too. Do we let ourselves get frustrated or do we take a deep breath and accept our uncontrollable circumstances with peace? Can we even see beyond the person or thing keeping us from our goal?
So in the retelling of my drive to work, I made reference to now knowing exactly how many stop lights are between my home and my work. SEVEN! There are seven. The longest one keeps me sitting for a full four minutes. What normally is an eleven minute drive, on this particular day, took me 23 minutes! Thankfully, this was a day where I was attempting to be early and not already running late. In addition to hitting every red light, I found myself behind slow moving vehicles, a delivery truck backing out of a driveway only to have to pull back in and out a couple times to get it right, and pedestrians crossing the street where they shouldn’t. After the third or fourth red light and then the delivery truck, something in my spirit recognized the divine aspect to these delays and I settled into a place of observation and delight. Clearly, my plan to arrive at a certain time was not going to happen. Even with all the obstacles, I arrived on time. Not late. Not early. But exactly on God’s time.
This snapshot of a typical day for some of us, made me think about plans we make for our life and our expectation for when we should hit certain benchmarks. We often wonder… Are we in the right job? Are we pursuing the right course of education? Are we eating right? Do we call our mom enough? When did I even floss last? Should we have more money saved by now? Have we done everything we should have done… or could have done? If so, or if not… by whose standards are we evaluating ourselves? I believe this is where being in tune with God and His plan can settle our anxious spirits.
If we trust God has a plan for our lives, and believe He is our Good Shepherd, caring for our every need and going ahead of us to prepare and protect, then we can also trust that He is control of the timing for our lives as well. Yes, we need to move our feet and look for his leading. But, it can be a peaceful journey, even in the chaos, if we can see the delays and obstacles as God setting our pace or shifting us over to be better aligned with His plan, and His timing. Not arriving late, just because it was later than someone else. Not ahead of schedule either, but landing in exactly the right place at precisely the right moment in time where we are positioned to receive the very best. His best. His timing. Success, according to His standards.
The same goes for unplanned health issues, or financial demands that threaten the security and peace we would prefer. Similar to achieving something or positioning ourselves in life, when we know God has every detail of our life securely in His hands we can breathe through even the scariest news from a doctor or remain unshaken by dollar signs and numbers on a bill we open. All we can do is walk through life, loving those around us, being honorable and responsible with what we’ve been given, and glorify God by being grateful for all of it.
Dear LORD, Please continue to set eternity in my heart that everything in me would yearn to match pace with YOUR plan for my life. Help me to settle into a rhythm tapped out by you and you alone. Let me not grow anxious to be further along than I am, or regret any steps I’ve already taken. Show me how my current path is leading me to what you have for me, and may YOU always be glorified through anything I achieve or accomplish. Thank you for slowing me down when I need to be, and for opening up opportunities for me to run to or through as you see fit for my benefit. May others see the peace you’ve placed in my heart, when chaos surrounds, as YOU remain in me. Amen.
Once again, we find ourselves in a place of changing surroundings and unexpected decisions that we didn’t see coming. And although we may have been caught off guard, God never is! He is unshakeable and never-failing. He knows our future and how we will get there. He loves our kids even more than we possibly could, so He can be trusted with their lives!
After fourteen years at the same campus, our family has been prompted to make a change. As we first considered where to send our firstborn, all those years ago, we had lots of confirmation it was to be right there… at the base of the mountain, surrounded by people serving and answering the call on their lives. I had never seen anything quite like it, and yet it felt like home. In my absence, these people would come to care for, teach, pick up when they fell, and pray for my babies. Clearly, after the first one, we continued to enroll the rest as they were old enough to attend. We were blessed by the total package, and never gave serious thought to placing them anywhere else.
God has a way of pointing out when you’ve become too comfortable. Little things we overlook or have become accustomed to, which may or may not be harmful to us, we just keep functioning around, out of familiarity and comfort. God doesn’t say to sit back and become complacent with our place in life… he loves us enough to challenge us and allow growth to take place, often times when we are not seeking it. This is what is happening for the Meek family. Certain circumstances have catapulted us out of our very comfy seats, to reveal areas that need our attention. The light has been flipped on and our eyes are still adjusting to this spot-light focus. It’s uncomfortable to admit we had let these things get tucked away. But it feels good to be cleaning out these areas and giving them the intentional focus they deserve. Change is happening, ready or not. Growth will come from it. Blessings will follow.
The hardest part of this is making the decision that impacts someone else’s heart. It’s one thing to make yourself uncomfortable, but something completely different when it causes someone else distress. Watching our kids process this news has been heartbreaking, but also encouraging. They didn’t like it, but they know we love them and wouldn’t do this unless we had to. They thrashed around a bit trying to resist the reality of our situation. But then they settled in, found a calm, and began to process. Slowly, they are talking about specific changes, expectations, and feelings. They may not pinpoint this as being God comforting them through it, but it is how I am seeing it. I know, because this is what God has already done for my heart as we arrived in this place. He is faithful to give us exactly what we need for the moment, and I love seeing that unfold for my kids too.
This new chapter will come with its own set of challenges and blessings. It will become another opportunity to trust others to care for, teach and pray for our kids in our absence. Because God has called us away from what we’ve known, and into a new place… I have to believe that He is already there. I’m sure there will be ways our kids will impact others and grow in ways they wouldn’t if we were just doing what we’d always done. I am confident there are blessing that await us that we couldn’t possible know to ask for or anticipate. But, for as long as I have been actively pursued by this amazing God, I know I can count on Him to show up in a big way! He loves us. He can be trusted. We will obey and serve. This change may have come quickly for us, but it’s been his plan all along, and it’s only the beginning.
I know we are not the only ones to go through change. I acknowledge that other people go through even greater circumstances and live to tell about it. It may seem simple, but for us this is huge. For years God has made a way for us to stay put… but this time he is making a new way altogether. So, I pray if this speaks to your heart over something he is prompting you to examine and respond to… that you embrace it! Trust He is already there, and go! I’d be thrilled to pray with you about it, and lock arms with you as you march forward in obedience.
For starters, I acknowledge my glass-half-full outlook on life. I can fairly easily see the positive in situations and I don’t tend to stay down for very long. This definitely doesn’t mean that I skip through life without stubbing a toe, taking a tumble now and then, or even falling flat on my face, for it is through those challenges I have grown in my faith. I am who I am because of what I’ve gone through and what I’ve learned from the process. I’m sure I am not alone in this, because this is life. We all face things, good and bad, and our attitude determines whether or not it benefits us or holds us back.
I was recently driving my kids to school, when we encountered an unexpected road block. A large semi had broken down in a very inconvenient spot, causing us to stop and turn around, which put us a bit behind. I felt more sorry for the truck driver who needed to figure out his situation. As we turned a different way, we came up on an intersection where the light stayed green an unusually long length of time. I said out loud, “Thank you! I’ll take it!” My son asked me who I was talking to, to which I replied I was thanking God for his favor. I then went on to explain how important it is to acknowledge the favor we encounter each day, to hopefully avoid feeling entitled to it or grumble when we don’t get it. I honestly thought I was imparting such wisdom to him, and that he would remember this moment and apply this same awareness in his life moving forward… which he might, but his words that followed became the lesson for ME instead!
“Sometimes favor comes from hard things, Mom. I recently read The Hiding Place by Corrie TenBoom and in her book she explains how bad things became good while God protected them during the Holocaust. One was fleas. The area they were kept in was infested with fleas, but it turned out to be a blessing for them because the guards left them alone to avoid the fleas themselves. And another time, she and her sister didn’t want to be separated, and her sister was sick. They prayed God would help them stay together, and she ended up getting a swollen leg. This allowed them to stay with each other. Neither of those things are good, but it was God’s favor for their situation.”
The eyes of my heart were thrown open! Again, truth coming out of my child, perfectly put for me to receive. Of course I know that good comes from bad, and it’s through these hard things that we grow stronger in our faith… but I truly don’t know if I ever stopped to think about seeing the favor in the midst of the hard thing. I more applied “favor” to how God pulled me out of the hard thing versus allowing the hard thing to be what truly blessed my life as a result. He was absolutely right in his understanding, and I rejoice that his heart had already processed this. It served as a fresh reminder for me, and it became a moment that I will never forget and will apply to MY everyday thinking moving forward. (Humbling role-reversal!)
Romans 5:1-5 NIV “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
If you have walked with the Lord for any amount of time, hopefully you’ve figured out He is trustworthy and has a plan of hope for your life. I challenge you to train yourself to see this goodness in everything. The good and the bad. For it’s only after you’ve walked down the path a bit further that you have the perspective to look back and see what you’ve made it through, or possibly avoided altogether. But either way, He has never left you to walk it alone. His favor surrounds you. Train your eye (and your heart) to see it, and be thankful. And if this is completely foreign to you, please ask a friend to tell you more. I would jump at the chance to share my story with you and help you to see yours.
- Exodus 33:21-23 NIV21 Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. 22 When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”Twenty years ago, today, was my first experience in the cleft in the rock… covered by God’s hand as He passed by. Maybe I shouldn’t say it was the first time, but it was the first time I was fully aware of it. I was in so much pain, and felt comforted at the same time. Andrew and I had lost our first pregnancy and learned firsthand what it was to not be in control of our circumstances. We chose to cling to each other and to God. I allowed myself to feel everything that came up, and believed it would somehow be for our good. I felt closer to God than I had ever felt before. It is because of this event, I am quick to recognize His presence, covering me and comforting me through hard things since then. I wouldn’t knowingly choose the pain, but I must admit, the awareness of being loved through it is unmatched. He is good all the time… even through hurt. I would not change the course my life has taken for anything. His ways are higher than my ways, and I will follow and trust Him all the days of my life! Losses still happen, pain still finds us, but a deeper experience in His presence is gain… in the cleft in the rock.
I LOVE when truth comes out of the mouth and heart of my kids, and they don’t even know how impactful it is when they say it. Tonight, my daughter was telling me about running the mile with a friend. Neither of them really look forward to this required school activity, but on this particular day they chose to stick together and “encourage each other.” By doing so, they both set new personal bests!
Then she said this… “It is amazing how much better we do when we do something with a friend. Like, we aren’t alone, and when one of us wants to quit, the other one encourages her to keep going. We both did better because we weren’t trying to do it alone.”
As her words kept coming, one after the other, I found a smile warming my face. THIS is exactly how we are meant to do life! Not alone. Not discouraged. Not overwhelmed. But together. Encouraged. Believing we can do it, even if it’s only because someone else believes in us. It is truly a gift when we partner up with the right encourager. I am blessed to have a handful of people for different areas of my life that I naturally gravitate to per situation or challenge…. as though God draws us together to bring out the best in each of us.
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up…” 1 Thes. 5:11a (NIV)
Our enemy wants nothing more than to get us alone and let us talk ourselves out of striving for our best. When we withdraw from the crowd and hide in our dark places, we cannot possibly do our best. But out in the daylight, side by side or arm in arm with an excited partner, there’s no place for doubt or defeat. I needed to hear this little reminder tonight, and I am trusting someone else needed it to. I hope it is read with a spirit of “I’m right here with you… let’s do this thing together!”
Who knows, we might just set a new personal best!
(A little deep, on only a few hours of sleep… but worth jotting out!)
Laying awake, long after I should have been asleep, I feel as though I was given a mini slide show of sorts, mapping out the road ahead of me. It was exciting and wonderful to see the possibilities my life has. I say “possibilities” because I know God gives us free will, and we have to do the walking to arrive where we do. But, I believe God showed me an inspiration to keep me moving that direction! As tired as I was, I didn’t want it to stop. The deeper the details went, the more convinced I became it will happen!
I pictured a venue, a message, faces in the crowd, tears, laughter, God’s glory…
The best part was when rain started pouring outside as I laid there. It might be one of my favorite sounds, so calming and peaceful. I found the gentle noises to be a grounding to the current place I was in. A hook to my present, while my imagination was touching my future. It was a sweet moment I don’t want to forget.
In a private journal, I am taking notes of what I was shown. I feel it’s more of a message for down the road, for an audience I have yet to meet. I am confident there will come a time when I will look back and realize it has been fulfilled, and I commit now to continue trusting where He leads me. I will make every effort not to panic and try to rush things.
I have many reason to disqualify myself and talk down my abilities… but I also know what God has done around me and for me, so why not through me? Not because of anything I’ve done, but because I know the One who is making things happen… I am up for the task.
“I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose-I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.] Philippians 4:13 AMP
(Seriously… does anyone else have their breath taken with the Amplified Version?? I LOVE it!)
Be encouraged today. He has a plan for you. He is in every detail. I had to become very still to see it for myself, and I know He’s waiting for you to discover those finer details he’s hidden for you too!
Do you ever wonder if what you do makes a difference? As a mom to four kids, I could take this many different directions. As toddlers, their personalities were all very different (and still are, actually) and what might influence one would not begin to sway another. Just when I would feel confident in a particular area, the next kid would come along and challenge any ounce of confidence I had established. The breakthrough moments though, were priceless and made me appreciate the effort of attempting to figure out how each one would hear and respond. It was worth it. It mattered.
I wonder this same thing with my writing. I recognize my own burden to write and express myself… but who’s really listening? Does it matter if anyone reads or listens? Am I just writing it for me? There are so many opinions and voices out there, and who am I to think anyone needs or wants to know what I’m going through or how I feel about something? I have to look at it more as a response of obedience to this calling of sorts. God has given me something to say or at least something to think… so maybe it’s meant for more than me. If I don’t follow through, then I may always wonder what could have been. If I stick with it and keep writing out these different stories or thoughts, then maybe someONE will connect. If that connection brings any value to a situation or spurs someone else on to respond in obedience to the promptings in their life, then it will have been a blessing. It will be worth it. I will matter.
God uses these desires or “day dreams” as a way of stretching us. But we can become our own biggest obstacle with self-doubt! Have you wanted to learn a new skill or take on a new hobby? Do you see someone else being successful at something and wish you had the time? Do you feel like it’s too late to begin something new? Will it be worth your time to try? I encourage you to ask these people some questions. Read up on it. Whatever your thing is… DO IT! You will really never know how or if it will fit into your life until you do. And what you have to offer, might be the very thing someone next to you needs to receive. THAT would be worth it! That would matter!
I am the queen of over-thinking, so trust me when I say… I can come up with lots of reasons why something won’t work or why I just don’t have time. But, I am also wired to be optimistic in all things, so my over-thinking mixed with the belief it will all somehow work out creates a whirlwind of thoughts and ideas, but does not always spur action (for me!). If you too, get stuck in your thoughts and struggle with the action part, let’s join together in spirit! I’d love to encourage you! In my new season of action, in these areas I previously put off, I am working to overcome doubt. I am choosing to see where God has called me and equipped me, and I will keep trusting him. I am listening to the people around me and receiving their compliments or encouragement… this isn’t always easy. I want YOU to do the same thing! Don’t keep your dream to yourself… put it out there! Let God show you the way! Let people give you the confirmation you need. Journal your thoughts or the answers to these questions: Where does your mind wonder when you dream of your future? What thoughts occupy your brain when you’re the most relaxed? What dreams seem the most “unreachable” or you’ve allowed yourself to believe you just don’t have time to pursue? If it’s important, you’ll find the time. If it’s from God, it will succeed. When you are doing what you were created to do, you shine with satisfaction and inspire others to do the same. Let’s stop thinking about the “somedays” and do what we were made to do today! It could change your path… or possibly, someone else’s.
The answer is YES! It is worth it! It does matter!
As a way of feeling “okay” and keeping everything moving forward… we try to hold it together. Sometimes though, holding it together is like forcing things to stay in our box and within our control, which is a bunch of unnecessary effort and makes us weary. I am currently choosing to let things out of my own box, and although that means I may fall apart a little or a lot, I do believe it is what will see me through. Just when I think I have given it all over, God shows me another layer of stuff I’m attempting to control on my own. Falling apart and letting go, means relinquishing control and letting myself be less put-together, and more vulnerable. In order to find the peace that comes from things falling into place, we have to first see where they are out of place… and let God make them right.
I recently needed to hear something from the LORD, so I opened up a daily reading app and found Psalm 27. It was in my regular reading version of NIV, which I found encouragement from. The final verse spoke the loudest and is what I went to sleep with. Then in the morning, still needing more, I opened up the same Psalm in a couple other versions. The New King James had a little more to say… but then, I opened up the Amplified Version. This is my all-time favorite version because (you guessed it!) it has so many more WORDS! It elaborates on the meaning behind specific words in the original language, and it never fails to take my breath away.
NIV: “Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” Psalm 27:14
NKJV: “Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD!” Psalm 27:14
AMP: “Wait for and confidently expect the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for and confidently expect the LORD.” Psalm 27:14
I cried! I gasped! (My dog came to check on me!) It was right there, written out, giving me permission to let go of what I was trying to hold together, and to “confidently expect the LORD” to show up in my situation. It even went beyond simply saying to be strong, but to let your heart be made strong… just let it happen! Not work to make it happen… or run in circles to make it happen… but LET it happen. He has NEVER failed me, and as often as I say it and know it, I still need reminded. I believe this is just another part of His relentless pursuit of my heart (and yours)! He never stops. It is realizations like this that solidify my faith!
I do not know what YOU may be going through today, but I know we are never the only ones struggling with things. Share your thoughts and be encouraged. Let God speak into your situation through a friend or read His Word and hear from him directly! I do not know what obstacles you are standing face to face with… but I do know that nothing is too big for God to handle, and although it often means we have to wait, we CAN confidently expect He will show up!
I recently had a conversation with my daughter about pudding. She used to love it, but now claims she will never eat it again! See, a few years ago, in order to have some teeth pulled to make room for a spacer, which would hopefully eliminate more extensive orthodontic work down the road… she needed to “eat the pudding” that delivered the sleepy medicine to make this procedure all much smoother. As an eight year old, she probably wouldn’t have accepted words like… “Sweet girl, we need to pull your teeth out, but I promise it’s all for your benefit.” Instead, knowing what’s best for her, we decided to go through with this process and explain things on the other side.
In our recent conversation, I explained a little bit about our thought process as her parents, and needing to trust the doctor in knowing the future impact of these decision. We had to see beyond the discomfort and fear she might experience in the short term, knowing we could help her through the hard parts and that she would ultimately benefit in the long run.
In reliving this with her, I couldn’t help but see how this relates to our lives as God’s children. Sometimes, we find our best path by way of painful bumps and bruises that seemed like the smooth choices at the time. (pudding!) We cannot possibly see far enough down the path to know what jagged edges we will encounter. All we can do is trust the One who formed the path and knows the way. I was recently offered an opportunity to pursue something that would require me to step into a new box and lay down the familiar. I was overjoyed to try something new and all aspects of the process felt so perfect, I never questioned it. (pudding!) Much to my surprise, this opportunity did not pan out, and ended up with hurt feelings and much frustration. As I came out of my fog, and tried to makes sense of the events that unfolded, I found myself being reassured and comforted. “It will be okay. This was all part of my plan. Just trust Me.”
I would not have walked out of my familiar settings and tried something new unless the “new” looked exactly like what I had been dreaming of. I could have remained in my comfortable place and never stepped out… but this isn’t how we grow… and here it was… like chocolate pudding. In no way am I saying God tricked me to eat the pudding, or pulled one over on me… but I am saying God knows what is best for me and in order for me to benefit long term and down the road, he knew how it needed to be packaged. I had to make this change now. He knew it was going to hurt, but He loved me enough to allow the pain in my life and promised to stay with me through it all. The pudding was this sweet offer, and figuratively, I woke up to my teeth having been pulled. But, just like we never left our daughter through the pain of having her teeth pulled, God did not leave me in my anguish (and He will not leave you in yours!). And much like our daughter has a beautiful smile and will not need as much work done now because of what we did for her a few year ago… my life will shine differently moving forward, because of this life shift I have experienced. I’m not fully on the other side yet and the swelling is still going down… but I do trust in where this is headed, and I do not question it! (I certainly hope you find this same reassurance in your situation too!)
In all things, He can be trusted. In all things, He knows best. In all things, we are His children and He loves us. He does not promise pain-free lives, but He does promise to use all things for our good.
I am currently watching a dog training show and developing my own anxiety in recognizing some challenges we will have to overcome with our new Lucy. I see where I am possibly (actually, very likely) contributing to the reactions our dog is showing increasingly more often. (“A weak leader makes the dog feel the need to compensate for the owner’s weakness.”)That’s a little too humbling for me right now. Ugh! Why can’t life just be easy and everyone just get a long? (Joking/not joking…)I was NOT looking to address any personal issues… I just wanted our family to have a new dog!
Lucy is actually very mellow and well-mannered. We were blessed to have found her as a rescue dog. She had only been with her foster family for a week, so we didn’t know much about her. But in the 45 minutes we spent together at the adoption event, it all just felt right. She settled in very quickly and for the first week, all was well. Then, it happened… the freak out/meltdowns while walking on a leash whenever we walk past other dogs on a leash. (Only with ME!!) She does much better with everyone else, but somehow she turns into anxiety dog with me, and pulls off full 360 degree ariels while whining and crying. No barking… and tail wagging… but so embarrassing! I don’t know what I’m doing to prompt this… or how to adjust. So much to my own hesitancy, I will be “that” owner in training class, getting more lessons than the dog!
But seriously, God uses everything to stretch us and grow us, making us better through the challenge. He also doesn’t seem too concerned about how many other challenges we are currently working through. He promises to use all things for our good. And He’s pretty committed to seeing us through, no matter how long it takes.(Am I the only one who would like to cut straight to the good results at the end?) I admit to the joy of reaping the rewards for the effort put forth, so I will choose to rest easier knowing that although it will be some work, the results will be a happier dog and a happier family!