Life in a Garden 

In Isaiah 51:3 God promises to turn our desert into a garden, like Eden. When I think of a desert I think of someplace uncomfortable, maybe even unbearable.  Many times in life we must face circumstances that seem uncomfortable and unbearable, but God promises that those times won’t last forever. It sounds like He is offering to take away all adversity but while we are still on this earth, that isn’t the case.

When I think of a garden, I think of a quiet peaceful place. But even in a  tranquil garden you need wind and rain. You need wind to transfer pollen and rain to water the plants. You also need wind to carry the wonderful fragrance produced by the flowers  and to prune the dead wood from the trees.

The Lord is a most capable Gardener. He knows the exact conditions necessary for you to produce the fruit He desires to see in your life.  Trust Him when the winds come and when the rains fall. He knows exactly what you need.

My prayer for you is found in Colossians 1:10 “That you may walk in a manner worth of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” 

These verses also encourage us to trust that God’s plan is to produce good things in our lives.

Isaiah 51:3  Indeed, the LORD will comfort Zion; He will comfort all her waste places. And her wilderness He will make like Eden, And her desert like the garden of the LORD; Joy and gladness will be found in her, Thanksgiving and sound of a melody. 

Isaiah 58:11 And the LORD will continually guide you, And satisfy your desire in scorched places, And give strength to your bones; And you will be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail. 

When That “Sure Thing” Goes Terribly Wrong

So you thought you heard God. Clearly. You thought the steps you took to be faithful to what you believed He’d said were the right ones. But now you look at where you are and wonder if you missed God completely.

This isn’t how it was supposed to turn out. Maybe you heard wrong in the beginning. Should you retrace your steps and see what went wrong? Probably not.

A while back I wrote a piece called Keep Moving Forward.  I talked about not looking back at mistakes or when times looked better than they seem now.  While facing up to your mistakes and being willing to make changes is a good thing, sometimes the outcome is out of your hands no matter what you do.

When things don’t turn out as you’d hoped you have to make a decision. You can’t change other people and you can’t change things that have already happened. But you can learn from your experiences and move on. You can change yourself.

In my life I’ve had to come to terms with more than one situation  that I thought was a sure thing. Each time I knew it would be difficult but I was sure that God’s power and grace would help it turn out well.  In some cases it didn’t turn out well at all. In fact, it went horribly wrong and looked like it might not even be salvageable. So what do we do in those situations?  We need to keep moving forward. Not wish for a do over, not wish away all the problems we are facing.

To move forward we need to do a couple of things.  We need to remember that God is still able to work in ANY situation. God never wastes any of our experiences. He uses each one to help us grow into who He planned us to become.  If I look at how God wants to change me instead of how bad things seem, I remain pliable in God’s hands.

Second, we need to reevaluate what’s important. Sometimes the thing I wanted to work so badly wasn’t the end result God had in mind in the first place. What’s important is that He ultimately gets the glory. Sometimes that means walking away from things we thought were really important. Choosing instead to let God set the priorities.  There is only one priority really. The Lord and His perfect plan.

So, today I am reminded that when things get tough and aren’t going the way I would like, I need to surrender my will to God’s will. He knows the best ending to every story. I want to allow Him to write mine.

Romans 11:36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

I Believed the Lie Again

It was a beautiful afternoon to take a walk. I was by myself because there were some hard things going on in my life that I didn’t know what to do about and I needed time to think and pray.  As I walked, I prayed for direction and wisdom. At one point I sat on a bench and watched the birds flying above the lake in front of me. I was trying to listen to God. Trying to hear answers to the questions in my heart.

But as I got up from the bench  I listened to another voice instead. Around the next curve in the path I came upon a woman sitting by herself on another bench. As I approached, I could see she had been crying. For a moment I felt the urge to stop and ask if she was okay but then I heard the lie.

“You can’t even keep your own life together, You have nothing to offer her.”

And I’m sorry to say that I kept on walking.  I rationalized that her problems were none of my business and it would have been nosey to ask her anything. Especially since I’d already determined I would be no help to her anyway.

Certainly she could have just met my question with a polite “thanks, but I’ll be fine.” But what if she hadn’t? What if just by asking a simple question I was given the opportunity to encourage her? But I didn’t even give her that chance.

Once again I had believed the lie that I have to be good enough before God can use me.  Once again I allowed myself to be held back by limitations that didn’t come from God but had come from my own feelings of condemnation.

As I arrived home, I was beginning to realize what I’d done. And just in case I missed the point, the next morning my pastor’s sermon included the story of the good Samaritan.   Bull’s Eye.

Lord, give me ears to hear and eyes to see and then help me to respond as you would respond.

Luke 10:36-37  Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?”

 “The one who showed mercy to him,” he said.

Then Jesus told him, “Go and do the same.”

 

Reasoning With a Toddler 

Have you ever tried to reason with a toddler? They have a very narrow perspective.  At their stage of development it’s all about them.  They aren’t really capable of understanding the complicated reasoning that is sometimes required to make grown-up decisions. All they know is they want it their way and they want it now! And if they don’t get their way the scene can get pretty ugly. And as they get a little older, they demand to know why? It might be tempting to say something like “because I’m the mom!”

I wonder if that’s how we look to God sometimes. How often He must feel like he’s trying to reason with a toddler. We don’t take no for an answer, we don’t trust his wisdom and we ask why? all the time.

Perhaps that’s what prompted the Lord to give us these words:

Isaiah 55:8-9 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” 

I believe the Lord would encourage us to take a step toward maturity and learn to trust Him as our Heavenly Father. He knows what is best for us. He knows when things need to happen in our lives to help us grow spiritually healthy and strong. Are we willing to let him lead us without always demanding He answer all of our ” Why? ” questions?  Can we trust that He understands even when we don’t?

It’s not easy, but if we just toddle toward Him, one step at a time, we can be sure that He is waiting with outstretched arms. He will help us, steady us, and lead us. He is the perfect parent!

Time For a Reset

When your computer or your phone start acting strange what is the first thing you usually do?  You restart, reboot, somehow reset everything so it can get a fresh start.

That’s the way people view the new year. A chance for a fresh start. Putting the old behind. The failures of last year can be put aside and we can try again.

I’m not into new year’s resolutions but I am  glad for a chance to have a fresh start. I don’t make lists of things that I hope to accomplish in a new year, but I do have goals that I aim for. I do have the hope that at the end of the  year I’ll see change for the better.

On Sunday Randy and I went to a beautiful park where we enjoyed God’s creation  and talked about the future. We relaxed and let the cares of life slip away.  It was just what we needed.

We even found a sea treasure. The largest intact horseshoe crab we’ve found so far. I know, I get excited about the little things!

Our conversation certainly wasn’t life changing, but hopefully it helped us move in a direction that will be beneficial down the road.

The important thing is that we prayed and asked God to bless our dreams and give us guidance in the direction we need to take.  We have to believe that He will do just that.

Philippians 1:6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.