People sometimes say, “The end is important, but not how you get there.” But… what if we doubt we will ever reach our desired end, the goal we want for our life? Is our journey invalidated? Does this mean we are a failure for life?
I know of a person who lived in the future, for the plans they had made, and they forgot about today. They forgot to be kind and enjoy life with those they loved. The Bible says, “We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.” (Proverbs 16:9 NLT) Plans aren’t everything in life.
Whatever happens, our lives still count. What we do every day, how we treat those around, these are just as important as any plan.
A few days ago I experienced something painful in my heart. I prayed that God would send me someone to help me regain perspective. I set off on a walk. Maybe I would meet this person, and maybe they would stop me. But, I wouldn’t take the initiative, I would let God do it.
I had barely started out when a virtual stranger stopped me. She asked me how I was.
I was taken aback, and didn’t want to share. But I had prayed, and God had done his part. I had better do mine. I told her what was going on. “I’ve been there too,” she said. “It isn’t your fault…”
God does answer our prayers! But, we too have to do our part.
I have this persistent longing to make a mark in life. I have this one-track mind that says it must look a certain way. Somehow it has sunk deep into my heart that adulthood is where it happens. Why? I grew up with that old Victorian creed, “Children should be seen and not heard.” I believed that life did not begin until one grew up.
But God is challenging me yet again, to go to those silenced ones, any silenced ones, whether children or adult, and listen. To value them and help them find their voice.
God is saying, “Hear and pay attention. Do not be arrogant, for the Lord has spoken.” (Jeremiah 13:15) This is a challenge for me… to step away from making a mark… to step into sync with God…. to enable the silenced to speak.
All of us encounter crossroads in our lives. The signposts point in different directions, and our emotions can get in the way…
We’re scared: maybe we should go back the way we came, back to our familiar rut. We want perfection: maybe, if we camped out by the signpost, a better option will arise. We tired of waiting: how about tossing a coin, and hopefully someone will stop us if we’re charging towards oblivion!
There is a four word solution. God says, “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it.” (Jeremiah 6:16) It is… Stand. Look. Ask. Walk.
At this moment I am asking about the books I have written. Which publishing path should I take? Then comes the hard part, WALK!
In the space of four days, opposite events occurred:
- Someone said something with an intent to destroy.
- A friend took me to the National Art Gallery in London.
I sat before a painting with my friend – The Raising of Lazarus.* It mirrored my circumstances… Lazarus was dead, and I felt the same. But, four days later Jesus told the mourners to open to tomb. An awful smell poured out. Yet, Jesus called out, “Lazarus, come out!”**
…I sat there. Lazarus was me. Jesus was calling. I lived! Lazarus tore off his shroud. I could tear off mine. I could be free!
You see, death-like words don’t have to hold us down. “Come out!” Jesus calls to each one of us. We can choose to get up and LIVE!
* Sebastiano del Piombo, 1517-19 **from John 11
Derek bought me a hat, a green one with a bow in the back. We both like it, but others have not been so positive. “You look eccentric!” “You really look funny!” And the best one.. “Your hat looks like a lily pad!”
I appreciate the honesty. But… there is a wonderful verse in the Bible. It says that God “has made everything beautiful in its time.”* We don’t need to worry about opinions. God created beauty to stand out as different, for that is what beauty is. Each of us is beautiful, regardless of our peculiarities.
I still wear my hat, and when people meet me, they nod and smile. They even stop for a chat. My lily-pad hat might be eccentric, but so is God’s love.
* (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
“If you want to walk on water,” a minister said, looking around at us, “get out of the boat!”
I gasped. That was blunt! But it was true as well. How can I follow Jesus anywhere, at anytime, and at any cost, if I don’t want to climb out of the security of a boat?
Thankfully, Jesus understands our fear of failure, and anxieties at finding ourselves out of our depth, but he still stretches out his hand. “Come!” he calls to each one of us. He dares us to step out of our little boat. He dares us to put everything on the line for him. He dares us to trust that if we sink, he will reach out and hold us up. “Come!”
I had a dream for 2016. I wanted to learn how to write humour. If sad people could laugh, it might give them hope. But now, a year later, I still haven’t found the joke.
If I told you I was taken hostage by the seriousness of life, you might believe me if you heard my story. But that didn’t stop me. I found some second-hand comedian books, listened to you-tube talks. I even interviewed.
Now, with only two days left of this year 2016, I am thinking… “Wait a minute! GOD is the source of all good humour! Why didn’t I think of asking him?” Guess what I’ll be doing in 2017?
The Bible says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God.” (James 1:5)
All of us make plans of one kind or another. Most of our plans are good. But, will we ever get them fulfilled?
Many of us will. But a few of us will get lost, ending up somewhere we never intended. Others of us will spend our entire lives trying to make our dreams come true. Others will just laugh at the thought that plans ever work.
Yet, I have noticed that some have a goal that transcends all plans. They don’t even have to say what it is. Their lives speak it out for them in silent words. “I will show you the most excellent way… Follow the way of love.” (1 Corinthians 12:30, 14:1)
By God’s grace, I want to follow…
A group of us scattered inside a maze, the kind where the hedges are two meters high. A friend and I got lost. Then I heard my husband’s voice. “Derek, did you make it?” I called.
“Yes!” came the reply. “Where are you?”
I happened to be carrying a long umbrella. “Here!” I called, and raised it high.
Derek laughed. “I can see everything. I’ll guide you.” He gave instructions, watching the tip of my umbrella as it bobbed along. “Left. Right. Not that right! The next one…”
Life is like that. We get so lost and mixed up. Then we hear God’s voice. “I see everything!” he says. “Listen. I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go.” (from Hebrews 4:13; Psalm 32:8)
Now, that is living by faith!