Tag Archives: plan

Recognize

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While reading in Jonah, the book I’ve been stuck in for awhile now (better than a big fish, right? Yuk yuk) it hit me that Jonah didn’t know that he was getting out of that fish.He had no idea what the outcome would be. We know the end of the story and have for years, except for maybe the actual “vomit” part…they left that out when I was a kid. We realize he got out and finally did what God asked him to do. But while in the whale (and please don’t argue with me about what kind of fish it was…I’m not concerned about that.) Jonah had some time to think. God gifted him with that time by providing the huge creature. Does anyone else find that amazing and hilarious? My NIV study Bible literally says that He “provided a great fish to swallow Jonah” (Jonah 1:17) God does provide, I’m just wondering if Jonah had to laugh at the irony while covered in muck.

In all of his pondering, he had to disregard what his senses told him. He had to focus on the why, not the scary sights,eery sounds,and nasty smell. (I won’t go into the other senses but to say”taste” EW!) He had to control his thoughts and cry out to the One Who created that fish for help. So, quite a few hours/days, he spent crying, praying, and giving thanks. I would think that would lead to some pretty enlightening epiphanies.It wasn’t that he didn’t recognize where he was, Jonah knew good and well that he was literally in the pit of this big guy’s stomach, but he also began to recognize Who had the power and Who had possession.He eventually grasped the fact that God had ownership of the seas and the sailors that had hurled him into the vicious waves. This God knew Jonah. He knew him better than he could ever possibly know himself. All he could do in this moment of recognition was to confess and ask forgiveness. He had to shake his head and wonder what took him so long to understand. He finally comprehended that God would go to any lengths necessary to not only show His love for one of His kids, but for all of them.

As an added bonus to God’s plan, because once Jonah got that he was lost, he recognized that others were lost exactly like he was. Salvation comes from the Lord and all it took was a few days and nights in the stomach of a sea creature for him to see that very, very clearly. My absolute favorite line in this book is “What I have vowed I will make good.” Jonah was speaking of the promises he made to God during his special one-on-one time that the Creator made possible. (Hehe) How many times have we promised things to God and not made good? God recalls and makes good on His promises each and every day, no matter our scenery or situation.He has made so many vows to us when we certainly don’t deserve them. My goal today is to just be, where I am, whether I like that place or not, and give thanks to the God Who deserves each and every one.

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Higher Thoughts

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Not long ago, I sat on a flight, trying to remember to breathe. It’s not that I’m afraid of flying. I do however have a small fear of a not-so-perfect landing. As I sat with my belt tightly buckled, wondering what good that would honestly do in an unpleasant event, the beautiful flight attendant with eye-catching lipstick announces that there will be “no drink service” or “moving about” for the entire flight. This did 3 things in my mind: 1.) I praised God for the freedom He gave me from the chains of alcoholism. 2.) The idea of crashing consumed me with fear. I began thinking about everything I hadn’t accomplished. I felt my mind spinning out of control all while I sat quietly with my Nicolas Sparks in my shaking hands. 3.) I seriously had to pee. No “moving about” the whole time I was in the air? Given, it was a 50-minute flight, but no one has to pee like someone who can’t get to a bathroom. (I’m the one contemplating the Sonic cup if I’m stuck in road construction for more than 2 minutes.) I eventually thought, “Oh well, I certainly don’t want to die in a bathroom anyway.”

I couldn’t help but question, “Is this the plan?” I had kids at home! The ones He Himself blessed me with! I finally had a terrific husband after years of ridiculous dating! I attempted to look at anything other than the shaking wing, as I was “blessed” with a seat right next to the right one. I prayed for peace. My thoughts looked a whole lot like this: “Focus on the journey. Focus on the plan. Focus on God. God, fix my eyes. Ok, I’m doing better. It’s not my time to go…but WAIT! What if it’s that guy’s time to go??” As this thought entered my brain, I saw lightening. I didn’t look out, but I had to look down at the lightening. It hit me right then, the revelation, not the lightening, that God is above the storm. And for that moment, a glorious 37 minutes (it took me a while to be thankful for the turbulence) I was too. God sees the whole picture. His thoughts are higher (I didn’t plan that.) than our thoughts. He’s above the storm! His plan, His timing is perfect. I don’t think I need to say that ours, as human beings, is not. I would rush things each and every single time until situation came crashing to the ground. (One very good reason I am not a pilot.) I though about how easy it is to say, “Trust God.” It’s also easy to think it when life isn’t too bumpy. It’s when our time here on earth gets a little turbulent that trust is one of the first things to go out the window. I pictured Jesus saying, “Oh ye of little faith.” I thanked God for His reminder that we could trust Him through every storm, whether we’re above or beneath the lightening. Allow me to encourage you today to trust God, His timing, His plan, and His true perfection for your life today. He does not make mistakes. He guides you through, even situations you think aren’t part of the plan, and He answers every single prayer you pray.

Prayer on the Exhale

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Deep breaths. I’ve finally figured out how to get through this life. Deep breaths and prayers on the exhales. In many of the situations we find ourselves in, we forget to breathe. I’ve always been a big advocate for breathing. I really don’t think I’m ready for the alternative just yet. Mind, body, soul, we need to breathe in the air God gave us. Then, we can take a good look at our situation, whether it’s a death of someone close to us, our own illness, job stress, financial issues, raising kids (AGAIN, no one warned me sufficiently), or deciphering right from wrong in everyday life, and choose right now to take a few deep breaths.
God said for us to “be still and know that He is God.” I truly believe if more people would pray for a God-encounter, this would not only be easier, but would become more commonplace. We have so many questions and we want so many answers, right now answers. What could happen if we accepted that we were on a mission journey from God Himself and everything that happened, good, bad, and ugly, was a part of His plan? Because that’s exactly what it is. God’s got this under control. Be encouraged today, knowing full-well, from the top of your noggin to the tips of your toenails, that HE knows. He knows what you’re going through and nothing will be wasted. You get to make history. You are an integral part of the story God continues to write. You will touch lives because of the plan He has for you. Who else, besides your loving Creator would you want to make the plan? He loves you and He will not steer you wrong. Trust in that knowledge today and breathe.

Snakes and 5-Year Plans

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What’s your snake? God promised us that we’d be able to pick up vipers and not be harmed. What is it in your life that could be considered a snake? (I’m praying it’s not an actual snake. I don’t know where you live.) Paul shook that snake off his hand like it was nothing; it didn’t faze him. (Acts 28:3-6) I like how The Messages states he was “none the worse for wear.” Snakes attack and poison our lives, whether they are thoughts or actual occurrences. God knows what we’re dealing with and walks with us hand-in-hand, bites and all.

The point is: we’re gonna get scarred in this life. We have to walk paths that we never planned. No one plans for sickness, cancer, or any of the numerous other diagnoses. (I don’t think I’d want to hang out with them if they did. Talk about a Debbie Downer.) This journey I’m on right now wasn’t exactly in my 5-year plan. (*attempting to remember where I placed my 5-year plan. Oh wait, I didn’t have one. Maybe that’s the reason I got sick!)

The snakes in our lives aren’t going to just drop off on their own. That snake that bit Paul as he stood by the fire didn’t see that he was a man of God and decide to let go. Paul had to act. Given, I wouldn’t need an instruction booklet on how to wiggle around if there was a snake on my hand, but I’m trying to work around to a point here, ok?

We choose to act. We choose how we will react to the various circumstances that we’re bombarded with. Paul didn’t say, “God!!! Loooooook at what happened!! Deliver me!!” (In the scenario in my head, he did this in a 15-year-old squealing girl voice.) He acted like he knew who he was in Christ and reacted accordingly. No big thing. Faith, trust, and knowledge of who God Himself said he was runneth over from his cup.

We can’t sit around pouting, wondering why bad things happen to all of us good people. We are to expect and be ready for the attack! Turns out, that’s what the enemy of our soul does. He attacks. He bites. And it’s up to us, as God’s sons and daughters, to act. We act. We shake it off! That’s what we should be ready for. The devil is not going to leave us alone and if you are a new Christian who thinks he’s supposed to now, I’m sorry. You were misinformed. You have now registered for the fight of your life, and for the lives of those closest to you. We are not supposed to hunker down, waiting in our little bubble for Jesus to come back! (At least I didn’t get a bubble? Did you get a bubble??)

God is with us before and after we realize we’re in a battle. He already told us this: He’s walking right beside us. Get out your Bible today and be reminded of who you are and what you’re capable of when the snake bites.

The Perfect Plan

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So, my coffee cup lid doesn’t fit on my to-go cup this morning. It was made to do just that. It is supposed to fit on my cup perfectly so that no hot liquid leaks out and burns any part of my anatomy. However, this morning, it does not seem to understand its purpose in this world. (See where I’m goin’ with this?)
We were made for what God has planned for us! It’s our fate, our destiny, our design, our blueprint!! We feel, well, a bit off-center, if we do anything else. We don’t feel as though we fit and we don’t accomplish half of what we set out to do. So many people spend too much time searching for their purpose in this world and all we have to do is look to the One Who knows us and our thoughts better than anyone else. We simply pray for God to show up in our lives and guess what. He does. Simple, right? Why do we have to complicate it so much? Because we’re human that’s why. We wanna know why it would be that simple…how could it possibly be?? Surely there’s more to it than that! We need beads around our neck or a prayer cloth anointed with oil or the head pastor and his secretary to lay hands on us as we meditate…No! God cut out any “middleman” we think we need when Jesus hung on that cross like a common criminal and that curtain riiiiiiiiipped from top to bottom! There is no thing, nothing, we can’t ask Him for. Ask for courage, boldness, and guts to go out and do your thing, not someone else’s, without worrying what others may think. Wear that “Jesus Saves” t-shirt to the gym without a second thought. Lift your hands in praise (one at a time, please) while driving in your car. Do something spontaneous for Jesus! Pray, then be still, and know without a shadow of doubt, that God’s got this. He’s got it, your plan, your purpose, your to-do list.

God’s welcomed, with open arms, a man who lived his life believing every word that proceeded out of His mouth. David Iles, you will be greatly missed, but your zeal and committment to the Lord lives on through the ages. Thank you for constantly being an example of a man after God’s own heart.

His Timing at Times

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His Timing At Times

Here I am God. I’m discouraged and disheartened. It is not one event that takes your faith-filled breath away; it’s one event, then numerous smaller ones. It’s not one huge sucker punch to the gut, it’s a pretty big one, then many more jabs and kicks. This has been one of the roughest months of my life. I have felt condemned, guilt, overwhelming sadness, and an overall lack of…of…something. What? What is it that I feel like I don’t have? Connection? Intimacy? Love? Self-worth?

 I know God’s there, always. Why don’t I feel Him in situations we’re dealing with at times? Death, illness, suicides, accidents…attacks. I’m supposed to sit back with my sweet tea, repeating, “God’s workin’ in mysterious ways…” (Southern accent optional)

 

Why don’t I feel equipped for these attacks? Isn’t this what we as believers are supposed to be prepared for? Aren’t we the ones that unbelievers are supposed to say, “Wow! That HAS to be God in her life! I don’t know how else she would’ve made it through!” Where are my bootstraps I’m supposed to pull up? Why can’t I quote Scripture and everything will reverse itself? Why can’t I stand with my Bible up in the air, screaming, “Amen! Let it be so!” and all the idiosyncracies fall single-file into line with the Word of God?

 

Please don’t misunderstand, I do not mean this to be disrespectful to my God and Creator. I am simply seeking the answers He personally promised to me. I am coming boldly, yet fearfully, to His throne. I pray and yet don’t seem to be heard. No, that’s not the truth. I am heard. I know this. I don’t feel as though my prayers are being answered. Why does it always seem to take our Father FOREVER? His timing, I know…Dare I say I detest His timing at times? Is that too bold? He knows what I’m thinking anyway. Let’s get really honest here! I don’t like the way God mosies about in some situations. My brain moves fast (He should know this, He created me), so fast I’ve tried medication to little avail. I find myself trying to slow myself down and at the same time, speed God up!

 

How hilarious! I’m attempting to rush the Almighty God of the Universe to fit into MY plan! That’s the most ridiculous revelation I’ve had in awhile! Jesus loves me, this I know. Why would I ever try to play God and pretend I know better than He…why would I think I could run a universe? I have trouble picking out what clothes I want to wear.

It must be an issue of respect and honor. We don’t have to understand, we simply trust that His timing is best. And if we’re not cured on the spot, then God wants to walk us through, hand in hand, instead of healing us instantly. We trust that He’s awesome. We trust that He’s the most powerful entity in creation. We trust that His ways are higher and better than our ways.

A Role Model? Me?

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A role model. That’s what I heard. I heard this when asking God what in the world He wanted me to be when I grew up. A role model. Me? I didn’t see it. As someone who was compelled to head to the gas station/liquor store and buy a 12-pack every night, then proceed to drink that 12-pack…every night, smoking a pack or 2 to boot, I just wasn’t seeing how my life would be a role-model-y one. Not in a “Follow-me! I’m-a-leader!”-kinda way, a financial-kinda way (I spent approximately $60–tax not included–each week on my addictions) or a moral compass-kinda way either. I was depressed, discouraged, distressed and downtrodden. (And perhaps another d-word I can’t think of right now.)
I remember just shaking my head and practically rolling my eyes upward, muttering something along the lines of “Yeah right” in typical Eeyore-fashion. My life meant nothing to me at that point. I truly didn’t care if I lived or died. I remember waking up, laying in bed, and thinking, “Maybe this is the day it ends.” I didn’t necessarily want to die, but I sure didn’t care much if I lived at all. I needed someone desperately. I needed someone to notice the torture my mind went through, the sheer agony of not caring, the element of feeling so hopeless and so worthless that you could see your car driving off a cliff and then, cut to you: simply sitting there, not screaming, not upset, just staring off in the distance, on the way down.
Even now, as I type a fraction of my story, I feel those same feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, dread of a new day of nothing new at all, depression, and anxiety.
Then, just like that (snap your fingers here for effect), God set me free. He was the someone who cared. He was the someone who noticed my torturous days. He loved me even though I didn’t love myself, or maybe especially because I didn’t. He was the voice at the bottom of that beer can that said, “You don’t have to do this.” I don’t? I would think. But I like it! (I believe this is the part where God rolled His eyes at me.)
My life and my mind began to change when I started to face the truth. I, in fact, didn’t like it. I hated being a slave to a beverage and tobacco and I surely didn’t benefit from the junk it brought along with it. Contrary to popular belief, alcohol doesn’t fix anything! Who knew?
It was March 12, 2009 when I met with a Christian counselor, fully intending to hit the drive-through liquor store on the way home. It was on the same road as her office. How convenient! After our session, I’d sit on the back porch, working my way through my drinking issue and a 12-pack at the same time. (I’ve always been a multi-tasker.) After all, people didn’t just STOP drinking miraculously, did they? No! It required time and effort on their part and I’d get there. I just needed to think about it some more.
How many of you can agree with me when I say that God ALWAYS has a better plan? That night, the woman of God and I prayed. I can’t even tell you that my heart was totally in it, so it wasn’t because I believed really hard or wished with all my might. My depressed mind kept me from any of that. I held her hand and felt the tears well up, I willed them to stay right where they were, firmly pressed down. But they wouldn’t. And it was with those tears, that God saw my true heart, before I did. I am ecstatic to tell you that I haven’t touched alcohol since, and laid the nicotine habit down in June of that same year. God is so good that words cannot possibly describe…but I can sure try.
Today I pray for each and every person who struggles with addiction in any way and know, without a shadow of a doubt, that all they have to do is pray to the God Who created them and the truth shall set them free.