Just Passing Through

road Sometimes I feel like it’s a long road I’m on.

Some days the road is smooth and level, and I can see so clearly in all directions. My steps are firm and I know my way. It’s as if I’m being led in just the right way.

Other days the road is bumpy, or it’s dark and I can’t see my way. I’ve never been so lost in my life. Getting lost makes the fear build in the pit of one’s stomach. The dread grows to terror and it’s hard to make one foot keep moving in front of the other. Sometimes you even just have to have faith that the road is still there under your feet. I don’t know what keeps me going, but someone leads my way or maybe even carries me through the worst.

And then there are the uphill days. I can see the light at the top of the steep hill, and that light pulls me forward. It’s a hard climb, but I can see the goal in sight and that will keep me going. Sometimes the difficulty of the terrain becomes all consuming.

It’s so easy to think that it is all just me and the road. Walking this road is all there is.

And then I remember. There really is a purpose, and there really is a Destination. On this earth, we’re just passing through.

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When Nothing Comes Easy

frustration I had to laugh when I saw this week’s Five Minute Friday prompt. For the past couple of weeks, nothing has really felt easy.

You know those kind of weeks, right? The ones where we feel pulled in way too many directions and just can’t seem to find our center? That’s exactly how I’ve been feeling lately. I work from home part-time and I’ve had some tricky matters to deal with there, I’m up against a deadline on a volunteer committee I serve on, I have a two-year-old who is going through a difficult phase and really needs his mommy.

And oh yes, I’m also pregnant and exhausted. Soooo exhausted. I remember being tired with my first little one, but not this bone crushingly fatigued.

So, how have I been living life? Well, it feels like I’ve been plodding through jello – or maybe a vat of molasses – the entire way. And I’ll admit that part of me feels a little entitled. With so many things making life more difficult, it’s easy to slip into feeling like I deserve to have something go my way.

And yet, as I fall into that thinking, I also read Scripture and see so many examples of God’s faithfulness. Things don’t always come easily for his people. In fact, we’re promised trials in this life. So what do we have? We have God with us. We do not walk alone.

This week, I have been reading in Psalms and I was especially struck as I came across the words, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes. The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces.”(Psalms 119:71-72) This runs so opposite to much of what we’re taught to think by the culture. And yet, God’s word holds true. I don’t often (read that, pretty much never) have the primary impulse to be thankful for trials in my life but in looking back, I can see that God has taught me through these trials. Most importantly, I can also see how God has been there with me, just as He promises us He will be.

So how does this change my thinking? Well, I know life isn’t always easy. But I also know we’re not alone.

A Needed Reminder – Review of Onward

onward Book InformationOnward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel

Author – Russell Moore

Publication Information – B&H Publishing (2015, $24.99 hardback, $6.29 digital)

Reading Challenge book? Yes. This is my “Book with the word ‘gospel’ in the title.”

“The culture of the kingdom is not a projection of our lives now onto eternity, but instead the reverse: a vision of a new creation that breaks us and prepares us for our inheritance by patterning us, now, after the life of creation’s heir: Jesus himself. With a kingdom vision, we realize that the priorities of this present world system are different from those of the age to come.”
– Russell Moore

Onward won Christianity Today’s Beautiful Orthodoxy Book of the Year for 2015, and upon reading it, I could understand why. The author is Southern Baptist and I am a reformed Presbyterian, so we may disagree on nonessentials, but when it comes to the priority of the gospel message, Moore nails it. His love of Christ and the Word shines through in every chapter of this book. Continue reading

Pulled in Way Too Many Directions?

manydirections “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” – Colossians 3:2

The Scriptural reminder from Colossians seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it? Of course we should be placing the things of God above our earthly concerns.

However, as soon as we get out of bed, the mundane concerns intrude. What to do about a difficult situation with a friend, a child needing attention, pets to feed, yet another pile of clutter to tame, taxes to complete, errands to run,….the list goes on an on!

No matter what type of lifestyle we have, modern life pulls us all in way too many directions. It can be all too familiar to fall into living in survival mode, just putting out the fires as they arise and falling into bed exhausted at the end of the day.

Putting God, home and family, and all of the most important pieces of our lives first takes intention and real focus. I often have to pray for the ability to focus in my own life. And I’m learning that when I put my focus on God, the rest has a way of falling into place. It isn’t always easy, but He does make the way clear.

And so this year, I’ve returned to what used to be my discipline of spending a brief time with God before I ever even get out of bed. Focusing on Him focuses my whole day.
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The Many Faces of Quiet

1357323840929 When I think of quiet, perhaps I picture a deserted beach, hammock swaying lazily in the sun.

Or maybe an open field, full of light and possibilities.

Maybe it’s a soft, fluffy bed at the end of a productive day.

All very soft and soothing images. Yet sometimes the quiet is majestic. It is the mountains soaring up to meet the sky, as we stand and wonder. As we are reminded, “Be still and know that I am God.

The quiet majesty of God’s creation points me to the great, all-encompassing Father. And in that quiet, I remember His promises. Promises of hope and salvation, reminders to fear and reverence my Lord and Savior.

Sometimes it feels as though all eternity lives in the quiet. God’s power is so great that He has no need to shout. We can see Him in the many different kinds of quiet all around us.

First Days

sunrise Something about the early days of a new year just feels fresh and new. Those first sweet days hold promise.

Promise that we can begin again.

Promise that we can try new things.

Promise that we can fix what’s broken.

It’s sweet, but perhaps an illusion. After all, in Christ we always have a new beginning. And it’s not only at the first of the year. We are new creations whenever we are turned to Him, and through the work of the Spirit we are constantly being refined.

There are so many “first sweet days” and as time rolls on, they grow ever sweeter.

The truth is the sweetest thing of all, and I love to take these first days of the year as a reminder to treasure it. Let me never forget how fresh life has become since I sought to follow Him.

Ready for the Storm

readystorm

Are we ever truly ready for the storms in life?

This was my first thought when I saw today’s prompt.

My next thought was of “Ready for the Storm,” sung by the Celtic band Deanta. The song is sung from the prospective of a sailor who finds himself feeling quite small amidst the roar of the ocean. Yet, as the song goes on, it is clear that the one to whom the sailor sings is the one who comforts all his fears.

I’ve loved that song for years, and in my mind, I can picture this lonely sailor singing it to God. Given that I’ve heard this song sung at Christian events, I’m guessing that I’m not the only one who sees it that way.

I would love to be able to say that I have that simple, secure faith of the sailor eagerly chorusing that, “Yes, I am ready for the storm” even as he marvels that he has no reason to be frightened.

However, I do have fears. And I’m old enough to know that life brings storms. So, what is one to do? Praying that I can be ready to face my storms with courage and grace is where I am these days.


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Trusting Completely

trust “Trust, but verify.”

“Always go in with both eyes open.”

“Love many, trust few. Always paddle your own canoe.”

As we grow up, we are taught all manner of sayings about trust. And most of them taught me not to trust something that I couldn’t see with my own eyes or touch with my own hands.

In other words, life on earth starts at some point to harden our hearts against openness, against complete faith and trust. In following God, I learn to trust completely again. When I am taught to have childlike faith, the total trust in God is part of that.

As I work with my husband to raise a toddler, I see that open trust in us and more than anything, I don’t want to be the one to damage it. However, I also watch him and realize in a way that never struck me quite so deeply before, that I am meant to trust my heavenly Father just this completely. I may not always(or even often) understand His plan, but Scripture teaches that He has one and I can trust that it is good.

Again and again in the Psalms, particularly, we are given reminders to replace the ones the world gave us:

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” – Psalm 56:3

“Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love,for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.” – Psalm 143:8

“I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”” – Psalm 91:2

“Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” – Psalm 20:7

We are reminded to soften our hearts and trust in our unfailing God.
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This is written in 5 minutes for Five Minute Fridays, a wonderful community of writers.

A Little Bit Mountainsick

purplemountain When I saw that “purple” was today’s prompt, I immediately felt a little bit homesick. Or maybe mountainsick is the better word.

I live in a different(and flatter) part of the state now, but I grew up in the beautiful Blue Ridge of Virginia. Even though I moved away when I got married and my current home with my family really does feel like home to me, there’s always a part of me that longs for the mountains.

Sometimes when we live somewhere, I think that the place impresses upon our hearts so deeply that it never entirely leaves us. That’s how the mountains feel to me. I grew up hearing family stories and all kinds of Virginia history, and the sight of my mountains has a way of soothing my spirit like little else on earth.

In a larger sense, that’s how I sometimes think of the Holy Spirit indwelling our hearts, imprinting us with that whisper of Who we belong to and what is to come. Sometimes, too, I feel homesick for a place my earthly body has never yet been.

Yet I know that God has a plan and a purpose for me. And, in my falling-short, imperfect way, I pray to walk just a little bit closer to Him each day and to set my face toward home.
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Exploding With Possibilities

stars I recently had a conversation with an old friend that was just…wonderful. Somehow we start off talking about kids and chores and all the day to day stuff of life. Then it all falls away and somehow the discussion turns to life itself.

This friend and I have both had some hurtful experiences in the church, and at one point we were talking about how we both felt so fortunate that God has led us both to strong, solid churches. For too long, religion felt like fear or confinement to me, as God was hidden away from us by legalistic and ever-shifting rules on dress, behavior, deportment, and more.

Being brought into a church with solid biblical teaching has felt like daylight to me. Following God and seeking to grow closer to Him day by day shows me that more things are possible than I ever dreamed. And it makes sense. A God of infinite space has a greater plan that I can ever understand, and we were born to be taken places and to do things bu His will that we would never have imagined on our own.

I have seen sad and sorrowful things, but I have seen miracles happen as well. Anything is truly possible with God.
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Written in five minutes for #31Days

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