Friday, May 23, 2008

Trusting God on the Detours

"O Lord, you are my God;
I will exalt you and praise your name,
for in perfect faithfulness
you have done marvelous things,
things planned long ago." Isaiah 25:1

My husband and I have never been accused of being spontaneous. We are planners. Every aspect of our life is on the calendar or thought out ahead of time. However, we know there is a fine balance between planning, being prudent and yet allowing God to lead you in His will--in His direction.

This month, I had a couple of unexpected turns in my plans or calendar. From past experience, I know it is wise to trust God when He has plans that differ from mine. This doesn't make it easy to completely let go, but it gives me hope and encouragement when I am on a strange path of life. God's plans are faithful, good and loving. Though it isn't always comfortable going in an unplanned direction, I love it when plans are only in God's control and I can just let Him lead.
I used to love Robert Frost's poem The Road Not Taken. It was so full of melancholy, strength and vivid analogy, that I was drawn in the first time I read that poem on my mother's classroom wall. As I have grown in my walk with God, I have realized the difference between a Christian and the narrator of that poem. There is no wistful looking back on choices if God is leading. When I try to guide myself, I definitely might make wrong turns, regret decisions I made or wonder what life would have offered if I had taken such-and-such a path . . . However, whether a road is well trodden or unfamiliar, if God is leading, I am going in the right direction. What comfort and peace there is in God being the Master of your life!

Thank you, Lord, for giving me direction and caring for me each and every moment of my day!

"Many, O Lord my God,
are the wonders you have done.
The things you planned for us
no one can recount to you;
were I to speak and tell of them,
they would be too many to declare."
Psalm 40:5

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

God Provides

This week, God has generously poured His provision on myself and my family. I feel like every turn I take, I hear good news, answered prayer and encouragement. There have been a couple of bumps in the road (for example, I saw the elusive rat in my garage, and it is about 5 pounds--HUGE!), but God has been faithful through everything and I have felt His hand through the yucky and the good. This was such a blessing to me this week, as Ryan is in the midst of his ten day business trip to Italy. I am having such a good time rejoicing with those who rejoice and feeling the prayers and care of my family and church body.
Facebook has been SUCH a blessing! I have gotten so many nice posts on my wall to tell me people didn't forget I'm alone and I'm being covered in prayer. Friend after friend has invited me to dinner or lunch, and Carter and I don't even have time to dwell on the sadness of missing Ryan.

My parents and in-laws have endured rain at Disneyland and nights of babysitting Carter to allow me to continue a fun week with little breaks in my schedule. They always are willing to help in this way, and I am so grateful for having them in my life.

God provided Ryan with a Christian mentor at his small training in Italy this week. At a time he felt alone, the new mentor came alongside and was able to encourage Ryan in his walk in a business setting.

My sister-in-law was able to hear God's answer to prayer concerning our church's Family Flick Night venue. His answer was amazing and just in His timing! We are so thankful!

There are a million examples of answered prayer this week, but I won't bore you with all of the details.

All I wanted to post was God is Good! He has poured His love upon me in so many ways I don't deserve, and I am thankful!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

In Their Shoes

On Friday of last week, I took Carter to Disneyland in the morning. Since we went first thing, we made our way toward the carpool lane of the freeway to avoid the rush hour traffic. As we were sitting in the left lane, waiting for an opening in the carpool lane, a car went around me and the man used his pumping hand and specific finger to let me know I had displeased him in some way. I still have no idea what I did wrong--too slow?, did I cut him off and not realize it?, did he not approve of my Compass BIBLE Church sticker?, or any other myriad of "mistakes."

God totally was with me, and I didn't react in anger or horror. My little two year old probably didn't even notice this man's "sign language", but he does watch my reaction to drivers and my words. I was able to even, in that moment, feel sad over the man's anger and bitterness. What kind of a morning had he had to make him feel that filled with rage? Not a great one, I imagine. I was able to pray for him and genuinely hope he knew, or could find, Christ.

More often than not, however, I feel entitled to be treated fairly by others. Most of the time, I react indignently to unfair treatment. I wish I could more consistently have more of an external viewpoint and love others in all circumstances. I am working on this constantly, and God is giving me encouragment in His Word, teachings at church and even examples, like the one mentioned, where I am able to feel love through mistreatment.

God wants us to walk in others' shoes and feel empathy with others. The problem is that we, more often that not, are too absorbed in our own schedules, lives and families to look at a stranger and care about their circumstances.

Christ was a perfect example of looking beyond Himself and loving others. He took time in His fatigue and schedule to heal sick, talk to sinners and encourage the downtrodden. One of my favorite verses of compassion is Matthew 23:37. It states, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing." Christ realizes that these people will hurt Him, taunt Him, ridicule Him and kill Him, but He is able to have compassion over their sinful state and obstinate hearts. He doesn't excuse their behavior, but he loves them and wishes they could see the truth.

The next time a person mistreats you--a cashier is impatient with you or your children, a car cuts you off, or a co-worker gives you undeserved grief--walk in their shoes for a moment. Consider the possible circumstances of their lives and, most likely, their separation from God. Pray for compassion and think about why they might be acting in sin. This will prompt a heart filled with Christ's love to react to their unkindness with patience and caring.