Blueprints

I’ve been passing the same road “improvement” project on my way to work for about 9 months now.  Can’t figure out what’s taking so long.  It’s only about a half-mile of pavement.  Lots of activity, but not a whole lot of progress. 

At least from my car-bound vantage point.

One morning last week I stopped at the red light and was able to watch for a while.  Two guys in hard hats, reflective vests and steel-toed boots were staring intently at a huge pile of unrolled papers laid out on the hood of a big white pickup truck.  Blueprints (or the road construction equivalent), I presumed.  The hard hat guys  looked serious. They looked like they knew what they were doing.

“Oh, so there is a plan here”, I sarcastically thought to myself, rolling my eyes. 

They would have thought I was nuts if I had gotten out of my car and insisted that I had a right to see it, demanding to know what was taking so long and why no progress was being made.  And they probably would have had me arrested, but that’s another issue altogether.

And it’s the same with God’s plans for my life.  He knows what He’s doing even if it looks to me like not a whole lot of progress is being made or things are taking way too long.  I don’t have the right to demand that He lays them all out for me.  And sarcasm about the plan is out of the question.

I need to keep trusting, and keep moving.  And leave the blueprints to Him.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. Psalm 37:5

And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know. 1 Corinthians 2:8

Purpose

A twelve foot alligator staking out his territory in the canal.  A shy little otter who ran away when we interrupted his playtime.  A red-shouldered hawk watching motionless from a tree.  Birds with funny sounding names like “coot” and “anhinga” wading and diving in the lake.  Turtles floating lazily, just their heads visible above the water line.

Just a typical South Florida afternoon walk in the park.

Even though I occasionally question God’s liberal use of heat and humidity in the Sunshine State (OK, it’s probably more than occasionally if I’m going to be honest), I think He had a pretty good time unleashing His creativity here.  And our walk in the park  last weekend made that abundantly evident.

God must love watching these creatures do what He created them to do, whether it’s lurking in the canal, running along the banks or poised on a branch.  He has a reason for what they look like and where they live and what they do.  They glorify Him just by being what He meant them to be.

I need to let Saturday afternoon walks in the park remind me to stop and think about what God wants from my life.  There’s something He created me for, something He wants me to do and someplace He wants me to do it.

I need to walk in the park more often.

In whose hand is the life of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind?       Job 12:10

Everyone who is called by My name, whom I have created for My glory; I have formed him, yes, I have made him.  Isaiah 43:20

But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine”.  Isaiah 43:1

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?  Psalm 8:3-4

 

Delay

My sister got an e-mail from me last week.  That’s not very unusual, as we exchange messages back and forth almost daily.  But there was something pretty weird about this one.

I sent it to her two years ago.

Two years!  It said I sent it last Wednesday, but I didn’t.  It was a picture of a dress I was thinking about buying for my brother’s wedding.  He got married in March…of 2009.  No wonder my sister was a little confused when she got it. 

I want answers!  I want to know where this message was and why it was hiding and what prompted it to show up last week out of the blue!  The frustrating part is that I’ll probably never find out. 

Prayers can seem like that sometimes.  We send out a message to God, and then it feels like it disappears.  Where did it go?  Why isn’t God responding?  Did the message get lost?  Did it go in some heavenly spam folder?  (Just had to put that one in, even though I am quite sure something like that does not actually exist.)

Silly, I know.  Of course God gets our messages.  It’s a promise.  They don’t get lost.  They don’t get ignored. They don’t get hidden.  God knows exactly where they are and when and how He’ll respond.  If an answer shows up “out of the blue” years from now, it’s not because God suddenly found a lost file.  It’s because He intended on answering it in His time, not ours.

I am so glad my God is infinitely more reliable than my e-mail!

Then he said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words”.  Daniel 10:12

It shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear. Isaiah 65:24

Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us! John 5:14

He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him.  Psalm 91:15

Fog

We were under a “heavy fog advisory” one morning this week.  A “thick as pea soup” fog advisory.  And it was just that thick.  Couldn’t see 10 feet in front of me.   

I’ve always thought that literal fog was a great metaphor for spiritual fog – you know, when you’re in the thick of things, unable to see which way you’re supposed to go, unable to see what lies ahead. After a harrowing drive to work that morning, I did a little research on what you’re supposed to do if you need to drive through literal fog.   And I couldn’t help but think how those tips apply to the foggy times of life, too.

Whatever you do, don’t turn off your headlights in heavy fog

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalms 119:105

For You will light my lamp; The LORD my God will enlighten my darkness.                Psalm 18:28

Don’t stop in the middle of a roadway  — that guarantees you’ll be rear-ended

When he came…he encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord.   Acts 11:23

Continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast.   Colossians 1:23

Use the right edge of the road (aka fog line) as a guide rather than the center line, to avoid running into oncoming traffic

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise.   Ephesians 5:15

Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, for I delight in it. Psalm 119:35

Slow down. Most fog-related traffic fatalities occur because someone was driving too fast and couldn’t stop in time to avoid a collision

But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. James 1:5

A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly. Proverbs 14:29 

Keep an eye on your speedometer and maintain a slow, constant speed

Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.  Hebrews 12:1

For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise.  Hebrews 10:36

Unaware

I love my hiking boots.  Problem is, I don’t get to wear them too often.  Hiking in Florida doesn’t really require trail-gripping, mountain-friendly footwear.  But a trek or a snowstorm in NJ might, so I dug them out of the back of my closet while packing for my holiday travels.

The soles still had mud and grass on them from some prior adventure.  But when I scraped the mud off, I saw a shiny spot.  Looked like a tack was pushed into the bottom of the boot.

It wasn’t a tack.

I had to get a pair of pliers to pull it out.  It kept coming and coming, and when it was finally free, it turned out to be a 2” nail.  A rusty one at that.  It was so impressive I had to take a picture of it.  I literally shuddered when I realized what kind of damage it could have done to my foot if it had gone straight through.  And I had remained blissfully unaware of that potential past danger for almost a year.

It made me wonder how many other times God has intervened and protected me while I just went about my day, totally ignorant of His watchful eye and His safeguarding angels.  It made me a little bit more aware of how many things I have to be thankful for – things I might never even know about.

God could have chosen to teach me some other lesson on the day I stepped on that nail – a lesson involving a lot of pain and probably a tetanus shot and maybe even something worse. But instead, almost a year later, standing in my bedroom with a pair of pliers and a 2″ nail and a look of complete surprise on my face, He reminded me that He’s always looking out for me.

Even when I am blissfully unaware.

For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.               Psalm 91:11

The angel of the LORD encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them. Psalm 34:7

Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go. Genesis 28:15

Decade

Somehow, the beginning of a new decade (technically speaking) totally slipped by me.  

Seems that because of something called a Julian Calendar and the fact that there was no year “zero”, at midnight on New Year’s Eve a few nights ago we started a new decade.  So here it is on Day 5 and I hadn’t known anything about it.

I did get a little nostalgic this morning in my quiet time when I was looking up a verse in my Bible and saw that it had the date 1/25/01 written next to it for some reason, and I realized it was almost ten years ago.  And that’s what made me think about a decade and how long that is and how much has happened in my life since 2001.

A move to a new apartment, a terrorist attack that changed everything, a book published, a job left, a job started, a new church found, a condo purchased, a blog begun, old friends to cherish, new friends to enjoy, highs, lows, sunny days and stormy ones, blessings and disappointments, laughter and tears.

And a faithful God through it all. 

Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments.  Deuteronomy 7:9

Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23

For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it is past, and like a watch in the night.  Psalm 90:4

But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 2 Peter 3:8

Blank

I’m sitting here at my kitchen table with two calendars.  One is filled with things of the past year.  And one is blank. 

So far.

It’s a tradition I have.  Take the old calendar off the wall, take the new one out, place them side by side and go through them month by month.  I reminisce about the things that happened.  I transfer the things I know will happen in the coming year – birthdays, anniversaries, etc.

It’s the blank spaces on the new one that always make me stop and think. 

I don’t KNOW what will happen on March 10th or August 1st or November 11th.   But God does.  He knew what was going to happen when I hung the blank calendar in my kitchen a year ago today.  And He knows what’s going to happen on every single blank spot on this calendar as well. 

There is a strange peace in that.  God already knows.  He’s already there.  Blank calendars are nothing to be concerned about. 

I happen to know the One who holds all those blank spots in His hand.
I don’t know about tomorrow;
I just live from day to day.
I don’t borrow from its sunshine
For its skies may turn to grey.

I don’t worry o’er the future,
For I know what Jesus said.
And today I’ll walk beside Him,
For He knows what is ahead.

Many things about tomorrow
I don’t seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand.
Ira F. Stanphill

Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, “My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure”.             Isaiah 46:10

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope”.  Jeremiah 29:11 NLT

The counsel of the LORD stands forever, The plans of His heart to all generations. Psalm 33:11

There are many plans in a man’s heart, nevertheless the LORD’s counsel—that will stand. Proverbs 19:21