Prepared

Well, I didn’t need a calendar to tell me what time of year it is.  All I needed was the thick insert in Sunday’s newspaper.

It is about to be….Hurricane Season.

Yes, every year, on the Sunday before June 1st, we have “the insert”. The “STORM GUIDE 2011” insert.  Yes, the headlines are all in capital letters.  And yes, I feel like they are screaming at me. 

It is packed with full page ads for emergency generators, storm shutters and impact resistant windows.  There are evacuation routes and emergency shelter maps and lists of food items to stockpile.  There are dire warnings and statistics about how we are due for a major storm, and how few people take it seriously, how we have short memories and we’re complacent and lazy.

Once I get past the emotional trauma of being yelled at and chastised by a newspaper insert, I can read the very helpful and timely information about what I should be doing to prepare for a possible storm.

But am I just as prepared for life’s storms? When the darkness and the winds and the thunder and the lightning come battering into my life as they inevitably will, do I have a plan?  Do I know where I’ll go for protection and shelter and comfort and peace?  Do I have a stockpile of spiritual food?

God has given us the perfect Storm Guide.  And if I pick up my Bible and read it now, daily, instead of waiting until something dark is looming on the horizon, I’ll be in much better shape to face the storm.

It’s a whole lot better to be prepared.  And because I know the One who controls the storms and wrote the Storm Guide, I can be.

 

The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.  Psalm 37:31

When wisdom enters your heart, and knowledge is pleasant to your soul, discretion will preserve you; understanding will keep you.  Proverbs 2:10-11

For You have been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm.  Isaiah 25:4

But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.  Matthew 8:26

Deliver me, O LORD, from my enemies; In You I take shelter.  Psalm 143:9

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, until these calamities have passed by.  Psalm 57:1

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.  James 1:22

 

 

 

 

Forgetful

I’m not talking about forgetting where you put your car keys.  I’m not talking about forgetting to pay a bill or send a birthday card.

I’m talking about forgetting God.

Asa was a good king*.  He was a godly king.  He confidently asked God for a miracle and he got it when his little, chariot-less army defeated a million enemy soldiers who had 500 more chariots than he did.  He called his country to repentance.  He got rid of the idols.  He even got rid of the Queen Mother – because she had made an idol.  He brought treasures back into the house of God.  These were good times.

But 25 years later, he forgot.

Twenty five years later, he gave the treasures from the house of God to another country’s leader to seal an agreement for protection.  Instead of trusting God like he did when God helped him defeat a million soldiers, he tried to do it on his own.  And six years later he died, angry at God and angry at the people who tried to remind him what God had done for him.

And it made me wonder why. 

It made me wonder why someone who trusted God for so long would suddenly make such a huge mistake.  It made me wonder why someone who had seen God’s amazing and miraculous intervention thought he could do a better job by himself this time.  Did he get complacent?  Lazy?  Prideful?  Or did he just forget?  And it made me wonder, could it happen to me? 

I think it could.  I think it could happen to me if I forget what God has already done for me.  I think it could happen to me if I forget to daily surrender my life and my heart to Him.  I think it could happen if I get complacent, lazy and prideful.

I don’t want to end up like Asa.  I don’t want to ever…forget.

(* 2 Chronicles 14-16)

For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. 2 Chronicles 16:9 

I will remember the works of the LORD; Surely I will remember your wonders of old.  Psalm 77:11

They did not keep the covenant of God; they refused to walk in His law, and forgot His works and His wonders that He had shown them.  Psalm 78:10-11

They soon forgot His works; they did not wait for His counsel.  Psalm 106:13

Path

The signs were all there.  Subtle, but definitely there. 

“Please stay on the path”.

To end my personal retreat time last weekend,  I stopped by the Morikami Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach.  It’s a beautiful, tranquil place.  A good place to think, to pray, to breathe. 

There’s a long, winding path to follow, taking the visitor by different ornamental gardens, through a bamboo forest, along a lake, across architecturally stunning bridges.  It was about halfway through my time there when I noticed the small signs placed strategically and often throughout the park.

“Please stay on the path”.

I must admit there were times when it was tempting to leave the path to get a closer look at something or get a better camera shot.  But the signs were there for a reason.

The garden caretakers know that if you go off the path, you could do damage to the things they have worked so hard on, you could get lost and end up someplace other than where you are supposed to be.  You may even unintentionally encourage others to do the same. It wouldn’t be good.  So they gently and yet firmly remind you to just stay on the path they meant you to be on.

God has a path for us to be on, and He reminds us (not so subtly sometimes) to stay on it.   If we wander off His path, it won’t be good.  We could do damage to the work God has been doing, we could definitely end up someplace other than where God intended for us to be, and yes, we could unintentionally encourage others to follow our wandering footsteps.

And so, our God gives us this simple, yet vitally important command.  He has beautiful places for us to see, and amazing experiences He wants us to have. 

But we must stay on the path.  His path.

Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established.  Proverbs 4:26

My foot has held fast to His steps; I have kept His way and not turned aside.            Job 23:11

The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, and He delights in his way. Psalm 37:23

You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.  Psalm 16:11

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

Recommendation

I highly recommend the art of the personal retreat.

I discovered the benefit of the personal retreat about 15 years ago or so.  I went to visit a friend out of town and ended up having to stay in a hotel room by myself.  I’d never done that before.

And I loved it.

I had unexpected, undistracted time by myself.  And with God.  And since then, I’ve tried to make it a habit at least once a year.  I went on a retreat this weekend. Just me, my Bible, my journal, a hotel room and an open heart.   The king sized bed and fancy folded towels in the bathroom were just a bonus!

I didn’t even have an agenda.  No pressing, urgent needs to talk to God about.  Just a need for alone time with Him.  And knowledge of the promise that when we seek Him, we find Him.  We had some good chats.  And He led me to some obscure Old Testament passages I’d never seen before, passages that I have a feeling may just show up on these blog pages soon.  Can’t wait to share them with you.

But for right now, I just wanted to give you my recommendation to get away alone with God every once in a while.  Pack your Bible, a journal and an open heart.  Just don’t pack your agenda.  Let God choose that.

And He may just take you to some unexpected places.

And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there.  Matthew 14:23

But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. Matthew 6:6

But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.  Deuteronomy 4:29

 

 

 

 

Mission

“Your mission, should you choose to accept it……..”

And so began each episode of the old American TV series, “Mission Impossible”.  I was too young to watch the original series, but this phrase has become iconic.  The assignment in each episode would be revealed on a tape recording.  And then the machine would explode.  Pretty exciting stuff.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my mission lately.  I believe God creates each of us for a specific purpose, something He wants us to do with our time here.  Something only we can do with the unique gifts and abilities and experiences that He has given us. 

It’s one thing to know that.  It’s another thing to accept it.  And another thing entirely to actually do it.

My particular mission from God isn’t impossible.  It may seem that way sometimes, but whatever He has called me to do He created me to do, He enables me to do and He wants me to do for His glory.

Pretty exciting stuff.  There won’t be exploding tape recorders like there were in the TV series, but I know there could be whole lot of adventure and excitement ahead with this mission.  If I choose to accept it.

I do.

He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.  1 Thessalonians 5:24

Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them;  Romans 12:6

There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.  There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.  1 Corinthians 12:4-6.

Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. 2 Corinthians 5:5

Rearview

The rearview mirror in a car is a very useful thing.   It’s always good to know what’s behind you.  

Of course, I had one once that would fall down unexpectedly at random times and scare me to death, but that’s another story.

It’s a good thing to see what’s behind us in life, too, to take a “rearview” look every once in a while.

While we should always keep looking forward in hope and expectation, taking an occasional glance at the past puts things into perspective.  We see the trials, the challenges and the victories.  We see how God has provided and protected and blessed and guided. 

The theologian Charles Spurgeon once said,

From the past we gather arguments for present confidence”.

Funny how a glance back can give us courage for the road ahead.  And I, for one, could use it.

I’m going to use my rearview mirror a little more often. 

I will remember the works of the LORD;  Ps.77:11

Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.  Deuteronomy 4:9 (NIV)

Because you have been my help, therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.   Psalm 63:7

You have been a shelter for me, a strong tower from the enemy.  Psalm 61:3