Calm

The intersection of Military Trail and Northlake Boulevard is a rather manic one. 

For each of the north, south, east and west directions, there are three lanes going straight, two left turn lanes and one right turn lane.  There are gas stations and banks and grocery stores and strip malls and lots and lots of just plain craziness.

And some grass growing in the middle of it. And I’m not talking about a median.

I was sitting there in my car yesterday morning waiting for my turn light, and saw grass  in the middle of the road.  At first I thought maybe something had dropped off a landscaping truck.  But no.  It was a tuft of grass about 5” tall growing right through the hot pavement in the exact center of the intersection.  Cars were whizzing by it, tires missing it by inches.

But it stood straight and calm as if it was completely normal to be growing there. The crazy speeding cars didn’t bother it.  The heat didn’t bother it.  The fumes and the dust and the dirt didn’t bother it.  It was just doing what God created it to do.  Grow where it was.

I wouldn’t have chosen to grow there.  I’d prefer being in a nice quiet pasture.  Or a well manicured lawn.  But sometimes we don’t have a choice about where we’re placed to grow.  Sometimes God puts us in manic situations where things are whizzing by us, where it seems that people don’t even know we’re there, where there is the dust and dirt and heat that comes with life.

And in the middle of it, calm.  Or at least there can be. 

The next time I’m in the middle of the craziness of life, I’m going to think about that grass.  I’m going to just breathe, relax, and grow where I am.

 

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God; and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6-7

Cast your burden upon the Lord and He shall sustain you.  He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.  Psalm 55:22

Therefore, I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, what you will drink; not about your body, what you will put on.  Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?…Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow, they neither toil nor spin…”  (Matthew 6:25,28b)

 

 

 

 

Birthday

Well, today’s the day.

Sort of like New Year’s, but a lot more personal.  And there’s usually a cake and people sing you a song.

It’s the day when I look back and look forward and do a whole lot of thinking about where I am right now.  I’ll have two more days after this to do even more thinking as I drive the 1250 miles back to my home in Florida after spending a few weeks with family in New Jersey.

I’m sure there will be long talks with God in the car.  Talks about the past year and all the years that have led up to this particular one.  And I think God and I will talk about what happens next.

Psalm 139 is a good birthday Psalm, I think.  It seems like David was in a reflective mood when he wrote it.  He talks about how God has known him since before he was born and about how God knows everything that’s happened to him.  He talks about the fact that he can’t go anywhere in this world without God being right there beside him.

And he talks about how his days were all fashioned for him by God and written down in a book before any of them came to be. 

That goes for me, too.

Every one of my days – all the birthdays and all the days in between – have been fashioned by my God. 

I don’t know what will happen this year.  I don’t know where I’ll be or what I will have experienced when next year’s birthday rolls around.  But there is something I do know.

I can confidently say with David, “Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.” (Psalm 139:14)

 

O Lord, you have searched me and known me.  You know my sitting down and my rising up.  You understand my thought afar off.  You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways.  For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O Lord, you know it all together.  You have hedged me behind and before and laid your hand upon me.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me.  It is high, but I cannot attain it.  (Psalm 139: 1-6)

 

 

Blessed

“Blessed is he who does not freak out over the way I do things.”                 Matthew 11:6

OK, so I paraphrased. 

Sometime back in 1992, I wrote that next to Matthew 11:6  in the margins of my Bible.  The real verse contains the words of Christ.  “Blessed is he who is not offended because of Me”.

We don’t usually think in terms of God “offending” us.  But one Bible dictionary defines the Greek word for offending as, “to cause a person to begin to distrust and desert one whom he ought to trust and obey”.

If you’re honest, have you ever been offended at the way God is handling things?  Has something He has done – or not done – caused you to distrust Him?

The choice is ours.  Promised blessings based on unwavering, tenacious trust in spite of how things look to us, or offense based on  absent or faltering faith.

I think I’ll take the blessings.

 

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.     1 Peter 1:6-7

But He said, “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”     Luke 11:28

Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.    1 Peter 4:12

 

 

 

 

 

Priority

I’m well into my summer reading list.  Vacation time is such a great opportunity to catch up on all the books I’ve been wanting to read.

My current read is “Forgotten God – Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit” by Francis Chan (David C. Cook Publishers,  2009).

The title of Chapter 6 caught me by surprise:  “Forget About His Will For Your Life”.  Huh?

 But here is what Chan is getting at:

I think a lot of us need to forget about God’s will for my life. God cares more about our response to His Spirit’s leading today, in this moment, than what we intend to do next year.  In fact, the decisions we make next year will be profoundly affected by the degree to which we submit to the Spirit right now, in today’s decisions.

It is easy to use the phrase, “God’s will for my life” as an excuse for inaction or even disobedience.  It’s much less demanding to think about God’s will for your future than it is to ask Him what He wants you to do in the next ten minutes.  It’s safer to commit to following Him someday instead of this day.

That’s something to really think about.  Am I more concerned with tomorrow than I am with today?  Do I fret too much about the future while this day is quickly passing by with hardly a thought of what God wants me to do with it?

Today needs to be my priority when it comes to God’s will for my life.  While planning for and seeking God about the future is a good idea, what Chan said is so true.

The decisions I’ll make next year or even next week will be profoundly affected by the decisions I am making right now.

I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments…  Dueteronomy 30:16

But exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” … Hebrews 3:13

Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near.  Isaiah 55:6

Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. 2 Corinthians 6:2

…you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.  James 4:14

Stop

They didn’t slow down.  They didn’t hesitate.  They just blew right through the stop sign.

My porch faces a parking lot. I know, it doesn’t sound like a very good view.

But there are some nice tall pine and palm trees scattered about, so it’s not all pavement.  I was sitting out on the porch one afternoon a while back, and watched with astonishment how many cars just plowed right through one of the stop signs at the end of the lot.

Admittedly, one can see clearly whether there is anything to stop for, but that’s not the point.  The powers-that-be decided that a stop sign should be there.  And therefore, cars should stop.

I bet the stop-sign ignorers stopped the first time they drove through that parking lot.  I bet they stopped obediently, looked both ways and then proceeded.  And then I bet they realized there was hardly ever anyone coming the other direction, and even if they were, they’d be able to see them long before they got to the sign and other people didn’t stop and nothing bad has ever happened.

Yet.

One of these days the reason for the stop sign will become evident.  One of these days we’ll know why they put that stop sign there to begin with.  And let’s hope no one gets hurt – or worse.

God gives us stop signs in life, too.  And at first we obediently stop.  And then sometimes we look around and we don’t see any danger coming and we argue about why the stop sign is there to begin with and other people are ignoring the stop sign and nothing seems to be happening to them.  And so, we begin to go right through it.  And we might get to the point where we’re not even cautious.  We don’t even care about the stop sign anymore.

But one of these days the reason for the stop sign God put up will be evident.   And we might get hurt because we didn’t stop.  Someone else might get hurt because we didn’t stop.  We should have stopped like we used to, but we didn’t. 

If God says stop, then stop.  Don’t ask questions. Don’t compare yourself to others who don’t stop. 

Just obey the signs.

You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice;  Deuteronomy 13:4

Direct my steps by Your word, and let no iniquity have dominion over me.            Psalm 119:133

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye. Psalm 32:8

Therefore you shall obey the voice of the LORD your God, and observe His commandments and His statutes which I command you today.                              Deuteronomy 17:10

Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people. And walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well with you. Jeremiah 7:23