90

I did it.  I read through the entire Bible.  In 90 days.*

It was one of those things I always felt a little guilty over not doing. (Not the 90 day part – the reading through the Bible part).  Over the years, I’d started several of those “through the Bible in a year” programs   Somewhere around Leviticus, I’d lose heart, and my good intentions would become distant memories.

But 90 days instead of 365?  I could commit to 90 days.   January to March.  No problem.  After all, those are the long, boring months after the holidays, right?

God knew that just three weeks into this venture, I’d experience the greatest loss of my life so far.  But for some reason (divine, no doubt), I didn’t quit my reading plan.  As a matter of fact, it became even more important to finish it, to read this whole book, spoken by and written by the God I needed so much to trust.

Reading the Bible straight through showed me again how it’s a complete story – the story of God’s care for His people, the story of His grace and His mercy.  And the story of His plan.

He always has a plan.

I had a plan to read through the Bible in 90 days.  But God had a plan to show me even more of Himself.

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.         Hebrews 4:12

So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.  Isaiah 55:11

The entrance of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.         Psalm 119:130

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

*(I heard about this 90 Day reading plan on a radio program called “Haven Today”.  Here is a link to download the plan:  http://www.haventoday.org/schedule.pdf.  It took me about 45 minutes each day.   I’d read some in the morning and then more over my lunch hour.  Zondervan publishes a 90 Day NIV Bible, but I used my own version.)

Foundations

A bulldozer, a backhoe, strong men with shovels.  That’s what it took to expose the foundation of our house.

I wasn’t there to see it, but the family kept me updated with pictures.  You see, an old oil tank buried right next to our family home had started to cause some problems. Problems that needed to be fixed.  So the big equipment came and disrupted everything, creating a lot of noise and commotion and inconvenience.

And when all the dirt was pushed around and finally taken away, we could see the foundation of the house my parents have lived in for 50 years.

It’s a good foundation.  A solid one.   One that held the house up through all kinds of weather, all kinds of storms, summers and winters and autumns and springs.  It’s held up the house that we all grew up in, the house where there were good times and happy times and a few sad ones, too.  But through it all, the foundation has stood firm.

Sometimes we don’t know about the strength of a foundation until it’s exposed.  And sometimes that exposure comes by way of things that disrupt our lives.  And sometimes it can feel like God is allowing the bulldozers to push us around and the backhoes to tear up things we care about.

But when all the pushing and shoving and disruptive work is done, we can see whether or not our foundation is a good one – one strong enough to stand the tests of time and circumstance.

This morning in our Chapel service at school we sang the hymn, “How Firm a Foundation”.  And I smiled.  Our family has been disrupted and pushed around a little in recent months, but the condition of our foundation has been revealed.

It’s strong.  And it’s going to stand firm for many years yet to come.

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
To you, who for refuge to Jesus have fled?

Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.

(from the hymn, “How Firm a Foundation”  by John Rippon, 1787)

He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. Luke 6:48

Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His…”  1 Timothy 2:19

And he said: “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;”                         2 Samuel 22:2

Hard

“Why does it have to be so hard?”

That was the question of the night last evening. 

It’s been a rough week.  My family is trying to sort out some things following my Dad’s death.  And this has been a less-than-stellar week for me here in Florida.  So when my sister asked me that question on the phone last night, it really hit home. 

Why does life have to be so hard?

The quick answer would be that I don’t know.  But that’s not the complete answer.  I don’t know why certain hard things come into the lives of certain people at certain times.  But I do know why God allows them.

He wants to use them.

So many times I want to cry out and tell God that I’m tired of the hard situations and I’m tired of the hard things and haven’t I learned this lesson already?  I did that alone in the car the other night.  Cars are a great place to just let it all out to God.   But when my little rant was over, God gently reminded me that there is a purpose behind all of my current hard things.

And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.             (Romans 5:3-4)

I might not like the process, but the outcome will be good.  The hard things can be turned into hope. 

And as that passage in Romans goes on to say, “hope does not disappoint”.

Hope.  So much better than hard.   

Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:5

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.                       2 Corinthians 12:10

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. James 1:2-4

Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.              Habakkuk 3:18

 

 

 

 

Almost

I’d forgotten what it was like to be almost Spring.

Where I live in the tropics, we have seasons, but they are so subtle many people don’t even notice them.   Something is always blooming and the grass is always green and you hardly ever have to wear a jacket.

But my visit to New Jersey this week has reminded me of “almost Spring”.

It’s that time when the trees are still bare, and the grass is still brown and you’re ready to be done with winter.  The calendar page has turned to March and you know that a change is coming eventually.  It’s just not here yet.

If you didn’t know what to watch for, things could seem pretty bleak.  But look a little closer and you’ll see changes at the ends of barren branches, and little green blades of grass poking through the dry brown ones, and the tips of flower bulbs just barely pushing through the dirt.

It’s almost Spring.

Sometimes the winter seasons in our lives seem to go on and on.  Things are bleak and grey and dull.  No signs of change coming.

Unless you look a little closer

And just maybe you’ll see something beginning to happen, something beginning to sprout, signs that your days are starting to be just a little bit brighter.

I’m going to start watching for those little clues that God is leaving for me.  I’m going to start looking for signs that He is at work, that the calendar page has turned even if the circumstances don’t look like it yet.

It is almost Spring.

Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance…  Ephesians 6:18

For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come…  Habakkuk 2:3

Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart.   Luke 18:1