Tides

(originally posted on 4/7/10 – some life lessons are good to review!)

The water looked weird.  I couldn’t put my finger on what was happening, but something odd was going on.

One of the enormous benefits of living where I do is having access to the beautiful Intracoastal Waterway – on my lunch hour no less.  I had walked down to the water to get away in the middle of a workday for some solitude and thinking time.  There was a lot on my mind.  I felt restless.

And apparently, so did the water.

Usually the Intracoastal current is moving one way or the other, following the tides.  But on this day, it actually looked restless, like it didn’t know which direction it wanted to go in.  It wasn’t going in, it wasn’t going out.  Just swirling around in the middle.  And then it hit me.  I was witnessing the exact moment when the tide was about to change.  A few minutes later, the water started moving in one specific direction.  It seemed relieved.

And so was I.

I realized that I had been feeling that way too, not knowing which way to go, which choice to make.  I was unsettled and frustrated.  But watching the water reminded me that restlessness can be OK, and that the change will come when the time is right.

Sometimes we feel restless, with no idea what God is up to.  But it just may be that He’s about to turn the tide for us.  I had to be patient long enough to see the tide turn that day on the Intracoastal Waterway.  And I need to be just as patient about things in my own life, too.

Yes, the tide may be just about to turn.

He calms the storm, so that its waves are still.  Then they are glad because they are quiet;  So He guides them to their desired haven.  Psalm 107:29-30.

Now therefore, stand and see this great thing which the LORD will do before your eyes:  1 Samuel 12:16

Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD!  Psalm 27:14

Journals

I just finished reading someone else’s diary.

Well, it was really called a journal, and it wasn’t like I was snooping.  Although it felt like it at times.

This is the second time I’ve read through The Journals of Jim Elliot, a lengthy (480 pages!) compilation of personal entries starting in his college years.  His widow, Elisabeth, published it some 46 years after his death at the hands of Auca Indians.

He wrote about things he learned in his quiet times and Bible classes.  He wrote of his struggle about whether or not to marry Elisabeth.  He wrote about his passion for God and his feelings of inadequacy.  He wrote about his love for the people of Ecuador.  It was all very intense and honest.

Of course it was intense and honest.  It was his journal.

He might not have intended for anyone else to read it, much less have it become so public, but there is something fascinating and moving about reading someone’s thoughts and words when you know how his story ended.  You can see the thread God was weaving in his life and see that even random musings and events had a purpose and a part in what God was ultimately going to require of him.

It made me think about the things that happen in my life. And while I don’t journal everything, I do try to write down the things God is showing me, the things I don’t understand, the things I’m passionate about.  And I do like to go back and read my past entries and see them in light of what God is doing and what requiring of me today.

Tolstoy, I believe, once wrote that between the lines of what we write in a journal is the outline of our future. (Gordon T. Smith) 

I’m glad I journal.  But don’t bet on them getting published someday.  I don’t think I want to be that transparent to the public.  Yet if I can look back over my notebooks and papers and recorded thoughts and share with others how God has indeed been orchestrating an amazing story in my life, I’ll have a glimpse of the plan.

Because as I’ve said so many times before, God always has a plan.

But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.    Genesis 50:20

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.  Romans 8:28

And you shall remember that the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.     Deuteronomy 8:2

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 1:7

110

110 days since my Dad went home to be with the Lord.

I hadn’t really thought too much about how many days it had been until I was sitting at my desk the other day and heard a beautiful solo piano arrangement of the old hymn, “Day by Day” playing on the radio.

I went in search of the words, and in the process, I found out that the hymn writer and I have some things in common.

Karolina Sandell-Berg was Swedish.  I’m half Swedish.  Her father was a preacher.  So was mine.  Her father died unexpectedly.  Mine, too.  In spite of tragedy and overwhelming loss, she learned that God was wise and kind and merciful and trustworthy.

I can’t write hymns to express it like she did.  But I’ve learned those same things. Some of the past 110 days have been more difficult than others.  But God is still wise and kind and merciful and trustworthy…on all the days…and with each passing moment…

Day by day, and with each passing moment,
Strength I find, to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment,
I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.
He Whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day what He deems best—
Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.

Every day, the Lord Himself is near me
With a special mercy for each hour;
All my cares He fain would bear, and cheer me,
He Whose Name is Counselor and Pow’r.
The protection of His child and treasure
Is a charge that on Himself He laid;
“As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure,”
This the pledge to me He made.

Help me then in every tribulation
So to trust Thy promises, O Lord,
That I lose not faith’s sweet consolation
Offered me within Thy holy Word.
Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting,
E’er to take, as from a father’s hand,
One by one, the days, the moments fleeting,
Till I reach the promised land.

Day by Day by Karolina W. Sandell-Berg, 1865

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.  2 Corinthians 4:16

Give us day by day our daily bread.  Luke 11:3

From the rising of the sun to its going down The LORD’s name is to be praised.  Psalm 113:3

Bright

So did you see the “super moon” this past weekend?

It was due to be a full moon anyway, but combined with the fact that its orbit brought it closer to earth this time, it was amazing.  It even woke me up in the middle of the night.  It was so bright, it looked like a spotlight was aimed at my bed. 

Loved it.  God put on a show for us, and it was spectacular.

If it came up every night like that, we wouldn’t be impressed.  Another night.  Another sky.  But every once in a while, God does something out of the ordinary to remind us of His power, His glory, and His presence.

Sometimes in the middle of our dark times – our night seasons – God will choose to do something amazing and surprising.  Something that will actually make us appreciate the night because it makes His glory so much more, well, glorious.

Maybe you’ve resigned yourself to ordinary nights.  Maybe you think your dark time will never have anything glorious about it.  But wait, and look up.

God just might do something…spectacular.

 

 

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

Praise Him, sun and moon; Praise Him, all you stars of light!  Psalm 148:3

Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.  Genesis 1:3

Your sun shall no longer go down, nor shall your moon withdraw itself; For the LORD will be your everlasting light, and the days of your mourning shall be ended. Isaiah 60:20

 

Thread

In the midst of all the daily demands and duties, surely our hearts tell us something that is true: each of us has a unique calling and responsibility, something that in the long run is greater than the daily tasks that confront us – not in the sense that these tasks are not important, but rather in the sense that there is a thread, an underlying purpose and work that represents the way God has invited us to make a difference in the world.

From “Courage and Calling: Embracing Your God-given Potential” by Gordon T. Smith (IVP Books, 2011)

 

I’ve been looking for that thread lately.

Opportunites have been presented.  Forks in my road have appeared.  Lots of time spent on wondering about my life and my callings and my gifts and my responsibilities. But fortunately, I think God has gotten used to the never-ceasing activity of questions and thoughts that constantly swirl around in my head.

The good thing is that I know God will fulfill the purpose He has for my life if I keep listening and seeking and surrendering.  It’s not something that should cause me anxiety or restlessness or worry.  In reality, it should make me excited, wondering what He’s going to do next.

It may be only a thread, but I’m sure it’s there.  And I’m going to keep looking for it.

 

The LORD will fulfill His purpose for me; Your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.  Psalm 138:8

This people I have formed for Myself; They shall declare My praise.                          Isaiah 43:21

Everyone who is called by My name, Whom I have created for My glory; I have formed him, yes, I have made him. Isaiah 43:7

Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; Philippians 1:6