Evidence

From my summer reading:

Faith’s most severe tests come not when we see nothing, but when we see a stunning array of evidence that seems to prove our faith in vain.

from the book “These Strange Ashes”, by Elisabeth Elliot

 

So good to be reminded that in spite of those “stunning arrays of evidence” that Satan loves to parade out in front of us, things are not always what they appear to be!

Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls– Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. Habakkuk 3:17-18

Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.       Psalm 46: 2-3

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

 

 

Coincidence?

An awful lot of things had to happen for us to be exactly where we were at exactly the time we were there.

Colonial Williamsburg, the John Greenhow gift store entrance, 3:50 pm, on a hot Sunday afternoon in June.

My sister and I decided to stop in historic Williamsburg, Virginia on our drive up to New Jersey from Florida.  We had already spent the whole day there, going in and out of buildings, taking tours, listening to presentations. We had planned on waiting to see a Revolutionary War re-enactment of some kind, but it was 93 degrees and we were hot and cranky. So we decided to go into the much-recommended wig-making store instead, but a tour group got in line before us and that hot and cranky thing started again.  Then we remembered about going all the way back to a gift shop we had seen earlier in the day at the other end of the town, but stopped outside of it for a few minutes to take pictures of a horse and carriage.

And then I heard a familiar voice call, “Sharon!”.

I was just about through the door of the gift store entrance and whipped my head around to see my best friend and former roommate standing there on the brick sidewalk with her hands on her hips and a “What in the world are YOU doing here?” look on her face.

She got married and moved to Alabama last year, and I haven’t seen her since last summer. I had no idea she had plans to visit Williamsburg, Virginia, on Sunday afternoon, June 10th.  And she had no idea about my plans to be 900 miles from my home on that day, either.

Coincidence?

Some people might think so.  But I think God had this unexpected reunion planned the whole time.  And He nudged us to think about leaving the park earlier than expected, and He allowed the line at the wig store to get too long, and He put those horses there so I’d delay going into the gift store by a few minutes.  If any of those things hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t have been where I was at 3:50pm and Deb and her husband would have walked on by, oblivious to my presence just a few feet away.

God knew ahead of time about the lovely dinner we’d spend together catching up and remembering great times from our past (because my sister and I didn’t make the dinner reservations we originally thought about making. Coincidence?).

God knew we needed that time.  He turned hot and cranky into joy and laughter and a reunion we probably couldn’t have planned that well if we had tried.

It reminded me of how many things God must be doing behind the scenes in our lives sometimes to get us exactly where He wants us to be.  There are so many details and situations that seem so random to us, but are so planned by Him in order to line things up so that His will for us can unfold.

Sometimes random, coincidental things do happen.  But sometimes things happen that have God’s hand all over them.  Things that make us smile and look up with grateful hearts.

I’m glad God is in control of my “random coincidences”.  I’ll have to remember that the next time I’m hot and cranky.

Many, O Lord my God, are Thy wonderful works which Thou hast done.                  Psalm 40:5

“For my thought are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways”, says the Lord.  Isaiah 55:8

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

In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.                       Proverbs 3:6

 

Away

Even Jesus needed to get away by Himself sometimes.

“Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place, and there He prayed”.  (Mark 1:35)

The day before had been demanding.  Jesus had taught in the synagogue, cast an unclean spirit out of a man, and healed Simon’s mother in law.  And it wasn’t over yet.  After the sun went down, “all who were sick and those who were demon-possessed” were brought to Him.  The scripture even says, “And the whole city was gathered at the door”. 

That’s a lot of people.  That’s a lot of demands.  Sounds exhausting.

Maybe that’s why Jesus needed to get away by Himself the next morning.  I’m glad we have His example.  When those days full of demands and responsibilities and needs overwhelm us, Jesus shows us how to get our perspective back.

Get away.  Get alone with God.  Pray.

His time alone didn’t last long, though. Sound familiar?  His disciples searched until they found Him and instead of saying, “How was your time away?  We know you needed it”, they bombarded Him with “Everyone has been looking for you!”. 

But He had been alone with God long enough to have been refreshed and energized.  He responded, “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth”. (Mark 1:38)

I love that the scripture tells us what His time away was all about. That short time alone had given Him focus.  He knew what He was called to do. Sometimes we get vacations or retreats.  Sometimes we just get a few minutes.  But we need to get away.  Block out the demands and distractions, get alone with God, and get our purpose and perspective and energy back.

I hope you can get away today.

My voice You shall hear in the morning, O LORD; In the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up.  Psalm 5:3

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,  Philippians 2:5

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

Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice.  Psalm 55:17

 

Smiles

I’ve never posted a picture on this blog.

I guess there was a part of me that just wanted the words to speak for themselves without trying to make you picture something. But this entry is different.  It’s all about a picture.

There’s my Mom.  It was her birthday.  And there’s me to her left, my brother, his wife and son next to me.  And then there’s my older sister on the other side of Mom, and my younger sister and her husband next to her.  And four more nephews (and their dog) out in front.

And we’re all smiling.  And that’s why I love the picture.

We’re smiling in spite of the obvious.  We’re smiling in spite of the fact that someone is missing from the family picture this year.  We’re smiling because in spite of that, we’re still a family. We still have joy.

We still have hope.

Joy does come in the morning.  God promises us that.  But sometimes it takes a picture to see that it’s really, really true.

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.  Psalm 30:5

Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.  John 16:22

 For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light.  Psalm 36:9

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit. Psalm 51:12