Blueprints

I’ve been passing the same road “improvement” project on my way to work for about 9 months now.  I can’t for the life of me figure out what’s taking so long.  It’s only about a half-mile of pavement.  Lots of activity, but not a whole lot of progress.

At least from my car-bound vantage point.

One morning last week I stopped at the red light and was able to watch for a while.  Two guys in hard hats, reflective vests and steel-toed boots were staring intently at a huge pile of unrolled papers laid out on the hood of a big white pickup truck.  Blueprints (or the road construction equivalent), I presumed.  The hard hat guys  looked serious. They looked like they knew what they were doing.

“Oh, so there is a plan here”, I sarcastically thought to myself, rolling my eyes.

digiBlueprint

 

 

 

 

 

 

They would have thought I was nuts if I had gotten out of my car and insisted that I had a right to see it, demanding to know what was taking so long and why no progress was being made.  And they probably would have had me arrested, but that’s another issue altogether.

And it’s the same with God’s plans for my life.  He knows what He’s doing even if it looks to me like not a whole lot of progress is being made or things are taking way too long.  I don’t have the right to demand that He lays them all out for me.  And sarcasm about the plan is out of the question.

He’s got my blueprint, a “Master” plan so to speak. I need to keep trusting, and keep moving.  And leave the details to Him.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. Psalm 37:5

And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know.                 1 Corinthians 2:8

(originally posted 1/28/11)

Unaware

I love my hiking boots.  Problem is, I don’t get to wear them too often.  Hiking in Florida doesn’t really require trail-gripping, mountain-friendly footwear.  But a trek or a snowstorm in New Jersey might, so I dug them out of the back of my closet while packing for my recent holiday travels.

The soles still had mud and grass on them from some prior adventure the year before.  But when I scraped the mud off, I saw a shiny spot.  Looked like a tack was pushed into the bottom of the boot.

It wasn’t a tack.

I had to get a pair of pliers to pull it out.  It kept coming and coming, and when it was finally free, it turned out to be a 2” nail.  A rusty one at that.  It was so impressive I had to take a picture of it.  I literally shuddered when I realized what kind of damage it could have done to my foot if it had gone straight through.  And I had remained blissfully unaware of that potential past danger for almost a year.

nail

 

It made me wonder how many other times God has intervened and protected me while I just went about my day, totally ignorant of His watchful eye and His safeguarding angels.  It made me a little bit more aware of how many things I have to be thankful for – things I might never even know about.

God could have chosen to teach me some other lesson on the day I stepped on that nail – a lesson involving a lot of pain and probably a tetanus shot and maybe even something worse. But instead, almost a year later, standing in my bedroom with a pair of pliers and a 2″ nail and a look of complete surprise on my face, He reminded me that He’s always looking out for me.

Even when I am blissfully unaware.

For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.               Psalm 91:11

The angel of the LORD encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them. Psalm 34:7

Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go. Genesis 28:15

(originally posted 1/10/11, but without the impressive picture – some lessons are worth reviewing again!)

Ledge

Sometimes you just need to step off the ledge.

I suppose this is a lesson in “be careful what you pray for”.  Remember that retreat I went on last Fall?  The one where I wrote about how good it is to get away with God, to be able to listen to His voice and just spend time with Him?  I talked to Him about some things in my life I wanted  to work on, some things that I wanted Him to open doors of opportunity for.

So now, it appears that He has.  And it feels more like a scary ledge than a welcoming door.

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I feel a bit like Moses.  God brought him up to a mountain and told him that He wanted him to do something that was totally beyond his paygrade.  “Hey Moses, I’m going to send you to Pharoah and you’ll be the one to bring My people out of Egypt.”(Exodus 3:10-12, my paraphrase, of course). Now when God tells you He wants you to do something, the proper response is, “Sure, Lord.”  But Moses wasn’t quite there yet.

“Who am I that you think I’m qualified to take this on?”

Oh Moses.  Oh Sharon.  When God speaks and opens doors and pushes you to the edge of a ledge, He has every intention of being on the other side.  But being the lover of faith that He is, sometimes He wants us to turn the knob or take the leap without actually seeing Him on the other side.  Yet.

God doesn’t answer Moses’ question directly.  I love that.  It reminds me that God doesn’t always have to answer all of my very specific questions either, as much as that completely annoys me.  I’m the type of person who wants everything laid out ahead of time. I want to know what I’m getting into so that I can be prepared for any scenario that might unfold.   So while Moses is waiting for some detailed explanation of his qualifications, all God says is, “I’m going to be with you.  And you’ll know this when you’ve done what I asked you to do, and you’re back on this mountain to serve Me”.

Wait – we have to step off the ledge and THEN we’ll know we did the right thing?  We can’t have all the guarantees ahead of time?

And that, my friends, is faith.

My ledges are nothing like being called to save a people group from the hands of a crazy Pharoah.  They aren’t anything dangerous or world-changing. And they have nothing to do with my paygrade. But they’re my ledges and they’re scary to me.  And I want to ask God why He thinks I’m qualified and I want guarantees wrapped up in pretty packages.  But what He’s asking for is my faith.  And what He’s giving me is an assurance that He’s going to be with me.

Sometimes you just need to step off the ledge.

Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say.  Exodus 4:12

Teach me to do Your will, for you are my God!  Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground! Psalm 143:10

Fear not, for I am with you.  Be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  Isaiah 41:10

 

 

 

Notice

I’m putting myself on notice.

Actually, the more I think about that phrase, the weirder it sounds, but I’m going with it anyway.  I am going to try to notice more.

It was a beautiful day in West Palm Beach yesterday.  Bright blue skies. Sixty nine degrees. Breezy, but not windy.  Delightful. The kind of day that warrants a walk.  So I hung the little “Be Back in 5 Minutes” sign on my office door and took a quick stroll outside.  In spite of it being my first day back at work after the holiday break, I was in a particularly good mood.

And that’s when I started to notice.

I noticed the freshly manicured landscaping around the campus. I noticed the flowering shrubs and the trees that the students love to hang hammocks in.  I noticed the turkey vultures soaring in circles high overhead.  (I realize that by bringing up turkey vultures I run the risk of ruining the moment, but they are pretty to watch.  From a distance.)  Then I noticed the pattern of the paving stones on the sidewalks.  And the swaying palm fronds.  And the noise of a train in the distance. And a whole lot of other things I’d miss if I wasn’t being intentional.

And standing over it all, I noticed the cross.

chapel cross

It’s the cross on top of our university campus chapel.  Of course I see it all the time, but today I really saw it.  God’s here.  He’s over all these little details. The things that usually seem so inconsequential to us are part of His world, part of His plan.  It’s so easy for me to go about my day, oblivious to His presence. Oblivious to His watchful care.

But if I take the time, I see it.  I feel it.  I know it.

The “perfect day” scenario made it easy to appreciate the beauty and the rhythm of the world outside my office door. The “perfect day” made for a pretty picture of the cross.  But the cross is there on the gray and gloomy days as well. I just need to look for it. To look for Him.

So I’m putting myself on notice.

This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
His hand the wonders wrought.  (Maltbie D. Babcock, 1901)

Lift up your eyes on high,
And see who has created these things,
Who brings out their host by number;
He calls them all by name,
By the greatness of His might
And the strength of His power;
Not one is missing. Isaiah 40:26

For through Him God created everything
in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see
and the things we can’t see—
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
Everything was created through Him and for Him. Colossians 1:16