Settle Down

courtesy pixabayWhen God allowed the Israelites to be taken into captivity by the Babylonians, he instructed the prophet Jeremiah to tell them to build houses and settle down. Plant gardens and enjoy what they planted. They were going to be there a while.

This wasn’t a day by day arrangement. Give it a go. See what you think of the neighborhood. If you don’t like it after thirty days, okay. You can go back.

Nope. God meant for the Israelites to put down roots in this foreign land because whether they realized it or not, he had a purpose for their time in Babylon.

Sometimes God sends us into a type of Babylonian exile. He sends us to a place we’d rather not be. Into a job or circumstances we’d rather not face. Those exiles might be physical, emotional, or spiritual.

When God exiles us and tells us to settle down, it isn’t by mistake. We certainly might wonder and question, but God did not get it wrong. He has lessons he wants us to learn about ourselves and about him.

Often, Babylon is the only place we can learn those lessons.

Some of us learn faster than others. I’m a slow learner.

Several years back, God exiled Pilot and me to our own Babylon. I often joked about us being in Babylonian captivity. But it was not funny.

I’ll spare you the details but believe me, I did not want us to build a house, settle down, and plant a garden. Not at all. I wanted us out of there ASAP. Like yesterday.

One godly friend patiently listened as I whined and complained to her week after week the whole entire time. (Waving to you sweet friend. You know.)

“Why isn’t God getting us out of here? Why hasn’t he opened other doors? Why is he ignoring our prayers? Why? Why? Why?”

My mentality was more rent by the month, rather than build a house and join the community mentality. I did not want to look for any good in the situation. I did not want to see what God’s purpose for exiling us was. And I certainly wasn’t going to enjoy it.

I was miserable. And I made those around me miserable as well. Not intentionally. Just as a by-product of my own misery.

Plant a garden? Not likely.

You know the saying you may not be able to control the wind, but you can adjust your sails? Pilot adjusted his sails. Not me. I restlessly kept an eye on the door for God’s deliverance. Not that it made our captivity end one second earlier.

From experience I know by refusing to build a house, settle down, and plant a garden during whatever exile God leads us to, we just might miss out on an opportunity to learn the lessons only that specific season of our life can teach us.

And wouldn’t you know it?

Three days ago, two and a half weeks after I wrote and scheduled this to post today, God told me to pack my bags. Looks like he’s leading me on another journey where he intends for me to build a house, settle down, and plant a garden.

I have a feeling I’m going to be there a while.

Ever felt like you’ve been exiled to Babylon? Were you able to build a house, settle down, and plant a garden?

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Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Jeremiah 29:5

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Hidden Behind the Clouds

courtesy pixabay

This time of year two of my favorite constellations, Pleiades and Orion, are visible over our house in the early morning hours.

Except this morning. This morning they were hidden behind the clouds.

Before I walk down the driveway to retrieve the paper I pause, look skyward, and marvel at God’s creation.

I wonder the One who placed the stars in the heavens and planets in motion is mindful of me. I am amazed the Creator who bound the cluster of stars forming Pleiades and put a belt around Orion’s waist, knows exactly where I stand when I go outside each morning.

But the other morning I was disappointed when Orion hid behind the clouds. There was no sign of his belt, his shoulders, or his sword. Clouds separated me from the stars I so enjoy viewing.

Although I wished the clouds would move as I stared upward, I was confident Orion was right where he was supposed to be.

Sometimes we might be in a place in life where we feel as if God is no longer visible. He’s hidden behind the clouds of life. Something moved in between us and blocked our view. During those times it might be easy to believe God left us all alone to stare skyward into a cloudy, dark sky.

Even when we look and can’t see God, he’s still there. He’s as constant as the Northern Star. We can count on him. When events in our life block our view of God, we need to hang on to what we know is true about him. Not what our eyes or emotions tell us to be true.

God loves us. He will never leave or forsake us. He has a plan; a good plan, for our lives. Our name is engraved on the palm of his hand. He counts the very hairs on our head. He knit us together in our mother’s womb.

And yes. The Creator God who placed the stars in the heavens and planets in motion, knows us by name and calls us his child.

Do you spend time marveling at God’s heavenly creation? Is there a constellation, or two, you favor?

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“Can you direct the movement of the stars—binding the cluster of the Pleiades or loosening the cords of Orion? Can you direct the constellations through the seasons or guide the Bear with her cubs across the heavens?” Job 38:31-32 (NLT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Pause for Poetry — Patience

courtesy pixabayThe following poem, Patience, comes from The Will of the Wind Inspirational Thoughts on Christian Virtues by Idalee W. Vonk.

Patience

We should never think that God’s delays are

God’s denials of our prayers, for often

We, through ignorance of what is best

For us, petition for the things we feel are

Vital to our happiness, but which, if

Granted us upon request, would prove most

Detrimental to our own well-being.

Prayers are often premature. We are not

Ready for the things we feel we need, and

So God whispers, “Patience-patience-patience.”

Patience brings contentment, hope, and faith

To him who learns to pray believing, and then

Waits for the fulfillment of his prayers

In God’s own way. For patience is the key

To happiness, success, and real contentment.

In 1986 Carita Swanson Vonk, a woman I met at a writers conference, gifted me with a book of poetry written in 1969 by Idalee W. Vonk titled, The Will of the Wind Inspirational Thoughts on Christian Virtues. Interesting side note. Carita was the second wife of Idalee’s widowed husband. Dr. Vonk also happened to be Carita’s philosophy professor at the University of Miami thirty-two years prior to her giving me this book.

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I wish you well.

Sandy

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Ready Your Horse

courtesy pixabayThe writer of Proverbs tells us to ready your horse for battle. Be prepared. Put in the time and effort to face what’s next. All the while realizing the victory is the Lord’s.

I expect readying my horse for battle looks different from yours. Readying my horse involves being prepared to write what I believe God wants me to write. Sending it where I believe he wants it published. Getting it in front of people I believe he wants it in front of.

Perhaps you’re preparing to venture into new areas in your career, relationship, life, or ministry. With each new adventure we face, our horse needs to be made ready.

Ready yourself for battle. Sounds good but how do we go about accomplishing that?

As Christ followers, I believe we ready our horse for the battle to withstand Satan’s fiery darts of doubt, temptation, discouragement, and disappointment ahead of time by grounding ourselves in the truth of God’s Word. We do our part, acknowledging our Lord is the one fighting the battle for us.

It took fourteen years before God moved David from shepherd to king. During that time David readied his horse for the greater battle ahead.

As a teen, he took care of his father’s sheep. He meditated on the word of the Lord and penned glorious psalms of praise, deliverance, lament, and hope.

While tending the sheep, David faced the paw of the lion and the bear. And was delivered each time by God.

He faced Goliath with a sling and stone and defeated the giant in the name of the Lord.

David readied his horse for the battle as King Saul chased him and his ragtag band all over Israel. He learned to be a leader by trusting God and depending on him for deliverance.

We can, and must, ready our horse for battle, always remembering the victory belongs to the Lord.

What battle are you facing? How are you readying your horse?

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The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord. Proverbs 21:31 (ESV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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This Is The Way

courtesy wikipedia

Leonhard Seppala’s lead dog, Togo.

In 1925 a life or death mission was undertaken by twenty mushers and more than 100 sled dogs. This mission would not have succeeded if the dogs pulling the sleds carrying diphtheria antitoxin serum, refused to listen to their musher’s voice saying, This is the way.

The diphtheria epidemic threatened Nome, Alaska. Nome’s supply of antitoxin expired, and the town’s doctor refused to use it. The nearest antitoxin was in Anchorage. Nearly one thousand miles away. The only way to get the antitoxin to Nome was by sled dog. After receiving the serum by plane in Nanana, the mushers with their sled dogs relayed the 20-pound cylinder of serum to Nome. 674 miles and five and a half days later the serum arrived safely in Nome.

Followers of Christ are tasked with a life-saving mission to take an antitoxin serum–God’s truth and love–to a sick and dying world. For our mission to succeed, we need to listen to God’s voice. He is the one who directs our path in the way we should go.

Our mission to carry the Good News of salvation through Christ Jesus is a coordinated mission. It takes each and every one of us working together.

The way is treacherous filled with adverse conditions and winding trails. At times we may face extreme white-out conditions. The only way to know the direction we should travel is by listening to the voice behind us saying, This is the way. Walk in it.

We may feel like giving up. Like our strength is gone. But we aren’t alone. Others in the  race run beside us, helping us carry the serum.

When trail markers become hidden in the storm causing us to take a wrong turn, the voice behind says, This is the way. Walk in it. At the sound of his voice we make a correction, and get back on the correct trail.

During those times when the trail is too difficult to forge on our own, our Leader walks in front of us, guiding us, whispering to us, This is the way. Walk in it.

Taking the familiar trail may seem more logical than the one the voice behind us calls us to take. That’s when we have a choice. Believe God knows more than we do, or not. Listen to his voice and follow, or not.

One way to hear God’s voice is to spend time listening for it through meditating on his word. We need to become so familiar with our Master’s voice, if another voice tries to direct us, we recognize it as a fraud and shut our ears to it.

God’s voice stills, reassures, leads, enlightens, forgives, calms, encourages, and comforts. The enemy’s voice rushes, frightens, pushes, confuses, condemns, stresses, discourages, and worries.

As was true in 1925, our life-saving mission today is of the utmost importance. The trail and weather conditions are extreme. The dedication to save lives is sacrificial. The end result is more than worth it.

This is the way. Walk in it.

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Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”  Isaiah 30:21 (NIV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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