Watching and Waiting

Today’s post, Watching and Waiting, is written by my writer-friend, Phyllis Farringer.

Our house backs up to a woods. Deer, wild turkeys, ground hogs and other wildlife wander into our yard with some frequency. There has even been an occasional bobcat. Such wanderings create an animated response in our dog, Maggie. Her dancing and barking alerts us to the presence of whatever creature has caught her attention.

Because she has frequently discovered animal presence in the yard, Maggie often stations herself by the bay window in our den that faces the woods. She watches attentively to see if anything might appear again. As a result of her watchful pose, she is generally the first in the house to see any visitors emerge from the woods. She often brings to our attention something we would have otherwise missed, because she is the one who is watching.

Just this morning Maggie barked her excitement and drew me to the window. At first when I looked out I didn’t see anything. But then, when I looked a little harder I saw a doe standing still, and blending into the background so well she was barely visible. Then I caught a slight movement through the leaves of the brush beside her. I soon realized there were several deer with her. Just a casual glance would not have revealed any of them. In the summer, when the vegetation is much thicker, I probably wouldn’t see them at all.

The spiritual application seems obvious. God is active in our world, but His presence may be missed by those who are not looking for Him. If we were as diligent to look for Him as Maggie is about looking for activity at the edge of the woods, His work in our lives would be more apparent. God is working in every situation, but so often what He does is attributed to “coincidence” or “fate.” We may miss answers to prayer because we are not looking for His answer, or He answers differently than we expect.

The woods behind our house is teeming with wild creatures. I have never seen most of them, but I have enough evidence to know they are there. God has given us enough evidence that we can know He is there as well. We see His creative beauty all around us. He speaks life, guidance and hope through the Scriptures. He speaks to us through our circumstances.

What if we watched for His activity in our lives in the same way Maggie watches for activity in the woods? God has promised to be with us always (Matthew 28:20, Ps 46:1). He has promised that if we seek Him with our whole heart we will find Him. (Jeremiah 29:13).

Watch for Him. You may be amazed by what you see.

Phyllis Farringer delights in proclaiming God’s goodness. Her work has appeared in various periodicals including Decision Magazine, Focus on the Family publications, and Christianity Today Bible Studies. She has also written for several compilations including Cup of Comfort for Moms and God Allows U-Turns. She and her husband live in North Carolina. They have two married children and seven grandchildren.

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In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation. Psalm 5:3 (NIV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Follow the Leader

In preparation for several upcoming road trips, we needed to drop our RV at the dealership. Pilot led the way in the RV and I followed in my car.

While playing Follow the Leader on the playground in days of old brings back fond memories, following Pilot through heavy early morning traffic, road construction, fog, and drizzly rain does not. Especially when unsure of the route he chose to travel.

Being behind something the size of the RV, which blocks any view of what’s ahead, meant I had to stick close, but not too close. I had to prepare to stop quickly, get through yellow lights before they turned red, and switch lanes as soon as Pilot turned on his blinker.

Although I had no idea if there were obstacles ahead, traffic lights, or lanes which ended abruptly, Pilot did. I needed to trust him and stay vigilant. I needed to keep my eyes on the signal lights at the back of the RV and respond correctly. This was definitely not a time to allow my eyes to wander.

We sped up and slowed down. We wove around construction barrels and potholes. We crawled past concrete barriers and machinery.

Although I usually allow vehicles to scooch in between me and the vehicle in front of me, not this day. No siree. Sure. I could still see the top of the RV if another car or truck got between Pilot and me but I wouldn’t be able to see the indicator lights. I wouldn’t know when I needed to change course.

During this drive I thought of how we are to Follow the Leader – Jesus. We need to keep our eyes on his indicator lights to see the direction he wants us to go. We can’t see ahead in the fog and drizzle of life, and aren’t sure of the path ahead. But Jesus knows the way we should go.

We need to be prepared to stop quickly or change lanes immediately to avoid potholes and debris. If we pause to analyze or debate the decision, we might find our self in an unpleasant situation, or dead end lane we could have avoided.

We also need to be willing to press the gas pedal to make it through those yellow lights. We don’t want to be left behind and lose sight of our Leader.

Like Pilot and my route through miles of road construction, life can be filled with unending delays, setbacks, frustration, and short tempers.

We need to be mindful of things in our life which try to get between us and our Leader. We don’t want to allow anything to get between us and Jesus which blocks our view of him. If we do, we might miss a turn and have to circle back to find the correct road.

Sometimes we may question the path Jesus takes us down. We may believe we’d do a better job leading. We might even head out in a different direction to prove our point, believing there surely must be a better, more convenient, less stressful way to get where we’re going.

It’s during those trying times we need to scooch closer, trust he knows where we’re going, and keep our eyes on his signal lights so we don’t miss a turn or run into the debris in our path we aren’t able to see.

So what do you think? Do you find it easier to lead, or to follow?

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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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When the Way is Dark

Several years back, Pilot and I visited Oahu. One of the many wonderful things we did was hike through Diamond Head. It was quite a hike.

At 0.8 miles one way with a 560 foot ascent to the 750 foot tall volcano straight up, it was strenuous but very much worth the effort.

After we wound our way upward through the mountainside for half an hour, we reached 99 steep, concrete stairs.

Following the stairs, we reached the 225 feet long narrow, winding, pitch black, scary tunnel. You truly can not see your hand in front of your face.

BUT …

Because I read the guidebook. I was prepared. I had a flashlight!

Once we passed through the first tunnel, there was another shorter tunnel.

Here we climbed up a three-leveled spiral staircase which ended in a bunker.

The only way out?

Through narrow slits designed for guns to poke through. Not people.

I was afraid I’d end up like Winnie-the-Pooh when he ate too much honey in Rabbit’s house, with one half of me sticking outside the opening and one half stuck inside.

I wasn’t sure whether to have Pilot go out first so he could pull me through if I got stuck, or have him stay behind so he could push me out.

Even after we got out from the tunnel, we weren’t finished.

Ahead of us stood 54 more stairs to the summit.

This hike is not for the claustrophobic, those afraid of the dark, or those unable to crawl through tiny bunker slot-windows.

Was it worth it?

You bet it was!

The 360 degree panoramic view from the top of Diamond Head Crater of Waikiki and beyond was literally breathtaking.

We made it through the dark tunnel without serious injury and without needing to turn back because I read the guidebook.

We weren’t sure how long the darkness would last but we had a light with us, so weren’t afraid.

If we hadn’t gone through the tunnel, if we weren’t willing to go the distance and take each challenge as it came, we’d never reach the summit. We’d never see the splendid view.

Same with life.

You and I have to read the guidebook. God’s Word. The Holy Bible.

Life is tough. When the way is dark, straight up hill, or so constricted we don’t think we will get through, our only hope is to hang onto the Light of the World, Jesus Christ.

Just like getting through that 225 foot dark, scary, winding tunnel, when we walk with the Light, things aren’t quite so bad. The final reward, the end prize, the splendid view, will all be well worth the effort it took to get there.

Have you visited Diamond Head and gone through the tunnel? What was your experience like?

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Your words are a flashlight to light the path ahead of me and keep me from stumbling. Psalm 119:105 (TLB)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Because God is For Us

Because God is for us, nothing can separate us from his love. And because of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, we’ve been made more than conquerors.

In the eighth chapter of the book of Romans, Paul begins with these words. There is now no condemnation for those who live in union with Christ Jesus. What a comfort.

Near the middle of chapter eight Paul reminds us the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness and pleads with God for us when we don’t have the words to express how we feel.

The oft quoted Romans 8:28 says we know in all things God works for the good of those who love him. Those he’s called according to his purpose.

Going further to verses 31 and 32, Paul tells us if God is for us, sent his son to die for us, and prepares a place in heaven for us, who then can stand against us?

Since Jesus is on our side as our Advocate, Intercessor, Mediator, and High Priest cheering us on from the sidelines, no one and nothing can separate those who claim him as their Savior, Lord, and King from his unfailing love.

When we are unsure of our future, God is for us and nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.

When we fall short of his standards, confess, and turn back to him, God is for us and nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.

When we feel abandoned and alone, God is for us and nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.

When the Tempter knocks at our door, God is for us and nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.

When pain, sorrow, or grief seizes our heart, God is for us and nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.

When confusion or doubt overwhelm, God is for us and nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.

In wrapping up Romans 8 Paul concludes by saying we are more than conquerors.

In a world filled with uncertainties, isn’t it comforting to know since God is for us, we have been made more than conquerors through Christ Jesus and nothing can separate us from his love?

Do you have a favorite verse from Romans 8?

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What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Romans 8:31-32 (NIV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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The Right Time

Today’s post, The Right Time, is written by my writer-friend, Phyllis Farringer.

Though the incident happened years ago, I remember it as if it was last week. After a hectic few days, my husband and I were eager to escape the demands of life for an afternoon of sailing. It was our favorite recreation. We had a small sailboat we pulled on a trailer to a lake about 50 miles from our home. That morning, just as we were ready to leave the house, a friend showed up. He needed help with a project. It only took a few minutes, and we were glad to help, but thus began a series of 5 and 10 minute delays and interruptions. With each assault against our plans, we became increasingly frustrated and irritable.

Finally, after what turned out to be just more than an hour, we were on our way. It was our routine on sailing days to grab lunch at the one fast food restaurant near the lake. The drive-in restaurant was of the design that patrons ordered from speakers and ate in their cars. However, because we pulled a trailer with our sailboat we always parked off to the side where there was no speaker, so my husband then went inside to order our food. This day, when we arrived at the restaurant, the entrance was blocked by two police cars with lights flashing. I don’t fully understand the scientific explanation for what happened, but about an hour earlier a sudden micro burst, or very localized tornado had picked up the heavy metal roof over the speakers and set it down to the side at precisely the spot where my husband and I would have been parked in our open convertible if we had been able to get there according to our planned schedule, without all the delays.

That experience taught me there is always more to a situation than what I can see.

The delays made no sense to us when we were going through them. They were frustrating. However, when we saw what we missed because of the delays, we were grateful that the timing of the day’s events was beyond our control.

Remembering that day has shaped my perspective on delays, interruptions and changed plans. Rather than irritation, I instead find myself wondering if the interference to my plans is sparing me from some greater difficulty. When I experience setbacks or frustrating circumstances I don’t understand, I have learned to focus my thoughts on what I do understand–on the things I know to be true. I know that God is sovereign. He is good. His ways are not our ways, but His ways are perfect. Our times are in His hands. And those who hope in Him will not be disappointed.

Phyllis Farringer delights in proclaiming God’s goodness. Her work has appeared in various periodicals including Decision Magazine, Focus on the Family publications, and Christianity Today Bible Studies. She has also written for several compilations including Cup of Comfort for Moms and God Allows U-Turns. She and her husband live in North Carolina. They have two married children and seven grandchildren.

Leave a comment below to share your thoughts on the subject. If you think others would appreciate reading this, please share it through the social media buttons.

But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hands. Psalm 31:14, 15a (NIV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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