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?

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.

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

I wish you well.

Sandy

Please enter your email address on the form located on the right sidebar to sign up to receive posts every Tuesday and Thursday. Thanks!

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?

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.

“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

Please sign up to receive posts every Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Thanks!

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.

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.

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

Please enter your email address on the form located on the right sidebar to sign up to receive posts every Tuesday and Thursday. Thanks!

Who Will Go For Us?

courtesy pixabayAround 742 B.C. the prophet Isaiah heard the Lord ask, “Who will go for us?”

To which the prophet replied, “Here am I. Send me!”

I wonder…are we as eager to respond to God’s call as Isaiah?

Here I am, God. Whatever you ask, I’ll do it.

Wherever you send, I’ll go.

No matter how difficult, or how far outside my comfort zone, if you call, I’m the person for the job.

What I’ve often found is when we feel God calls us to step up and take on something for him, we become afraid to say yes to his “Who will go for us?”

We’re afraid God might ask us to do something beyond our abilities.

Or something unpleasant.

Or something which will require too much from us.

Or…fill in your own blanks.

Every time God called one of his prophets in the Old Testament it cost the prophet something.

Anoint Saul’s successor while Saul’s still king of Israel, realizing if Saul chased David all around the country to keep him from taking his throne, he wouldn’t be too happy having you anoint him. (Samuel) Cast into a cistern? Put in stocks? (Jeremiah) Told your wife would die, yet you are not to mourn outwardly for her? (Ezekiel) Thrown in a lion’s den? (Daniel)

It was beyond human ability to accomplish on their own.

Call down fire from the sky? Fed by ravens beside a brook? Raise a widow’s son back to life? (Elijah) Divide the Jordan River by striking it with a cloak? Provide unlimited oil to pay a creditor to save a widow’s two sons from slavery? Cure leprosy? (Elisha)

It was often unpleasant, and usually involved being despised by the people God sent the men to reach.

Plague of locusts? (Joel) Declare social justice is inseparable from true piety? (Amos) Swallowed by a large fish? (Jonah) Warn kings and rulers who despised justice and distorted what is right, their city would be reduced to rubble. Remind rulers God requires all men (and woman) to seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with the LORD?(Micah)

Warn the arrogant, those who make themselves wealthy through extortion, and build their realm by unjust gain, they will not escape God’s wrath? (Habakkuk) Declare woe to the city of oppressors, rebellious and defiled? (Zephaniah) Warn the people to give careful thought to their actions and the need to put God first. (Haggai) Declare judgment on the nations at Christ’s return. (Zechariah) Punishment to those who do not follow the Lord’s ways? (Malachi)

Phew.

I’m thinking not many of us will be called upon to serve God in the same way prophets in the Old Testament did.

Still, we may be hesitant. We may forget the One who calls us knows what we are capable of. We may forget he knows our strengths and our weaknesses. We may also forget God will not send us where he knows we’ll fail. Why would he do that?

Isaiah and the other prophets were able to reply, “Here am I. Send me!” when God asked, “Who will go for us?” because they trusted the One sending them.

Let’s pray when we’re called, we’ll respond the same way. Here am I. Send me!

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.

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”

And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” Isaiah 6:8 (NIV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

Please sign up to receive posts every Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Thanks!

Trusting God In The Wilderness

As the Israelites wandered in the wilderness, God tested them to see if they would lay down their desires and obey him. Once they learned to trust God, their pride was replaced with humility.

At the moment we believe in our ability more than God’s ability, pride can prevent us from trusting God through our wilderness journeys as well.

God laid out the rules for gathering the manna he provided. Gather only enough for the day’s needs every morning. Gather more than that, you’ll end up with a basketful of moldy maggot-filled manna.

The Israelites had to trust God would keep his word and provide for their daily needs. Their provision was not dependent on how hard they worked, or how efficiently they gathered and stored the manna. It had nothing to do with them other than obedience and trust.

If the Israelites wouldn’t trust God in the simple act of gathering manna each morning, it was doubtful they would trust God to deliver them from the wilderness to the land of Canaan. Their refusal to believe Joshua and Caleb’s report after the two men spied on the land proved that point. (Numbers 13 & 14)

The Israelites grumbled and complained about the manna. They wanted to go back to Egypt where they could eat the foods they were accustomed to. Even if that meant a return to slavery.

God tested the Israelites to see what was in their hearts. He tested them to prepare them for the greater things he planned. He tested them to move them from a place of pride in their own accomplishments to humble trust in his sovereignty.

God had big plans in store for the Israelites. Plans which included bringing his Son into this world as a sacrifice for our sins. Manna in the wilderness was a starting point of obedience to prepare the Israelites to trust God with bigger things.

God tests us in similar ways. He wants to see what is in our hearts. He wants to see if we will lay down our pride and humbly trust him. He wants to see how well we trust him with the small things, before moving us to a place of bigger possibilities.

Is there a wilderness area God is asking you to trust him in?

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.

Do you remember how the Lord led you through the wilderness for all those forty years, humbling you and testing you to find out how you would respond, and whether or not you would really obey him? Deuteronomy 8:2 (TLB)

I wish you well.

Sandy

Please enter your email address on the form located on the right sidebar to sign up to receive posts every Tuesday and Thursday. Thanks!