Well-planned-out

map of USAIn July, Pilot, our dog Daisy, and I went on a well-planned-out RV trip from Texas to North Dakota.

Our initial quest was to follow parts of the Lewis and Clark Trail. The trip took us over 4,000 miles round-trip to ten states in ten days. Whew.

It was a wonderful trip, although it did hold several surprises. Some good. Some not so good. One surprise was rather scary, actually. But that’s a story for another blog post.

As you might imagine, with that many miles to travel we had a plan. However, the week before the trip I suggested a change. Instead of visiting one particular museum, I wanted to visit a different one.

That proved to be a wonderful decision, even if the road getting to the museum was closed due to construction. We ran into a lot of road construction delays this trip. Plus, navigating Kansas City, Missouri rush hour traffic was a bit of a challenge.

One day, Pilot made a spur of the moment decision to take the road less traveled, to quote a famous poet, and serendipitously, we ended up at the Geological Center of the Americas; Canada, United States, and Mexico. Pretty cool. We also stumbled upon the Geological Center of the United States another day.

An unplanned decision to go into Montana took us to the glorious grandeur of God’s Painted Canyon in the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. That was another stop we weren’t expecting.

One museum we hoped to visit was closed. Undaunted, we found a different one to go to. This museum ended up being one of Pilot’s favorite stops.

The Atka Lakota museum on the grounds of the St. Joseph Indian School was wonderful, especially the film we watched. Proving small does not mean insignificant.

Three times in North Dakota, God arranged it so we arrived at museums in time to go on the last tours of the day. Otherwise, we’d have missed them altogether due to our schedule.

There is a lot more I’ll tell you in future posts, but right now, the point of this post is the following. Although we had a well-planned-out trip, as is always the way in life, God was the One in charge.

I’d like to leave you with this devotional thought from Streams in the Desert.

In no way is it enough to set out cheerfully with God on any venture of faith. You must also be willing to take your ideas of what the journey will be like and tear them into tiny pieces, for nothing on the itinerary will happen as you expect.

Your Guide will not keep to any beaten path. He will lead you through ways you would never have dreamed your eyes would see. He knows no fear, and He expects you to fear nothing while He is with you.

Streams in the Desert

L.B. Cowman

The day had gone; alone and weak
I groped my way within a bleak and sunless land.
The path that led into the light
I could not find! In that dark night
God took my hand.
He led me that I might not stray,
And brought me by a safe, new way
I had not known.
By waters still, through pastures green
I followed Him— the path was clean
Of briar and stone.
The heavy darkness lost its strength,
My waiting eyes beheld at length
The streaking dawn.
On, safely on, through sunrise glow
I walked, my hand in His, and lo,
The night had gone.
~Annie Porter Johnson

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Abraham trusted God, and when God told him to leave home and go far away to another land that he promised to give him, Abraham obeyed. Away he went, not even knowing where he was going. Hebrews 11:8 TLB

You can find my September Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Pause for Poetry-Hold On My Heart In Your Believing

meadow lakeHold On My Heart In Your Believing

selected from Streams in the Desert.

Hold on, my heart, in your believing-

Only the steadfast wins the crown:

He who, when stormy winds are heaving,

Parts with his anchor, will go down;

But he who Jesus holds through all,

Will stand, though Heaven and earth should fall.

Hold on! An end will come to sorrow;

Hope from the dust will conquering rise;

The storm foretells a summer’s morrow;

The Cross points on to Paradise;

The Father reigns! So cease all doubt;

Hold on, my heart. Hold on, hold out.

selected from Streams in the Desert.

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buttons.

You can find my June Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Pause for Poetry-Chance Has Not Brought This Ill

meadow lake

Today’s Pause for Poetry-Chance Has Not Brought This Ill, is selected from Streams in the Desert.

Chance has not brought this ill to me;

It’s God’s own hand, so let it be,

For He sees what I cannot see.

There is a purpose for each pain,

And He one day will make it plain

That earthly loss is heavenly gain.

Like as a piece of tapestry

Viewed from the back appears to be

Only threads tangled hopelessly;

But in the front a picture fair

Rewards the worker for his care,

Proving his skill and patience rare.

You are the Workman, I the frame.

Lord, for the glory of Your name,

Perfect Your image on the same.

Selected from Streams in the Desert

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You can find my January Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy Please sign up to receive posts every Tuesday and Thursday. Thanks.

Burden Or Blessing?

birds flying at sunsetWhen God allows something difficult into our life, do we view it as a burden or blessing? As with many things in life, we might answer, it depends. But what would happen if we looked at everything God allows to reach us as a blessing, no matter what the cost? How might our perspective change?

Recently, I was diagnosed with a rotator cuff tear. Burden. After six weeks of physical therapy and an MRI, turns out it isn’t a tear. Blessing. The problem is autoimmune related. Burden. God’s in control. Blessing.

Maybe when the orthopedic doctor first told me I had a tear, I should have just skipped straight to remembering God is in control, and counted it a blessing. Maybe. But that’s not how I looked at it at the time.

As I shifted from thinking rotator cuff tear with a possible treatment plan, to yet one more autoimmune-caused ailment without one, I read a devotion in Streams in the Desert. I would like to share what J.R. Miller wrote with you. Perhaps after reading it, you will see the hard things God allows into your life as more of a blessing than a burden.

There is a fable about the way birds first got their wings. The story goes that initially they were made without them. Then God made the wings, set them down before the wingless birds, and said to them, “Take up these burdens and carry them.”

 

After hesitating a bit, the birds picked up the burdens, and set them on their shoulders to carry. For a short time the wings seemed heavy and difficult to bear. But as the birds carried the wings, folded over their heart, the wings grew attached to their bodies.

They quickly discovered how to use them and were lifted by the wings high into the air. The weights had become wings. 

J.R. Miller continued, “We look at our burdens and heavy loads, and try to run from them, but if we will carry them and tie them to our hearts, they will become wings.”

No matter how overwhelming, any burden God has lovingly placed with His own hands on our shoulders is a blessing. Frederick William Faber

How do you look at the difficult things God places in your life? Burden or blessing? I’m striving to slide my burden/blessing meter closer to the blessing end. Will you join me?

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Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

You can find my August Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Photo by Rohan Gupta on Unsplash

Lord, Make It Right

dark nightWhen life events seem confusing and beat down on us, we might cry out, Lord, make it right.

When we aren’t sure which is the best path to take, we might cry out, Lord, make it plain.

When things seem a little muddled and fuzzy, we might cry out, Lord, make what is so clear to you, clear to me.

Whenever we cry, Lord, make it right, we can be assured God is aware of what we’re going through. Sometimes we see his hand move as he works on our behalf. Other times we don’t. Whether or not we see God at work, it doesn’t change the fact he is working.

When we believe God is good, God is in control, God will never leave or forsake us, and trust in his sovereignty, we are better able to lay our needs at his feet while we wait for him to work in his way and in his timing.

This may not be an easy thing to do, but the more we do it, the easier it becomes.

How have you seen that to be true in your life?

“Being perplexed, I say,
‘Lord, make it right!
Night is as day to Thee,
Darkness as light.
I am afraid to touch
Things that involve so much;
My trembling hand may shake,
My skilless hand may break;
Thine can make no mistake.’

“Being in doubt I say,
‘Lord, make it plain;
Which is the true, safe way?
Which would be gain?
I am not wise to know,
Nor sure of foot to go;
What is so clear to Thee,
Lord, make it clear to me!’”

Streams in the Desert

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O our God, won’t you stop them? We have no way to protect ourselves against this mighty army. We don’t know what to do, but we are looking to you.

2 Chronicles 20:12 (TLB)

You can find my July Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Photo by Vincent Chin on Unsplash

Delayed Blessing

office building

A devotion in Streams in the Desert talks about delayed blessing. The story is told of a man led into the Lord’s treasure-house, where he discovered the Delayed Blessing Office. This is where God stored the answers to certain prayers until it was wise to send them.

The devotion went on to say, “For some who pray expecting an answer, it takes a long time to learn that delays of answers are not denials. These blessings held in the Delayed Blessing Office are deep secrets of love and wisdom we never imagined.”

Do you believe that? Can you accept that delays of answers are not denials?

Have you ever wanted God to bless you in some way without realizing you weren’t ready for that blessing? I have.

It’s like removing a cake from the oven before it is fully cooked. The cake isn’t ready. It’s not done. It’s raw in the middle. Out of our impatience, we didn’t give the cake the required time in the oven to bake. We end up with something far short of what we could have had if we were patient.

God uses time to refine us, to prepare us, to make us ready for those blessings he holds in the Delayed Blessing Office until it’s time to send them our way. I don’t like waiting. I really do not. Yet, when I take the time to actually consider God’s delays this way, I see, despite how I may want things to move at a faster pace, the wait is for a good reason.

God’s delayed blessings are proof of his love, not the opposite. God knows when we’re ready to receive his blessings. He knows how long to keep them in the Delayed Blessing Office before he dispenses them.

After all, none of us want to end up like a cake taken from the oven too soon, do we?

O you of little faith,

God has not failed you yet!

When all looks dark and gloomy,

You do so soon forget–

Forget that He has led you,

And gently cleared your way;

On clouds has poured His sunshine,

And turned your night to day.

And if He’s helped you to this point,

He will not fail you now;

How it must wound His loving heart

To see your anxious brow!

Oh! doubt not any longer,

To Him commit your way,

Whom in the past you trusted,

And is just the same today.

selected–Streams in the Desert

Waiting at the door of the Delayed Blessing Office? Me too. Remember. God will not open that door one second too soon, nor one second too late. And that’s a good thing, right?

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But these things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, do not despair, for these things will surely come to pass. Just be patient! They will not be overdue a single day! Habakkuk 2:3 (TLB)

You can find my July Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Photo by Evi Odioko on Unsplash

Love Covers Over All Wrongs

My experience when dealing with the pain and hurts others inflict on us has been to hold onto the pain. Turn it over and over in my mind where it has the opportunity to pull the scab off the wound and re-inflict pain all over again.

Definitely not the best way to deal with such things.

The Bible tells us love covers all wrongs. And, of course, that’s true. The problem I see is we often refuse to allow love to cover all wrongs. We might let it cover some wrongs, but hold onto those we feel don’t deserve to be covered with love’s forgiveness.

Am I the only one who does this? I think not.

With that said, I’d like to share a devotion I recently read in Streams in the Desert.

At midnight I found myself completely unable to sleep. Waves of cruel injustice were sweeping over me, and the covering of love seemed to have been unknowingly removed from my heart. In great agony I cried to God for the power to obey his admonition, ‘Love covers over all wrongs.’

From here the writer explains God’s Spirit began to work the power into her that ultimately brought about forgetfulness.

She mentally dug a grave until the hole was very deep. She lowered the offense that wounded her into the grave. Quickly she shoveled the soil over it. Then she covered the hole with green sod, planted beautiful white roses and forget-me-nots on top, and Briskly walked away.

The wound that seemed so deadly was healed without a scar. God’s love covered the hurt. The pain. The wound. Completely.

So here’s what I receive from this devotion. Perhaps you receive the same. Perhaps you receive something different.

When we cry out to God for help, his Spirit will work in us if we let him. He will bring us peace. When we insist on carrying wounds and refuse his help, peace will elude us.

It’s easier to truly forgive when we rely on God’s help. We might think we’ve forgiven, but quickly realize otherwise when the great deceiver, Satan, dredges up our past hurts.

I love the writer’s description of digging a grave – a very deep grave – to throw our wound into.

The offended did not stand over the open grave rehearsing the hurt. She QUICKLY shoveled dirt over the offense.

Then she planted something beautiful over the grave. She thought on what is lovely, noble, honorable, and of good report. She thought on the things of God.

With that done, she BRISKLY walked away. She didn’t loiter or spend time wondering if forgiving was the right thing to do. She didn’t jab her shovel back into the ground and exhume the hurt. Nope. She walked away.

As she left the wound in the grave, God’s love covered the hurt, and she was completely healed.

There was a scar on yonder mountainside,

Gashed out where once the cruel storm had trod;

A barren, desolate chasm, reaching wide

Across the soft green sod.

But years crept by beneath the purple pines,

And veiled the scar with grass and moss once more,

And left it fairer now with flowers and vines

Than it had been before.

There was a wound once in a gentle heart,

From which life’s sweetness seemed to ebb and die;

And love’s confiding changed to bitter smart,

While slow, sad years went by.

Yet as they passed, unseen an angel stole

And laid a balm of healing on the pain,

Till love grew purer in the heart made whole,

And peace came back again.

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Hate stirs up trouble, but love forgives all offenses. Proverbs 10:12 (GNT)

You can find my January Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Listening To The Voice That Matters

Noise. Confusion. Doubt. Chaos. So much bombards our life making it difficult to know which way to go sometimes. A devotion from Streams in the Desert says we are to be still and listen for God’s clear direction when our path seems uncertain.

“When we are in doubt or difficulty, when many voices urge this course or the other, when prudence utters one advice and faith another, then let us be still, hushing each intruder, calming ourselves in the sacred hush of God’s presence; let us study His Word in the attitude of devout attention; let us lift up our nature into the pure light of His face, eager only to know what God the Lord shall determine—and ere long a very distinct impression will be made, the unmistakable forth-telling of His secret counsel.”

This devotion tells us to take our questions to God. It says if we will get alone with God where the lights and shadows of earth cannot interfere, where human opinions fail to reach, and wait there silent and expectant, even though all around us insists we make an immediate decision or action, the will of God will be made clear.

The world clamors for our attention in light and shadow. Everyone has an opinion and advice they aren’t afraid to share, whether the sharing is done in a healthy way or not.

The world works hard to pull us away from following closely after Jesus. Voices all around us tell us what we should do and how we should do it, often against what God’s Holy Word tells us we should do. At those times, as the Streams in the Desert devotion writer suggests, we are to shut out the intruders, and calm ourselves in God’s truths.

God doesn’t shout to be heard. He doesn’t rush us toward a decision. He doesn’t keep us so active or agitated we can’t hear from him. He doesn’t frighten or push us. Those are the deceiver’s tactics, not God’s.

Just as the sheep know the shepherd’s voice by being still and listening to it, we can know Jesus’ voice in the same way. But first, we must shut out the imposter’s voice.

“STAND STILL,” my soul, for so thy Lord commands: 
E’en when thy way seems blocked, leave it in His wise hands; 
His arm is mighty to divide the wave. 
“Stand still,” my soul, “stand still” and thou shalt see 
How God can work the “impossible” for thee, 
For with a great deliverance He doth save.

Be not impatient, but in stillness stand, 
Even when compassed ’round on every hand, 
In ways thy spirit does not comprehend. 
God cannot clear thy way till thou art still, 
That He may work in thee His blessed will, 
And all thy heart and will to Him do bend.

“BE STILL,” my soul, for just as thou art still, 
Can God reveal Himself to thee; until 
Through thee His love and light and life can freely flow; 
In stillness God can work through thee and reach 
The souls around thee. He then through thee can teach 
His lessons, and His power in weakness show.

“BE STILL”—a deeper step in faith and rest. 
“Be still and know” thy Father knoweth best 
The way to lead His child to that fair land, 
A “summer” land, where quiet waters flow; 
Where longing souls are satisfied, and “know 
Their God,” and praise for all that He has planned.
—Selected

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And if you leave God’s paths and go astray, you will hear a voice behind you say, “No, this is the way; walk here.” Isaiah 30:21 (TLB)

You can find my October Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Pause for Poetry – I Laid it Down in Silence

I Laid it Down in Silence

Frances Ridley Havergal

Selected from Streams in the Desert

I laid it down in silence,

This work of mine,

And took what had been sent me–

A resting time.

The Master’s voice had called me

To rest apart;

“Apart with Jesus only,”

Echoed my heart.

I took the rest and stillness

From His own hand,

And felt this present illness

Was what He planned.

How often we choose labor,

When He says “Rest”–

Our ways are blind and crooked;

His way is best.

Work He Himself has given,

He will complete.

There may be other errands

For tired feet;

There may be other duties

For tired hands,

The present, is obedience

To His commands.

There is a blessed resting

In lying still,

In letting His hand mold us,

Just as He will.

His work must be completed.

His lesson set;

He is the Master Workman:

Do not forget!

It is not only “working.”

We must be trained;

And Jesus “learned” obedience,

Through suffering gained.

For us, His yoke is easy,

His burden light.

His discipline most needful,

And all is right.

We are to be His servants;

We never choose

If this tool or if that one

Our hands will use.

In working or in waiting

May we fulfill

Not ours at all, but only

The Master’s will!

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You can find my October Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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The Power of Stillness

Jesus has been arrested and falsely accused. The high council’s next step is to send him to Pilate. As Pilate interrogates Jesus, Christ refuses to strike back. He refuses to plead his innocence before his accusers. Instead, Jesus displays the power of stillness.

Very early in the morning the leading priests, the elders, and the teachers of religious law—the entire high council—met to discuss their next step. They bound Jesus, led him away, and took him to Pilate the Roman governor.

Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

Jesus replied, “You have said it.”

When the leading priests kept accusing Jesus of many crimes, Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer them? What about all these charges they are bringing against you?”

But Jesus said nothing. Much to Pilate’s surprise.

Now it was the governor’s custom each year during the Passover celebration to release one prisoner—anyone the people requested. One of the prisoners at that time was Barabbas, a revolutionary who committed murder in an uprising.

The crowd went to Pilate and asked him to release a prisoner as usual.

“Would you like me to release to you this ‘King of the Jews’?” Pilate asked. (For he realized by now that the leading priests had arrested Jesus out of envy.)

But at this point the leading priests stirred up the crowd to demand the release of Barabbas instead of Jesus.

Pilate asked them, “Then what should I do with this man you call the king of the Jews?”

They shouted back, “Crucify him!”

“Why?” Pilate demanded. “What crime has he committed?”

But the mob roared even louder, “Crucify him!”

So to pacify the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He ordered Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip, then turned him over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified.

(Mark 15:1-15 NLT)

The day when Jesus stood alone

And felt the hearts of men like stone,

And knew He came but to atone–

That day “He held His peace.”

They witnessed falsely to His word,

They bound Him with a cruel cord,

And mockingly proclaimed Him Lord;

“But Jesus held His peace.”

They spat upon Him in the face,

They dragged Him on from place to place,

They heaped upon Him all disgrace;

“But Jesus held His peace.”

My friend, have you from far much less,

With rage, which you called righteousness,

Resented slights with great distress?

Your Savior “held His peace.”

Taken from Streams in the Desert

The power of stillness.

Oh, that I practiced it to a greater measure than I do and let God answer on my behalf.

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But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed. Mark 15:3 (NIV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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You can find my April Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.