Struggles

Steel Rods (and why they do not belong in a marriage)

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I could almost feel the hot, molten metal filling my spine. At first, came the searing heat of anger.

“You can’t tell me what to do!”

“Who do you think you are, anyway?”

“If you love me, you would consider my point of view.”

The red, liquid metal hardened to solid, unyielding steel as the days passed and my thoughts frequently turned to the topic of debate. I felt my heart harden right along with my spine. I wasn’t moving. We had come to an impasse, my husband and I.

What were we going to do about it?  Because– did I mention this already?–I wasn’t moving.

I felt a flutter of discomfort–perhaps the Holy Spirit–move in me. I ignored it. I went on with my daily activities like everything was fine. As did my husband. Every now and then we would try to talk about it.  And get nowhere. Finally, I think we both gave up.

A couple of weeks later, we were able to talk more about it.  I was able to state my valid points in a kind and open way, instead of with an angry finality. I think he really did hear me and we came to an agreeable understanding about the topic, for the most part.

But I still couldn’t pray. Any efforts at prayer couldn’t get beyond the white ceiling above my head. What was wrong, Lord? Why didn’t I feel at peace with You?

I tried to figure it out. My mind glossed over the steel rod already hardened somewhere deep within. It couldn’t be that.

“Lord, you have to understand.  I know my husband is the leader, but…You can only expect so much, Lord.”

My excuses went on inside my head for a day or two. But I knew what was keeping me from fellowship with God. I finally submitted to Him and to my husband’s leadership. When I had confessed  my sin, I prayed that God would provide a private moment with my husband so that I could apologize. God graciously granted me this often scarce blessing almost immediately and I humbly apologized to my husband.

Did that mean I had changed my opinion about the topic we had heatedly disagreed on? No, not even a bit. But I found that discussing my very strong feelings on this subject with kindness and openness and listening ears made a huge difference in not only that one particular conversation but in the status of our relationship. Instead, I had chosen to plant my feet in concrete and had single-handedly launched our marriage into some very difficult weeks.

I am sharing my experience here as a wife with her husband.  But, let’s not forget that men do this, too.   Men, please do not use your God-given role as leader to excuse a steel rod within you. Speaking words like “I am the leader, you are to be submissive and do as I say” will build a high wall between you and your wife before you can even spit out that sentence. Your wife is quite familiar with that steel rod of yours. And she feels quite lonely and unloved because of it. If you love your wife, show her how important she is by asking for her thoughts and opinions on things. Show her you care enough to listen.

There is just no room for steel rods in either spouse in a godly marriage. Steel rods make for very lonely people living in the same house. If something is so important that you are willing to sacrifice the health of your marriage on the altar of it, you’d better make sure it is worthy of that sacrifice. Did your wife ask you to lie on your tax return?  Did your husband ask you to steal something?  It had better be that serious.

We need to lovingly listen to one another.  And when we come to an impasse or a disagreement that just can’t be bridged, then the husband needs to lovingly assert his God-given authority and the women needs to humbly submit to that authority.*

And don’t forget to pray together.  And pray for each other. If you and your spouse are struggling through something and you feel really strongly about it, speak softly** and pray that your husband or wife would really hear you.  And be humble enough to ask the Lord to show you if you are the one who needs to change your mind.

Love, kindness, and humility bring not only a lasting marriage but a healthy marriage. Let’s strive to have healthy, long-lasting marriages. Let’s show the world that marriages modeled after God’s Word are not only different but, oh, so rewarding!

*Ephesians 5:22-33: 22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body,[d] of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”[e] 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

**Proverbs 15:1:   A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Saving the Peach Cobbler

So…which is better?  To try and fail?  Or to never try at all?

My daughter and I had decided to make a homemade dessert for dinner Saturday night.  We had just spent an hour peeling peaches and mixing dough.  The Peach Cobbler looked yummy!  I picked it up…Oh, no!…I forgot the peaches had already been in the oven for a few minutes!…that dish is hot!…CRASH!  Hot peaches and gooey dough landed on the oven door and spilled over onto the floor.

Are there words to describe the disappointment in that brief moment?  All that work…for nothing.  I looked at my daughter.  She looked at me.  I finally shrugged my shoulders.  It is what it is.   Having no better tools to work with, I took a spatula and scraped the mixture of peaches, sugar, cinnamon, and flour on the oven door back into the baking dish.  And then we got the rest of the sticky mess off of the floor.

I got off my knees when we were all done and ruefully looked at that peach cobbler.  But, wait…sure- it didn’t look good…but a seed of a thought was forming in my brain…how would it taste?…what could it hurt?   I put the whole unappetizing mess in the oven.

While it was a little funny-looking, it tasted really good and we ate almost the whole thing at dinner that night.

We tried.  We failed.  We made the best of it.

I tried something else a couple of weeks ago.  A new ministry for me.  I had a lot of hesitation.  I did not think it would be a good fit for me.  I was right.

I tried.  I failed.  How do you make the best of something like that?  I have been trying to figure that out for awhile now.  But I think one way is to share with you what I learned from that experience–

–I learned that, without a doubt, that ministry is not for me.  If I  had not tried it, I would have always wondered.  Unless you try something, you can’t really KNOW.

–I learned that people will judge you for certain decisions you make.  But they do not have all of the details.   This failure has encouraged me not to judge others when they make a decision and I do not know the full story.

–I learned that I am getting older.   That wasn’t really a very nice thing to learn.  But there you are.  I have to accept my limitations.  We all do.

–I learned that you have to do what is right.  And sometimes that means QUIT.  Which is a four letter word in our family.  A hard thing to come to terms with.

–And I learned that I need to serve in areas where I am gifted.  We all do.  And if we do that, then we will be like the church body that Paul describes in I Corinthians 12.  We will all have different areas in which we serve and together we will make a difference for God’s Kingdom.

So…in the long run…was trying and failing better than not trying at all?  I am still not sure.  The wounds are a little fresh yet.  But would I do it differently?  No, probably not.  As painful of a time as that was, I did learn some valuable lessons I would not have learned any other way.

Roller Coaster Ride

Somehow my son and I had chosen the wrong line. We had chosen the line for “single” riders to go in the front car.  This was not good.  He was about 8, so I wasn’t planning on going on this Monster Coaster without him.   But, despite my plans, here we were.  We were each going alone.  I will never forget getting to the top of that steep incline, in the front of the highest coaster I had ever been on, not being able to even see the track in front of me, the drop was that drastic.  I glanced out over the beautiful scene spread out below me for a second and then…off I went on one of the wildest amusement park rides of my memory.

I have felt a little like life is like this.  We get a split-second to enjoy the blessings…and then we are off on another wild ride.  Sometimes when the ride is over, the scenery is the same.  Most often, though, it is not.  While on the ride, someone we love is gone from our life or we have had to move to a different town or change jobs.  And sometimes the ride is actually a good thing…a new baby or a wedding.   But one way or another, we usually do not return to the same life we started in.

And sometimes…we get on rides we just didn’t want to go on.   We kick and scream…but there we are…locked into that rollercoaster car, high above everything, with no path of escape.

For some reason, this week I have been thinking about the Jews during the Holocaust who were taken away in the train cars.  Many of them were quite cultured and very wealthy.  And, when very gradually, they realized they were the target of a madman, it was too late for many of them to leave Germany.  And, all of a sudden, many of them were thrown onto a roller coaster ride that was their last one.

But, did you notice, no matter how terrible or tragic the ending–a roller coaster ride does end?  It does not last forever.  You do get off.  Sure, sometimes you get right back on…but sometimes you get a breather.

But this is life.  We have to face it.  We can’t live on last year’s roller coaster.  We can’t waste time dreaming about future roller coasters.  We need to appreciate and grow from the roller coaster we are on now.   Right now.  At this moment.  Because you all are on some sort of ride.  Maybe it is a milder ride…maybe it is wild and crazy.  But at the end of whatever ride you are on…your children will be older, you will be a little bit (or a lot) different, and the scenery will have shifted just a bit.

Let’s all hang on and try to enjoy it as best we can!

Things I wish I would’ve known when I was 20

20I was thinking the other day of some of the things that, had I known them when I was 20, would have made life much more enjoyable.    Here are some of the things I would tell my naive 20 year old self, if it was possible-

1.  Let it roll. If someone says something that offends you or doesn’t buy you a gift (even though you bought them one) or steals your boyfriend or simply says something that just irritates you just let it roll. Because life is just too short for grudges.

2. The greatest personal satisfaction comes from giving–not getting.

3. You are not overweight! Just because you don’t look like a magazine cover or a movie star doesn’t mean you are overweight. Appreciate the body you have now, because it won’t last.

4. Stepping out of your comfort zone will often yield incredible rewards.

5. Appreciate your parents. They have given more of themselves than you could ever realize. Don’t take that for granted. Don’t be so wrapped up in your own affairs that you forget they have feelings, too.

6. Expect good times less often. Appreciate them much more.

7. Don’t assume you know why someone is acting or reacting in a certain way. It is hard enough to understand your own motives, much less someone else’s.

8. Face your fears head-on!

9.  You don’t need a loan to buy a car or a piece of furniture. Live on what you make.

10. Just because someone tells you your nose is too big or your feet are too small, doesn’t mean its true. Find your worth in Jesus Christ, not in the opinions of others.

11. Money doesn’t make you happy.

12.  Don’t dwell on your fears and worrisome details of life. Figure it out as best you can, do what you can to resolve the problem, pray hard, and then think about something else.

13. You will blink and life will be half over. Savor every single moment of it.

This list certainly isn’t exhaustive. Feel free to comment below and add some of the things you wish you would have known!

Floating the right direction

It was so HOT.  Even in the mountains.  So we grabbed some tubes and headed to the creek.  We were floating gently along, feeling the warm sunshine on our faces, when I felt someone bump into me.   My good friend had purposely pushed her husband’s tube away from hers inadvertently towards me.  She quipped, “I meant to push him away but not towards another woman!”  and we joked about the symbolism of that and I told her it would probably end up in one of my blogs.  And here it is!

I couldn’t let that one go.  We do that, don’t we?  We gently push our spouse away.  We don’t plan to push them towards someone else’s arms.  That is truly not our intention.  Perhaps we just are struggling through something we don’t want to share with them (which is never a good idea, anyway) or maybe we tend to be more solitary and like to be alone or maybe we work too much or focus too much on the kids instead of our spouse.

Sometimes we just would rather watch TV than listen to our best friend talk about his golf game or her trip to the mall.  We are too lazy to get up off the chair and look at something they created or fixed or found.

Or perhaps we have become much more comfortable at sharing the negative about them and the positive about others.   When men tell their wives they are too fat or too skinny or their feet or nose are too big…that is like giving his wife a giant push away from him.  And when a wife tells her husband that “you don’t know what you’re doing” or jokes about his faults in front of their friends…she is doing the same.   We need to be so very careful with our words.

And, finally, one day, after years of bad communication patterns, we wake up and our spouse is in someone else’s arms.  They are looking towards someone else to meet their needs for love and respect and passion.   If they aren’t needed at home then they will go somewhere else.  It happens over and over again…each and every day.  It is one of the most tragic events in existence.  Families crumble, children suffer.

A successful marriage takes so much work.   And we make choices to keep our spouse close or to push them away every day.  Every marriage goes through cycles, but if it is made up of only pushing away it means your inner tubes are floating further and further away from each other.  And the further you float away, the harder it is–the more work it is– to swim back towards each other again.

But it is worth the work!  No matter where you find yourself.  And today is a good day to start!  If you have been struggling giving attention to your spouse, make today a new beginning!  Listen to them today.  Be kind.  And keep that inner tube close to yours, before they float away out of sight!

5 Things We Can Learn from Children

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The other night my daughter was babysitting a one year old. The adorable little girl came into our home, looked around, and made herself at home. She smiled at all of us, started eating the dinner that was being fed to her, and was content. It led to a conversation at our dinner table about how little children can just come into a strange home and feel right at home and how we, as adults, can’t do that. It got me thinking about a few things we can learn from children who are blissfully unaware of all of the social implications of their actions–

1)  No pretensions.  Have you ever talked with a little child? They are who they are. They are not strutting around pretending to be someone they are not. There is no wondering if the child is upset or happy or angry. We always know, don’t we? There hasn’t been years of wall-building and hypocrisy to dig our way through. While I am not suggesting it is healthy to express our emotions at every opportunity, I am suggesting that I think this world and our churches would benefit greatly if we would stop trying to impress one another. So many of us have built these thick walls around our hearts and lives. What would happen if we would tear our walls down and get real?

2) Live in the Moment. Have you ever seen a little guy dance to a tune that was playing? It is a joy to see the little legs bouncing up and down, as they try to move to the beat. But somewhere along the way, we forget to dance. We forget to enjoy the moment. We get wrapped up in taking kids to soccer, in paying the bills, in doing the housework. You know the old saying–Stop and smell the roses? Perhaps we should do that more often in life. Just stop and enjoy the moment. Enjoy watching the birds in your backyard. Enjoy petting your dog for a moment.  Watch your child chase butterflies and hunt bugs. Stop and really watch your husband wrestling with the kids. Grab a hand and dance joyfully to the song playing. These are beautiful moments the Lord gives us. Let’s not take them for granted. Those fleeting moments are what make up  the tapestry of our vaporous lives.

3) Eat until your full. Children do not continue to stuff themselves after they are full.  They only eat when they are hungry.  They obey the mechanism that God so intelligently designed and when their bellies feel hungry, they eat. And when they feel full, they stop eating. Somewhere along the way, many of us have stopped obeying that mechanism. It’s breakfast time? Then I have to eat, even if I am not hungry. I am at a party with a table full of delicious food? I have to try some, even if I just ate a complete meal before I came. I wonder what would happen if, as adults, we continued to obey our hungry and full signals?

4) Don’t Let the Fear of Others’ Opinions Rule You.  Some of my favorite “mommy” moments were when I could get my babies to start giggling. They would give this big belly laugh, filling my heart with pure joy. They didn’t worry what anyone was thinking about them.  They didn’t worry about if they were cool or look around, wondering if someone noticed that they “snorted”. Because it didn’t matter.  They were having fun! So often, we let the fear of others’ reactions dominate our choices. While I understand that we do need to be concerned about others and about our Christian testimony, sometimes we may be concerned about unimportant things. Does it really matter if the neighbor thinks you are crazy for catching fireflies at dusk? Does it really matter if you play a game and people make fun of how you run (personal experience on that one!)? Does it really matter if you fall on the ice? Or if your hair gets wet?  So often we let the fear of people’s opinions and reactions keep us from enjoying our lives.

5) Be okay with the way God made you. Ever see a baby wear make-up? Or get plastic surgery?   So, let’s be honest. If you are like me–aging quickly–you are not feeling so adorable. Many of us won’t even leave the house without make-up. But why not? Why do we feel the need to have something on our faces to face the public? Why do so many feel the need to enlarge or reduce areas of their body through plastic surgery? Why isn’t the way God made us good enough? Instead of being grateful for the incredible body God designed, we complain that our noses are too large, our hair is too curly, our legs are too short, our hips, too narrow or too wide. But children are not conscious of this yet. They just are.  Sometimes I wish we could appreciate the amazing body we have been given without the constant attitude of criticism that almost every woman (and man??) feels when they look in the mirror.

Unfortunately, real life takes its toll and, sooner rather than later, we all learn some pretty hard lessons. People can’t be trusted. The way I look isn’t good enough. You know the dialogue. But perhaps we can learn just a few things from the children in our lives.

Just a thought for today…

On love and respect…and tone of voice

The other day, as I was shopping in the store, I heard a woman’s voice say, “You bring too much junk food into the house.  You have to stop it”.  Or something like that.  But her TONE of voice said “You stupid idiot, what is wrong with you?! ”  I turned to see who she was speaking to and found an older couple.  The woman was speaking in this condescending, holier-than-thou, tone to her husband, who was shuffling behind her with his head down.  What is wrong with this picture?  This is one of many times I have seen a person treat someone who should be…at one time probably was…the love of their life with condescension and unkindness.

Have you ever seen spouses treat each other like this?  Have you ever treated your spouse like this?  I know I have.  I recognized the tone of voice the woman was using, because, sadly, I have used it on occasion.   But if we get in the habit of treating our spouse this way, we are essentially adding bricks to a wall that will grow taller and stronger with each incident.  And, if we are not careful, it will end up casting a dark shadow over the relationship, eventually drowning out the light.  We need to constantly be on guard against treating our spouses in this way.

And this goes for your private moments, too–just because you are a model wife or husband in public does not mean you are treating them with love and respect at home.  Many is the couple who look so happy on the outside, but their true relationship is quite the opposite.   And, oftentimes, the breakdown in these relationships started when we stopped treating one another with respect and kindness.

The other day, I came across a couple I had never met.  The woman had to leave for a moment and the husband proceeded to spout off several unkind remarks about his wife, then rolled his eyes when he told me they had been married 50 years.  I got the impression that he felt like the last 50 years had been a mild form of torture.  The only thing that made him light up was when I asked about his grandkids.  When the woman returned, she gave me the impression that she was unpleasant and bossy.  From the outside, it looks as if this couple has lost all respect and love for one another.  It was heart-breaking.  I wonder if all of those years of treating one another with disrespect and unkindness had changed a couple who had pledged to love one another for eternity to two people that couldn’t stand one another?

If this is something you struggle with (and, if we are honest, many of us do, at least on occasion), why not sit down and have a heart to heart with your spouse and ask them if they feel like they are loved and respected?  And, if not, why not?  Find out if your words have degraded them…discouraged them…disheartened them.  And if they work up the courage to be completely honest with you, do not make excuses.   Do not grow defensive.   Listen carefully.  Apologize.

Treat your spouse with love and respect.  Honor them.  Be grateful for the way God made them.  Remember why you fell in love.  And, in the process, let’s be a shining example of marriage as God created it.  Let’s show the world that it is possible to be in love for a lifetime!

Ephesians 5:22-33

In a Heartbeat

I can’t help but remember that last year at this time my uncle was rushed to the hospital after a tragic accident.  By the end of January, he was with the Lord.  I know of another woman who lost her battle with cancer this year.   And several others who are fighting the battle of their lives against the “C” enemy.   This time each year, I can’t help but look around me and thank the Lord for granting me another year to spend with my family and friends that are still here on earth.  Because life can change.  In a heartbeat.

I think we so often get caught up in the things that irritate us about those we love.   Or maybe we focus on the political or spiritual disagreements we have with others.  But, if  we stop and think for just a moment…we realize that if that person wasn’t with us next year, we would miss them dreadfully.  We need to remember to be thankful for the people in our lives.   Because life can change.  In a heartbeat.

Instead, we so often let things fester.    Ephesians 4:26 says not to let the sun go down upon your wrath.  How many of us obey that command from scripture and never go to bed angry?   How many of us would rather hold on to our pride than heal a relationship?   Or how many of us speak before thinking and say something unkind, not thinking of the hurt we are inflicting?   Why do we make such a big deal out of the little things?  What if that person was no longer here?  Think of how ridiculous you would feel about holding such stupid grudges.

You see, we only live once.  And life is too short to hold grudges and have broken relationships.  The holidays are a time for family.  And lots of times families are the ones who irritate us the most.  But I encourage you to let the annoying things roll right off of your back– don’t hang onto them.  Yes, this can sometimes be hard to do.  But as you practice it more and more it will become easier.  Instead, turn your thoughts towards the good things.  The love that you have.  What you have in common.  The way that person has been a blessing to you.  Because life is short.  And life changes.  In a heartbeat.

Psalm 104:14-16   As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes. For the wind passes over it, and it is gone, And its place remembers it no more.

My Personal Battle

I am at war.  With food.  This battle has raged for most of my adult life but has taken on extra intensity as I have approached middle age.   TVs, movies, magazines, and websites are filled with gorgeous, shapely women who are without an extra pound of fat anywhere on their bodies.   We are bombarded by articles and commercials on how to lose weight.  There is an unspoken rule in our culture that to be beautiful you must be thin.   This time of year we are bombarded with a variety of mixed message because food plays such an important role in our holiday celebrations.  We see tons of TV shows and articles with recipes and directions for making delicious, high calorie food and then are told how not to eat it.

In the recent years, there has been much more of an emphasis on healthy living versus dieting, and I think that is a great trend.  Because, after all, isn’t that so much more important?  Can we truly live our best if we are out of breath when we climb the stairs?  Or if we have to spend our money on medications that treat diseases we could avoid by being at a healthy weight?

So what does the scripture say about food?  Are cookies and cake evil?  Are we commanded to spend an inordinate amount of time on working out and eating right?  What is the balance?  I found a few verses and I want to be very careful not to take them out of context.  But I think there are a few basic principles we can glean from these verses:

1.)  Overeating is sinful.  To eat more than we need is not only unhealthy but it is sinful.  When we eat more than our bodies require, we are gluttons.  I only give one example below, but God uses drunkards and gluttons in the same sentence more than once in Proverbs.  I don’t know about you, but I find this very convicting.  Often is the time I have reached for that extra cookie or snack when I wasn’t the least bit hungry.  That is a sin??  I believe the Bible says it is.

Do not mix with winebibbers, or with gluttonous eaters of meat; For the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and drowsiness will clothe a man with rags. (Proverbs 23:20-21)

2)   There are not “good” foods or “bad” foods.  I know this will be a huge source of contention with some of you who read this.  But, I think there are several scripture passages that confirm this.  It is not so much about what we eat, as it is about how much we eat of it.   Now, to clarify, there is an over-consumption of highly processed, high-sugar, refined products in our culture that render little, if any, nutritional benefits.  Perhaps if there are any foods that could be labeled “bad”, it would be these.  Partaking of these occasionally is not going to ruin your health.  Partaking of these on a daily basis will.  We are required to be good stewards of our body.  We need to take responsibility and not live in default mode.  We need to eat a variety of all kinds of food.  And, yes, contrary to what may be popular belief, God did create sugar cane.  And He knew that a woman somewhere in history would create a pie…cookies…cake.   These things aren’t wrong in and of themselves.  It is in the over-consumption of them that we move into the realm of sin.

But food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we do not eat are we the worse. (I Corinthians 8:8)

3)  The battle I wage with food distracts me from my spiritual walk.  When I focus too much on food–which is shown when I am gluttonous and spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about what I will eat OR when I count every single calorie and obsess about everything I put in my mouth and spend hours working out– I am not able to focus on the things that really matter.  The bottom line is that God put food on this earth to sustain us and for us to enjoy in the proper balance.  When that balance is tipped one way or the other, I move into an area where it distracts me from my true purpose on this earth.

Then He said to His disciples, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. (Luke 12:22-23)

This battle has raged on inside my head for many years.  Most women (and men, too) naturally gain some weight around their middles during middle age.  Is this sinful?  Or is this how God created our bodies to be?  I don’t really know the answer to this.  I do know, however, that I have a responsibility to keep my body in tip-top shape to the best of my ability…not so I can meet worldly standards, but so I can maximize the amount of time I have on the earth to glorify God and spread the Gospel.   But I have to admit…I look forward to not having to worry about it in Heaven!  While here on earth, I know I will always find food a source of temptation.   But I also know that in this weakness, God can show HIS strength.

GPS vs. the Map

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We were on our way to the beach. Attached to our truck was our 5th wheel camper. My husband decided to go a different way he had heard about from one of his customers–supposedly a more scenic route. We had traveled it twice before but were not really all that familiar with it. We did not have a map along. We had a GPS along. He figured he could figure it out with the little machine that talks.

Wrong.

As we turned off of our much traveled path, I expressed my hesitancy. I was comforted by his assurances that he would definitely be able to figure it out. However, as we traveled along the road, the landmarks became increasingly unfamiliar. We were drawn further and further into major suburbia– not the place you want to be with a 5th wheel attached to your truck!

The problem came when the GPS did not have the same directions in mind that my husband did. The GPS did not know we had a camper attached and was taking us through areas we did not really want to go; areas in which it was extremely difficult to maneuver with a camper attached to you.

Finally, we stopped and bought a map and tried to figure it out. In the meantime, it started to rain–and not just a few drops. It was a downpour of the most severe kind–the kind of rain that it’s hard enough to get where you need to go when you know where you’re going, much less when you have no idea where you are going! Put a couple of kids in the backseat with their accompanying comments, and you can start to imagine the situation. It was not good. (And we didn’t handle it real well…but we won’t discuss that here!)

We did eventually figure it out. After we had crossed the bridge over the Delaware River into familiar territory, I took a close look at the map to see where we had gone wrong. From that perspective I could see exactly what we had done and what the GPS was thinking.  And, we realized, that at one point, had we listened to the GPS, it would have gotten us out of the mess we were in. But we no longer trusted the little talking machine to guide us.

Sometimes it would be nice to have a map of our lives. From that perspective we could see the roads, rivers, mountains, and curves. We could see that, while we may have taken a detour, we are at least headed in the right direction. But, we don’t have a map, and just like we got stuck in the mire of traffic, rain, and confusion on our way to the beach, so we get stuck in the emotion, sin, and confusion in our own lives. Sometimes we feel like we have no idea where we are going. But God knows. He knows exactly the path in which He will lead us through our lives. He knows the sinful choices we will make and He knows the godly choices we will make. He knows the parents, the kids, the siblings, and the friends we will have before we are even born. He knows the jobs we will hold. He knows the vacations we will take. He knows the tragedies we will experience and He knows the moments of joy we will experience. Nothing is outside the border of God’s map of our lives. He knows what will happen even before it happens.

I don’t know about you, but I find that comforting. Sometimes when I am facing the unknown and my life is full of question marks, it is good to know that nothing is a question mark to God. If we have acknowledged we are sinners and saved by grace alone, if we are living according to His Word and commandments, and truly allowing Him to direct our paths, we can rest assured knowing that He will be there to guide us in every step. His word tells us that there is no place we can go that He won’t be with us. And His forgiveness awaits us when we cave to that familiar sin. What an amazing comfort to those of us who truly love the God who saved us!

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.

Romans 8:38  For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Ephesians 1: 6-8 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.  In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence,

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