Wednesday, March 28, 2012

When God Redirects

We were in a rush to get ready for church Sunday.  Clothes ironed, breakfast gobbled, diapers changed, hair brushed, bag packed, coffee made, all the details checked off.  We headed out the door a few minutes late and began to make plans.  "Okay, when we get to church, you'll have to visit the potty quickly so that we aren't late for the service."  "I wonder what pastor will be speaking about?"  "Where do we want to go to eat afterward?"

Our van was cruising along the back road, when we heard a voice from the backseat. "OH NO!  I forgot my boots!!"  For a split second, there was silence.  Then, everyone began to speak at once. "What?"  "You forgot your shoes?"  "We can go back to get them."  "We CANNOT go back to get them because we will be too late for church."  Voices mingled and words blurred in chaos.  Silence fell again, and the turn signal was put on for our u-turn.  Irritation clenched between teeth.  Sighs and groans poked up here and there, while the offender kept saying, "I'm sorry I forgot my boots.  When I get home, I will put them in the van for next time we go out."  

Quiet frustration filtered the brain. It wouldn't have been so bad if only we hadn't had to rush to get ready...if only we hadn't had to iron clothes and sharpen pencils for the church bag.  It seemed like a waste of effort, and we were heading back home without our weekly infusion of fellowship and teaching.  Disappointment began to take the place of frustration.

And then a thought came to my mind.  Every time I'm redirected in my plans, I recall the man who was late to work because he had new shoes that were causing blisters, and he stopped to buy some bandaids for his feet.  He wasn't at work in time, and while he was late, the Twin Towers he worked in fell on that September morning.  That story has always impacted me.  We never know God's reasoning, and the very thing we are grumbling about may be the thing that is keeping us out of harm's way.  

Disappointment began to fade into a quiet expectation.  "Okay, Lord, you have obviously redirected our morning.  What wonderful thing to you have planned for us?"  That's it really...  Our plans are human plans...maybe even very good human plans.  But His plans are eternal, full of wisdom.  We have to be willing to release what's in our hands to grasp what is in His.  And, it's often inconvenient and downright frustrating until we let go of our ideas, our views, our very well-laid plans.  Even something as simple as a child forgetting his boots in the garage can be used to redirect, reshape, refocus us.   No detail is too small for Him to use to mold us...and to love us.

By the time we pulled back into our garage, we were all laughing about the crazy trip we had made, all dressed up for church and yet home within 20 minutes!  Everyone piled out of the car, and sweet boy put his boots in the van for the next trip.  With as pretty of a day as it was, we moved our computer onto a table on the front porch to watch an online sermon.  We set up a table for the children to draw while they listened, and we poured snacks for already-hungry tummies.


Whenever we have to stay home from church, we always listen to one of Eric Ludy's sermons.  He goes very deep, and the Holy Spirit has taught us and changed us through Eric Ludy's messages.  As we found the website, I began to anticipate what God had in store for us.  After all, He had gone to some interesting lengths to bring us home for a sermon!  (Have you ever experienced His sense of humor??!!)

And, over the next hour, God taught us through Eric Ludy's message titled "The Burning Heart."  It was indeed the exact word I needed that day.  In fact, it was a custom-made lesson for my own heart...a wrapping-up of several loose threads of lessons He has been teaching me for many months.  I welled up with deepest gratitude for God redirecting our rather stubborn plans.  Does He not say that all things work together for the good of those who love Him?  Why do we doubt it?  Why do we clench fists in tight determination to hold onto what we have planned, when an open hand receives His perfect plans?

Friday, March 9, 2012

A New Song

I have a plant that I always seem to forget to water.  When its leaves are drooping over the side of the pot, I rush to get water.  It's plant 911.  

Waking up this morning, I found my soul like that plant.  Discouraged, tired, dried out, droopy.  The alarm announced 5am, and I contemplated staying in bed.  I climbed down the stairs and sat with my Bible, unopened, next to me.  My list of complaints and irritations poured forth in fragments and run-ons.  

Psalm 149:1
Sing to the Lord a new song,
His praise in the assembly of the godly.

I wasn't in the mood to sing this morning.  What in the world does it mean to sing a new song anyway?  I looked at my notes: "A new song usually denotes dynamic intervention not previously experienced...."  I saw a reference to Isaiah 42:10, another verse that tells us to sing a new song to the Lord.  The note on that verse states: "The expression 'new song' occurs only in Isaiah, Psalms and Revelation.  With only minor exceptions, 'new song' is associated, as here, with the image of God as a warrior.  It is the warrior who causes all things to become new through His refining warfare."

Though there is the thing that brings me discouragement...the prayer that seems to not have an answer...the scar that seems to reopen...the thing that wants to pin me down and suffocate my very soul...  I am to sing a new song to the Lord!  Victory does not depend on me.  There's a warrior who makes all things new.  Even the thing I'm most tired of that seems it will never change...there's a warrior who is bringing dynamic intervention that I have not yet experienced.  I cannot see it with my eyes.  It is grasped only through faith in His faithfulness.  It is the calm assurance that the Maker of the Heavens, the One who gave the ocean its boundaries and fixed the dimensions of the universe, will indeed bring victory to those who fear Him and put their hope in Him.

In Job 38:25-28, He says:
Who cuts a channel
for the flooding rain
or clears the way for lightning
to bring rain on an uninhabited land,
on a desert with no human life,
to satisfy the parched wasteland
and cause the grass to sprout?
Does the rain have a father?
who fathered the drops of dew?

It is HE ALONE who sends the rains to satisfy the parched wasteland and cause the grass to sprout.  The victory, the miracle, the answer already exist IN HIM.  So, I cover myself with the cloak of His grace and settle into Him.  And, with eyes of faith that see a victory that is still over the horizon, I sing a new song to Him...complaints turn to praise...a new melody flows out through my mouth and soul.

The parched land awaits the rain in expectation.  Without a single cloud in the sky, umbrellas are drawn...knowing the first drop is on it's way.