Which Way To Go?

We’ve all had those days at some point in our lives when we look out ahead and literally or figuratively scratch our heads wondering what’s next. Does God care? Does He really have a plan…for me?

Questions?

Questions?

Some of us have experienced several of these moments in life. Others only rarely. We are fortunate, who find ourselves in a place with options. So, where do we find answers? Do we instantly go for what our human will is drawn to? Or do we seek our Maker who tells us in Jeremiah 29:11 “‘I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'”

Does God really care?  Paul tells us to “Cast all your cares on him because he cares for you.” 1Peter 5:7

What about this tree that was pushed over by life’s storms. The trunk looks warn and weathered, even dead. But see how it hung on to life! The trunk is not in a conventional position for a tree, but now it has a half-dozen branches pushing up. It has become it’s own small forest. A vibrant life.

Fresh life from a difficult place.

Fresh life from a difficult place.

These pine trunks and roots did not find much nourishment on the rocks. Nevertheless, they worked with what they were given. They pushed their roots down to find what they needed. Roots of plants and trees can break up rock as they grow and expand. Rain and dirt get trapped in the cracks and provide some of what they need to grow larger and break through more rock. They also extend around the rocks to reach more resources. They persevered and thrived.

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Where there’s a will there’s a way.

Was it easy? I don’t think so. Neither of these trees gave up.

God’s direction and provision is not often easy to discern. Twists and turns are more common than a straight and level path. Yet His promises are faithful and true. And, Our creator is, in all honesty, more interested in us discovering His best for us than we are ourselves.

Our spiritual nourishment comes through the word of God, the Bible.

Direction from God comes through the Bible, and through wise counsel from people who know the word of God and His ways. All the better if they know us well. God also uses circumstances, timing, our own gifts, talents, desires and experiences in life. He uses the failures and the successes! And God gives us peace when we have found His path for us.

“Delight yourself in the Lordand he will give you the desires of your heart.” PS 37:4 As we look to our creator to meet us and guide us, our desires and His will align with His best.

God provided for and protected those trees. Granted, it was not is the way He does for most. But they thrive.

Am I willing to imagine and look outside the box? Are you? The tress did!

Am I willing to persevere looking for God’s best plan for me? Are you? The trees did!

May God bless you with the peace that passes all understanding as you seek Him with you whole heart. 

 

God Is Good, All The Time. All The Time, God Is Good!

The title phrase is not just a pep talk. I know God is good all the time. I have lived those promises over and over. Yet, somehow, some days, in the midst of the stuff of life, it is hard to see how good God is right then, in the midst of it.

My front walk in Massachusetts. By Karen Zanellis

My front walk in Massachusetts. By Karen Zanellis

My house and my friends up north are buried in record feet of snow and record cold. I am in Florida between two separate weekend memorials for my mom who passed in November. Last weekend we celebrated her life with those who knew her in Florida. It is sunny and warm outside here. I go to Michigan, with bitter cold even worse than Boston, for a second memorial this weekend.

I feel conflicted. Torn between the blessing I have to be here in the warm, but I feel the weight of my friends who are under the weight of snow with literally nowhere to put it! I also feel the contrast of celebrating my mom’s life, and missing her terribly.

I already feel keenly the heaviness of my heart as we close the final public chapter on my mom’s life with  the service this coming Saturday. It makes me long for the days of black arm bands for a year. I do not want others to be sad. I would appreciate it though, if people knew I had all this going on inside. Not for the words of condolence, but more as a signal to “handle with care.”

So, how does our good God prove to be truly good when I face these contradictions?

I have built my own personal history of trusting and experiencing the presence of God in many situations. I began small. The opportunities to trust Him have grown in size and number over the years. I have experienced His care for me in innumerable ways. I have learned to trust, to have faith that God and His goodness does show up, sometimes in the least expected ways.

Rather than try to personally fight my way out of the challenges and the pain, I have learned to sit back. I breathe. I begin to thank God that though we have not been in this particular place before, we have been in a lot of places somewhat similar to this before. And every time God has proved to be good…sooner or later.

Sometimes when I slow down and breathe, I think of a scripture or hear a song that reminds me of God’s presence and provision. Other times I consciously choose to look for His goodness. Every time I have come through better and stronger, because: God is good, all the time, All the time, God is good!

When the goodness of God is not immediately clear, what do you do to reconnect with this truth?

In Your personal history with God, how has he proven to be good? Sometimes hind sight is 20/20.

Please share. I enjoy hearing from you! 

I Want To Stand On The Rock

Let me begin with the disclosure that I’m the middle child in my family of origin. Middle children tend to be the peace makers and the “responsible” child. The one who tries to “fix it,” whatever “it” may be. We are often called the Rock of the family. Middle children generally stay calm in a crisis, comforting and directing the others. But, I Don’t want to Be the rock, I want to stand on the rock.

Able to with stand life's storms, the Nubble Lighthouse, York ME.

Able to withstand life’s storms, the Nubble Lighthouse, York ME.

I find the reverberations of the death of my Mom, (Dad passed 10 years ago,) have forever altered my life. Don’t get me wrong. It is well with my soul, however, when she was alive, I was not aware how much she served as a point of reference for me. It has been destabilizing. Not in an unhealthy way, but in many practical ways.

Now that she is gone, I am slowly reorienting. Knowing that I am safe in Abba’s care is the greatest assurance when I have new responsibilities and choices.

Being the Rock is too big a responsibility for any human. It is wise to give that job back to the one who never left His post in the first place. I’d like to think I can be the calm middle child in the crisis because I am firmly on the Rock. Our Creator does more than make promises to care for us and give us wisdom. He fulfills all the promises He made.

So, when I face challenging circumstances or seasons, I remember that I am not the rock, but my foundation can not be moved because I am built on the rock of my salvation. I ask God to help me re-frame my circumstances for me so I can see better from His perspective.

King David put it clearly in 2 Samuel 22 

David sang to the Lord the words of this song when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. He said:

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
    my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
    my shield  and the horn of my salvation.
He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior—
    from violent people you save me.

“I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise,
    and have been saved from my enemies.
The waves of death swirled about me;
    the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
The cords of the grave coiled around me;
    the snares of death confronted me.

“In my distress I called to the Lord;
    I called out to my God.
From his temple he heard my voice;
    my cry came to his ears.

17 “He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.

18 He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
    from my foes, who were too strong for me.
19 They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
    but the Lord was my support.
20 He brought me out into a spacious place;
    he rescued me because he delighted in me.

32 For who is God besides the Lord?
    And who is the Rock except our God?

47 “The Lord lives! Praise be to my Rock!
    Exalted be my God, the Rock, my Savior!

What are you facing today? 

I thank you creator of us all, that you know what we are made of and how much we can handle. I thank you that you promise to not give us more than we can handle…with your to help. 

Please give me courage to stand on You 

Thank you for being the unshakable and unchangeable Rock. Thank you being my foundation and my hope! 

“Never Doubt In The Dark …

“Never Doubt In The Dark What God Told You In The Light.”― V. Raymond Edman

Fog and rain in the morning.

Fog and rain in the morning, obscuring the sunrise.

This photo sums up what I hear many of my friends are experiencing these days. I am there too in many ways. I am tempted to feel both rudderless and with out a compass. Even if I had a rudder or compass I am not quite sure where I am going in this season because I have never been here before.

It is times like these I fight the temptation to speed up. Have you ever been lost and decided to go faster to try to find a land mark or some sign of hope to direct you? Unfortunately, that is how I tend to work when I am left to my own devises.

I have learned to try and find a slower, deeper breath than the rapid shallow ones common to stress or panic.

Then, I talk to God.

Years of reading the Bible, and experiences of walking with God and with God’s people has taught me a few things. NOW is the time to slow down, breathe and listen to my heart, my experiences with God and the many promises from His word.

I try to mentally, emotionally and spiritually circle around to where I last had clear direction. It is a lot like pulling over on the side of the road and pulling out the map.

I have no intention of staying there for long. I want to be there just long enough to remember one of my life long favorite quotes:

“Never doubt in the DARK what God told you in the LIGHT.”― V. Raymond Edman

So, I go back to the basics. You may have other promises you prefer.

Who am I? 2 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

Who do I belong to? John 15:16a Jesus said, “You did not choose me, but I chose you…”

What am I made for? What are my higher purposes? John 15:16b “…and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.”

What is truly important? Who is truly important? Philippians 3:8b-10 “that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—…. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.”

What have I previously experienced that relates to my current circumstances? Philippians 3:9b “the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.” I look back over my life and remember the history I have built in my relationship with God. How did God meet me and bring me though in difficult or unclear circumstances in the past?

I ask God to remind me of His many promises to me, (and to each of us.) Jeremiah 29: 11 “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.'”

And as I begin to remember all these and other promises, the light begins to break though the darkness.

The light begins to break though.

The light begins to break though.

I have taken my focus off of me and the fog, and lifted it to the one who made me and who sees right through the fog bank. Once I am reoriented, I can step out again. I do not often have a detailed map, but I have enough clarity of mind that God will take me where He wants me as I keep looking and listening to Him. We go together one day, even one step at a time.

Please take a few moments to remember:

How has God met you and brought you though difficult or unclear circumstances in the past? Give thanks for what He has done. Worship our creator as the one who is Faithful and True!*

 

* Name of Jesus in Revelation 3:14 & 19:11