Monday, September 29, 2014

Where Are We Going?

As with many highways across our nation, they are under construction.  As I travel to and from work every day, I can't remember a time when the road hasn't been under construction.  Day in and day out, we wait for the construction to be done so that we won't have to dodge cones and barriers, and enjoy a smooth ride.

For some reason, this became extremely evident to me this past week.  The portable signs shared that we had a "New Travel Direction".  Wow, I got excited.  Here is what we have been waiting for.  As the commuter traffic veered towards a new route, nothing much seemed to change.  Yes, we veered to the right versus the left, but we were still two lanes, there were still cones to dodge.  I kept trying to figure out what had been done - why are we going to the right, why are the cones still up, what are they trying to accomplish . . . .  The questions seemed to continue to wander through my mind.  I'm not kidding, it was about 10 minutes I kept thinking about this.

Then it hit me - Susan, there is nothing you can do to change this!  You need to take this road to work and I'm sure that when all the work is done, there will be a better road.  Why are you trying to understand every detail of this work?  It is not something I am proficient at - civil engineering is not my forte.  Yet, I was spending a great deal of time and energy on this.

Once I realized it was not mine to understand that morning, I said to myself, "God, you know better than me," and I let it go.  What happened next in my mind was stronger than I have experienced in some time - how many times in my life have I tried to understand the situation versus trusting God?  How many times have I forced an understanding , "This must be happening because of _____," or "This has to make sense - it must be _______."  I will then put my belief and trust into my OWN understanding of the situation versus letting it go and trusting that GOD has the true understanding.  

I realize I do that often.  Rationalize, justify - whether it is a situation or a decision.  Yet, what I can do better is to give the situation to God, and trust in Him and His will, which far surpasses any understanding I can have.  In the "road construction" of life, God's understanding and guidance of a situation is far greater than mine.  Yet, I will many times rely on my OWN understanding first - and many times -  my OWN understanding can get me into trouble.  I may understand incorrectly, leading to assumptions, judgements, and sin.

If I left situations up to God's understanding - realizing that I need not understand every situation and just pray for guidance, I would have God in my corner and not the devil.  I would much rather have God with me any day!!  I tried to do more of that during the week that followed ahead.  In situations when I didn't understand what was going on and the WHY behind it- I gave it to God.  I said to Him, "You know what I don't God.  Please guide me to respond to YOUR will, not mine."  This doesn't mean that I didn't have frustrations during my week, but I let go of them much quicker. I didn't hold on to them, and I had a more peaceful week.

Try it with me.  When you are faced with a situation and NEED to have answers, NEED to have understanding - give it to God.  Pray the following prayer, "I give this situation to you, God.  I don't need to understand, I just need to respond in the way YOU want me to respond.  Give me peace and the wisdom to do YOUR will."   Let me know how it goes!  It is hard not to always have a clear understanding.  Yet, when we KNOW and have the SIMPLE FAITH that God DOES know, that He DOES understand, we can rest assured that the situation is in the best hands possible - God's hands.

"Trust in The Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding."  (NIV)  Proverbs 3:5

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Master Weaver

Tomorrow is the first day of Fall.  Yes, truly the best season of the year - especially if you live in New England.  Cool crisp weather, beautiful trees, magnificent mums, apple picking season, pumpkins on the doorstep; the list of "goodness" just goes on and on and on.  Anyone who knows me knows that this is truly the season I live for every year.

As I spent time this past week trying to see all of God's wonderful blessings in my life, I couldn't help but continue to see the Master Weaver in practice.  Whether it was the apple weaved into a place mat on my kitchen table, or a patch of beautiful leaves turning color amongst the green, it seemed as if God was showing me how he weaves wonderful items of beauty into our lives.  

It made me think about all of the blessings God has wonderfully weaved into my life.  The people that have become such a strong influence and source of comfort amongst difficult times.  The highs and the lows that I have experienced through personal strife and tribulations.  The incredible family that I have and how they are such an integral part of my life.  It has been as if God has taken a huge loom and just started weaving all of the experiences I have had into what is known as my life.

God does that, doesn't He?  He is able to see and know what we need at every moment in our lives and provides just what is needed.  Does that mean that each day is going to be one of comfort?  No - not even close!  Does it mean that we won't struggle and have tough times?  I don't know about you - but there have certainly been struggles in my life!  What does it mean?  It means that each and every moment - the easy and rough; the good and bad; the highs and lows; are all intricately weaved into each day - our Lord knowing that one moment would weave perfectly into the next.

This image of the Master Weaver also led me to the times in my life when my personal choices - the bad ones - led to my life unravelling.  When I followed my path, my choices, my decisions that were not God driven, I found my moments not so well weaved, but it was as if someone took a piece of thread and pulled until there was nothing left.  That feeling of emptiness is also something I have experienced.  To know that the choice that I made led me to a place of despair.  

Yet - those places of despair were, once again, repaired into a beautiful tapestry.  This ONLY happened when I went to my Dear Lord in prayer, knowing that if I submersed myself in God's word and put my trust into His hands, my life would, once again, become a life of beauty.  How many times I have turned from my God's purpose in my life?  How many times I must have disappointed him?  How many times He must have said, "Again, Susan??"  Yet, no matter how many times I may have turned from choices and decisions rooted in Him, He NEVER turned His back on me.  He has continued to turn my life, this little life amongst millions, into a life I cherish every day.

When was the last time YOU let the Master Weaver do the work in your life?  Has He created an incredible masterpiece for you?  Are you LETTING Him do his wonder or are you turning away in selfishness.  Take some time to think about these decisions, about our focus on God, about how He can weave each moment of every day into something outstanding.  Along the way . . . grab a freshly picked apple and a gaze at the foliage. . . remember - it's Fall, when God weaves incredible beauty into our lives.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."  (NIV) Romans 8:28

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Look Up

Today, our Gospel lesson was the wonderful story of Zacchaeus.  Oh, how I enjoyed teaching that story in Sunday School to our little students.  The story, the song of the "wee little man" - I enjoyed every moment of it.  It was a true treat to hear it preached today from our wonderful Pastor.  It put a different light on the story, one that made me consider throughout the day of "looking up".

That day when Jesus was on His journey, walking through Jericho, he looked up.  There, up in the tree, was Zacchaeus.  So the story of the hated tax collector goes.  Jesus tells him that he is going to go to his house and Zacchaeus immediately heeds Jesus' words.  Zacchaeus gives of himself - time, possessions and soul, to the Lord.  It is a wonderful exchange of the lost being found, of Jesus finding Zacchaeus, the little, lost man.

As I sat, listened, and remembered the sermon throughout the day, I couldn't help but "look up".  Jesus, walking along, to the time to look up.  I couldn't help but "look up" throughout the afternoon.  Up towards the beautiful blue sky; up towards the tops of the swaying trees; up towards the top of a flag pole with a flag flying stoically; up towards the hawk that gracefully soared through the air; up towards the cross that hangs in the front of our church.  Up . . . towards my Lord. 

When I look up, I realize what Jesus provides to me with all the things that are "up".  The flexibility of the swaying trees certainly symbolize to me the times when I need to be humble, and not so controlling - to sway with the air towards what is right and away from MY needs and MY wants.  I look up at the flag and can't help but send prayers to all those that have fought for my freedom, from long ago to today.  Although I might not know each person by name that I pray for, I know that Jesus hears my prayers and is looking over the service men, women and their families.  I look up at the hawk that glides and I remember the power of my Lord to help me out of the difficult situations, as long as I follow His path and His will. 
My final look up is to the cross - the cross where my Jesus died for my sins.  I look up and I see His suffering, His scorn, His death. I look up to remember His life here on earth; how God sent His only son so that I would not have to suffer the consequences of my sins in hell.  I look up to know that on
that cross, Jesus took my sins on His shoulders - to bring me eternal life. 

I look up at the beautiful blue sky and all I can think of is the day our Lord finally rose to heaven in all his glory. What a sight that must have been.  The joys of looking up!!  As we think of Jesus looking up to Zacchaeus, may we also look up - to all of the glorious things our Lord has provided for us when we glance upward.  There is no doubt that all of you look up and see our Lord's glory, His peace, His love for us. 

The next time you are outside, I ask that you look up.  Even if looking up means that a raindrop falls on your nose - that, too, is a blessing from our Heavenly Father.  Sometimes I feel that I look at things too simply (maybe that's why the title of my blog fits me so well).  Yet, I  believe God gave us simplicity for our faith.  I believe that He didn't want it to be too complicated.  He wanted a simple man, Zacchaeus, to simply believe, to know that His salvation comes from Jesus.  And Zacchaeus believed.  May you believe as well.  Blessings for the week ahead.

"So he came down at once and welcomed Him gladly.....Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.  For the Son of Man cam to seek and to save what was lost."  (NIV)  Luke 19:6-10

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Our Roots

We had some pretty severe weather here yesterday.  Lightening, wind, thunder, rain - even a possible tornado, which is VERY unlikely for our area.  This morning, as we were driving home from church, we noticed a beautiful huge oak tree that was totally uprooted from the ground - similar to this one.  It seemed unbelievable to me that a tree of that size could actually uproot from the ground that its been living in for decades.  Thankfully, the tree cleared any building or car so no damage was done.

Just as unbelievable to me was right near that tree, there were many other trees that were still in the ground, standing tall.  These trees were much smaller in stature, just as lovely.  It's amazing what weather can do to our surroundings like trees, rivers, etc.  It literally can take something that was growing for years and years and destroy it in a moment.

I couldn't help but parallel what I saw with our journey with Christ.  Just like the tree, we grow in our faith, nurturing it with all that God gave us - great pastors, teachers, church families, and most of all, His Word.  The Word of God becomes our roots, what we base our faith on.  We read it, we digest it, we live it out in all that we do.  For many of us Christians, the Word of God is our soil tht we can firmly plant our roots in so that we can live lives full of God's wonder, mercy and grace.

Yet, there are times, when a devasting turn in the "weather"  comes our way.  Maybe we lose a loved one; maybe a relationship breaks; maybe financial concerns are great; maybe there are health issues.  The weather of our lives can certainly reek havoc on our roots of faith.  As we journey through our life here on earth, we are faced with many situations, that can shake our roots.  It is easy for us to lose our way from our roots.  We can easily "blame God" for the nasty weather in our lives.  We can blame others - we can even blame ourselves.  All of this doesn't provide the umbrella necessary to weather the storm.

Rememer, that unlike the tree, we can keep our roots deeply planted.  During turbulent weather, we can have our roots take hold in the fertile soil of God's word and our faith-filled resources.  We can be the other trees near the uprooted tree - holding tight onto our church family, our Bible teachers, or our pastors.  What we can easily hold on to the most is God's word.  

When the storms of life pass our way, that is the time to open our Bibles.  If those roots start to shake, it's time to "stake" ourselves with the greatest blessing God gave us, His Son Jesus.  He is with us always, to hold us up strong during turbulent weather so that we are not uprooted, but dug in deep.  

The next time you pass a great tree standing tall, reflect on yourself and know that God wants you to plant yourself deeply into His Word, so that you may stand tall.  By the way, the storm has passed and it is a beautiful day in New Hampshire today - there is a light breeze, cooler temperatures, and the SON is shining upon us.  Those that are deeply planted have come out of the storm to sunshine. Blessings to all in the week ahead.

"...just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness."  (NIV)  Colossians 2:6-7

Monday, September 1, 2014

Miracles Every Day

Please tell me that you can relate to this.  You and your spouse are working at least 10 hour days, getting home and doing household chores, making sure the bills are paid - only to wake up the next day and do it all over again.  Days can become one huge blur, especially as summer ends and the school year begins.  That is what our lives have been like lately.  My husband and I seem to be running and running to make sure that all of the children have what they need to start the school year.  That is, of course, in between doing all the other things that need to get done.  Just stopping and breathing seems to be a challenge.

That was until Friday afternoon.  We both decided to take a 1/2 day off from work to get ahead of the traffic that is typically very heavy going north on Labor Day weekend.  As we both connected after doing respective errands, my husband says to me, "Do you remember the sprinkler system going off this morning?"  After briefly thinking about it, I realized it hadn't gone off in a few days.  Obviously - THAT wasn't a good sign.  Visions of the pump being burned out raced through both of our minds.  It was working so well this summer - no kinks in the process - until Friday.  

My husband went to assess the situation.  Sure enough, a big and heavy tree had fallen down, inhibiting the flow of water and stopped the pump from working.  My husband came up to change into his "pump working clothes" and shared the bad news.  He would go down to see what he could do, but we prepared for the worst - having to purchase a new pump and all the work that goes along with it.  

Being the good wife, I waited patiently by the house, not wanting to hear his disappointment of what was going to be inevitable news.  About 20 minutes later, I ventured out his way.  Juan looked at me and said, "You are not going to believe this."  As he tried to lift the huge tree from off the pump system, he stated there was no way it was going to move.  It was just too heavy.  He asked God for some help - knowing that we couldn't afford a new pump and that the project would be a difficult one.  He pulled the tree from a different angle and it moved effortlessly.  Juan was astonished; I was astonished.  Even with the tree moved, there was more that should be wrong.  The pump would need to be primed again, even if it did work.  When he plugged it in - lo and behold, water starting raining over our lawn from the sprinkler heads.  We both looked at each other in amazement. 

There are times when one just HAS to believe in God, for there is no other explanation for what happens.  My husband and I had the honor of God bestowing a miracle on us that day.  In the busyness of our lives, things get overlooked - forgotten.  It was as if God said, "I need to get your attention in a way that helps you know I am still here."  He got our attention, all right.  On a simple Friday afternoon, when it seemed as if there was too much going on, God said, "I am here with you- every day - always."  He performed a miracle.  Right then and there, in our backyard, we gave praise to God, thanking Him for doing only what He could do.  The rest of our weekend has been a little slower.  We have talked about that  moment every so often - with a smile on our face.

Yes, life gets busy.  Sometimes we can't see the forest through the trees.  Yet, God puts miracles in our paths to help us be reminded of what we can't always see, His awesome power and love.  It feels good to have God shine on you.  Think over the past few days - a time when something went right.  Amidst difficult times, God is still there for us, loving us, trying to help us open our eyes.  Stop and open your eyes.  See His wonderful goodness and miracles of faith.

"Everyone living in Jerusalem knows they have performed a notable sign, and we cannot deny it."  (NIV)  Acts 4:16

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Thank you for visiting my blog. I hope we can share how God's grace has been life changing and that SIMPLE FAITH, getting back to a life that is rooted in the basics, can truly set us free to achieve so much in our lives.