“… You did awesome things that we did not expect …” (Isaiah 64:3 NIV)
To everything there is a season … and a Rubbermaid tote of decorations in the attic.
Yes. When it comes to the seasons of the year we know exactly what to expect. Halloween will welcome our light up pumpkins and our trusty leaf-filled scarecrow. Christmas will be invited by the angel tree topper that graced our Grandmother’s tree when we were small and spring will be greeted with the ancient egg decorating kit that our mom pawned off on us years ago.
When it comes to the seasons of life, however, we aren’t always as prepared. In fact, the only promises we are given in these changing seasons are “expect the unexpected.”
And I for one really don’t like the unexpected. Never have. I have a reminder on my calendar for every event under the sun. When I go to the doctor, I want to know exactly what they are going to do to me before they ever even pull out the needle. And I want to know if it’s going to hurt.
I remember being pregnant with our first son. I wasted no time rushing out to buy my copy of “What to Expect”. And when I experienced something unexpected – I totally lost it. I wanted to know what horribly rare disease I had that was so completely unheard of that it got left out of the index.
Life itself is a lot like pregnancy, isn’t it? We go into this journey totally unaware of what to expect. All throughout it, even when we think we know what’s headed our way, we find that we draw a complete blank. “God, I don’t know what I’m waiting on. I’m just waiting on something that I know hasn’t come.”
It can be frustrating when we don’t know exactly what we are waiting for. When we have no earthly idea what we need from God, we just expect that God does; and whatever that need turns out to be He’ll fulfill it. No worrying required.
Nothing gets slipped past our Father. He leaves no stone unturned, no need unfulfilled. And it’s when we learn this simple truth of our Father’s love that we let God out of our box. It’s here that we take the limits off His grace and here that He is given free rein to rock our world in ways we can yet to imagine.
When you don’t know what to expect, take comfort in these great expectations. If you are waiting on the Lord, whatever it is you are waiting for, it won’t be anything less than everything that you need.
by Sarah Jennings Phillips, crosswalk.com
The affairs of God are accomplished little by little and almost imperceptibly. The Spirit of God is neither violent nor hasty. — St Vincent de Paul
The past several weeks have been filled with jam-packed schedules, crowded airports, chattering children and blaring cell phone ring tones — a never ending stream of noises, technology, and motion. It seems the older I get, the more those lazy summer days of childhood feel like fairy tales from another life.
If you’re American, you’re probably just as busy if not busier than I am right now. We’re a country filled with activity. Studies show we’re some of the most sleep-deprived people in the world. We work long hours, come home to more work (completed with the television blathering on in the background) before collapsing into bed to repeat the process again the next day.
Why do we live such frantic, hyper stimulated lives? Sometimes it’s out of a sense of obligation – we feel it’s a sin to say “no” so we overextend ourselves trying to fill the roll of Savior for everyone around us. Sometimes our frenzied lives stem from a sense of inadequacy – “If I work hard and accomplish such-and-such, I will have value.” Sometimes it’s a mode of escape – burying ourselves in work or in a TV program keeps our minds off life’s disappointments. And sometimes we’ve just lost sight of our priorities, defaulting to the heightened pace of the culture around us, unaware that we’ve let our down time slip away little by little.
Regardless of why we’re living in the fast (and loud) lane, deep down we all know we need to get out of it. Our souls crave peace, stillness, and silence. And even if we can ignore the cries of our souls for awhile, our bodies demand it when they eventually wear out.
Why do we crave that stillness? It seems the “noise” of life is more often man-made than God-ordained. In Scripture we see that time and again, God calls us to find peace in Him, to lighten our burden with Him, to set aside our anxieties and meaningless business. We see God speak to the prophet Elijah through a “gentle whisper” and tell an anxious Martha that her sister Mary chose the “better” part when she abandoned household duties to sit at Jesus’ feet. (Luke 10: 41-42)
After a long day of running here and there, I find myself longing to be peaceful Mary whose only job is to be with Christ. So how can we become more like Mary when the vast majority of us more closely resemble worried Martha? I love the opening Scripture verse — it’s so simple, it cuts through all the junk clanking around in my brain. Be still.
In the midst of the activity surrounding her, Mary made a simple choice. To sit and be still. You and I can make that simple choice too, even when life seems to be pressing on all sides. It may be awkward at first – we may be tempted to grab for the remote or cut our time with God short. But by seeking stillness we are effectively saying, “Nothing else is as important to me as You at this moment, Lord.” When I’ve spent time at our local Adoration chapel – a place void of constant noise and movement – I find I am never sitting in an empty room doing “nothing” but a place filled with God’s presence and love, a place I can truly know God.
Streams in the Desert – October 21
Times have changed, but life’s hard times haven’t
For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens (2 Cor. 5:1).
The owner of the tenement which I have occupied for many years has given notice that he will furnish but little or nothing more for repairs. I am advised to be ready to move.
At first this was not a very welcome notice. The surroundings here are in many respects very pleasant, and were it not for the evidence of decay, I should consider the house good enough. But even a light wind causes it to tremble and totter, and all the braces are not sufficient to make it secure. So I am getting ready to move.
It is strange how quickly one’s interest is transferred to the prospective home. I have been consulting maps of the new country and reading descriptions of its inhabitants. One who visited it has returned, and from him I learn that it is beautiful beyond description; language breaks down in attempting to tell of what he heard while there. He says that, in order to make an investment there, he has suffered the loss of all things that he owned here, and even rejoices in what others would call making a sacrifice. Another, whose love to me has been proven by the greatest possible test, is now there. He has sent me several clusters of the most delicious fruits. After tasting them, all food here seems insipid.
Two or three times I have been down by the border of the river that forms the boundary, and have wished myself among the company of those who were singing praises to the King on the other side. Many of my friends have moved there. Before leaving they spoke of my coming later. I have seen the smile upon their faces as they passed out of sight. Often I am asked to make some new investments here, but my answer in every case is, “I am getting ready to move.”
The words often on Jesus‘ lips in His last days express vividly the idea, “going to the Father.” We, too, who are Christ‘s people, have vision of something beyond the difficulties and disappointments of this life. We are journeying towards fulfillment, completion, expansion of life. We, too, are “going to the Father.” Much is dim concerning our home-country, but two things are clear. It is home, “the Father’s House.” It is the nearer presence of the Lord. We are all wayfarers, but the believer knows it and accepts it. He is a traveller, not a settler.
–R. C. Gillie
The little birds trust God, for they go singing
From northern woods where autumn winds have blown,
With joyous faith their trackless pathway winging
To summer-lands of song, afar, unknown.
Let us go singing, then, and not go sighing:
Since we are sure our times are in His hand,
Why should we weep, and fear, and call it dying?
‘Tis only flitting to a Summer-land.
“I also will no longer drive out before them any of the nations … These are the nations which the Lord left, to test Israel … that the generations of the sons of Israel might be taught war.” – Judges 2:21; 3:1-2 NASB
Before the Israelites entered the Promised Land, God promised to bless them abundantly. But they still needed to possess the land. Yet some did not experience the victory He promised or the fullness of those blessings. Why not?
Some may have been afraid or cautious. Others might have lacked leadership or resolve. Some did not have faith to believe God. And He knew they all needed to be tested to gain experience so that they would be prepared and taught how to be victorious.
How easily we can be like these Israelites – reluctant to face challenges, afraid, or lacking confidence. As He did with Israel, God might keep obstacles before us to see the true condition of our hearts.
In our flesh, we may want to avoid these challenges and stay where we feel comfortable. But God constantly wants to bring us into new levels of maturity and receive greater blessings to teach us new things. If we want His blessings, we must face these obstacles, not run away.
We also need experience. We need to be “taught war,” to be trained and ready. We need to possess the land.
What obstacles do you face? What giants stand before you? Are you confident or reluctant? Regardless of your particular challenges, remember that God is with you. Believe Him for victory. Trust in Him. Don’t be reluctant, but be bold and courageous. Move forward in faith.