I don't know many people who do what I do, but I have a personal hashtag that governs the current season of my life. It is #thrivingoversurviving. You might be curious as to why I chose this to represent what's happening in my world. Well, I'll put it to you like this..... It's one thing to survive. It's another to thrive.
There are multiple times when we are going through challenges in life where mere survival is the order of the day. We survived a test. We survived an altercation. We survived a root canal. We survived the heat or the monotonous speech or a never-ending, meandering movie plot. We survived. We got through something. We remained alive after something happened. We endured. And don't get me wrong....surviving is vital. It is also a key step toward thriving.
Years ago, I planted small fruit trees in my backyard in my pursuit of expanding my greenish thumb. I staked them and babied them, trying to get them to grow. Sure enough, they began to show signs of growth and survived their first winter in the ground. They remained alive. They continued to exist. They endured in challenging circumstances. While I was glad of that fact, I knew that simply surviving would not be the end of the story for my young trees. See, the end game was for them to produce fruit. In other words, my plan for them was not just to survive, but to thrive and truly live out their design by producing fruit.
I moved out of my home temporarily, which meant that I was unable to tend to my trees. I soon forgot about them, only thinking of them from time to time and wondering if they were still growing. Recently, I had an opportunity to visit the house. In doing so, I went into the backyard and received a shock! Although two of the three trees did not survive well over time, one tree did. Not only did it survive, it was thriving. It had grown taller, spread out its branches, and even produced tiny apples. This tree defied all the odds by growing and remaining through countless seasons without direct care. This tree demonstrated its ability to thrive over survival.
Well, if you're reading this right now, on some level, it's fair to say that we have survived a very tumultuous 2020. We lost so much along the way. We were inundated with much grief and changes that we didn't initiate or approve. We were blindsided and disappointed. Yet, through the grace and mercy of God, we remained. With His strength, we endured. As we step into 2021, we are still in survival mode, tentative about what will come next. I want you to know that survival is a key step toward something rather than the end game. We were not built to break. We were built to thrive! It's our divine design! God's Word says, "For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us]" (Ephesians 2:10).
I encourage you to lift your head up. In light of all that we've lost this past year, we've also gained so much. A major part of that gain is the understanding that our survival is a precursor to our ability to thrive! If you have dared to dream again after loss, you are positioned to thrive. If you cared to address your own emotions and mental state, you will thrive. If you chose to look for the rainbow after the rain, then you want to thrive more than you want to survive. If you simply took it day by day, you are in a place that will facilitate thriving over surviving. It's never easy. So, I applaud you! I have much respect for you! I support you! Cheers to you and your desire to thrive! More on thriving over surviving to come!
It was such a sweet video. Recalling the story of how Jason Momoa did something awesome for the love of his life, Lisa Bonet. He decided to surprise her with the restoration of a vehicle that she had owned when she was 17 years old--a rusted, semi-raggedy, classic Ford Mustang convertible.
You could tell how much Jason loved his woman. He wanted to restore something that belonged to her before he had even known her. Clearly what was important to her was important to him. So, he got the car to a body shop and a time-lapse video exposed many details of what the restoration process looked like. There were corroded parts, leaking parts, and broken parts. Ripped leather and old, cracked material. The body of this gem was trash. Old and unpleasing to the eye. Yet, Jason recognized its worth and the value of having it restored. In fact, he found out that this Mustang was one of three of its kind!
God promises to restore us as well. And He is not just talking about replacing old parts. He's talking about rebuilding us....giving us new parts--a new lease on life in fact. Life time leaves us rusted out, with corroded thoughts, broken faith, and leaky hearts. Our courage is ripped and our joy is old and cracked. Yet, God recognizes our entire worth and the value of restoring us to what he originally intended us to be because we belong to Him! "This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!" 2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT
Lisa's face when she saw that Mustang restored to its former glory. She was surprised, amazed, and in disbelief. Her joy was also Jason's joy. This was evident as they took a ride in the newly-restored car. She. was. so. happy. When a man loves a woman, he will go great lengths to restore what is of value to her. This newly-restored Mustang would also create new memories.
God's brand of restoration isn't about reliving the past; it's about positioning ourselves for something new. God reminds us, "But forget all that--it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland." Isaiah 43:18-19 NLT.
You are one of a kind. It doesn't matter what you've gone through in life or how it has broken you down. the material point is.....God restores. And that's good news!
Get ready for something new!
When I started out, I loved playing the piano. After a while, when I realized that it wasn't just playing cool or beautiful tunes, but it required me to know and understand how to integrate musical theory into my playing, I cared for it less. I loved to play, but I hated to practice and I paid less and less attention to the rudimentary function of theory and notation. My music teachers continually emphasized musical theory and It made more sense as I began to recognize the vital part it played in mastery of my instruments and musical skills.
It's the da capo, often seen in written music as D.C., D.C. al Fine or D.D. al Coda. Da capo directs the musician back to the beginning of the musical piece to repeat what was played initially. D.C. al Fine means to repeat from the beginning all the way to the end. D.C. al Coda means to repeat from the beginning up to the point where the da coda appeared. In any of these scenarios, one big idea persists--return to the beginning and repeat. Whatever is going on in the piece, flats, sharps, crescendos, pianissimos, or fortes, the point at which the da capo shows up, everything transitions back to the beginning. There is a sort of restart or reset to the tune that brings the musician and her hearers back to the original melody before transitioning to a different part of the song or ending the song.
This idea struck me as I consider the pain, frustration, turmoil, unrest, discomfort, confusion, and upended nature of 2020 so far. There is so much uncertainty about the future and upheaval in our personal lives. It's like a variety of movements in a song. Some are soft and smooth while others are choppy and boisterous. Mostly offensive and unexpected. Our moods are affected. Our anxiety is heightened. Our faith is challenged. Our outlook becomes murky. Our enthusiasm wanes while our anticipation of positive change is diminished. There are questions concerning financial security, job security, economic security, relationship security, and societal security. We wonder if love is still possible, if hate is still probable, if reconciliation is still on deck, if systemic issues will ever go away, if all things are still possible. We didn't know that we could cry so many tears or wish this year away so frequently. We didn't know that the very thing that holds us together as human beings could fall apart so rapidly and inhospitably. We didn't realize how cruddy and dark and dismissive and cold this world really can be.
In a few months, we have encountered and experienced more flats and sharps and crescendos and decrescendos and fortes and staccatos and abrupt movements to last a lifetime. Enough to figure that we must be over it by now. It has been hard to catch our breath. But then, as we furiously play our song, we see it. The da capo. Like a flashing, fluorescent sign, It beckons us to return to the beginning of the song. It signals us that it is time to breathe among all of the chaos by going back to the beginning. Why? To restart. To be reset. To be reminded of the melody of God's promises to us. What promises? I'm glad you asked.... The da coda calls attention to the truth of God's Word--His Word to us personally. He said that He would never leave or forsake us. He said that His grace was enough for us. He said that all things were possible. He said that while we would have trouble in this world, He had already overcome and conquered this world on our behalf. He said that if He is for us, then nothing will be against us. He said that no weapon formed against us will succeed. He said that nothing could ever separate us from His love--nothing. Not our circumstances. Not our pain. Not our experiences. Not our mistakes. Not our depression. Not our anxiety. Not our lack of peace. Not our disappointment. Not this crazy world. Not what's going on right now nor what can or will happen in the future. Not death. Not anything. Nothing can get in the way of His love for us.
"What then shall we say to all these things? If God is for us, who can be [successful] against us? He who did not spare [even] His own Son, but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?" Romans 8:31-32 AMP
Wherever you are today, I encourage you to take notice that Jesus is calling you to return to the beginning--to rehearse His promises to you about how special you are to Him, how protective He is of you, and how He will take care of you no matter what. In fact, your circumstances are no match for His affection for you. He has your best interest at heart. Return to the truth of His commitment to your well-being, then continue playing your song. Your da coda may be directing you to return to the beginning and repeat up to the point where you currently are. This will bring on a refreshing and the strength to keep moving forward in faith. Or, it may be directing you to return to the beginning and keep going to the end. This will encourage you to power through your season. Whichever path is yours, embrace it with the assurance that God is your place of safety (Psalm 119:14) and He has a million ways of working things out for your good and His glory.
"And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose." Romans 8:28 AMP
There is peace in the da coda. Be encouraged, my friends.
From a very simplistic vantage point, what is referred to as the Butterfly Effect, illustrates an extremely powerful concept related to persisting during less than ideal or just plain challenging circumstances. This phenomenon explains the idea that, in an environment that is deterministic, a minute change is able to impact this same system in much larger ways. Metaphorically, for example, this concept has the look of a butterfly flapping its wings in Japan and causing an eventual hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico. In a nutshell, any way you slice it, it declares the powerful thought that small things can eventually effect significant outcomes. Small. Things. Can. Cause. Big. Things. To. Happen.
It is often pretty easy to grasp this concept when it comes to nature or the weather or big companies or large systems or anything that looks like it is running effectively or effortlessly. The tendency is to minimize our own small efforts at building, creating, devising, modifying, designing, organizing, generating, forging, making, planning, shaping, actualizing, composing, fashioning, hatching, instituting, investing, dreaming, and bringing things into existence. But this is what we were designed to do! This space is where I live. I get it. It's tough. It's obstinate. It's exhausting. It's perplexing. It's exacting. It's just plain hard. It's all of these things and more. That's the realistic view. That's obvious. That's real talk. However, we don't talk enough about how hard things have a way of shaping us. That means they give us definition. Hard things form us. They facilitate growth of character in us. They help us adjust and adapt. They direct, develop, and deepen us. This means that the small steps that we continue to take on our most challenging days DO count. Even when you don't yet see any results. Even when you feel like aborting the mission. Even when what you prayed not to happen literally unfolds before your eyes. Even when you don't think you have it in you to keep going. It's on those very days that you must attend to the small things and enact the Butterfly Effect because small things certainly do add up.
Just ask the caterpillar who, over time, transformed into a beautiful Monarch Butterfly. First of all, be reminded that a caterpillar is designed to become a butterfly. It is what it was created to do. However, the process of becoming a butterfly is a totally different story. In this process, the caterpillar remains in its dark chrysalis and eventually digests itself and almost completely liquifies before rapid cell division forms its butterfly parts. Once the butterfly is formed, it must fight its way out of its chrysalis. In this process, blood begins to circulate through its wings making it strong enough to fly once it frees itself. Every small, even hard step in this process connects to another small step, which contributes to its final form.
This whole process is built into the design of this creature. In fact, some caterpillars have tiny, underdeveloped wings already existing in their bodies prior to their transformation process. What does that mean for you and me? God has designed you to fly. He has pre-packaged you with the ability to get through hard things. It's part of your shape. While our circumstances are real and obvious, it's not really about the circumstances; it's actually about your capacity to tap into what God has put inside of you that enables you to continue pushing through with each small thing. He hasn't wound you up and left you to your own devices out here in these challenging streets. In fact, He has promised to be present with us throughout each moment of our lives, enabling us to endure while tackling hard things with a Butterfly Effect mindset.
“But you, Israel, are my servant.
You’re Jacob, my first choice,
descendants of my good friend Abraham.
I pulled you in from all over the world,
called you in from every dark corner of the earth,
Telling you, ‘You’re my servant, serving on my side.
I’ve picked you. I haven’t dropped you.’
Don’t panic. I’m with you.
There’s no need to fear for I’m your God.
I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you.
I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you." Isaiah 41:8-10 MSG
In those moments when its easy to forget, when you feel like giving up, when days are rough, when you are pushed to your limits, remember that you are not forgotten, remember that you are chosen, remember your amazing design, remember how much you are loved by a God who gave up everything to ensure your survival.
Stand up. Walk tall. Do hard things. Prepare to fly.
Be encouraged, y'all!
I had planned an event that would take place on a Sunday afternoon. Participants had been scheduled, the program outline had been confirmed, and decor ideas had been finalized along with other logistical aspects. As a first-time author, I was especially excited to be able to share the vision behind my first book along with three other first-time authors in a forum geared at motivating and inspiring others to pursue their "thing" and walk in it.
I ordered my books from the publishing entity just in time for them to arrive one day prior to the event. On the day that the books were to arrive, I was away from home for hours. However, that wasn't an issue for me because I knew that the box of books would be waiting for me outside my door or would be at the complex office upon my return. When I arrived back home, the books were not outside my door and the office was already closed for the evening. I desperately needed that box of books for the event the next day. I might mention that the office didn't open on Sundays. What was I going to do?
I tossed a few options around in my head. Maybe I could call the emergency number for the complex and request someone come back to the property to open the office so that I could retrieve my box of books. I didn't immediately jump on that option as I weighed in on another. I could email the property manager to explain my situation and get some assistance with my plight. I leaned toward that option after I'd called the emergency line to confirm whether or not I had any other options for reaching someone who could help. I didn't want to be a menace or abuse the emergency line privilege.
After emailing the property manager, I didn't receive a response email back immediately and I could feel anxiety creeping into my spirit. Everything else had worked out pretty well for this event to happen. This issue was definitely an obstacle in the way. I began talking to God, explaining how much I needed that box in order to go through with the event--one that had been planned as an initiative intended to reach people and impact their thoughts about living on purpose. I sensed the critical nature of what God had inspired me to create with the event and I decided to believe that He would provide a way for me to get those books.
I left home and headed to the restaurant to begin set up for the event. I tried to keep myself busy as I worked. I was not at peace as this situation remained unresolved and unattended to. I felt impressed to take a chance and call the emergency number. I left a message explaining more than once that it wasn't an emergency, but that I was in desperate need of the box in the office. I hung up, leaving it all in God's hands. A few minutes later, I received a call-back from the maintenance personnel who was on-call that weekend. His manner was pleasant and helpful as he informed me that he was scheduled to be on the property in the morning and promised to look in the office for the box and even deliver it to my door. Although I wouldn't have the books the night before as planned, I was guaranteed to have them prior to starting the event the next day.
What a sense of relief I felt coupled with a sense of provision! God already knew the pickle that I would find myself in. He knew that it would catch me off guard, but He already had the solution for my problem. Often, when life throws us off track with its unexpected circumstances, we teeter-totter on the brink of panic because it seems like things are not going to work out or are impossible. We are only able to see from our limited perspective while God sees the whole picture. He knows what we don't know and He sees what we can't see. We have to practice leaving it all in His hands because anything that He has ordained, He will also provide everything that is needed when it is needed without the exception of one thing! And when all seems hopeless, remember that when God is in it, it will always work out....maybe not in the way we planned, but in a way that will bring Him glory and progress our good.
I recall their little faces when I promised playground time once we had finished all of our necessary classroom activities. It was what they looked forward to after a hard day of rigorous brain work. Running. Swings. Monkey bars. The opportunity to be outside, have fun, and just be kids. I knew how much they looked forward to it and it gave me such pleasure to see their excitement as they packed up early and lined up to hit the yard. In fact, I understood their desire to go on the playground so much that I made sure to periodically work it into our schedule so that they could enjoy it.
There’s an interesting detail that I left out of this typical scenario. I often announced playground time as a way to help my kids stay on track. If they knew in advance what I had planned for them, it often motivated them to keep their eyes on the prize while attacking their classwork and other responsibilities in a more focused way. There was always at least one student who continued to ask about going outside. Upon the asking, I would remind him or her of what I had already promised. Sometimes, that reminder would be in a look that said, “Seriously, kid? I already told you.” Sometimes, other classmates would chime in trying to understand why this kid was asking. Sometimes, I would give a playful answer for amusement or to redirect him or her. Sometimes, I would say to myself, “Self, these kids never listen.”
At the outset, this student may come off as annoying or one who possibly wasn’t paying close attention to my initial promise. But, at a much closer glance, one might surmise that, perhaps, this student decided to track with me to ensure that I didn’t forget my promise or renege on my promise in any way. This kid wanted to make sure that he or she did not miss out on any part of the promise, so he or she aligned his or her desire with mine and persisted in making sure that he or she got to live out the reality of that promise. This kid was just making sure that he or she received exactly what I said I would do for him or her.
Wait right there.
In Matthew 15:21-28, Jesus encountered a woman who was not even of the Israelite nation. She approached Him, called Him Lord and Son of David (the Messiah), and simply asked Him to have mercy on her by healing her daughter who was possessed by a demon. At first, He didn’t answer her. Then, his disciples suggested that He send her away because she was pestering them. However, Jesus told them, in so many words, that he was only sent to the lost sheep of Israel. She responded by continuing to ask for help. He came back at her by saying that it wasn’t fair to give her (not of the house of Israel) things which belonged to those of Israel. She responded to this by telling Him that even pet dogs (who don’t belong at their master’s table) benefit from the crumbs that fall from the table.
At first glance, you might think that Jesus was being rude to this woman who had a true need, but if you choose to take a second or third, much closer glance, you may discover something different and super significant.
This approached Jesus in a way that demonstrated that she knew who He was–Lord and the Messiah. She came to Him in a bold way and asked Him to do something for her that she had possibly, previously witnessed or heard about. She believed in who He was and this fueled her position on asking. He engaged her as He did in the presence of His disciples and whoever else was there because He knew that her demonstration of faith would be a powerful example to those who witnessed it. I believe He had already decided to answer her desire to have her daughter healed, but He chose to pull back the curtains to display what raw faith in Him looks like. She stood her ground and continued to ask because she knew who she was talking to. She knew that what she wanted–needed could only come from Him and she intended to receive what only He could give. She chose to track with Jesus until He came through on her behalf. I am sure that someone’s faith was strengthened as a result.
Yep. You better go ahead and shout right here…
Listen, don’t you forget that God already has great plans in mind for you. We can’t even begin to conceptualize how awesome and detailed these plans are! He has blessings stored up for us that we are able to unlock and release with our simple faith in Him. There are some things that we just have to believe Him for. We have to choose to go the distance with Him. We have to want what He has promised badly enough that we are willing to track with Him, stay beside Him, cast aside what everybody else is saying, and be willing to continue to ask. He wants to engage us, not be our personal Santa Claus or genie, granting wishes apart from a relationship. He wants our faith in Him to draw others to Him.
And since you are in relationship with Him, you can talk to Him. You can tell Him exactly how you feel and what you are thinking. You can have that open dialogue about your life and purpose and opportunities and decisions. You don’t have to feel as if shouldering all of life is completely up to you.
It’s time for something new. Demonstrate your faith today by engaging your Heavenly Father in real, honest, frank, open conversation. Don’t be afraid to ask and keep on asking! Get all that He has in store for you! Go there with God. And when you go there, His Holy Spirit will guide you, team up with you, release you from the burden of working it all out for yourself, renew your mind, and restore your soul.
Put your name in this verse. May you experience God like never before!
“Jesus gave in. ‘Oh, woman, your faith is SOMETHING ELSE. What you want is what you get?’ Right then her daughter became well.” (MSG)
Peace, love, and only God’s best!
“Everyone hurts and goes through pain. Whatever’s first, it feels the same. Be young or poor, old age or fame. Know this for sure, everyone hurts, we all feel pain.” --Kirk Franklin
Recently, while using a brand-new, extremely sharp knife to cut onions for a dish I was preparing, I sliced the palm of my hand quite nicely. Although it was not a huge cut, it bled profusely. I thought it would never stop bleeding; however, it finally did. Over the course of a some weeks, the area changed colors, become tough, and produced new skin in place of the old severed skin. Today, a scar and a bit of discoloration still remain that remind me of that day. I must admit that now I feel some kind of way about using that knife. It wasn’t the knife’s fault. It performed its duty well, just on the wrong subject. It was an accident. It produced a wound. However, over time, the wound eventually healed.
You know where I’m going….
Did you know that your body, your fearfully and wonderfully-made body is designed to heal itself once it has been wounded? Yes! It sounds crazy, but it is true! For example, a break or tear in the skin due to an injury or an accident creates a way for infection to set in if germs are able to get inside the body through the wound. However, once the body recognizes that it has been wounded, a blood clot forms at the wound site to stop the bleeding, which eventually dries to form a scab that will protect the site from germs and infection. This protection comes as the immune system begins a process of fighting to prevent infection and repairing the site. It does this by bringing oxygen and nutrients for healing. Over time, broken blood vessels are repaired and new tissue grows as the broken area draws in and becomes smaller and smaller. Eventually, the scab will fall off, revealing new skin. A scar may remain to tell the story.
“Everyone hurts, everyone falls. We let love in, still heartbreak calls. Tell me, how much can my soul take? We make mistakes, we hurt, we need amazing grace.”
Like that amazingly sharp knife I was using, life can also be sharp. Throughout the course of life, emotional wounds like negative words cut into our psyches. Bad experiences lacerate our self-images. Unintended consequences pierce our determination. Gloomy outlooks mutilate our best intentions. Unforeseen circumstances puncture our hope, leaving us with wounds that bleed profusely. Cuts. Scrapes. Burns. Sores. Punctures. Wounds that are painful. Sometimes, it’s even difficult to stop the bleeding. Emotional wounds have a way of cutting deep into areas of our hearts and appear to cause irreparable damage.
“Everyone hurts, we all ask why. Sinner or saint, everyone tries. Life cuts so deep, feels like you’re dying. No cross, no crown, can’t give up now, please heal tonight.”
Get ready to shout because here’s the skinny on the matter: Just like a physical wound can heal, that wound in your life can heal. God knows about those cuts and scrapes. He knows about those punctures and burns. He is familiar with your wounds. The ones that happened on accident and the ones that were intentionally inflicted on us. The ones that came as a result of our own choices and the ones that came by no fault of our own. He wants us to turn to Him with our wounds because He can and will heal us.
He. Will. Heal. You.
Our physical healing processes, although effective, are not always pretty. While that wound is healing, it often looks strange, out of place, or even grotesque. Likewise, God’s healing process is not typically a walk in the park. However, when we turn our wounds over to Him, He stops the bleeding and creates a clot and a scab to protect your heart. He does this because emotional wounds impact the core of who we are. Healing means that He has to deal with what’s beneath the surface (emotions, thoughts, mindsets, personal outlooks, fears, pain, various residue as a result of the wound, etc.) while protecting it from possible outside invasion that can lead to infection and deeper damage to who you are as you heal.
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds [healing their pain and comforting their sorrow].” Psalm 147:3 AMP
And when the healing process is complete, something new emerges. New thoughts. New perspectives. New insights. New understandings. New reality. New faith. New courage. New joy. New peace. New outlook. New life!
“So we pray tonight that you don’t get weak. And please pray that I don’t forget what I believe. ‘Cause these days are hard and faith sometimes is work. Pray until He heals the hurt. I trust God will heal the hurt….”
It’s no secret that we will be hurt in this life. That is a certainty. It’s also no secret that He will heal EVERY wound that is left by ANY hurt. And sometimes a scar will remain. A scar that tells the story. The story of hurt. The story of healing. He will give you an opportunity to tell your story of how He healed your hurt.
And it will give another grateful soul the strength to continue this journey with a little bit more hope.
“Pray until He heals the hurt. I trust God will heal the hurt.”
Be blessed and be a blessing!
Sitting in Hartfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport waiting it out for my connection home, I began to have a “fire shut up in my bones” experience. I ran across this quote by Lysa TerKeurst that adequately punctuates the following thought….“God’s love for us is fiercely tender and He will go to great lengths to protect us, provide for us, and put us in positions that allow us to grow. We may not understand it. We may not like it. But we can rest in the absolute assurance of His love.”
It’s like this…..
Shortly after boarding my plane from Phoenix to Atlanta, the pilot informed us of possible turbulence and less than favorable weather over Atlanta. We were told to observe the seat belt signs, limit walking and so on. Just as predicted, there was quite a bit of shakin’ goin on. One movie later combined with more ride time, the pilot announced that we were 30 minutes from the Atlanta airport, signaling preparation for landing. It was nighttime. Typically, close to a major city, it is easy to see lights although it is night. However, from my window seat, I couldn’t see a thing. There was thick cloud coverage all around. I could clearly see the lights on the wing, but that’s about it. I thought, “How in the world can the pilot land this plane with such low visibility?” It was beyond me, of course, because I’m not a pilot. I haven’t been trained in the mechanics or operation of aircraft. I don’t have ANY idea how that whole process works. In fact, to be perfectly honest, I don’t have to because it’s not my responsibility. My responsibility is to simply trust the pilot to implement his expertise, sit back, and take the ride.
Proverbs tell us to trust with all of our hearts without leaning on our own understanding AND that God WILL direct our paths. Funny…..when the pilot announced that we would be landing soon, from the looks of it (outside my window), there was no evidence to back this up. There was no obvious indication that we were even close to civilization….no city lights or anything to “prove” that landing would actually take place. But, before I knew it, the lights of the landing strip suddenly came into view as the plane lowered itself closer and closer to the ground, finally landing and coming to a safe stop….as it was designed to…..just as the pilot had said….
How often do we question the pilot of our lives, Jesus Christ, who not only knows this journey and the aircraft, but He designed the trip. He knows what “turbulence” lays in wait for us and knows exactly how to navigate around it or through it…..as He so chooses. Sometimes, looking out the windows of our lives, we are tired, frightened, frustrated, angry, depressed, unmotivated, discouraged, and the list goes on, simply because the cloudiness of our situations and scenarios make us think that it is unlikely that we will either make it, recover, heal, be restored, begin again, smile, live….. But, somehow, the voice of the Pilot breaks through our foggy, distorted thought processes to remind and reassure us that we are close to landing. There may not be any proof-positive indications, but we can be sure that we are close to landing. We cannot see any familiar “lights,” but trust that we are close to landing. So, against our human logic and everything rational, we secure our seat belts for the hundredth time, sit back, and….. Just. Take. The. Ride.
Just. Take. The. Ride. Before you know it……your ride, your trip, your chaos, your trepidation, your cluelessness, your fears, your dismay, your brokenness, your issues, …..will be over…..you WILL land safely…..de-plane……reaching your destination…..not YOUR destination, but the destination that was designed for you before you were even thought of.
“Why would you ever complain, O Jacob, or, whine, Israel, saying, “God has lost track of me. He doesn’t care what happens to me”? Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening? God doesn’t come and go. God lasts. He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine. He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath. And he knows everything, inside and out. He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts. For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall. But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, They run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind.” Isaiah 40:27-31 MSG
They that wait…..
Just. Take. The. Ride….
At an all-night New Year's Eve social, I twisted my ankle while playing a silly game. Ugh! I was forced to sit with my right leg elevated. As I watched my ankle increase in size, I knew that I would eventually be spending time in the emergency room on New Year's Day. After the doc at the ER examined my ankle, it was determined that I had, indeed, sprained it pretty good. My ankle was wrapped up, I was handed some crutches, and pain meds were prescribed. To my surprise, I received three prescriptions for pain. Upon asking why three instead of one, I was told that each med would address a different pocket of pain. I took their word for it and dutifully took the meds.
I recently conducted a little research and discovered that there are, in fact, differences in the roles of the three major pain medications that had been prescribed to me: acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen. I found out that naproxen and ibuprofen block the chemicals that are responsible for inflammation (swelling) and the pain that results while acetaminophen interrupts pain messages that those chemicals send to the brain. Blocked chemicals from inflammation help reduce swelling, which decreases occurrences of pain. Blocked pain receptors remove the feeling of pain. With my ankle injury, I suffered from pain and inflammation and now understood just how these three created a type of triangulation system that tackled and eliminated my ankle woes. However, as I took the meds, they helped me cope until my ankle was fully healed.
Like my ankle snafu, life sometimes creates inflammation that results in emotional pain. Specifically, there are places where we have been wounded that need healing. The pain can seem unbearable at times. However, just like the doc at the hospital made, not one, but three prescription pain meds available to help relieve my pain, God has some pain killers that you can take as you heal from your emotional injuries. His spiritual ibuprofen, naproxen, and acetaminaphen embedded in His powerful Word will block the lies of the enemy whose goal is to trip us up and keep us out of commission by increasing the swelling from the past, from negative experiences, or from trauma and dysfunction. Remember that God's truth trumps the enemy's lies any and every day. He is right beside us as we heal from life's hurts. He promises to never leave us or forsake us.
So, when you are experiencing those pain pockets, look to Jesus for just the right prescription for your pain!
I was watching an old favorite family comedy on Hulu not too long ago. An adult member of the family was having a conversation with a young member of the family about the kid's loose tooth. In the course of the conversation, the adult told the kid that sometimes some things have to fall out in order to make room for new ones. I almost took a lap around my bedroom after hearing that! Then I started thinking about why we go through the process of losing teeth.
Children start losing the teeth--often referred to as baby teeth--because, as they grow, their jaws grow and mature, creating an environment that is designed to support permanent teeth. The jaw and jaw muscles grow and mature to be able to sustain permanent teeth. Did you catch that?! This whole process is focused on growth, maturity, and permanence. Baby teeth aren't permanent.....so eventually, they have to loosen up and drop out of the way so that permanent teeth have space to grow in. The baby teeth serve their purpose for a particular stage in early life, but they must give way to a new, more permanent situation.
Just like baby teeth, there are things in our lives that were never meant to stick around or become permanent fixtures on this journey. There are some people, circumstances, jobs, or situations that were only meant to serve a short-term purpose. Eventually, these elements must loosen up and drop out of the way so that God can position a new, more permanent circumstance in their place. In the meantime, He wants to grow you, mature you, and strengthen your spiritual capacity to sustain the permanence He's sending your way.
Instead of trying to hold onto a loose tooth, we allow it to fall out or we help it out by pulling it. However, it happens, it will eventually come out. By the same token, we must allow God to loosen up anything that is temporary in our lives so that it can drop out and make way for all of the amazing permanence that He has in store for us!!
"Forget the things that happened in the past. Do not keep on thinking about them. I am about to do something new. It is beginning to happen even now. Don’t you see it coming? I am going to make a way for you to go through the desert. I will make streams of water in the dry and empty land."
Isaiah 43:18-19 NIRV
Sometimes some things have to fall out in order to make room for new ones.
You can call me Jenn. Let's sit on the front porch, grab a tall glass of sweet tea, and chat about life. I communicate through writing and I so enjoy the conversations that squeeze out of my thoughts and words. I especially look forward to hearing your responses to my thoughts and words that spark other conversations, peak interest, and inspire change.