A Trust of Timing

From where I write, when I glance up from my laptop, I see a framed picture of my best-friend and I. Both in summer tops, mine magenta and her’s white, we are standing in front of her backyard pool, our arms encircling each other’s waists. A moment taken and then like vapour, gone. And she left too, 8 months later, passing away from cancer at 49 years old.

As time has gone on, I observe how life goes on. The earth still spins, the sun rises and sets, and although the grief still remains, threads of joy weave through it’s strands, balancing the colours so one does not overwhelm the other. Death is a certainty, a leaving from an earth that continues to spin, repeating natures cycles long after we are gone. There will come a time, when we are not remembered anymore.

Striving to Find Meaning

So what is the point? In my most painful of times, when dreams seemed to vaporize and when overcome by losses, I’d wondered what really is there to gain from life when it is just taken away?

Wisdom is knowing we have limited access to the full picture. Trust God’s timing and be purposeful with the time you have.

Finding Freedom From Endless Searching

He has made everything beautiful in it’s time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from the beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:9

It’s easy to become wearisome when we try to search for answers in things that are in God’s timing. A loved ones death too soon, a job loss, a dream unfulfilled–all can leave us disillusioned and questioning when we try to reason out the why with our own limited understanding. Solomon’s teachings show us how earthly pleasure and pursuits can never satisfy us, but we have “eternity in the human heart.” In other words, we have a restlessness for His perfect creation. In our limited world view, we cannot comprehend everything, but are called to trust His timing to make all thing’s beautiful in it’s time. To free us from our endless striving for answers, let’s look up in trust and say “my time is your hands.”

What are ways that help you trust God’s ways and timing?

Becoming Free-Lessons from Ecclesiastes 2:11

Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind, nothing was gained under the sun. Ecclesiastes 2:11

While watching my grandchildren the other day, I followed the house rules by reminding my granddaughter that her homework had to be finished before she could play. The expectation became that once she finished her school work she could expect to play. I know when growing up I had similar expectations. The expectations of completing chores may have even included a few dollars from time and time, and later when working jobs a pay check, of course, was the expected result of my toils.

From completing our school assignments to working our jobs, we place an expectation that we will receive retribution for our efforts. When checking off our goals, or seeing our first book in print. or walking that 10,000th step of the day, we can measure our efforts as successful. When we exceed sales targets, or run that marathon, or declutter those office drawers, we can feel accomplished and successful from these things. Our expectation can grow that things are what make us a success and life meaningful. The idea that it is the stuff of the world that we can expect to make us feel successful, is planted in us at a very young age from well-meaning adults (something I still catch myself doing to the ones I love).

Things are Temporary

The thing is though, that things are just temporary. That A on that exam, that one marathon, that one completed book can make us wonder what is next to achieve. We search for meaning and happiness from what we have and do. We use things expecting them to serve us instead of seeing them as gifts from God. Solomon called this endless toil for life’s pleasures as “chasing the wind.” (Ecclesiastes 2:11). Wind passes by us just like our good feelings from our accomplishments. All is temporary.

“We use things expecting them to serve us instead of seeing them as gifts from God.”

What is Meaningful?

Celebrating our achievements, recognizing our talents and gifts, are good things, when we move our expectation from the thing itself being a means to an end. In other words, it is not in the achievements that we receive meaning. When we are no longer expectant of things to bring us meaning, our security and self-worth no-longer are dependent on our successes, accomplishments, or anything that is temporary. We become free to enjoy God’s gifts in our lives.

Go then, eat your bread in happiness and drink your wine with a cheerful heart; for God has already approved your works. Ecclesiastes 9:7

And this brings me a cheerful heart! Joy Bailey, author and project manager of Hope Connections, after just picking up first copies for final, final edits (hopefully) of Hope Connections! You can find out more about the project at Inspiring Hope In You.

What gifts from God are you enjoying today? Is there anything you are placing your time and energy into that may one day be considered as a “chasing after the wind?”

Round and Round We Go

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“The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises.” Ecclesiastes 1:5

Late in his life, around 935 B. C., Solomon wrote reflections that we now read in the wisdom book, Ecclesiastes. Although written approximately 3,000 years ago, his words apply as he intended for all future generations. Interestingly, we still say the sun rises and sets, even though we know now that the sun stays in place while the earth does a full rotation around the sun every 24 hours, passing through it’s light. Daily, around and around the earth spins on it’s axis, never changing it’s direction causing the sun to appear to rise in the east and set in the west.

Nothing is new under the sun.

Death is a Certainty

Round and round life goes, Solomon writes (Ecclesiastes 1:8). Anything you do will have been done again if not already done before. (9) No one will remember the generations that have been and yet to come. (1:11). You will be forgotten.

Maybe it’s because I am now in my mid-fifties that I find myself more curious about my family’s past generations. Maybe it is because I have had loved one’s pass away seemingly too soon and before the generation before them. Maybe I am questioning more what the meaning is of all this time I have left here on this side of heaven. If I take a measuring tape, and with my fingers on one hand on the number that reflects my age, and then the other hand’s fingers on the number when I think I will leave this place, I see a whole lot of tape fallen away from me, and less between my fingers. It is the less that is left.

Death is a life certainty for us all.

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Our Insatiable Search

God’s plan for us though, goes beyond life and death.

“The world and it’s desires passes away, but who ever does the will of God lives forever” 1 John 2:17.

To grasp that there really is nothing new under the sun can be complex. Once I used a dial telephone that hung on a wall and now I punch numbers on a phone that I carry in my pocket. Generations before me that I do not know sent letters via a messenger or may have been the messengers sent on behalf of others. The way we communicate is new. Or has it just changed? The pursuit of communicating with others is not new, just the devices on how we communicate have changed. And will change again.

The search for what we think are better ways to navigate our world continues. The pursuit for better goes round and round, never changing, never new. Solomon calls the pursuit for world pleasures meaningless (Ecclesiastes 1:1). Pursuits not of God leave us feeling empty and insatiable. True happiness cannot be achieved from the pleasures of this world without God at our centre.

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“Happiness is too noble and delicate a plant, to grow in this world’s soil.” – Thomas Watson

I hope you’ll join me over the next weeks as I do deep dive into the wisdom book of Ecclesiastes. Gosh, I need it, I know! Together we’ll discover that understanding the meaningless pursuits in our lives leads us to using the time we have left here wisely and fulfilling.

If you haven’t taken a look yet, come on over to Inspiring Hope In You where you will meet the Hope Connections writers! The Hope Connections book is in final edits and hope to have a hard copy in our hands in the next couple of weeks. This week’s feature post is by contributing author and poet – Hope Defined by Connie Mae Inglis.

(And talking of things going round and round…who remembers the Banana Comb from the 80’s? I guess they are on a comeback! I had a favourite pink one I wore almost daily! And butterfly clips too, are back, but honestly, I never stopped wearing those. Is there something that you have continued to use beyond it’s popularity? Or something you’d like to see come back in popularity?)

Linked up today at Recharge Wednesday with Soaring in Him

Confused of what to do?

I wish I had three more rooms in my home, I commented to my friend during a phone call recently. I was looking at the items scattered and piled on my desk. Binders, books, day-timers, journals, spiral notebooks, magazines, art cards, microphone, and cameras were just some of the items. I’d like to have a room for painting, another for writing, and another for my work-work (otherwise known as my day job), I told him, have kiddingly but mostly not!

Even though the mess can eventually get overwhelming, I felt content. Even hopeful and driven. Something that had been missing for some time since our country and province began self-distancing rules during the current world pandemic. Feeling better I realized I’m in the grieving cycle. I’m cycling into acceptance, however understand navigating the grief cycle is more erratic than linear. And may cycle backwards into sadness or anxiety.

Just a week ago my desktop was bare.

When my calendar began to empty of sales appointments and open spaces appeared, I wondered what would now enfold in those time slots. What to do with that time? Are the bills going to get paid? Is this opened time now a gift of God? Goodness, then I really do not want to waste it! What to do? As you can imagine, dear readers, this type of thinking only led to confusion and anxiety. I had to find a way to ease my fears and place my time into God’s hands.

Putting our Plans in God’s Hands

  1. Ask the Helper

John 14:26 “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

When we need clarity around something, such as our time, we can ask the Holy Spirit to help us through His teaching and bringing something to mind we need to remember. Our Counsellor is always there to show us Jesus’ way of obedience to His words. When I meditated on this verse, God brought to mind Jesus’ command to love God with all your heart and mind; and to love your neighbour as yourself. (Mark 12:30-31). Practically, how can we do this with our everyday time including some so very ordinary moments?

2. SEEK HIS WILL

Matthew 7:7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”

Jesus taught to be persistent in seeking God. Not giving up seeking takes faith, focus, and follow-through. When confusion from uncertainty sets in, especially when our plans unravel, we can ask God for wisdom, knowledge, patience and understanding. Practically we can full-heartedly go to His word. We may want to look up ‘plans’ in the concordance of our bibles and then SOAK in those scriptures. We will never know God’s plan completely for our lives, yet we can be directed on how to be obedient to His word. God’s word opens the door to His will for us to know Him better and be known.

3. LET GO AND TRUST GOD

First Corinthians 13:12 “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”

In this time, we can only see what we are experiencing. We don’t see the eternal future that God knows. Like looking through a dark glass, we can’t see clearly what is ahead or make sense of what is happening now. Even in obedience using our spiritual gifts to serve others, we are not assured that our plans will come to fruition. We may become confused about what to do with our time or if we are to continue what we thought we are suppose to do! By letting go of trying to make sense of what is going on we place our plans in God’s hands who promises we will know Him fully when we are with Him eternally.

Never Give Up

Never give up asking, seeking, and trusting God, my friend! We will never be free of confusion on this side of eternity, but God’s plans are good!

Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead or Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory for ever and ever. Amen Hebrews 13:20-21

What plans do you need to place in God’s hands today?

Linking up with Recharge Wednesday

Never a Threat

I am sure all of you had a different kind of Easter celebration than maybe ever before. At my house, I had a Skype call with my eldest and her family as they ate their first turkey dinner prepared in their home. Earlier that day I dropped of a gift of cupcakes and my roaster to my daughter, keeping the 6 feet social distance. For me, my granddaughter left on the porch step a ziplock bag of chocolate chips cookies she had made. Later today they’ve promised to drop off on my step turkey and a piece of apple pie left over from their Easter dinner.

During this time of social distancing, our front steps, our porches, our apartment doorways have become drop off zones of gifts, borrowed items, and left-overs.

I miss walking through doorways.

I look forward to the day when porches and doorways become again just a step before entering rather than the final destination they are today.

But for now, I’m called, like many of you, dear readers, to keep doors closed and stay in for the protection of life for others and myself.

Our Protector

May we always remember though too, we have another protector of life Who lets us through the doorway that brings us into God’s salvation.

Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep.” John 10:7

When we listen to Jesus’ voice and follow Him through the gate into His pasture, He not only gives us eternal life; we also immediately receive His gifts of forgiveness, love and guidance.

I am the gate, whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:9-10

Our Security

And He never abandons us no matter the threat.

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. John 10:11

There is a threat currently in our physical world too tiny for the human eye. Yet, nothing is threatening to the One who overcame death. As we follow the guidelines of our governments and health officials, keeping our distance that may mean not opening our doors, may we hold on to our great Shepherd by continuing to do His work He has called us to and let Him work within us.

Now may the God of peace who through blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory for ever and ever. Amen Hebrews 13:20-21

Linking up with #TellHisStory

Embassy of Love

Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. Ephesians 6:19-20

Have you ever considered yourself an Ambassador for the Kingdom? When people ask what you do, have you ever considered answering, “I am an Ambassador?” And when they raise their eyebrows at you, you continue, “for the Kingdom of Heaven.”

I don’t know Ludmilla, but guess she may answer that way! Watch why…

What is an Ambassador?

A bible study I am currently in describes an ambassador as “a dignitary whose full-time job is to live for a period in a foreign land, intentionally building relationships with the people native to the land and purposefully representing to those people the desires of his king or sovereign and is given authority to speak and act on his behalf. Adapted from Chris Patton.”

How are we Ambassadors?

We are living in a foreign land until God calls us home. While we are here we represent  our Sovereign King. We live purposely by continuing the work of Jesus through the work of the Spirit that transforms our character and guides our steps. We are called to reflect God’s goodness and speak of His love.

Often I can get wrapped up in my wonderings of what my purpose is. Yet, God has it already laid out in His word!

Have you ever considered yourself as an Ambassador of God’s Kingdom? What resonated for you in Ludmilla’s story?

But you are 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. 1 Peter 2:9 

Your all in all

They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind. The stalk has no head; it will produce no flour. Were it to yield grain, foreigners would swallow it up. Hosea 8:7

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In Hosea 8:7 who are they? They are the Israelites who had sought forbidden relationships with Assyria and Egypt for military power, and had mixed in worshipping forbidden gods along with God. They were no longer being faithful to the One who could provide them all they needed. Harvesting good seed in grounds bathed by sunlight and filled with nourishment, produce a sturdy crop. The Israelites, though,  expended their energy on activities without roots for their souls, leaving them vulnerable. Danger was coming from foreigners–eventually the Assyrians invaded and conquered Israel.

I know I too, can spend time on hollow activities instead of taking the time to plant, sow, and wait. I can Netflix binge, or mindlessly scroll my Instagram and my Facebook accounts to ‘numb’ out. I can seek instant gratification that only leaves me unsatisfied. I can eat those four girl-guide cookies instead of taking the time to cook the nourishing spinach and eggs. I can try to fight my own battles by seeking out who I think will agree with me, commiserate and create an alliance, instead of seeking God first.

But these attempts at self-preservation only pull me apart from God. When I try to become more secure in the world without God, I’m left vulnerable to the pull of all things that only blow away in the whirlwind of time.

When we put our security in God, we become too deeply rooted to be swept away. We are less tempted to engage in that ‘quick fix’ or reach out for things that leave us hollow and wanting. Instead, we grow closer to the One whose faithfulness is everlasting.

“Truly is not my house so with God? For He has made an everlasting covenant with me, Ordered in all things, and secured; For all my salvation and all my desire, Will He not indeed make it grow? Samuel 23:5

What things are you putting your security in? Is there something God is asking you to give up so He can be your all and all?

Linked up at #TellHisStory

 

Living Full Heartedly

The Mighty One, God, The Lord, speaks and summons the earth from the rising sun to where it sets. Psalm 50:1

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Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High, and call on me in the day of trouble, I will deliver you, and you will honour me. Psalm 50:14-15

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God’s creations are in abundance. Every day the sun rises and the sun sets, warming and cooling the earth, bringing us the light of day and darkened nights. Although God is timeless, He knows we need these cycles of light and dark to refresh and rest our bodies, minds, and souls. He knows what the earth needs to grow our food, and the amount of waters required to quench our thirst. In places though, fresh water and food is lacking. People are thirsty and hungry, and sick. Animals are migrating, trying to find new habitats, some populations dying away to extinction.

Sometimes it’s hard to see God’s abundance in the world among it’s sufferings.

Yet, God calls us not too lose heart. Why? Because He, our Creator, knows that through a heart of gratitude we are delivered from our anxiety and worries. He commands us to call out to Him when we are troubled, so He can provide rest for our minds even when all seems to be in chaos. When we wholeheartedly trust in God’s abundance, hope prevails. Instead of being downcast, we are energized to continue to seek ways to make the world a better place. Through heartfelt love and obedience to Him we honour Him and all His creations.

Where is God showing you His abundance today? How might He be asking you to make the world a better place?

Linking up at:

Counting My Blessings

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A Command to Be Very

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This post first appeared at Inscribe Writers Online

Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn it from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Joshua 1:7

The Lord not only told Joshua to be courageous, but very courageous. I wonder if the Lord added the emphasis of an adverb before the adjective “courageous” because of Joshua’s extreme circumstances? His new job was to lead two million people into a new land and conquer it. Even though Joshua had grown to be a strong leader from assisting Moses for many years, I can imagine he may have felt extremely challenged for this upcoming new adventure!

But Joshua did not hesitate, did not measure the pros and cons, or run to his friends for advise. Instead, he ordered and directed the people to ready themselves for their journey to cross the Jordan, to the land the Lord was giving to them. While directing their next steps, Joshua reminded the people of Moses commands and the Lord’s promises, and the people obeyed their leader knowing they were also being faithful to God’s plan. And they too, encouraged Joshua to “be strong and courageous!” (v.18)

When facing new challenges, I can be very hesitant to take the next step. I want to be very sure so the outcome will be successful, on my terms. I can measure my success by my circle of influence expanding, or my finances increasing, or by the amount of ‘likes’ I’m receiving. Yet, unlike the worldly definition of success, success in God’s eyes is for us to be strong and very courageous through obeying and following His word. It’s being faithful to His plan for our lives. He directs us when we turn toward Him. And then we can rest in His promise that we will be successful wherever we go.

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Lord, thank You for always being with me and directing my way. Even though my situations can get tough, and challenging, I know you are with me. May I always keep my eyes on You, may I always turn to You, for when I do life with You, I will be successful in Your eyes wherever I go. Amen

And may the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

Where might God be saying to you ‘be very courageous and strong?

 

A reason for restlessness

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I’m not sure if it is either DNA or genes that dictate personality traits. So not sure if it is my Dad’s DNA or his genes that created a tendency in me to be restless within.

I’ve described my Dad as a ‘wanderer,’ however not sure if that is right word to explain his explorations including travels across provinces, country borders, or to the horse stables just a few miles from our home.

At home, too, in his lazy-boy chair he’d  wander into stories when reading his spy novels, biographies, and the three or four newspapers delivered to our front porch daily.

Merriam-Webster defines ‘wanderer’ as a person who roams about without a fixed route or destination.

No, I do not think ‘wanderer’ fits my Dad.

I’d called it wandering too, when late in his life and legally blind, he’d go on his a strolls away from the nursing home. Once while resting on a bus bench, a bus stopped, and the driver helped him on. He ended up riding the route, circling back to where he started (and where a relieved nurse from the nursing home waited on that same bus bench).

No, Dad can’t be called a wanderer  because, even if he wasn’t sure of his routes and had to refer to those paper maps in the glove compartments of his cars, he always had destinations in mind.

So maybe explorer would be a better word to describe my dad. And his explorations likely were motivated from a restlessness within. A restlessness derived from a knowing there is something more.

It is this more that can drive us to proceed, to keep seeking and reaching to fulfill our God-given heart desires of peace, joy, and love.

And to know Him.

I believe my dad’s heart desires were full-filled completely. He now rests in God’s presence, his restlessness no longer necessary to explore for something more.

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Yes, I may have received my restless trait to explore from my dad, but it is my heavenly Father who first gave it to me.  My restlessness can be used to seek Him for what only He can satisfy.

So I’ve begun to embrace more my times of restlessness within.

Because I know that in my restless explorations I am not wandering aimlessly but seeking more  direction from the One who created me.  My routes may shift, change and be corrected, but He is my constant companion. And with patience, mercy and grace, He is teaching me His ways to the final destination–complete rest in Him.

If you’re in a season of restlessness, my friend, I pray you know you do not need to wander. Instead keep your eyes fixed on the destination God calls us to–completeness in Him.

And you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.” Colossians 2:10

Linked up today at #TellHisStory

Love Lynn, Certified Professional Life Coach @ Inspiring Hope in You