This past week our verse proved to be heart opening. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I never know how the verse will prove itself to be true, but this week I found it interesting that a verse instructing us to return to Him began, as Mission’s week started at my church.
“Even now – this is the LORD’s declaration – turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Tear your hearts, not just your clothes, and return to the LORD your God. For He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, rich in faithful love, and He relents from sending disaster.” Joel 2:12-13 HCSB
If you’re coming with me as I dive into the re-cap grab your floaties, it’s going to get deep! I will need something to keep my head above the water.
My notes are all over the place for this week, in fact they look like a Spirograph. For those old enough to remember it was a child’s toy that allowed kids to draw pictures intertwining multiple lines, with multiple colors.
This week that is how my life has felt. And it all began with these two words:
Ok. Can we just stop here for a moment? Think about that. “Even now…” What does that say to you? Those two words packed a punch for me. It forced me to look back at my life. Of course I didn’t want to look too far back – yikes! Do you know what I mean? However, the picture that was right in front of me was my life over the last year and a half.
The last year and a half of planning. My plans. My plans that became ink on a piece of paper. Yep, that’s about it. You see, I pretty much grew up in Corporate America. My career started in The Giant when I was in my very early 20’s and continued on for the next 2 ½ decades before being laid off. If you work, or have worked in Corporate America you know how structured things are. There are goals set, goals met, and goals exceeded. I learned early on to devise a plan for each year that held my goals, and a map on how to meet and exceed them.
With each passing year I would put one foot up higher on The Giant’s ladder. That climb earned me a title, benefits, and recognition. But, with the climb also comes added responsibility, and sacrifices. Some of which I would change if I could; that’s another article for another time. Back to plans.
There is nothing wrong with planning. I still do it. It keeps me focused, and goal oriented. However, the picture God gave me was that in the majority of my plans I wanted Him to get on board with mine. Not me on His.
“You can make many plans, but the LORD’s purpose will prevail.” Pr. 19:21 NLT
Fast forward to the last three and a half years. I plan. He says “Nope.” You see my plans included:
Career choice number two – Law.
With that set in motion, He allowed me to go for one year before saying “No.”
Even now – after that I did not know what I would do. Have you ever done that? Tried to go for a career, and then discover the door closed? Perhaps another one opened immediately for you. If so, great! If not, like me you may have felt like Hansel and Gretel in the forest. We leave bread crumbs in an attempt to find our way back, and discover they have been eaten up. And here we stand in the middle of the Black Forest wondering which way to go.
Even now – God leads us. This week in all my plans, my plans that did not succeed, were plans that ultimately would lead me back to God. Has that ever happened to you? You planned and it took you full circle? And, landed you right back to God. Amazing crazy isn’t it!?
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways.” This is the LORD’s declaration. “For as heaven is higher than the earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isa. 55: 8-9 HCSB
I mentioned this is Mission’s Conference at my church. God has opened my eyes to the plight of those around the globe. The freedom that I take for granted. The ability to talk of my religion, read my bible, and pray, whenever and to whoever I desire. Many across the globe are being persecuted for their faith. Feel free to check out www.opendoorsUSA.org. I have also added information on how you can help on the blog. The page is titled “Practicing Truth.”
Even now – after leaving law school I have made plans. Plans to find another career, a job, a purpose. What I saw was God’s graciousness and compassion in the maintaining of:
Things we (I) can take for granted. Things where a sense of entitlement can creep in. Now, make sure your floaties are filled with air – things that can cause us to think “God owes me.” Tidal wave!
“I will show mercy to whom I will show mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” Ro. 9:15 HCSB
Even now – after all my planning, my expectations, my sense of entitlement. This week God has shown me. All my paths have led to Him.
“For He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, rich in faithful love, and He relents from sending disaster.” Joel 2:13 HCSB
Even now – His rich faithful love was with me in the past; with me in the present; and will be with me in the future. The challenge I face now as I swim back to shore is when I plan to include God. What does He want me to do? To say? To go?
Even now – He relented from destroying me because of His rich faithful love. That right there is really the only reason we need to ever be grateful!
Even now – amidst my plans He is relenting and changing me. Friends, is He changing you? Where have you noticed the changes? How has His love came alive for you?
Even now – as I sit on the sandy shore, taking my floaties off, I am reminded of His word:
“If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God! In fact, that first glory was not glorious at all compared with the overwhelming glory of the new way. So if the old way, which has been replaced, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new, which remains forever!” 2 Cor. 3:9-11 NLT
Even now – as I make plans they are new plans. Plans that only include trusting God, learning His word, growing more and more in knowledge of Jesus each day, and the rest – well, He will take care of it.
Even now – He still accepts me. And you.
Even now –
©Gentle Whisper Ministries 2016
*pictures by greenhomebuilding, and pinterest