What lies ahead?

“What lies ahead?”
When it comes to human experiences, no one knows for sure.
Engagements can be broken and weddings cancelled.
Marriages that began with hope, love, and passion
can end before the first wedding anniversary or after the 30th.


Jobs that seemed to have so much possibility
could end in unexpected termination.
A patient could come through a complicated surgery successfully
and die during recovery because of an unrelated infection.
A day that began with a brilliant sunrise could end in a fierce storm.


A few words spoke thoughtlessly could inflict a deep wound
that takes months or even years to heal.
A conversation with a stranger
could lead to a life-long friendship.
One idea could become a multi-million business.
One blog post could provide encouragement to a discouraged soul.

What lies ahead?
When it comes to human experiences,
no human knows for sure.
But the omnipotent, omnipresent,
omniscient God and Father knows.
And has promised sufficient grace,
and added strength,
and comfort,
and above all,
His abiding presence,
and an eternal home.

This post was originally published on November 8, 2020, as “Ahead.” Rereading it was helpful to me and I am reposting it with the hope that it could be helpful to you … whether you are reading it again or for the first time. Blessings.

Forward

“The Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to Me? Tell the sons of Israel to move forward [toward the sea].” (Exodus 14:15, AMP).

There are any number of factors that can elicit apprehension, if not dread, when we face the prospect of moving forward. Even when what we are moving into is familiar. Even more so when what we face is novel.

A common thread shared by the familiar and the novel situation is the incomplete, imperfect, fragmentary nature of human knowledge. This quality of human knowledge means that no matter the level of research in which we have engaged, no matter the level of expertise we possess about any situation, there will always be aspects that are unknown to us.

And among the many lessons that the COVID-19 global pandemic have taught and continue to teach, are that we control less than we believe and there is much we do not know – about ourselves and those around us.

As of today, in the USA, 400,000, persons – mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, cousins, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, employers, employees, neighbors, etc. – have died of complications of the COVID-19 virus. Tomorrow, January 20th, the 46th President of the USA, Joseph Biden, and the first female vice-president, Kamala Harris, will be inaugurated. There is so much that is unknown about the future.

Thankfully, there is One who is omniscient – ELOHIM. Thankfully, He is with us and for us as we face what is unknown to us. As we face the unknown, we can find comfort in the words of Corrie Ten Boom, “Never be afraid to trust your unknown future to a known God.” Let us make increasing our knowledge of the omniscient God, a priority, for wholehearted trust of God is tied to a deepening, intimate knowledge of Him.

“Those who know you, Lord, will trust you;  you do not abandon anyone who comes to you.” (Psalm 9:10, GNT).

N.B. A version of this post was first published on May 23, 2020.

Full

Some seasons seem chock full of pain and loss.
Heartache and loneliness.
Dashed dreams.
Unmet goals.
Hard things.
Unanswered prayers.
Uncertainty.
Chaos.
Injustice.
Hatred.

But these seasons only seem chock full of these things.
Because God is present in every season.
And He is the Sovereign Lord in each season.
And because He is, there is abounding grace in each season.
And there is hope in every season.
And there is love.
In the midst of the pain and loss.
Heartache and loneliness.
Dashed dreams.
Unmet goals.
Hard things.
Unanswered prayers.
Uncertainty.
Chaos.
Injustice.
Hatred.

Some seasons seem chock full of hard things but they only seem full of these things.
Grace is there also.
And so is hope.
And so is peace.
Because God is present in each season.

N.B. I published this post originally on November 30, 2019. I reread it recently and realized that I needed and need the reminder of the reality of God’s abiding presence, His omnipresence, and the hope this truth engenders. I wanted to share it just in case someone else needs this reminder also.

Sustenance from the archives+: Song

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“How shall we sing a song of the Lord; in an alien land?
(But how can be sing a song to the Lord, in a foreign, or a strange, land?)
(Psalm 137:4, Wycliffe Bible)

“Oh, how could we ever sing God’s song in this wasteland?
 (Psalm 137:4, Message)

I can almost feel their heartbreak, the heartbreak of the children of Israel who had been led captive to Babylon because of their sin, their prolonged disobedience to God. They were asked by those who had captured them to sing one of the songs of Zion. They felt unable to do so.

And there are seasons in all of our lives when the idea of singing, of singing a song of the Lord, of singing a song to the Lord, in the place where we are, seems inconceivable. For where we are seems like a “wasteland,” “a foreign place.” But it is in those places and in those seasons that we must sing; we need to sing a song of the Lord, of His goodness and His unending grace of His mercy and of His faithfulness. Of His love and His promise to always be with us, when He seems most far away. It is then we must sing a song to Him.

(End of 5 minutes)

Declaring to Him, “You are faithful. You are gracious. You are full of compassion and plenteous in mercy. There is no one like You. Your loving-kindness endures forever.” Because singing songs of praise and thanksgiving, worshipping Him focuses our attention on Him. Reminds us Who He is. And when we remember Who He is, we are reminded of who we are in Him, and of His promise to be with us always … in the fire, in the water, in the flood, in the wilderness. And work everything together for our good. He gives us the strength and the grace in the wasteland. And sometimes He transforms the wasteland, the wilderness, into a place where flowers blossom. Sometimes He transforms us in the wasteland, in the foreign places. Sing.


Today’s post is for Day 28 of the series, “Sustenance from the archives+,” that is part of the 31 Days Free Writes writing challenge. The prompt is, “Song.” The original version of this post was published as, “Five Minute Friday: Sing,” on April 22, 2017. To read Day 28’s post, please click on the link below.

Day 27: Whole

Sustenance from the archives+: Whole

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The Merriam-Webster  dictionary defines “whole” as complete or full, not lacking or leaving out any part. And just in case I was still struggling to understand the meaning of whole, it goes on to tell me, “whole implies that nothing has been omitted, ignored, abated, or taken away.

Whole.
We are all broken, by virtue of being human and heirs of the legacy of the first man and the first’s woman’s disobedience.
How is wholeness found?
How do we become whole?
Not through another human, regardless of what the romantic novels say,
as articulated in statements such as, “You complete me.”
Not so.
Not true.

There is only one Who completes us –
The One Who was all man and all God.
Christ Jesus.
Here this truth spoken in Colossians 2:9-10,
“For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.”

Broken? Flawed?
We all are.
But we do not have to remain that way.
There is One who makes us complete.
Whole.


Today’s post is for Day 27 of the series, “Sustenance from the archives+,” that is part of the 31 Days Free Writes writing challenge. The prompt is, “Whole.” The original version of this post was published as, “Five Minute Friday: Whole,” on April 10, 2016. To read Day 26’s post, please click on the link below.

Day 26: Moment

Sustenance from the archives+: Capture

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They soared above my head and I reached for my cell phone to capture them in flight. I could not access the camera on my cell phone quickly enough and was frustrated as the flock quickly disappeared from my view. Moments later, another flock flew above my head and it seemed I was being given another opportunity to capture the beauty overhead. I took several shots this time but was disappointed when I looked at the photos. What was clear as day and life sized viewed through the lenses of my human eyes, was captured by my cell phone’s camera as dots in the expanse of the sky.

This experience reminded me of the fact that the lenses through which I see do influence the quality of my vision and my perception of my experiences. I used my cell phone’s camera, which was okay for close up shots of stationary objects, to capture birds in flight; however, what I needed were lenses designed to capture motion from a distance.

And I think of how often I rely on the lenses of my experiences, and emotions, and the opinions of others to understand the circumstances of my life, when what I need are the lenses of faith. Faith, we are told, “makes us sure of what we hope for and gives us proof of what we cannot see” (Hebrews 11:1, CEV).  We are told also that we need faith to please God; thankfully, He has given us faith and we can develop our faith, as one Bible teacher notes, “by feeding it on God’s Word and by putting it into practice (or exercising it) in everyday living.” The lenses of faith. I need them.


Today’s post is for Day 25 of the series, “Sustenance from the archives+,” that is part of the 31 Days Free Writes writing challenge. The prompt is, “Capture.” The original version of this post was published as, “Lenses,” on September 26, 2016. To read Day 24’s post, please click on the link below.

Day 24: Brief

Sustenance for the archives+: Common

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Most stories have several things in common. It does not matter whether they are true stories or of the Hans Christian Andersen variety with princes, and dragons. And princesses who are saved by princes from dragons (animals or evil, dragon like people). Or princesses who find some way to save themselves or the prince.

What stories have in common are a plot, a beginning, an in-between with twists and turns, and an end. Some leave me with a smile on my face and others have me wanting back the hours I wasted reading it. But we all know that is not possible, regaining time that is.

Another thing common to stories is there is also an author for each story. Stories do not just appear out of nowhere.

I think about my own story and the One who is writing it. I think of how, through the psalmist-king David (what a story he had!), in Psalm 139, He speaks of my beginning – “You knit me together in my mother’s womb … all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be” (verses 13 and 16).

Father, I do not always understand each chapter but I want to collaborate with You where You want me to and not have too many parts included in my story that You never intended to be there.


Today’s post is for Day 23 of the series, “Sustenance from the archives+,” that is part of the 31 Days Free Writes writing challenge. The prompt is, “Common.” The original version of this post was published on August 2, 2013, as “Five Minute Friday: Story.” To read Day 22’s post please click on the link below.

Day 22: Help

 

 

 

Sustenance from the archives+: Search

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If you want to know who Jesus is, search the Scriptures. He is present in every book from Genesis to Revelation.

“You search and keep on searching and examining the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and yet it is those [very Scriptures] that testify about Me; and still you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life” (John 5:39-40, AMP).

“You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13, HCSB).

“Then beginning with Moses and [throughout] all the [writings of the] prophets, He explained and interpreted for them the things referring to Himself [found] in all the Scriptures” (Luke 24:27, AMP).

“Then He opened their minds to [help them] understand the Scriptures, and said, “And so it is written, that the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed) would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance [necessary] for forgiveness of sins would be preached in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem” (Luke 24:45-47, AMP).

“Now some Greeks were among those who went up to worship at the festival. So they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and requested of him, ‘Sir, we want to see Jesus'” (John 12:20-21, HCSB).

Like the Greeks who came to worship, may this be our cry, “We want to see Jesus.”


Today’s post is for Day 18 of the series, “Sustenance from the archives+,” that is part of the 31 Days Free Writes writing challenge. The prompt is, “Search.” To read the post for Day 17, click on the link below.

Day 17: Pause

Sustenance from the archives+: Pause

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“Pause:”
A temporary stop in action or speech.
Of its many synonyms, these are the ones I find soothing:
Standstill, lull, respite, interlude, and breathing space.

Breathing space …
I think of the hectic nature of many of my days,
and I want, or rather, need to create breathing spaces in each day.

I recognize that they do not have to be long.
How long?
Just enough to exhale the breath I was unaware I was holding,
inhale deeply and exhale once more.
Just long enough to drop the shoulders that I did not know were tense.
Just long enough to notice beauty around me.
Just long enough to remember that my Father is the Giver of all good things.
Just long enough to whisper, “Thank You.”

Breathing spaces.
What would yours look like?


Today’s post is for Day 17 of the series, “Sustenance from the archives+,” that is part of the 31 Days Free Writes writing challenge. The prompt is, “Pause.” This post was originally published as “Five Minute Friday: Pause” on May 26, 2018. I read it and realized my practice of “creating breathing spaces in my day” needs attention. To read the post for Day 16 of the series, please click on the link below.

Day 16: Pray

Sustenance from the archives+: Pray

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Sometimes I confuse them –
my wants (my desire for something)
and my needs (what is essential, necessary, required for my wellbeing).

Sometimes I confuse them –
my wants
and my needs.
Thankfully, my Father never does.

And I have this assurance, “Your Father knows what you need
before you ask Him.” (Matthew 6:8).
And this instruction from the Word made flesh,

“Pray then, in this way:
Our Father, who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.

Your kingdom come,
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven our
debtors [letting go of both the wrong and the
resentment].

And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
[For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen]’”
(Matthew 5: 9-13, AMP)

I pray for wisdom to distinguish between my wants and my needs.
And for grace to be content with what You provide.
Choosing to believe that You give good gifts
and will meet every need
(and even some wants)
in Your perfect timing.


Today’s post is for Day 16 of the series, “Sustenance from the archives+,” that is part of the 31 Days Free Writes writing challenge. The prompt is, “Pray.” This post was originally published as “Five Minute Friday: Need,” on November 3, 2017. To read the post for Day 15 of the series, please click on the link below.

Day 15: When