No Matter the Place, It’s Always the People

Back by less than two weeks from my third trip to Israel, finally over the jet lag that dogged me longer than expected, I pondered the questions posed several times during the trip. “What is your favorite part of the trip so far?” “What is your takeaway?”

ancient olive trees in Garden of Gethsemane

Had I enjoyed exploring the grottoes near the Lebanon border on the Mediterranean? Spending unhurried time in a less visited part of the Garden of Gethsemane? Worshipping with previously unknown brothers and sisters outside of Jerusalem? Spending the night in a Bedouin camp? Absolutely! But favorite? Honestly, no matter when that question was asked, I could only remember the most immediate sight explored. Visiting so many places, several brand new to me, in such a short time, I couldn’t consider each one individually until I was home looking at my pictures and reliving the memories.Rosh HaNikra and grottoes (7)

mini-Beduoin Camp  (2)I wasn’t focused on finding that one most significant aspect of the trip, but Holy Spirit pointed out that the people we toured with made it extra special. My husband and I remarked several times while in Israel how much we were enjoying the entire group. We could interact with anyone at any time and feel none of the usual barriers found with groups.

I believe this was a specially chosen, God-picked group of just over 30 people, ranging in age from 12 to 73 and coming from the US, Canada, Scotland, Great Britain, France, Philippines (via Singapore,) and Israel. But, is that what made it special?

In part, I’m sure, but I suspect God saw so much more when He drew each of us to sign up and follow through. And I know He began something with the members of this group. Or He continued something. Or He completed something. Maybe some of all three. But something was affected in the spirit realm because we were all together on this particular trip at this particular time as believers in Christ who love Israel. Besides that, my heart gets happy each time I see the faces in pictures or memories.

12183691_463541337181015_5349280319832619147_oThere is a possibility I may never know what He did, and I’m not at all bothered by it. I’m totally thankful simply to have been included. Just being thankful is a really peaceful place to reside. I think I’ll dwell here going forward, no longer demanding to understand with my mind what Christ fully understands already.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

Saddling Up!

As you’ve probably noticed from the tone of most of my posts over the last six months, life has been on the tougher-than-normal side for me.  Several dear people have moved on to heaven, friendship seasons have changed (or, I just accepted that they already changed,) and we had to say goodbye to our beloved dog.  About the time I felt like I was getting my feet back under me, my son and daughter-in-law told us they were moving from a few blocks away to half the nation away.  It is a good opportunity for them, and they really love Texas, though he doesn’t get that from either of his parents. 🙂  Bam!  That quickly, I plummeted back to the depths of grief.

All I could see was loss.  All I could do was wonder what I will be about now that I don’t have family here, especially the three young grandchildren.  But God!

At the beginning of Our special Sunday morning time together, Holy Spirit spoke to my spirit, “Saddle up, Kay!”  Bam!  That quickly, hope was restored.  I was taken back to the morning 19 years ago when we drove away from our Florida home for the last time, heading to North Carolina.  Steven Curtis Chapman was singing The Great Adventure, with these words going deep:

Saddle up your horses.  We’ve got a trail to blaze through the wild blue yonder of God’s amazing grace.  Let’s follow our Leader into the glorious unknown.  This is life like no other.  This is the great adventure.

horsesNow, as all those years ago, a sense of excited anticipation is developing.  Now, as then, I know my Lord Jesus is moving me into what I’ve not seen before for my life, though He’s seen it all along.

Am I through with the tears?  Probably not.  After all, I still love all these deeply.  Yet, with those three words, I suddenly knew my life isn’t over.  There is more He wants to do with me here on earth.  I don’t know what it is, but I know the One Who does.  And I trust Him to take me step by step into a new chapter of His great adventure.

The words of Proverbs 3:5-6 seem to have a more solid footing in my heart than ever before: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your path.

Bam! That’s life!  That’s Jesus Christ!

Baaaaa!

Ah, those shower revelations!  Aren’t they wonderful?  You know, when you mindlessly go through the routine of a shower, all the while talking with Jesus.  And then He inserts one word or one thought that totally changes the course of the conversation – and your life.

Though it’s only been a few days, I can’t even remember, now, what question I wrestled with, what I tried so hard to understand . . . this time.  What I do remember is the sudden heart understanding that I don’t need to try so hard to understand everything, followed immediately by:

Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV  5 Trust in the Lord  with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

Despite repeating these verses to myself many times over many years, somehow, I really haven’t “gotten it,” the absolute bottom line truth that the Lord knows it all, and I don’t have to.  Period.  If I need to understand something, He will show me at the right time, but I won’t have to work my brain so hard to figure it out.  He will reveal it through His Word by His Spirit in such a way that it makes perfect sense and I’ll wonder why I didn’t “get it” before.  Until that time, I might as well simply trust that He knows and understands – beyond what I ever can with my finite mind.  This is resting in Him.  This is the only place to find His peace.

photo by Martin Baldwin, http://www.martincreative.co.uk

As if to bring the point home even more clearly, Daddy then reminded me of natural sheep and the shepherd.1  Sheep don’t lose sleep trying to figure out what their shepherd is doing.  They simply follow him, leaving the thinking and planning to him, and he makes all the decisions – all for their good, their benefit, their protection, their provision, their lives!  There is a reason Jesus calls us sheep; likewise, that He refers to Himself as the Good Shepherd — that we might so live.

Psalm 23  KJV  1 The Lord  is my shepherd; I shall not want.  2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.  3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.  4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.  5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.  6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord  for ever.

 

1 I know not all sheep are compliant and trusting. That is, however, the absolute best way for them to live, just like us with our Good Shepherd.

 

Return to Simplicity

It occurs to me, as I ponder questions about how God operates – if He operates in this way or that way, why He doesn’t do this or that, etc. – that I have left the underlying and overriding Truth of salvation.  After all, what has God done in salvation?  He has sent Jesus to earth to take on my sin – past, present, and future – to suffer the excruciating agony of separation from His Father because of my sin, which actually makes the physical suffering pale in comparison (Yes, it does!) – simply so I could be born again into life in eternal relationship with Our Father!

John 3:16 NIV  For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

When I simplify the whole Christian life equation, removing all the variables and all the unknowns (possibly never-knowns this side of eternity), my perspective becomes clear once again.  If Jesus would do this for me – and He did; and if Our Father would send Him to suffer for me this way – and He did; why do I insist on getting so caught up in but, what about?  God is fully trustworthy and so unlimited by my limited mind and its understanding!

Proverbs 3:5-6 AMP  5 Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding.  6 In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.

When I allow myself to focus on the things I don’t or can’t understand, at least for now, I begin to doubt (read this distrust) Him and His goodness, and even His motives.  But God is good!  Period.  He has given His all for all – even if I am the only one who ever received what He gave (and I know I’m not).  And He is trustworthy, even when I don’t understand.  He gave me His Word.  He gave me His Son.  He gave me His very life!

John 10:10 NIV  . . . I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

2 Chronicles 6:41 NIV  Now arise, O Lord God, and come to your resting place, you and the ark of your might.  May your priests, O Lord God, be clothed with salvation, may your saints rejoice in your goodness.

I choose to return to the simplicity of what God has done for me.  He’s given me life.  He’s given me salvation in Jesus Christ.  Praise our risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Do I Trust You?

There is an old Twila Paris song that comes back to mind at key points in life – you know, those times when you seem to be in a major time of shaking concerning everything that you’ve known or of which you’ve been a part.  It’s times when you can’t see what’s ahead, and it appears there is nothing underneath your feet anymore, for that matter, when you are trying desperately to hold onto the things that seem to be slipping from your grasp.  It’s in times like those I begin to hear the words of Twila’s song, Do I Trust You, Lord?

Sometimes my little heart can’t understand
What’s in Your will, what’s in Your plan.
So many times I’m tempted to ask You why,
But I can never forget it for long.
Lord, what You do could not be wrong.
So I believe You, even when I must cry.
Do I trust You, Lord?
Does the river flow?
Do I trust You, Lord?
Does the north wind blow?
You can see my heart,
You can read my mind,
And You’ve got to know
I would rather die
Than to lose my faith
In the One I love.
Do I trust You, Lord?
Do I trust You?

For Twila to have written this song, I believe she must have been experiencing a time of shaking in which she was forced to consider these very questions – and wait for the answer – before she could move on.  As she continues to probe more deeply into her heart, the foundational question becomes so clear, as it must to each of us.

I know the answers, I’ve given them all.
But suddenly now, I feel so small.
Shaken down to the cavity in my soul.
I know the doctrine and theology,
But right now they don’t mean much to me.
This time there’s only one thing I’ve got to know.

Do I trust You, Lord?
Does the robin sing?
Do I trust You, Lord?
Does it rain in spring?
You can see my heart,
You can read my mind,
And You’ve got to know
I would rather die
Than to lose my faith
In the One I love.
Do I trust You, Lord?
Do I trust You?

At this point, the music and the lyrics build in intensity, as the spirit man is rising up within her to make the declaration setting her on course once again, able to press on no matter the shaking, the losing of what has been familiar and comfortable, or the great things in which she has put her trust.

I will trust You, Lord, when I don’t know why.
I will trust You, Lord, till the day I die.
I will trust You, Lord, when I’m blind with pain!
You were God before, and You’ll never change.
I will trust You.
I will trust You.
I will trust You, Lord.
I will trust You.

There have been times in my own life when I couldn’t honestly sing the final refrain, when I really wasn’t sure.  It was in those times Holy Spirit ministered His comfort and assurance, along with the peace of Jesus Christ, until I could begin – with only whispers – to sing those last words. Though they were barely audible when I began, as I continued, the light of His Truth once again overcame the darkness that had tried to overcome me.

John 1:5 AMP And the Light shines on in the darkness, for the darkness has never overpowered it [put it out or absorbed it or appropriated it, and is unreceptive to it].

Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV  5 Trust in the Lord  with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

Even after the breakthrough I continued to face what, to me, were overwhelming circumstances and situations.  But God!  The Greater One reminded me that I can trust Him absolutely and completely, even when I don’t understand, and that He will guide my paths (meaning, He will not leave me alone to figure it out).  Surely, there is no place of more security and comfort than the place of trusting my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Glory to His name!

1 John 4:4 NIV  You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.