Thursday, September 22, 2016

Consult Your GPS

I was driving to work one morning when traffic suddenly came to a grinding halt. Road delays are not all that unusual, but the location of this particular stop was unusual. 

This traffic standstill was on a two-lane road with forest on either side. Ahead of me I saw several vehicles turning around to find another route. Ugh! How long would this delay be? Should I find another route? Which route would be faster? All of these questions were running through my mind as I looked ahead as far as my eye could see. Unfortunately, I could not see the cause of the problem.

So, while I was sitting still in traffic (not while I was moving), I consulted my GPS. According to GPS, there was indeed a backup on the road I was on (duh) and a wreck ahead. Okay, that's what's going on. Unfortunately, GPS didn’t tell me important things like how long this delay would be or whether I should find another route. 

The questions continued to swirl through my mind, but this time I decided the best course of action would be to wait and see. Many times the detours don't end up saving me time! I decided not to panic and turn around. 

After I made that decision, traffic began to slowly move and I noticed cars coming from the other direction. That’s a good sign! This was a short-lived delay! Traffic continued to move forward and before long I saw the reason for our slow-down. Two vehicles who had bumped into each other pulled their vehicles to the side of the road so that traffic could continue to flow.

Thankful that I was finally on my journey again, I suddenly realized I had a response to a prayer I asked of God five minutes earlier! 

Minutes before this traffic delay, I was thinking about circumstances in my life that left me feeling discouraged about the future. I breathed a quick prayer and asked the Lord for some encouragement.

I remembered a Bible verse that I'd read earlier that morning. God could make water come out of a rock, so I knew the Lord could handle the details of my life. Thank you, Lord, for reminding me.

He opened the rock, and water gushed out;
 it flowed like a river in the desert. 
Psalm 105:41

I continued on my journey and a new song began to play on the radio. The words to this song reminded me that God's will was more important than mine. Okay, point taken.

As I was pondering these thoughts, that's when I ran into the traffic delay mentioned previously. After I was back on my journey I suddenly realized God had been trying to show me something. Aha! 

God sees me. (Genesis 16:13)
God hears me. (1 John 5:14)
God has a plan for my life. (Jeremiah 29:11) 

God reminded me that there will be delays in life and sometimes He asks me to wait. How long? Hmmmm... I wish I could consult my other GPS (God Positioning System), but that app has not been invented. Sometimes the delay is long and sometimes it’s brief. I do need to trust Him, though. God may detour me or ask me to be patient till He clears the way ahead.

Yes, that encouragement I prayed for had come. I only needed to pay attention and expect an answer. God is faithful!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

We love because He first loved us.

This Bible verse has come to my attention three times in a 24-hour period this week. Each time from a different source. After the third time seeing this verse I sat at attention. Is there some reason you want me to pay close attention to this verse, Lord?

We love because he first loved us. 
1 John 4:19

I thought about it for a bit and then forged ahead with my day. The clock was ticking and I had to keep moving. For the most part I pushed those early morning thoughts aside, but it was still there in the back of my mind.

As the day moved on, challenges came to the forefront. The challenges included individuals testing my patience, deadlines, and unexpected traffic delays. On the flip side were sweet times with thoughtful an supportive friends, laughter and silliness, and a simple, sweet text from my boyfriend letting me know he was thinking of me.

It's easy to be loving with the latter scenario. It's not so easy to be loving with the former scenario. Now that I've had time to think about these verses popping up everywhere, perhaps it was a reminder that I cannot be loving without Christ's love inside me. God is love and Christ is the product of that love. Without Christ in my life it's a constant struggle to love and to respond in a loving manner during difficult times. Oh, I'm not always successful in my responses. Sometimes I respond in unloving ways. It happens. [shrug]

I haven't been writing on this blog as regularly as I used to. This morning I saw a message on Facebook that reminded me that I have a story to tell. All of us do and we should share it in whatever platform given to us. My platform happens to be this blog which I started over four years ago during a time of struggle and testing. Blogging helped me and encouraged others while carrying out the message Paul taught in 2 Corinthians chapter 1.

I remember about the time I first began blogging here, God showed me that I cannot truly love a man without first understanding His love for me. It was a profound moment for me to learn that tidbit of truth. Since that time God has been teaching me how much He loves me. Earlier this year, several months after meeting my boyfriend, I had an epiphany. As much as my boyfriend loved me--and that's a whole lot--God loved me even more. Wow! My eyes filled with tears as I realized the magnitude of what that looked like. I had a human demonstration of unconditional love and finally understood how much God's love transcends all of that.

Over my lifetime I have had many demonstrations of love to show me this connection, but I didn't really get it until now. Better late, than never. God used this man in my life to teach me and to bless me. I am so very grateful. 

I was reading a devotional yesterday about the disciple John. It said that as John grew older, his writing become more and more focused on one subject: LOVE. The legend says that one of John's younger followers asked him why he focused so much on this topic and John's response was, "Because there isn't anything else." 

Love is the answer. We get so hung up on who's right and who's wrong, what she did and what he didn't do, and so on. Jesus calls us to keep loving--even when it's hard!

I'll sign off with John's words from 1 John 4: 11-21.

11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 
12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another,
God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 
 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.
  15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 
16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.  
17  This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence
 on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. 
But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. 
The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
19 We love because he first loved us.20 Whoever claims to love God 
yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, 
whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 
21 And he has given us this command: 
Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.