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Posts Tagged ‘God’s plan’

Certain lessons seem to be particularly important for me to “get” because they are being reinforced  almost weekly.  Last week an exclamation point was made on the lesson – “It may not be what you expect, but trust Me, My plan is better!”

We visited our two married daughters over the course of last week.  Rhiannon and Jeff in Chattanooga Thursday – Sunday morning and then Christin and Michael in Elizabethton Sunday – Tuesday.  Everything went pretty much like we planned with Rhiannon and Jeff, but it seemed like every plan we made with Christin had to be scrapped or modified heavily.  No worries, we were just happy to be spending time together.

Monday afternoon one modified plan had us drive to the top of Roan Mountain where we enjoyed some beautiful views from the bald mountain top.  The wonderful 360 degree view had us thinking about sunrise pics over the NC mountains.  Checking the weather in Elizabethton, 20 miles away we saw that the weather report was promising and the plan was hatched.

 

Tuesday morning we arose at 4:45 am and we were headed out of town 15 minutes later.  We were excited to see a star studded sky as we rolled out of Elizabethton heading toward Roan Mountain.  Two miles from the top of the mountain was when I first noticed the moisture on the road.  A mile from the top I noticed the stiff breeze that hadn’t been present on any of our drive thus far.  Shortly thereafter wisps of cloud started sweeping across in front of the car and for the last 200 yards I had to drive at a snail’s pace into the parking lot because of the thick fog.

We were still an hour before sunrise.  I am quite used to fog.  But fog is usually stationary settling into the low areas on windless mornings.  On the mountaintop it was foggy with a 15 – 20 mph breeze driving it.  Undeterred we gathered camera, tri-pod, flashlights and goody bag and headed up the 3/4 mile hike to the top of the mountain in a cold, drizzly, windy fog hoping for the best.

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This is about 15 minutes before sunrise and we were beginning to think the sun may not actually burn through the fog like we were hoping.

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This is when you kinda wished you hadn’t been told about the number of bear sightings up on the mountain.

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Inside the woods the wind was blocked and it was eerily peaceful.

That breeze that we experienced in the Parking Lot was a foretaste and not the real deal.  We broke out of the woods about half way to the top and realized that the exposed mountain bald seemed to increase the wind intensity by at least a factor of two.

We made it to the top of the mountain, thankful that we had also been there the day before so we recognized some rock outcroppings as landmarks.  We hunkered down behind a rock for a bit hoping the clouds would clear and we would get some sunrise shots.  But while the clouds around us brightened as sunrise arrived the wind didn’t let up and the fog never thinned.

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The view right at sunrise… at least according to our watch.

Since we had been to the mountain the day before, we knew that amazing panoramic views existed from right where we were huddled.  Yet the wind, fog, and rain made it difficult to remember just how beautiful it was.  I was struck with how graphic an illustration that is of the impact of trials in our life.  When life is good it’s easy to see God’s hand at work.  But when trials press upon us it often becomes much harder to discern God’s actions on our behalf.  It is in these times that our faith is stretched.  Holding onto the reality that we have previously experienced – God’s faithful provision, is just like remembering the mountain view we had seen the day before.  We may not see it at the moment, but we know it exists.  Our task is to remember and wait for the reality to be revealed again.

We slowly made our way back down to the car and then headed back down the mountain.  A deer  came up beside us on the road and we slowed to let it pass.  A mile down the road we were out of the fog.

As we progressed down the mountain we saw sunshine followed by a brief rain shower.  The thought passed through my mind, “Sun and rain, I wonder if there’s a rainbow somewhere?”  Through a break in the trees just prior to the final overlook I could see a shower in the valley beside the mountain and a slight brightening where the sun was trying to break through.  As we rounded the curve at the final overlook this is the view that we saw.

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We were shocked by how quickly this rainbow appeared.

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The colors were vibrant and yet it was continually shifting from a single to a double and from a full to a partial rainbow.

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For a few seconds it formed a full rainbow… and we just happened to be in the right spot to catch it in all it’s glory.

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We couldn’t quite tell if the pot of gold was in that little barn or the orchard beside it.  What we knew for a certainty was that our Heavenly Father was enjoying our laughter and celebration with us as we alternately uttered words of praise and gasps of wonder while we snapped pics.

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The double rainbow was fleeting, but we saw it come and go two or three times in then 3 – 5 minutes the rainbow was visible.

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Looking toward the sun… and giving praise to the Son.

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The final pic as the shower ceased and the rainbow quickly faded.

The entire rainbow celebration lasted less than 5 minutes, but a number of things stood out to me.

  • We had to make the journey to be able to see the rainbow.  We didn’t know the rainbow was the purpose and penultimate pic of the trip, but our Father did.
  • We tarried in the dark, in the rain, in the wind, in the fog, and ultimately made close to a 2 mile hike seemingly in a lost cause, but God had a better plan.
  • We had to be in exactly the right spot AND at exactly the right time to see and enjoy the rainbow like we did.  If we had rushed at any point in the morning’s journey we would have missed it.
  • Our response to seeing the rainbow was pure wonder, celebration, and thankfulness to our gracious heavenly Father for this simple, but beautiful blessing.  And I believe He enjoyed it as much as we did.

Finally I remember where God first introduced the rainbow to His creation.  It’s in Genesis chapter 9:12-17.  And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.  Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind.  Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.  Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”

So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.”

We didn’t get what we expected, but what we got was so much better.

And that’s just the way God is with His children.

Be blessed today and be a blessing!  If you like this, please share it with a friend.

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The Presidential Race is going strong here in the USA.  Sadly, that means dealing loosely with the truth is broadly on display for all to see.  At least two of the front runners in the race for our highest office are guilty of repeatedly lying.  And yet they are still in contention to be our next president.  I find myself becoming discouraged, not so much by the fact that the lying occurs, but that it seems like it is accepted by so many voters.  Truth is devalued.  When truth becomes so devalued that it no longer matters, the consequences are brutal.  Just look at Germany in the 1930’s…the Soviet Union in the early to mid 20th century…ISIS today.

Fortunately there is a remedy – an eternal remedy.  God is real.  His sovereignty is genuine.  His plan is being worked out.  Ultimately all lies and distortions of God’s eternal truths will be completely overthrown.  And if we chose, we do not have to wait for some time in the future for this to begin taking place.  Jesus explained this to a crowd of His followers and His antagonists in John 8:31-32.  “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 

I have lost count of the number of times God’s truth has given me a stable place to stand when it seemed the world around me was in upheaval.  Some of them stand out as stark reminders for me now and on into eternity.

When my company announced a merger and it was likely that the group I was in would be downsized.  The Lord clearly spoke Isaiah 41:10 to me.  “So do not fear for I am with you; do not be ashamed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”  Through the months of waiting as the merger unfolded and the office I was in was eventually downsized, I had God’s truth holding me.

Nine months into this process, when they called us in individually to tell us our specific outcomes, I was told my job was being eliminated.  This time Jeremiah 29:11 repeatedly came to mind, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”  I was totally buoyed by the truth God spoke.  I was immensely aware that the God of the universe was with me to see me through.  No matter how it turned out, He had my back… as well as my front, my sides, above and beneath.

Five days before this job was to end, they offered me a new position which was a significant promotion to do work that I really wanted to do.  I experienced the reality of Jeremiah 29:11 in a way so tangible that even as I write today I can’t help but smile.  I know a freedom that the world doesn’t know because I am certain of the truth – He is alive and He is living in me.

But let’s bring the story up-to-date.  A little over a year ago I was in a leadership role in a new company where I had worked for about 3 years.  I had significant responsibility in a brand new plant.  We were making steady progress on our goals, but my boss, the plant manager, and I were not on aligned.  While it was not a surprise, it was still uncomfortable to be told by your friend, the HR Manager, “I have to let you go.”  Since we are talking truth, I have to admit that there were bouts of anger, feelings of loss, and a number of times when I reviewed what I could have done differently.  I continually came back to the same place though.  I had continued to lead with the best interests of all involved to carry out my job in a manner that glorified God and met the company objectives.  In my heart, I could not perform my job the way my boss wanted me to and remain true to my moral and ethical beliefs.  And since he was the boss it was his right to fire me.

Through that soul-searching time the Lord repeatedly gave me signs of His love and peace.  Over and over as I would begin to sink into either anger at the unfairness or self-pity at the loss of a very good (compensation-wise) job, the Lord would whisper, “Trust Me.” 

Today I am at peace and even quite thankful for that situation.  I work part-time doing work that I enjoy, working with people that appreciate what I do.  The mountain of stress that I was under is gone.  My marriage is as strong as ever.  I am able to be much more involved in caring for people.  In fact this afternoon I am going to my grandson’s school to give a brief talk on Thomas Jefferson as part of their President’s month.  I am thrilled to get to do this.

Dear reader, I don’t know where you are in your life, but I want to encourage you today to look to the Truth.  Jesus said in John 14:6 “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.”  If you already know Him, as I am sure is the case for many of you, then commit yourself totally to knowing Him better.  Spend time every day seeking His face and fellowship.  Obey what He says in His Word and what He whispers to your heart.  He is there and He is not silent.  Love Him and let Him love you.  Freedom – amazing, awesome, peace-filled freedom is what awaits.

What are you waiting for?  Tether to the truth and hold on for the ride of your life.

Be blessed and be a blessing today!

 

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I am moved by how deeply, how passionately God loves us.  As we approach Holy Week I invite you to pause each day and plumb the depths of what God did for us… for you 2000 years ago.  He literally dealt with sin once and for all.  Jesus, God’s Son, performed the most gracious act ever undertaken because He loved and obeyed the Father and because they both love us.  Romans 5:8 says “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” 

I heard a story about a Railroad switchman many years ago that has stuck with me.  Back in those days switching a railroad from one track to another was accomplished by manually actuating sets of large, open gears that literally shifted the rails from one set to another.  The switchmen were the railroad employees responsible for knowing which tracks went where and how to keep the trains flowing smoothing through the yard without incident.  While this is all automated today, back then it was a task that rested upon the knowledge, quick-thinking, and physical strength of the switchman.  The story told was long before OSHA rules and regulations.

As the story was told to me one particular day a watchman had decided to take his young son to his work to show him the trains and give him an idea of what his dad did for a living.  The young lad was thrilled to see the engines and all new things in the switchyard.  While they are there another railroad employee approached the switchman with a question to which the switchman responded.  His son saw his chance to “explore” and slipped away.  The question it turns out reveals a significant drama unfolding.  A passenger train is barreling into the switchyard and has had a brake failure.  The father’s presence becomes providential in that he understands the gravity of the situation and is able to quickly determine what must be done to save the train and it’s passengers.  It’s fairly complicated, but with a few rapidly executed track switches he can prevent a certain crash and derailment which would injure and kill many passengers.  As the father runs from switch to switch making the necessary changes, he is barely ahead of the speeding train.  At the last switch he arrives with only a moment to look up before he must throw the switch only to realize making the last switch will send the train down the track where his son is seated playing with a piece of coal.  He has only two choices – either save his son and watch many people crash and die or make the switch and watch his son die.

I heard this story before I had children and it was hard to fathom the sacrifice the father made even then.  Today I have four children and it is even harder.  But this gives us a sense of the sacrifice our heavenly Father made in sending His Son, Jesus, to die for our sins.  Why did He do this?  The answer absolutely blows me away.  He did it because He loves me.  He did it because He loves you.  He did it because it was the only way we could be reconciled in our relationship with Him.

Sin… my sin, my choices to go my way, had put a barrier between the God who loves me and me.  But God never stopped loving me.  He never stopped loving you despite your sin.  In fact He knew we would be separated from Him so He made a way for us to be reconciled to Him.  He called a people group to be His chosen people.  Through this group He set up the process where by a substitution, a perfect lamb, could stand in the place of a sinner to take their deserved punishment.  The code of justice was served, the penalty was paid, and mercy was extended to the sinner.  But the blood of goats and lambs only rolled the penalty forward.  It foreshadowed God’s ultimate plan to send His Son, Jesus, to live a perfect sinless life among His chosen people.  And at the right time to become the one, perfect sacrifice for all people, for all time.  AMAZING… AMAZING LOVE!

For the person reading this right now, I believe God put these thoughts in my heart and encouraged you to read this so He can get you this message.  “He loves YOU with an amazing, hard-to-fathom, but true love.  You are so precious to Him that He gave that which was, and is, dearest to Him – the life of His Son, Jesus.  He purchased your salvation at the highest price imaginable because to Him, you are worth it.”

“Father, this day we thank you for your amazing love.  You absolutely overwhelm us with your goodness, your kindness, your mercy.  Although we don’t deserve it, we will receive it with thanksgiving.  And we love you in return.  Imperfect as it is, we offer you our love, our lives, our obedience.  God, please deepen our knowledge of You.  Help us to be transformed by Your Holy Spirit through the reading of Your Word and obedience to what it says.  Jesus, make your life inside of us grow more and more each day.  Let your love do its work in us and through us.  And love others through us today so that they might know You – the Lover of our soul.  Jesus, I pray this in Your mighty and powerful Name.  Amen.”

Be blessed and be a blessing today my friend.

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