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Posts Tagged ‘guidance’

I had a bad travel day this week.  What was supposed to be 8 hours of travel from a worksite to home became a 28-hour ordeal.  Three canceled flights coming out of one airport, the last one after I had only gotten a little sleep in order to be at the airport at 5:15 am for my trip home, left me pretty frustrated.  As I road in the taxi for the 1-1/2 hr trip to a different airport to wait 5 hours for a flight that hopefully would get me home, I admit I was throwing a pity party in my mind in my own honor.

At the airport I waited until a little after 7 to awaken my wife with a phone call for our morning conversation and devotion.  She didn’t realize immediately that I wasn’t supposed to be talking to her at that moment because I was supposed to be in the air heading home.  However, her sympathy and encouraging words, began the process of getting my mind right.  When she read the devotion from Jesus Always by Sarah Young though, that is when the Lord really lifted me up.  It was a reading inspired for that moment.  I’m convinced He does this often if we are open to it.  I have included a picture of the devotion below.  The gist was that God is with us at all times and we can trust Him at all times –  in the good times and the bad times. 

Well friends, that reading was like the sunshine breaking through after 5 days of rain and overcast skies.  While I was still about 12 hours from getting home, I knew the Lord was present and that His love was real and tangible.

As I boarded my first flight 5 hours later, I followed a petite young lady down the jet bridge.  I didn’t realize it yet, but Miss K was to be my seat mate.  On recent trips, I have rued the fact that no one chats on flights anymore.  It had been a long time since I had a good conversation on one of my flights.  The ever present and attention-sucking smart phone is one of the primary reasons.  And I can be just as bad as anyone.  Thankfully… in fact providentially, our trip was not one of those trips. 

Almost immediately after sitting down, Miss K expressed exasperation that she had left her book in the bag she gate-checked.  So instead of reading we began to chat.  Another confession on my part, in some instances I look to use conversations to share God stories.  I know that some of the miraculous things God has done in our life is for encouraging other people.  However, I am also aware I can “force” things and it is so much better to allow the Lord to lead the conversation.  Well that is exactly what happened this day. 

Miss K shared that she was considering going back to school for a career change.  It was casual conversation and I did not pick up that there was a problem or issue driving this.  As she was sharing a scripture came strongly to mind. “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 path.” Proverbs 3:5-6

I shared that with her and then the natural flow of the conversation caused me to share how the Lord had faithfully guided me through a job change that occurred over a period of 15 months.  Now until this point I had only glanced at Miss K.  But as I neared the end of the story, I looked her in her eyes.  It was only then that I noticed the tears rolling down her face.  There was backstory for her that she had not shared.  The work situation she was in was very difficult and she was seeking the Lord’s guidance in what to do.  Of course as she shared, now I began feeling wetness on my cheeks.   A few moments later I started laughing as I realized – the Lord only had to ground three flights and to get me on this flight next to Miss K and provide exactly the right devotion to adjust my attitude so we could have this conversation.  Suddenly the unfortunate travel day had purpose…  I am so thankful that the Lord gave Miss K what she needed.  I am totally confident He will lead her into her next steps.  I am also thankful to know that when things don’t go my way, I can lean into God’s faithful, ever-present love and know He is working things out for good.

This morning as I type on my back porch with the sun just rising and the birds singing songs of praise to the Creator, My heart is overflowing with gratitude that the Lord loves us and He is infinitely trustworthy.  Whether things are going well or they are far from “perfect”,

He is there,

He loves us,

He is in control,

and we can trust in Him.

Be blessed today my friend and be a blessing.

April 28 Devotion

 

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When I set out to blog, I made the commitment to be transparent in my writings and never sugar-coat the stories of my faith journey.  It is easy to write about the good things that God does in our lives.  Yet when we slip or when things aren’t working out quite as nicely as we would like, we can easily gloss over or ignore a significant part of life that likely carry’s meaning to many, simply for the sake of putting up a good front.  Today I am compelled to share a recent chastisement from the Lord.  Partly this is to highlight an aspect of God’s nature that is often mis-characterized.  Also, it is because the trap I fell into is very easy to slip into even if it is hidden in plain view.

In my last post, ALL, I wrote about Jesus’ declaration of the greatest commandment and what our love of God with all that we are looks like.  What you don’t know is that I wrote that a week ago under what I sensed was the prompting of the Holy Spirit.  But I hadn’t quite finished it.  While we have had a lot transpire in our family over the past week, there is no reason why I didn’t finish the post sooner.  I had clear nudges to do so, but I kept busy and I kept putting it off.

For much of my life I have risen early to spend 1 – 2 hours in bible study, prayer, and occasionally blogging.  But for the last week I would wake up very early, usually before my alarm would go off, with a strong sense of needing to spend quiet time with the Lord.  But I would reason that I could pray just fine snuggled in my warm bed.  Somehow one or two sentences in prayer would occur and the next thing I knew it was an hour or more later.  By the time I would arise, it was time to start the day’s activities.  Needless to say, my attempts at a quiet time were rushed, stilted, and not really a time of connection.  It was more like a child rushing through the kitchen late for school, snatching at whatever they can for breakfast before sprinting out the door.  It might have the appearance of eating breakfast, but nutrition it was not.  My quiet times had become like that – an appearance of the right thing, but connection with God and edification, it was not.

Tuesday of this week I did respond to the nudge.  I was up early and I got into the Word.  Afterward I slipped outside where a light rain was falling.  With an awareness of my lack of direction lately I whispered a prayer, “Lord, please steer me.”  Immediately the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart, “The boat has to be moving for the rudder to work.”  Oh my!  I am used to God’s encouragement and gentle correction, usually when I turn in repentance after I realize I have made a mistake.  In this case, I had been a little lazy for several days, but I assumed that getting up early was a good sign on my part.  The rebuke was firm, clear, and thankfully cut through my self-satisfaction.

Since our relationship is with the omniscient God, there is no hiding our true thoughts, feelings, and motivations.  If we are not careful, we can slip into self-deception and “think” we are fine.  But, getting into the Word, spending real connected time with the Father is the antidote we all need.  When we do, He will guide us into the way of truth and life.  And if we need more than a little nudge, He can provide that too.  The important thing on our end is to embrace His loving nudges and His firmer chastisement and follow Him diligently.  It ties into the last post.  When we are giving Him only part of our attention, part of our heart or soul or mind or strength, we are falling short of His high calling upon us.  It is not God who is lessened when we are not fully devoted to Him, but us.

Friends, I pray that your walk will be marked with consistent progress and Godly joy and peace.  But, when you do begin to veer off course, I encourage you to readily accept and embrace the Lord’s loving correction, however He may give it.  He loves you with an everlasting love.  He knows you intimately and His desire is always for your good.  Jeremiah 29:11 affirms this.  “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 hope and a future.”

Be blessed my friend.  And be God’s blessing to someone today.

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A very good lesson today in navigating life’s temptations, challenges, and trials.  Give it a read.

Also, if you don’t have the You Version app you might want to give it a try.  It has dozens of bible translations as well as numerous bible reading plans.  I have used about a dozen shorter plans.  I intend on tackling this one in 2017.  I recommend trying a few of the shorter plans before attempting a year long study.   Source: Bible In One Year 2017

I am a “fastest route” kind of person.  Long before GPS systems became so readily available and we are told step by step how to get from point A to point B, I was a map reader.  I may have even been a little over the top about it.  It wasn’t usually good enough to just assume I had the fastest route.  If it was a regular route I took, I would specifically look for opportunities to validate my choice by either timing all the routes at different times, or, please don’t judge me, have my wife drive a vehicle on one route while I took the other.  (Yes, I usually allowed her to go what I estimated to be the slower of the two routes.  That strategy was only partially successful though.  She happens to be as competitive as I am so I wasn’t always certain she / we observed all the traffic laws.)

Long trips early in our married life also turned into learning experiences.  My wife enjoys the travel experience and prefers not to feel rushed.  I preferred to conquer the drive.  Frequent stops for shopping, eating, and bathroom breaks were a normal part of the journey for Lisa.  In my opinion they were the enemy of a successful drive.  The tension around this rose a bit as children arrived.  We survived those challenges and we’ve grown to have a much more aligned view on our travel.  Today I still plan the trips with an estimate of the journey’s duration given to the family.  But we include time for potential stops.  We talk about it ahead of time and generally come to agreement.  And travel is much more harmonious.

The biggest difference in me is that I have realized that in my journeys, like in my life, if I make a plan seeking the Lord’s guidance and then give it to the Him, then I can let go of the need to MAKE IT HAPPEN.  I can relax and trust Him with the outcome.  This is liberating.

An illustration comes to mind.  In a way it is like having a map and having the travel app WAZE on.  I see the path to take on the map.  But as I travel, WAZE is giving me commentary on the road ahead.  It tells you of traffic ahead and reroutes you around it.  You may still encounter a bit of a slow-down, but in the end you get around it in a bit better time and you make it to your final destination.  The comparison for me is to reading the Word and listening to the Holy Spirit.  When I read the Word I am encouraged, I gain direction for my life, I see a life to live that is pleasing to the Father and something I desire.  But when I step out the door and into all the activities that make up life, I need the Holy Spirit to help take the truth of scripture and apply it to the myriad real life situations I encounter.

I used to have a problem when things interrupted my plans for the day.  I am much better (not where I know I need to be yet, but better) today about letting the interruptions play out.  I have learned that often in the interruptions God intervenes to teach me or use me in ways that wouldn’t have happened on the path I had planned.  Last night is a case in point.

We were heading home late after watching our niece and nephew’s basketball games.  While we really didn’t want to, we stopped at the store to pick up a few things.  As we were checking out I noticed the cashier let out what sounded like a tired sigh as she finished the prior customer.  I assumed she was feeling tired like I was so I casually asked, “Been a long day?”

“No.” she replied.  “Stressed.”  After a bit of a pause she said, “It’s not work.  It’s something else… not here.”  (Okay, let me just say that an opening like that is definitely a detour that a person intent on following the straightest and fastest route would say to avoid at all costs.)

I don’t remember exactly what I said in response, but we engaged in a bit of a conversation as she rang up our groceries.  It turns out we had a slightly similar experience to share and encourage her from.  It was just a few brief words of encouragement, but it seemed like they were somewhat of a help.  But I think the bigger thing was the last thing we did. As she totaled our purchases and turned to me, I knew I didn’t have a specific answer to her dilemma, but I knew Who did.  I asked if she minded if we prayed.  Well she didn’t say “No.” so I reached across, took her hand and prayed a simple prayer of faith asking the Father to give her guidance and to bless her.

As I let her hand go she asked, “Are you a preacher?”

“No,” I said.

“Are you a Minister?”

Again, “No.”

“Where do you go to church?”

I told her.  And she replied, “Well I guess Sunday I’ll have to come to visit.”

I walked away chuckling at God’s goodness.  We took a detour.  Shopping is not my thing at anytime, but especially late in the evening when I am ready for bed.  But that little detour meant a young woman was encouraged and hopefully will make it to a place where she can meet the One who loves her more than she can imagine.

When we let go and let God, He will take us to the places we need to go and allow us to experience things that fit into His perfect plan.  Just let Him navigate and you will enjoy the ride of your life.

Take care my friend and enjoy the ride.

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I have a story that has been in the making for a few months that I am finally at liberty to share.  After 23 years with the same company, I have decided to make a job change.  I announced my resignation last week and I will be starting at the beginning of next month.  I wasn’t looking for a new job, but Proverbs 3:5-6 says “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 path.”  This is what I have tried to do and I will be “starting over” in just a few weeks.  Let’s look at how this works.

For the past 3 – 1/2 years I have travelled all over North America helping our paper mills put reliability in place.  I have been away from home about 70% of the time.  At the end of the year the mills slow way down through the holidays so I get to spend the last two weeks close to home.  I noticed during that time that stress and tension were more the norm than relaxation and peace.  I was really concerned because I recognized that for a marriage of over 26 years, my wonderful wife and I were not communicating very well.  We took a vacation the last week of the year to Orlando that turned into our worst vacation ever.  I can admit it now, I was looking forward to getting back on the road.  I had the first seven weeks of 2012 filled with week-long travel.

One week into the new year, Lisa had an accident where she badly breaks her leg.  The compound, open fracture resulted in a week-long hospital stay, two surgeries, and a 12-week prognosis before she can put any weight on her leg at all.  In fact the doctor was very guarded about how the recovery will go.  Lisa’s leg wasn’t the only thing that was broken at that time though.  Part of the hard shell that was developing over my heart toward my wife was broken.  I am not proud of the fact that I was becoming hardened toward Lisa, but I realize that I was.  And I thank God that He has changed my heart and is continuing to make me a better man and husband.

Obviously I saw that I had to make some changes in my schedule.  I notified the people at the mills that I would have to scale back my on-site support a bit while Lisa was in the recovery mode.  I still travelled, but people I work with were very accommodating.  Instead of 4 & 5 days at a plant I started having more 2 & 3 day weeks.  And we were able to get various family members to stay with Lisa while I was gone since she was immobile.

As I was praying about what to do, I began to wonder if I needed to consider a job change.  I recognized that my heavy travel was at the very least a major contributor to the malaise we experienced at the end of the year.  Having to call upon others to help Lisa while I travelled also brought to light the demands my schedule made upon others.  At this point I think it is important to understand what I was praying and how this worked out.  I was not seeking another job.  I was simply open to whatever God wanted me to do.  While I have often prayed, “Lord, thy will be done.” I usually am looking for a particular answer.  Or perhaps even more accurately, I am not considering certain answers that might come up.  At this time I got serious about being open to anything God wanted me to do.

God works things marvelously.  About two weeks after Lisa broke her leg a good friend asked to have lunch with me to talk about a potential career change for himself.  As we chatted he asked if I would be interested in being a site maintenance and reliability manager.  The position at his plant wasn’t open, but it was a potential.  Working with Jim would be great and because of that I entertained the idea.

A week later I went into the Linked In website which is a career based social networking site that I am on.  When I say I am on, I mean that I visited it once four years ago when it looked like my job was going to end back in 2008.  I have gone to it about a half-dozen times since then.  While I am there I see that my resume info is the same as it was in 2008 so I update it.  Again I am not specifically looking for a job.

The next business day I get an e-mail from a new tissue plant starting up in the area.  Because my conversation with Jim had gotten me thinking about some real positives of working locally, I give them a call back.  We set up an interview and over the course of the next 6 weeks I have three interviews.

Now I need to reiterate that I was not really looking for a job.  I thoroughly enjoy the work I have done.  I have very good working relationships with the people at the mills and I know we have been successful at making tangible progress at the plants.  The calculations at the end of last year indicated that the plants I have worked with on reliability improvement have seen over $30 million per year improvement in the past two years.  I enjoyed my job and we were successful.  If my only consideration was my career, I would be foolish to be looking for a job.

But, I was trying to be obedient to God’s leading.  As I prayed I felt a gentle nudge to keep investigating this opportunity.  The job I am going to is a very good fit for me.  I will be in the role of the people I have been working with at our paper mills over the past 3-1/2 years.  Instead of consulting, I will be in the doing mode.  The work will mean long hours.  Having had similar roles before, I also know it will mean different stresses to what I have experienced during my time in corporate roles.  The decision to leave was by no means an easy decision.

I have shared with you before about how I have experienced God speaking to me.  While this particular decision has many of the same characteristics, it was not exactly the same.  Having only made one job change 23 years ago, I am very out-of-touch with all the expectations and practices.  I do not like negotiating, but I understand that is part of the process.  In the end, I don’t think I did a good job with the negotiating, but it is probably a moot point.  The offer my new company gave me is very fair.  In some ways I am better off than in my old job, in some ways I am not as good.  The result is that the compensation was NOT the deciding factor.  And this is a good thing.  I only negotiated enough to get the package somewhat close to my current package.  I did not want to be chasing money and miss God.

I was looking for an overwhelming peace in the answer.  Interestingly what I had for about a week was calmness, but not the definitive peace I have experienced in the past and I was hoping for at this time.  I scheduled a quick follow-up visit to clarify a few points.  I was not able to give them an answer, but I spent about an hour and a half speaking with the gentleman who would be my counterpart at the sister plant.  It’s funny now because a lot of what we discussed reminded me of the difficult and hard aspects of the job.  He left me with a zero-pressure feeling.  If the job was not for me, then we would all be better off recognizing that now.  As I shook his hand I felt great about his candor and the decision was simply a matter of what the Lord directed me to do.

As I walked out to my car I asked the Father… “So what do you want me to do?  Do I accept the job?”  And the answer was a clear “Yes” and then the peace came.

This morning I begin the wrap up of my old job.  I have two weeks to talk with friends and co-workers at my current company.  I want to leave them with as much good as I can.  For me that first means leaving them with a clear understanding that God loves them and desires to be fully involved in their lives.  He is real.  He is love.  He is our true hope.  Next it will be to share whatever information or encouragement I can to keep the reliability train rolling.  Please join me in praying that these final days will be God-filled, God-directed, and God-blessed.

Thank you for joining me in this journey.  I pray God’s richest blessing upon you today and always.

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