Our Unexpected Journey

This was once just a seed...What are you planting?.png

Floyd has been feeling rather miserable this week - from the pressure sores on his feet and from conjunctivitis in his eyes.  Even though his eyes were bad, he was "communicating" to me with "blinks" when I was with him. 

I'm still praying for encouragement for his heart.  I was thinking today that I have friends who encourage me.  I read the Word to glean strength.  I get emails that express love.  Floyd is just laying silently in his bed.  I pray for grace that only God can give him in this situation - for sweet communion with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  And angels to keep him company around the clock.

A friend from Germany visited him this week too.  It was a sweet time together.  I think it's always an encouragement to his heart when he gets these special visits.

Waiting is hard.  For all of us.  In so many different types of situations.  But I think it's especially hard when there is some type of pain or suffering, and you're waiting for relief.  You're waiting for something to change - hoping that the change will be positive.

I spoke with someone who works in a refugee camp.  She said that the unending journey of waiting to see what the future holds is the hardest thing the refugees face.  They've left everything.  They don't know what's ahead.  All they can do is wait.

I also read about someone who works with persecuted Christians.  The hardest thing they face is not the intensity of the suffering, but the unknown duration.  It's easier to face things when you know a conclusion is coming.  But when things go on and on - with no end in sight, that is almost unbearable.

I have found the "waiting" to see what's going to happen on our unexpected journey has become a weight at times.  Any conclusion would almost be better than the endless waiting.  The waiting becomes a big part of the suffering.

When this begins to weigh on my heart - I find I have to be careful.  I remind myself that God doesn't "waste" any of our sorrows.  The waiting isn't wasted time.  God is working.  He has plans and purposes that we often don't see or understand.  IF only we could see from His perspective.

I often want to get this resolved and move on!  But I have had to time and time again slow my heart, my thoughts, and my emotions down and relax in God's plan.  For me - this is where trust comes in!  Do I really trust that God is at work?  Do I really believe that He knows best?  Am I really confident that He's hearing our prayers - or even that our prayers are important?  Yes, yes, and YES!

But I have to be willing to wait.  And waiting is often hard work.  Waiting changes us, prepares us for what's ahead.  God is usually not in a hurry.  He has a timetable that's different from ours.  He uses the waiting in ways we can't see.

-  He purifies our hearts in the waiting season.

-  He teaches us patience.

-  He builds our faith for what's ahead, so that we are expectant.

-  He uses the time to build character and foundations in our life.

-  He draws us close to Him so that we are utterly dependent on Him.

As we wait, we can trust Him at deeper and deeper levels.  We can look for the good in the waiting - His gifts to us.  They are always there!

"I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I put my hope.  My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning."  Psalm 130:5,6

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight."  Proverbs 3:5,6

"In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly."  Psalm 5:3

"But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation.  My God will hear me."  Micah 7:7

"Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord."  Psalm 27:14

"Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way."  Psalm 37:7

So many of the Bible characters had long waits until what God had spoken was fulfilled - Noah (120 years), Abraham (25 years), Moses (40 years), Jacob (20 years), Joseph (13 years), David (12 years), Jesus (30 years).  Mary & Martha waited until they thought it was too late......and then Jesus did the unthinkable by raising Lazarus from the dead.

"No one who waits for you will ever be put to shame."  Psalm 25:3

The best is always yet to come with Him!  Even though it's sometimes hard, the waiting is always worth it when we trust in His love and goodness.  I'm trying to wait patiently, with a heart of trust and expectation, for all of His plans and purposes to be fulfilled on this journey.  

As I've meditated and pondered on the process of waiting, it's made me aware again of how important my attitude is while I'm waiting.  

Our attitude impacts everything we say and do.  It becomes even more important when we're walking through hard times.  In fact, I think our attitude can turn the tide from difficulties, trials, and suffering into gifts and blessings.  So much depends on how we look at things as we walk through life.

The Bible says in Proverbs 23:7 - "As a man thinketh, so is he."  Our thoughts and attitude effect everything.  What happens is important, but even more important is how we react to what happens in our life.

Author and speaker Charles Swindoll summed it up this way:  "The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.  Attitude, to me, is more important than facts.  It is more important than success, than what other people think or say or do.  It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill.  It will make or break a company....a church....a home.  The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day.  We cannot change our past....we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way.  We cannot change the inevitable.  The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude.

On this unexpected journey, I pray and ask for God's intervention.  I "cast my burdens" on Him.  I can't make it alone.  I need His help.  But the one thing I'm responsible for is my attitude.  I've come to realize that there are 2 very important attitudes I must have.  There are actually lots of attitudes, but 2 are especially crucial.

The first is a heart of trust in God.  That is a foundational attitude that impacts everything else on the journey.  If I don't trust in God's goodness, faithfulness, mercy, grace, and sovereignty - then I'm going to be in big trouble.  I'm looking to God to meet me in my weakness, to carry me when I can't keep going, to counsel me, to be my refuge - and so many other things.  But I have to trust Him and trust that He'll come through for me.

I find it important to speak out, to declare that trust.  I say aloud, "I trust you Lord.  I trust you Lord."  I say it, I pray it, I sing it, I tell the enemy - I let that trust build and grow in my heart.  I let it consume my heart. 

"Commit everything you do to the Lord.  Trust Him, and He will help you."  Psalm 37:5

"I trust in your unfailing love."  Psalm 13:5

"He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord."  Psalm 112:7

The second attitude that's so important is thankfulness.  Sarah Young says that "a thankful attitude opens windows of heaven through which spiritual blessings fall freely."  A thankful, worshipping heart and attitude changes our perspective from what's happening to who God is in the midst of the trial.  It immediately helps lift the weight off our spirit as we are thankful in the midst of whatever comes our way.

When the day is hard, when the weights are so heavy that I feel I might buckle under the load - I make sure my attitude of thankfulness gets activated.  It changes my perspective.  My focus is on Him in the midst of the hardship rather than the hardship itself.  It immediately lightens the load.

Thankfulness in the midst of suffering and trials requires a deep well of trust.  The combination of trust and thankfulness is powerful!  They can help turn the hardest, darkest day into glorious sunshine.  As I trust Him and lift up my heart in thankfulness, I find fresh energy to face the difficulty through His enabling grace.

"Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."  1 Thessalonians 5:18

"Let (the redeemed of the Lord) sacrifice thank offerings and tell of His works with songs of joy."  Psalm 107:22

"The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped.  My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to Him in song."  Psalm 28:7

When we plant "seeds" of trust and thankfulness in our hearts in hard times - something wonderful and beautiful will grow in our hearts!