Our Unexpected Journey

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Floyd has been sleeping much more than normal.  We don't know if his body is wearing down, if it's the change of seasons, or if he isn't feeling well.  Sleep is healing.  So when we're with him, we just pray over him as he sleeps.  

We're in the midst of a severe drought in Cape Town.  It's, apparently, the worst in over 100 years.  We're on very restricted water rationing.  Cape Town looks very different from previous years.  It's always been so green and lush.  Now there's lots of brown foliage.  Green lawns are dry, brown, and sandy.  Many, many plants have died from the lack of water.  Even some of the plants I've planted that are supposed to be okay without water have withered up and died.

However whenever I look out my windows there is one plant that is thriving and beautiful with abundant bright colored flowers - our bougainvillea.  It's amazing!  It apparently is drought tolerant.  It flowers all year round.  I've been amazed in previous years that it has survived the blustery winter rain and wind storms.  The bougainvillea are tough!  They withstand those gale force winds that come in off the ocean.

The bougainvillea flowers are "paper like" but very strong!  The vibrancy of their beautiful flowers is such an encouraging sight in the midst of the drought when just about everything else has shriveled up and died.  These plants just seem to thrive despite the adverse circumstances.

I have been so impressed by them, and have thought a number of times that they have lessons to teach me.  They must be deeply rooted in the ground to survive the Cape winds.  Their branches start off thin, and grow to be thick and strong - if you want to cut them, you have to saw through them.  As they grow, they "cling" to the surfaces they are growing on.

While walking through some of our adverse circumstances, I've known that I have to let my roots in the Lord grow deeper and deeper.  I need to let my times of communion with Him grow strong.  I need to continually cling to His Word to feed me and nourish me.  My strength at times feels "paper like," but the Lord comes through with His grace, His power, and His might to get me through the tough times.  I want to thrive in spite of hard times!

These beautiful flowers speak to me daily of God's goodness and faithfulness.  They remind me that He is mindful of me.  The God who created these flowers to withstand hard conditions will, even more, help me get through anything I face on this unexpected journey.  Thank you Lord!

"They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season.  Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do."  Psalm 1:3

"Thirsty deserts will be glad; barren lands will celebrate and blossom with flowers."  Isaiah 35:1

"You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands."  Isaiah 55:12

"I am the vine; you are the branches.  Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing."  John 15:5

"If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new had come."  2 Corinthians 5:17

I am so grateful that my Father, the gardener, watches over my life and helps me weather hard seasons.  He is so good and faithful!

There's a song that I frequently listen to in my quiet time - "My Redeemer Lives" by Nicole C. Mullen.  I've been thinking about the opening lyrics:

"Who taught the sun where to stand in the morning?

And who taught the ocean you can only come this far?

And who showed the moon where to hide till evening?

Whose words alone can catch a falling star?

I know my Redeemer lives - all of creation testifies."

I've often walked along the ocean's edge and watched the waves coming in, wondering why the waves stop......why don't they keep going?  I know there are things like the shape of the planet, gravitational pull, the impact of the sun and the moon, etc. that control them.

But basically, the bottom line, is because this is how God planned and ordered it.  HE won't let the waves keep going.  He stops them at a certain point so that they don't envelop the earth.  He planned the beauty and majesty of the oceans, but He keeps them in control through the laws in nature that He created.  He won't let them overrule the earth.  He won't let the waters overtake the land.

So, of course, this got me thinking.  This same God won't let the "waves" of our trials be too much!  He won't let us be overtaken and consumed by the battles we go through.  He won't let us be washed away.  He won't let the flood tides of hardship drown us.  He remembers that we're dust.  He won't let the waves of pain, sickness, needs, and difficulty inundate us.  

There have been times, even in recent days, when the things I'm facing have seemed so overwhelming.  The "waves" have come in multiples - one would be a lot, but numerous ones all at once seem like they're too much.  But God won't allow "too much" to come my way.  He protects me from being washed away in the battle.

Just when I'm thinking I might drown, He turns the tide and holds back the pressure of the waves.  When I cry out "help me," He hears and tells the "waves of trial" that they can't come any further in my life!  He speaks and situations change in my day.  He is God.  He can bring change.  I can't endure, but He can come to my rescue.  He is so faithful!

I've read articles debating this point that say God does allow "too much" to come our way in order to show us our need of Him......and to allow Him to be God in our lives.  I'm not a theologian.  I'm not debating the semantics.  I just know that He is there when I need Him.  He keeps me from being drowned by the waves of trial, and He comes to my rescue time and time again when I call.  I'm so grateful.  I can't handle things on my own.......and He always answers when I cry out to Him.  How awesome He is!

"When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble.  I will rescue and honor them."  Psalm 91:15

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble."  Psalm 46:1

"We do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet He did not sin.  Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."  Hebrews 4:15,16

"For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust."  Psalm 103:14

"No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind.  And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it."  1 Corinthians 10:13

"But He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:9,10

"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed."  Psalm 34:18

I'm grateful that God is so close ("closer than the air I breath") that He can hear my faintest whisper when I cry out for help......and He comes to meet me, to help me, to rescue me.  He keeps the waves from overpowering me, from coming too far.  What an amazing and awesome God we serve!