Saturday, April 25, 2015

How'd I get Here?

How'd I get here?  Ever been there?  In that place that you're not sure how you got to, so you're a bit unclear about where you're really at?

I don't mean when you're on the road trip that suddenly becomes a scary adventure becomes you can't find your way back to the highway, after stopping for gas and a bathroom break.  You know the one?  When you try to stay calm even while you're going around in circles with no clue about where you need to be and how to get there.  Or when you just keep going straight on the road because there are no intersections or streets to turn into, and suddenly you read the sign that says you're 80 miles from Canada.... Canada!  I thought we were heading south!

I've got a funny story.  The day after we were married, my husband and I were on our way out of Philadelphia and heading to Massachusetts.  Or so we thought.  He was nineteen; I was twenty, and it was our first time out of Philadelphia on a road trip by ourselves.  But we had a destination to get to if he was ever to finish up his military training in Devens, Ma.  So we had someone draw up a map for us; this being our first time driving out of the city on our own.  And we did our best to read the drawn out map, but that lasted about 15 minutes.  We were barely outside the city lines, when we were lost.  We were on the interstate, which was good, and heading north; yet we had no idea what else to do to get to our destination.  But we kept moving.  And then I saw a car with Massachusetts license plates.... 

We followed that car all the way up to Massachusetts that day.  My job as the co-pilot was to keep my eyes fixed on that vehicle, while my husband just kept his foot on the pedal and followed the driver.  At one point, the driver pulled over for gas, and we did the same.  He seemed very suspicious of us, though we explained our predicament.  And who could blame him!  Still with great uncertainty, he agreed to let us follow him all the way.  He tried losing us a few times, but we were on his tail the entire ride.  Needless to say, that was an experience I will never forget.  

We finally did make it to our destination that night.  But if you asked me how or where I was, I couldn't tell you.  In fact, we lived in this little town in Massachusetts called Ayer for a little over a month, and I still have no idea where I was all that time.  You can rightfully say we were naive, and I'd admit we were very naive.  

That may be how we all end up in that place that we are not sure about how we ended up at.  Maybe we were too naive.  Or perhaps we knew exactly what we were doing, but we did it anyway.  When it comes to sin, my experience has been that many times it will present itself in subtle ways or in small increments before you can actually see it in its full blown nature.   So the racy conversation you had with that friend of the opposite sex, seems funny at first.  And the lunch date was just a coincidence.  The Facebook private message was just a friendly hello.  The texting?  Well, that was just because the conversation became very interesting and so it seemed harmless.  

But now you're wondering, "How'd I get here?"  How is it that I am now having feelings for my boss?  My co-worker, my secretary, my good friend?  And how is that?  That we can go from doing the right thing to finding ourselves immersed in sin?  Or at least at warfare with falling into sin... I cannot answer the question for you.  It is for you to answer.   You see, what may lead me astray might look completely different for you.  And what leads you astray may look unappealing to me.  But nevertheless, we are all prone to stray.  Even if only in our minds.  

And so are we to throw in the towel and give in?  Do we, knowing how naive we really are, simply give in to temptations and sin?  Of course not.  There is a God, the one true God, that sees us as we stray, as we are lead into the subtlety of sin and later find ourselves completely lost.  He sees us where we are, and knows exactly how we got there.  Better yet, He knows the way back.  And He provides a way for us to turn from sin.  He clears paths for us... and will hold our hand to walk with us.  If only, we call out His name.  

May this be our daily prayer.  Psalms 119:133, "Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me."

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Everything Stands Still

You put the phone down.  Try to register what you just heard.  It didn't sound good.... Health concerns are never good.  And so now you're standing alone on the kitchen floor. And it truly feels as if everything stands still.  

Today's to do list is on hold.  
The plans for the weekend are no longer as important.  
It's like a halt has been put on your life.  And nothing else matters as much as the bad news you just received.  On the other hand, there is something that is not remaining still, and that is your mind.  The pacing of your thoughts going back and forth.  "How did this happen?"  "Why didn't I see it?"  "Why?"  and "What does this mean?"  Your questions are followed by clear statements.  "This will bring pain."  "It will be hard."  "I'm scared."  Uncertainty creeps in and fear begins to make itself comfortable inside.

On their own, bad news or painful circumstances limit us.  Keep us from enjoying life.  For what is there to enjoy, when your days are now a number?  Or what is there to appreciate when your family is falling apart?  Could there possibly be any good in the bad?  Good is good and bad is bad, right?  

Well, according to the maker of the universe, good is good and bad can be good too.  I know it sounds crazy, but I can actually attest to it.  I guess it depends on what you consider to be good, though.  You see some people take things at face value, and fail to look deeper into the eternal value of things.  So they take the bad for what it is on the exterior.  Simply bad.  However, if we learn to take the bad and search for what good could possibly come from it, we'd be able to enjoy and appreciate everything we face in life.  Good or bad.  

There was a time in my life when I was so grieved and in turmoil that to say I was angry with the world, is an understatement.  So much so that on a drive home one night, I literally almost drove someone off the road.  Soon after that incident, I got a hold of my emotions, and basically crumbled before God.  I began to surrender my emotions to Him, and He lead me to His word.  Consequently, His word began to shed light on my circumstance, and I began to learn and grow from the experience.  It was one of the few times that I can say I was longing and yearning for God the most in my life.  I just couldn't get enough of the words that brought me life again.  His word.

And so this scripture reference comes to mind, "It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees." (Psalm 119:71 NIV)  It's perfect!  There is good in the bad.  We just need to look for it.  Though it may only truly be found in God.  And though the turmoil may not cease promptly.  And the pain may last for a season... God brings good from it.  He changes us for the better.  He heals our suffering with grace.  He shows His mercies each new morning.  He cares for our distress.  He draws us closer to Him.  And He enables us to stand still in His peace.