When Uncertainty Creeps In-Trust!

He is always up to something good even when I can’t see it. Psalm 139:16  Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. 

Part of my day went according to plan. I left the house and had meetings with lovely people, just like I planned. CHECK! But my day unfolded in ways I never knew it would. NOT according to the plan. What’s going on here, God? Wanna show me what you’re up to?  When this “off  script” stuff happens, I have to ask, “Whose plan did I think would be carried out anyway?” When I don’t understand what’s going on or when I can’t see God’s hand, does it mean He isn’t working? No!

It makes me think of watching a play in the theater! Something about seeing a play live delights my heart. Every aspect I find exciting.  I like to get dressed up, drive with my hubby to the theater, locate my seat, hold the playbill, read each actor’s bio and dedication. I intently listen to the music and the way each line is delivered by the actors, all of it is great fun.

I’m amazed at the clever ways lights create mood and sets are designed. I enjoy as I watch the stage crew change the sets between scenes, the stage hands, dressed in black, appear as they carry out an end table, the other a lamp and plant to set on the table. Then, right before my eyes, they both carefully lift and remove a small couch and turn the space into a peaceful bedroom.

Long ago, this was not the method of changing sets. Instead, at the end of the act the curtain closed which blocked the view of the stage from the audience. The orchestra played music during the set changes which made it difficult to hear any movement from behind the curtain, but I sat and enjoyed the orchestral music. Once the proper set changes occurred, the music faded, the curtain opened and voilà! Dramatic set changes were revealed, complete with elaborate backdrops as actors delivered their opening lines.

Which method of set transformation do I like better?  Do I prefer it when I’m able to see the set change right before my eyes? Or do I like it when the theatre goes black, time lapses and finally the curtains are drawn back revealing the transformation? I’m not sure. When I think about movement, the drama and progress of my own life’s story isn’t what I planned. The encounters, learnings, twist and turns, even the trials that happen make me want to peek behind the curtain to see what’s going on. That’s where the trust comes in.

I guess I don’t like being in the dark. When I wonder what God is doing, the control freak part of me kicks in. There’s this “perceived sense of comfort” which comes from knowing what is going on and what God’s up to. I’d like to peek behind the curtain at what’s happening during each day or season of my life. But I’m learning every day is ordained for me and what God has planned for me is good, so I’m learning to trust because he is working even when I don’t see it.

It’s at those times when God seems to close the curtain and we can’t see, it requires trust that he’s always working. I was reading from the book of John with a mentee one day. She read aloud chapter 5: verse 17 But Jesus answered them, “My father is working until now, and I am working.” That line of scripture jumped off the page and my spirit responded. I realized a fresh God was telling me specifically, it doesn’t matter what you see or don’t see Rachel, I’m always working!

Yes, there are times when I worry, fret, get concerned or wonder about what He’s up to. When I question His timing and his plans, or even become frustrated in the waiting, I think about His character and the closed curtain in a theatrical production and all the movement behind before the big reveal. During a time when uncertainty creeps in, I do what King David did he said he strengthened himself in the Lord. So, I rehearse what I know is true and I rest on his promises, I even preach to myself. Whenever  I’m tempted to fret I have to think about the nature and character of God:

  • He is gracious
  • He is for me not against me.
  • He is good.
  • He loves me with an everlasting and an unending love.
  • God does not change.
  • He cannot lie.

These things are true for you too. Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he will rise to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! Isaiah 30:18 Remember, He’s always working. Perhaps you don’t see Him at work in your current situation. I’d like to encourage you with this thought, I believe He’s working both behind the curtain and right in front of you. He combats any discouragement from uncertainty, when we come to him.

His compassion and encouragement may manifest in the simplest things:

  • He allows you to meet a friend
  • you receive a call from your sister
  • you laugh along with the cousin about a joke
  • He allows you to be affected by a song lyric
  • He meets you in times when you opened His word, the Bible.
  • You let the rain fall on your face.
  • The sound of a child’s giggle

Yes, in myriad of ways he speaks. His care and character will combat when any uncertainty creeps in, if we come to Him. So when things don’t go “according to plan” remember God is not: shocked, scratching His head, surprised, or frustrated.  No, he is working on our behalf and he rises to show us compassion.

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The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree!

“I’ve got a story for you, Rachel listen to this one!” These are treasured words for me. You see when these words are uttered from my dad’s lips, I know I’m about to hear something interesting, a quick one liner or a funny story. It also means there’s a high probability that my dad will slap his leg, laugh along with me for a while and finally sigh, “Aw, that’s a good one!”  My father Richard has a masterful way of telling stories and jokes. It is an art form. I love stories! Telling them is a huge part of my speaking style no matter the size of my audience. I have my own method, yet I’ve learned from one of the best story tellers, Richard Heggen.  It’s sure true the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

The other evening we were in a room filled with people. Richard told a few silly stories about his family of origin.  He then said,”Okay, now someone else, tell us yours.” He asked us to share about growing up, life with siblings or any childhood memories. It was delightful! No one was forced to share but I noticed people put their phones away and pulled up chairs as we shared randomly around the circle. We chuckled and collected new information about each other from this precious time. It is the, dare I say, dying art of conversation and story telling. I believe people are hungry for it. One friend drew me aside and said, “I haven’t done what just happened in this circle in like…forever!  Maybe I’ve never been part of something quite like this. My family never sat around and visited or told stories.”

I do love my father’s stories and his friendly manner. I love the way he speaks well of people and even about things. He’ll say, “Oh, boy! She’s the real deal or yeah, that’s a dandy!” While growing up I’d hear him greet young ladies this way,”Hello Freida!” He’d automatically say this to any cashier, waitress or bank teller. When I was a little girl I thought it odd…Wow! So many women in this town are named Freida!

I’d observe him closely as he walked up and asked total strangers, “What’s your middle name?” For some reason he’d gained a wealth of knowledge this way. He never started with the typical, Hello, I’m Richard what is your name? Where do you live? What do you do? Perhaps that’s why the response was greater. Folks sensed his genuine interest in visiting with them.

My father meets a stranger and asks, “Where are you from? I mean your home, home, home?” Often the most interesting information from total strangers spills forth. They share where they grew up, about their family, things they enjoy doing or how they came to live wherever they presently do. All this from one casual inquiry. He parts as friends, waves and always says,”Okay, well it was sure nice visiting with you!”

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I do a variation of what my father does.  I don’t often ask middle names first, but like my father, I love to engage people in conversation. I like to find out something about the one in front of me in a line, or beside me in a crowd of people. I enjoy meeting new people too. I’m usually drawn by something I notice and then make a comment. “Hey, I love your hair cut, is it new for you?  Wow! That coat color is beautiful on you or your nails look fabulous! A friend told me, “I remember you coming directly over to me when you came to speak at our church and I thought, why is this crazy woman asking me questions?  But I liked that you noticed me and I’m so glad we met that night.”

Another quirky thing I love about my father, Richard is he can be found rubbing his knee in a circular motion on his jeans to the point when my nephew Beau once said, “Grandpa you’re gonna wear a hole in your jeans if you keep doing that.” As we were driving around town together on one of my parents’ recent visits, I found myself waiting at a stoplight rubbing my right knee with my hand in the similar clockwise motion. My dad was riding shotgun. I gently hit his arm, got his attention and said, “Dad look at what I’m doing?” We shook our heads and both chuckled. I thought. Boy, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree! Yes, there are noticeable ways that I am like my father;  you become like what you love.IMG_1143

What is true in the natural is true in the spiritual as well. We act and become like our heavenly Father as we spend time with Him. Because we are his children and the Spirit of God lives in the believer, we become like Him.  Jesus came to earth to put a face on God. He said when you see me you see the Father. Paul, writing to the people in Colossae says, “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.”  Colossians 1:15  Jesus shows us a picture of God. Jesus is God.

These verses talk about how we are transformed into His likeness. We become sanctified and more like God, by God himself.

And we, who with unveiled faces reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever– increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.  2 Corinthians 3:18

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.  1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

I ask myself and let me ask you too. Are we looking, acting and becoming like our heavenly Father? We do become like what we love and worship. We get to spend time with Him and we reflect Him. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

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Waiting Well

“You could never rob a bank in downtown Waukesha because your get-a-way car would be stopped by a train!” That’s a joke about the town I live in.  I am frequently stopped by trains. These delays cause either one of two very different responses in me.

I’ve been completely frustrated in the waiting. I’ve found myself leaning forward, looking down the line trying to get a glimpse of how many train cars are left.  It’s usually beyond my vantage point, but the unknown duration makes me more crazy.  I’ve chanted over and over “Come on, come on!” I’ve gripped the steering wheel as my fingers impatiently drummed against it. All the while debating whether to text the person I’m supposed to be meeting,  “YIKES! I may be tardy. I’m stopped by a train.”  In the past I’ve not handled the waiting well.images

But other times I’m thankful to be stopped. I’m not required to do anything else except wait. Sit!  I welcome the rest and relaxation.

I have been known to efficiently use the wait time to finish applying my make up, paint my nails, clean out my purse, wipe the inside of the windshield, voice text a friend, check or respond to emails and scroll through instagram photos. Not in that order or my nail polish would be ruined.

I dreamt about being stopped by a train two nights ago. I was trying to make sense of the dream when I awoke. I wondered if it had any particular meaning for me.  I remember being stopped by the train, the visual of the train traveling past and the guard arm slowly lifted up so I could proceed. (I like to place a pen and paper beside my bed to write my dreams down as soon as I wake.)

This dream made me think about my role in waiting. I’ve been in a long season of waiting in my life now. At least it feels long to me.  I asked myself: How am I at waiting? What do I think God is doing in the waiting? What does it mean for me? What, if anything, does He want me to do in the waiting?

I’m not sure whether my dream had prophetic significance to my life, but part of me sensed and hoped God was about to move some huge metal train cars in my life down the tracks, so to speak, because he wants me to keep moving forward. He says if there is a mountain in front of me I can speak to the mountain and it will move!

How am I waiting? Well, I sure hope I’m learning patience through this time of trial and waiting. What do I think God is doing in the waiting? I think he is working all the time on me and others. I’m sure there is more going on behind the scenes in my life then I’ll ever realize.

What does this mean for me? It means I have an opportunity to draw near to God who is in the waiting with me. What does he want me do do? Right now, I sense he wants me to sing and worship and stand still and see the deliverance of my God. So I look back and remind myself of all that He’s done in my life.  He has been faithful to me. I also remind myself of truth.

Like waiting for the train in Waukesha, I don’t want to be leaning forward impatiently looking down the line in panic trying to see and wonder, “How much longer do I have to wait?”  No, I want to use my wait time well: for rest or prayer or accomplishing something productive like encouraging someone in the waiting line of life. So these are a few promises that helped calm an impatient heart.

These promises of God are vital. I hope they help you dear reader!

Promises of God: In the waiting remember God is not slow in keeping His promises. I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. Psalm 27:13 –14

Promise: God will provide your needs.  And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:19

Promise: God plans good for you. Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is the God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!  Isaiah 30:18

Promise: God will fight for you. Since ancient times and no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.  Isaiah 64:4