…were it not for You.

“What if”…

What if today I was planning a funeral?

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Do you own a fire extinguisher?  — If you’re looking for housewarming or wedding gift for a young couple, consider buying a FIRE EXTINGUISHER!!!

Looking out the kitchen window, I saw them pulling up in front of the house, a cloud of smoke trailing behind.

Handsome, Eldest Son, and a teen-friend jumped out of the truck, threw open the tail-gate, and started throwing things from our camping trip out into the drive.  Smoke and flames poured out the back end of the vehicle.

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All our married life, Handsome and I have kept fire extinguishers in the house and in the camper and have never needed one, until today.

I grabbed the fire-extinguisher and came running.  Before what was happening had time to sink in, it was all over.

what's left of a friend's clothing for a sleepover
what’s left of a friend’s clothing for a sleepover

Then as we continued unloading burned and blackened objects, it began to dawn on us more fully what almost happened.

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burned golf bag

From what we could best guess, something must have fallen to overlap the terminals on the boat battery.

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the charred and leaking battery for the boat

As Handsome pulled out the acid leaking battery, a slightly blackened aerosol container of bug spray, an ash covered portable grill with its propane tank, the propane torch we use to start our campfires, and the gas tank for our little boat now partially melted and leaking, tears began to fill my eyes.

propped up leaking gas tank
propped up leaking gas tank
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the burned hose of the gas tank

A few minutes later, when the adrenaline began to wear off, a friend arrived dropping off another teen.  As I began to put into words what had just happened, I felt weak.

Everything was alright, but what if things had gone differently?

Had Handsome and the boys been delayed a few minutes, had they pulled over and not had an extinguisher, had any one of those flammable containers exploded…

What if????

A bit later, as the smoke cleared and the dust literally began to settle, I started to say “what could have happened”, Handsome hugged me and said, “but it didn’t”.

There is no benefit to working myself into an emotional state with vain imaginations of explosions and funerals.  Why put myself through the phone call I didn’t receive, the phone calls I never had to make, the loneliness I am not experiencing… and on and on I could go?

The chain reaction of highly combustible thoughts ignited by an out of control flame of emotion can lead to an explosion of fear that destroys faith, opening a gaping void that swallows all hope, confidence, joy, and peace.

(I picture the results of fear like the Knox Mine disaster.  —  Once the mines, dug too close the Susquehanna River, hit the breaking point, they collapsed and 10 billion gallons of water and ice poured into the emptiness of an ever feeding whirlpool.   It took 3 days of dumping railroad cars and large debris to plug the hole.  —  Miles and miles of anxious thinking are dug one faithless thought at a time, leaving us vulnerable to lies and doubts!  Then, when trouble strikes a little “too close to home”, the weak foundation of our faith gives way, and we are caught up in the all consuming whirlpool of fear. )

knoxminedisaster
www.undergroundminers.com/knox.html

I was tempted to misinterpret this event, before my husband stopped me mid-sentence and stated the truth.  — I was given a glimpse of one of many dangers that my family has been spared through the protection of our Loving Father. — I will never know the evil that we have avoided through prayers and divine intervention.  So, with the awareness of this Divine intervention, I choose to response by turning from “what could have been” and an endless chain of “what ifs” to adding to the ever-lengthening list of “Thank Yous”. 

Thank you, Sovereign LORD, for your grace and protection this day!  Thank you for Your timing that made us all aware of the tragedy You spared us.  Thank YOU!

Thank You for the peace this close encounter gives me, knowing that You are always right on time, watching over, and intervening not only from physical danger but also stepping into to protect my thoughts and my faith from spiritual dangers.  Were it not for You, LORD, I would be at the mercy of my fears.

(Even when trouble falls and sorrow come, You will still be there and You will still be good.  You will help me and comfort me, but I will obey You and not be anxious about tomorrow.  Indeed, this day has had enough trouble of its own.)

With a single word, You could take me home, or my husband, or any of my children.  Yet, we are here, and You are preserving and sustaining our lives.  Every breath, every heartbeat are a gift from You.  I have nothing to fear with Your angels watching over, Your Spirit guiding, and Your holy presence overshadowing me.  My family and I are safely hemmed in behind and before.  You have placed Your hand over us as a shield.

With the knowledge of Your greatness and love, your mercy and patience, and your Fatherly bias towards my good and the worthy intention for Your own glory, I am strangely not afraid.  Instead, I am in awe!

“Into your hands I commit my spirit; deliver me, LORD, my faithful God.”  Ps. 31:5

“…for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him…”  2 Tim. 1:12

I cannot count the dangers and tragedies I have been sheltered from.  Instead of asking for anything out of panic, I quiet my heart and thank You for the perspective You have brought me this day.  As we hold each other closer and appreciate the brevity of life, I thank You for the privilege of being a wife and a mother for another day. Thank You, LORD!

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Perspective!

More than just optimism, we really can learn to look at everything in life through the eyes of faith!

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As Handsome said, “Well, that’s one quick way to unload the truck.”

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The Change of Plans

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Lord, my time is yours.

Nothing has been as I have planned…

it has been BETTER.

My first inclination, as I write today, is to give a list of excuses for all the things undone and then attempt to gloriously justify myself with all that has been accomplished, but as I begin rehearsing that logic, the insecurity and pride of my reasoning is exposed.  The theme of the past weeks, which is reason enough, washes away the tracks for that train of thought: “few things are needed–or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her”  (Luke 10:42), and now, I am free to share what remains, what is true, excellent, and praiseworthy.

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Lord, take me where You want me to go.

Recently, I found a “to do list/prayer list” written many years ago in a Bible I keep in the glove-box of Handsome’s truck and was struck that it reads as though I had written it this morning.  It occurred to me, some things which are “common to man” are not a “once and done” challenge to be prayed-for/accomplished and checked off.  The greater prayer is to mature, grow, be content, build character, and learn to live “in progress”, amid the interruptions, and be at at peace in the waiting.

By the Lord’s grace and earnest promptings, I have chosen the wide open space of God’s will this month, and His plan for me included more room for LIVING.  I think I have experienced more fully what Christ meant by “abundant life”.

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Lord, open my eyes to seek “Your kingdom come and Your will be done” in the midst of all the business.

I fought the urge to be agenda driven when confronted with obvious “divine rescheduling”, and looking back, I am amazed!  I accomplished little of what I had thought most important, and yet, I am full of wonder at what the Lord did for me.  I know my days were supernaturally graced because my days were filled with was what God had planned for me.

I am a checklist-making, calendar-toting, type-A gal.  I love to make a plan and am compelled to stick to it, but the Lord is ever opening my eyes to “divine appointments”:  opportunities, gifts, blessings disguised as interruptions. 

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Lord, change my perspective! Like a steeple pointing upwards, lift my eyes to a loftier view of my circumstances.

Though I know it is untrue, for some reason it feels more “spiritual” to be controlling, and call it productive and industrious; or at least, in some twisted legalistic way, it appears to be more “righteous” or “virtuous” to be labeled orderly and structured, idealistic, aka perfectionist.  Yet, a lifetime of experience has proven, that without following the grace-filled promptings of the Holy Spirit, I “labor in vain” (Psalm 127); because “whatever is not from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23) and God cannot bless it.

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Lord, remind me that striving apart from You will not produce eternal fruit.

Again and again, I’ve seen the Lord bless “less time” and multiply in abundance for the time “wasted” in embracing the seemingly unproductive “divine appointment”.

Many of the life’s eternally significant events and most of the precious memories to be made are impossible to schedule because they are “divine appointments”, written only on God’s calendar.  Unless we are tuned-in to His moment by moment “this is the way, walk ye in it” promptings, we will miss them.

I want to live this way.

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Lord, quiet me and simplify in me all that I unnecessarily over-complicate .

Why?

1.  Jesus lived this way…

  • attentive: seeing the multitude, He was filled with compassion and changed the “plans”, so to speak, and began to teach
  • unhurried: stopping in His tracks, the “urgent” could wait for the “important” as He sought out the lady that touched the hem of His garment
  • humble: talking to a man in a tree and having a spontaneous dinner date with the unpopular, He gave no thought to what others would think.  When the “divine appointment” was before Him, He gave no explanation or justification. He just responded in each moment to the sacred-set-up that was the perfect will of His Father.
  • flexible/easy-going (I’m still looking for the right word): taking each person however dropped before Him (literally, in the case of the man lowered through the roof by his friends) and addressing the deepest need in addition to facing their more obvious crisis, all the while not giving any impression that their “interruption” was an “interruption” to Him

2.  I sense His blessing on my life when I do.

3.  I am liberated from all the self imposed and worldly snares that coil around me to suffocate my faith, my hope, my peace, my confidence, and my joy when I choose to cheerfully accept the Father’s plans as my own.

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Lord, my body is Your temple.   I am Your living sacrifice. I want to do what You have planned for this day.

So, here’s my plan…  Pray and seek the Lord in the evening when I’m writing my “to-dos” for the next day; and then, and pray and seek Him again in the morning before I set out on an agenda.  And equally important, I will pray and seek the Lord throughout the day, being ever ready to change my plans to better align with His.

Time and again, our direct-routes are no short-cuts, and His scenic routes are the paths we would unreservedly pick if we knew all that our loving Father knows.  Today, I choose to praise the Lord for the “interruption” that changes my plans to match His omniscient original.

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Lord, thank You that there is enough time in the day to do Your will.

Lord, there is always be more that could be done than should be done.  Give us discernment.   Part of learning to be content and becoming a woman with a gentle, quiet spirit is thrilling in the knowledge that we are complete in You despite being surrounded by the in-complete, the open-ended, un-finished work in-progress.  Help us to show up for the appointments You have made for us and find Your will to be liberating!  Amen.