Divine Appointments

We live in a society of planners. Architects design and plan buildings. Engineers design and plan roads and parking lots. Fashion designers plan for the next season always thinking ahead to the next color palette or trend. Even those of us, who would not call ourselves true planners make dentist and doctor appointments, write up grocery lists and plan get togethers with friends. 

Pixabay - checklist

Jerry Jenkins, is the author of a myriad of books including the Left Behind Series and numerous biographies on people ranging from Hank Aaron, to Luis Pulau to Walter Payton. He even assisted Billy Graham with his autobiography, Just As I Am. Jerry also owns and runs The Jerry Jenkins Writer's Guild, of which I am in my second year of membership. I remember one of the first webinars I took from Jerry, where he talked about the difference between two types of writers; the panster and the outliner. Like Jerry himself and another big name author,  Stephen King, I am a panster.  I write my blog and my fiction by the seat of my pants. Where as an outliner has a plan or an outline they follow as they write. Neither one is better than the other, they are just different. There is also a hybrid of writers who combine the elements of both styles of writing. They come up with a loose outline, but fill in details by the seat of their pants. 

Pixabay - typewriter

When we talk about making plans versus living by the seat of our pants, we can see that there are good points and bad points to both ways of approaching life. Planners, usually, get more done, but they are often so rigid in their schedules that they have forgotten how to enjoy the moment. Those who live by the seat of their pants are usually more relaxed and easy going, but often have projects piling up, because they neglect to develop a plan on how to get them finished.

We as Christ followers can often be guilty of both, planning too much and not planning enough. When I was a young mom, trying to figure out marriage, family life and eventually home schooling, I was often impatient and frustrated because I looked at life as a list of things I had to accomplish. This mentality become more pronounced as I home schooled our daughters from kindergarten through high school. I became a list person, which is a planner, if you didn't know! I think it is amusing that I could be a panster as a writer but in every day life, I was a planner. I loved to get a new planner every year as I looked forward to a new year of home schooling. I still love planners, but I'm not quite as rigid in how I used them. 

Pixabay - planner

What does God say in His word about having plans? Let's take a look. 

Commit your works to the Lord And your plans will be established.
— Proverbs 16:3 (NASB)
The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.
— Proverbs 16:9 (NASB)
Many plans are in a man’s heart, But the counsel of the Lord will stand.
— Proverbs 19:21 (NASB)
The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage, But everyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty.
— Proverbs 21:5 (NASB)

Obviously, God inspired King Solomon, the author of Proverbs to pen these many verses about planning. It is normal and it is good to have a plan, whether you are talking about retirement or about next week's meals, planning can be beneficial in saving us time, money and frustration. 

Unfortunately, many of us have made plans that didn't work out. We have been disappointed by failed relationships, ruined vacations and the chaos of life that constantly seems to want to get in the way of our well thought out plans. The beauty of being a panster, when it comes to real life is a drastic reduction in stress and pain brought about by waylaid plans. 

A mindset that has recently come about in my own life, is that of divine appointments.

For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.
— Jeremiah 29:11 (NASB)

If I really believe that God is sovereign, and I really believe that He is good, then I must also believe that every bump in the road and every plan that doesn't come to fruition, He already knows about and has a purpose for. How often have you had a plan for your day off and the day draws to a close and you didn't accomplish anything that you had planned? I see those hands our there! In addition to that, how many of you got frustrated because what you had planned got sabotaged by life....a child stays home from school sick, your mother needed your help with the garden, your teenagers and your spouse call saying that won't be home to eat that delicious meal you slaved to prepare....this is the reality of life. The question then becomes, am I supposed to stop planning? Do I just let life fly and go with the flow, like some sort of 1960's flower child, content to sit in the sun and listen to the music?

Pixabay - hippie

Like so many things we talk about, I think the key here is, balance. I think it is important to have plans, but we also need to allow God to do that thing that He does best...orchestrate our lives. Recognize that those speed bumps that come into life are allowed by Him. Everything that comes your way, even the little annoyance and inconveniences, have passed through Him. This is even more pertinent when we are talking about divine appointments. These are those interruptions to our plans that revolve around people. 

Sunday, my Grandson came down with a nasty virus. I am the primary care person when he is out of school, as my daughter, a single mom, has to work a full time job. He comes to my house, when he is home from school. Sunday, I had plans for Monday. I was going to get ahead on my blog, do some writing and try to tackle the laundry. It wasn't going to happen. In fact, here it is Wednesday and the poor guy is still running a low grade temp, so once again, he is home from school. You know what? It's okay. Did my plans get ruined? Not ruined, just adjusted. When I look at life as a series of divine appointments, not only do I have an easier time adjusting to the bumps, but I also keep my focus on the author and finisher of my faith. 

Whether you are a planner or a panster, allowing God to direct your life, day in and day out, gives you the capacity to be less frustrated and more in tune with exactly what He wants you to do. Next time you have a plan and it gets interrupted, ask yourself, could this be one of His divine appointments, then let Him meet you right there. 

Ever Insult a Rhino?

A number of years ago my husband and I had the opportunity to visit the San Diego Zoo. Mark had a conference that he was involved in and I went along. I had never been to California before and I was looking forward to some beautiful sunny weather. Unfortunately, when we went it was during an occurrence of La Nina and the weather, while sunny, was extremely chilly. I made the best of it. While my hubby was schmoozing with big wigs, I was fully dressed, laying on a lounge chair shivering. Ha, ha. However, it was a beautiful resort and we did get to do a little sightseeing while we were there, including their famous zoo. 

The San Diego Zoo is famous for its size as well as the variety of interesting animals who call it home. After buying a sweatshirt for me, to keep me from shivering to death, we had fun exploring. Coming upon the rhino exhibit my husband and I were fascinated with how visible these magnificent beasts were. The low wall allowed for a full view of one particularly sturdy black rhino munching on long grasses. 

 Pixabay

Pixabay

I do not speak rhino, so I did not expect the craggy monster to understand what I said, but apparently he did. When the rhino had picked up a large mass of grasses he lifted his head and looked at me. With all that vegetable matter hanging out on either side of his pointy proboscis he looked rather silly. I told him so.

"Hey! You are goofy looking!"

No sooner had the words left my mouth than that rock of an animal began rotating his body so that his large derriere was facing me. My husband found this most amusing, while I was worried I was going to experience something worse than just rhino flatulence. I decided to move further down the path, but my spouse began to empathize with the poor, misunderstood rhino.

"That's okay! She treats me that way too!"

 Pixabay

Pixabay

The rhino was not to be consoled. He continued to move his butt end so that it was facing me as I moved down the path. Finally, he lifted his tail and passed gas! I guess he told me. I'll never insult a rhino again.

My reason for sharing this story has to do with our ability to hurt people with our words, both written and spoken. While, I am fairly sure the rhino did not understand what I said, people are much more in tune with the words spoken to them. The same is true of the opinions we share on social media. 

We often feel because we live in a free country we have the right to say whatever we want, wherever we want, with what ever enthusiasm we want. While it is true that we have many freedoms and rights because of the nation we live in, does that give us a carte blanche to spew without regard to who I might be hurting or offending?

Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity Than he who is perverse in speech and is a fool.
— Proverbs 19:1 (NASB)
But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.
— Colossians 3:8 (NASB)
Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.
— Colossians 4:6 (NASB)

I think this last verse really sums it up well. We are to let our speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt. Most of you know that adding salt to a dish, helps to make it tasty, but adding too much salt can make that same dish taste terrible.

 Pixabay

Pixabay

I am all for speaking truth. As a Christ follower, I am obligated to share the truth of the gospel and the words of God from the Bible, but I can choose to do it in a way that is offensive and overly salty, or I can share as His Spirit moves and gives opportunity. It is in this intimate walk with Christ that my words will be just the perfect seasoning. Having a close relationship with Jesus will enable us to know when to speak and when to be quiet; when to share the truth and when to just give words of comfort. 

As you go forward today draw close to Him, think before you speak and remember to never insult a rhino!

An Old Fixer Upper!

Memorial Day is set aside to honor those who have served our country in the armed forces. It is also a day to remember those who have gone on before us, our loved ones and friends, whose lives were ended by age,  disease or accidents. I am thankful for the men and women who have given their lives for our freedom and security. 

My husband and I were able to get away for two nights after our "kidney stone vacation cancellation" occurrence this past week. We went somewhere just a couple of hours away and had a fun, relaxing time. On part of the trip, rather than take the usual interstate highways, we traveled a few country roads which meandered through smaller communities and old farming towns. 

 Pixabay

Pixabay

Each town and community are unique. Some are still bustling, with streets lined with pretty houses, lawns freshly manicured and flowers blooming. They have downtowns that are full of cars, with people milling about in cute little shops, pizza joints and coffee houses. Driving through these villages you get a life vibe, like the whole town cares about and contributes to the upkeep and betterment of the community.  Others, however, feel dead. As you drive through these places you might see a few houses where the lawns are mowed and flowers grace the porch, but many are untended. The downtowns of these communities, while boasting businesses of the past, are now mostly empty except for an occasional gas station or quickie mart. 

 Pixabay

Pixabay

When we drive through this sort of community I always feel sad. My mind begins to wonder, who were the people that made up this community in the past? What were the businesses that used to call this town home? What happened to cause the eventual end of those businesses and why didn't new businesses move in? Who used to occupy those big old houses that now stand empty? Or if they are still lived in, what occurred in their lives that made them lose hope? Are they too old to properly care for their homes? Do they have some sort of debilitating disease that keeps them from getting out to mow their lawn? Did their lawn mower die and they don't have any money to replace it? Maybe life has thrown them too many curve balls and they have just giving up!

Suddenly, I realized, I am on the cusp of becoming one of those people. I'm tired! I'm getting older! I am, in some ways, becoming, not only like the people who live in those houses, but like the very structure itself; used up, in disrepair and feeling rather empty. I keep asking myself, what is wrong with me? Life has thrown an inordinate amount of curve balls my way. Maybe I have lost hope. But, I can't seem to get the words of that hymn out of my mind:

 Pixabay

Pixabay

My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
Refrain:
On Christ, the solid rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand,
all other ground is sinking sand.
— My Hope is Build on Nothing Less - Edward Mote - 1834

When Jesus came into my life, he became the owner of this abode. It was His blood and His righteousness that bought me and it is His grace and His Spirit that enables me to live in this world. Just as if a person of unlimited resources could go into one of those old, abandoned houses and refurbish it, Christ came into my life, not to let me get run down, worn out and empty, but to repaint, rebuild and fill up. It is on this solid rock of Jesus that I must stand. If I try to build my hope on anything else, I will become an old, rickety, empty house.

When darkness veils his lovely face,
I rest on his unchanging grace;
in every high and stormy gale,
my anchor holds within the veil. [Refrain]
— My Hope is Built on Nothing Less - Edward Mote - 1834

Even when things seem their very darkest and those curve balls keep coming and coming, I still can stand on Him. I rest, not in what I can see right now, but what I already know to be true of Christ through his Spirit and His word. He does not change. He doesn't get tired, or worn out or depressed. He is our anchor, always and forever!

 Stocksnap

Stocksnap

His oath, his covenant, his blood
support me in the whelming flood;
when all around my soul gives way,
he then is all my hope and stay. [Refrain]
— My Hope is Build on Nothing Less - Edward Mote - 1834

His oath, His covenant, His blood....not mine. We give ourselves too much credit. Every commercial you see, every song you hear, everything we read, tells us, "You can do it! You deserve it! You can win! If you just....." It wears me out and that is precisely where Christ can begin to do His work. Some of the greatest saints of the past were those who appeared, from a worldly perspective, to be the weakest. 

but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong,
— I Corinthians 1:27 (NASB)

Leave it to God to switch things up! He's so good at that. Our human point of view would never think to use the foolish things of the world, or the weak things of the world. Our flesh is all about getting its own glory. I'm strong! I'm smart! I'm powerful! Not! But He is! Oh, the blessed peace and rest, to know that is true.

When he shall come with trumpet sound,
O may I then in him be found,
dressed in his righteousness alone,
faultless to stand before the throne. [Refrain]
— My Hope is Build on Nothing Less - Edward Mote - 1834

One day, this will be true. I will stand before His throne, faultless, because I stand on HIm alone. His blood and righteousness, not mine. Until that day, I am going to keep trying to let Him work in this old fixer upper. I want people to be able to look at me and see, maybe my porch is a little saggy and maybe my flower beds are not completely free of weeds, but that Jesus is working, always working to make me into something beautiful.