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. 

What Do You Believe?

The word faith as defined by Webster's dictionary means, a firm belief in something for which there is no proof. We often associate the word faith with religion. The Jews believe in Yahweh, the Muslims believe in Allah, the Christians believe in Jesus and the atheists believe in nothing. Even the lack of a deity is a belief, because there is no absolute proof. You can say there is no God, but how do you know for sure? Can you take a rocket ship into the furtherest reaches of space and discover that there is no being who calls himself God? Probably not and even if you had the resources to build a rocket and go into space, the vastness of that place would make it impossible for you to ever truly discover wether or not there is a supreme being known as God. 

Jeremy Thomas  on StockSnap

Jeremy Thomas on StockSnap

Faith is just that. It is the ability to believe without proof. Every day we make faith based choices. I have faith that when I get out of bed the floor I step on will hold me. I have faith that the air I breathe or the water I drink will not kill me. I have faith that when I drive to work, everyone else will obey the traffic laws, driving the speed limit, stopping at red lights and driving on the correct side of the road. A parent exercises faith when they put their child on the school bus. A patient exercises faith when they go to the doctor. Even scientists exercise faith in many of the theories and scientific laws they put forth as fact. 

At some point in your life, you might want to ask yourself, what do I believe? Maybe you are wondering what I believe. Belief comes with an aspect of trust. Whatever I believe or put my faith in, I am choosing to trust. Trust seems to be a big issue in our world today. We live in a society filled with mistrust, whether it be in the President of the United States, in our educational system or in our own spouses. In many cases a child cannot even trust his own parent where abuse is involved. So who do you trust?

So what is the big deal? Why have faith? Why bother trusting anyone, but myself? Any of you who remember Simon and Garfunkel, probably remember the song, I Am A Rock, which included lyrics like, 

I’ve built walls
A fortress, steep and mighty
That none may penetrate
I have no need of friendship
Friendship causes pain.
It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain.
I am a rock
I am an island
— Simon and Garfunkel - I Am A Rock
Mikkel Schmidt  on StockSnap

Mikkel Schmidt on StockSnap

Even though we probably have all felt like an island at some point in time, the reality is that we need people. Not only that, but we need to be able to put our trust in someone who won't let us down. 

When I was twelve, my family was faced with some difficult financial stresses. It put a strain on my parents relationship and I was old enough to know that it was creating hardship in our family. It was at that point in time that I decided I needed someone I could trust and gave my heart and life to Jesus Christ. In order to be able to fully trust, we have to be able to be fully vulnerable and know that we will not be hurt by doing so. 

Jesus has been, not only my Savior, but my closest friend. Maybe you are reading this and thinking, "I don't get it! How could you have a friendship with a being who is so far beyond what we know and understand?" That is the beauty of this faith! I believe, not in a religion. I believe in a relationship.

Jesus speaks in the Gospels of relationship. He speaks of dwelling together, like a family.

In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.
— John 14:2 (NASB)
Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.”
— John 14:23 (NASB)
“I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.”
— John 17:20-21 (NASB)

These are not the words of a being who wants to keep his distance, nor one that makes demands we can never keep. These are the words of the God Man, both fully God and fully Man. His desire is that we be with Him and that we have oneness with Him and His Father. When I put my trust in someone, He was the one. 

Who are you trusting in today? The government, the law, the psychic or yourself? Why not put your trust in the one who has loved you with an everlasting love. 

King Solomon is considered to be the wisest King of all time and this is what he said, 

My son, do not forget my teaching,
But let your heart keep my commandments;
For length of days and years of life
And peace they will add to you.
Do not let kindness and truth leave you;
Bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart.
So you will find favor and good repute
In the sight of God and man.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the Lord and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your body
And refreshment to your bones.
— Proverbs 3:1-8 (NASB)