Tuesday, May 30, 2017

God's Plans Instead of Ours

I've had this post in partially completed form for the last month or so. I started it when I was at the retreat I talk about in it. Trying to sum it up in something - a lesson, a question for reflection - something that makes it what I usually post here. But, that is not to be.

I still feel like it's something to share. Maybe there's a lesson in it for you as you read. I'm leaving that to God to prompt what He has and simply sharing what He has placed on my heart to share.


Fog obscuring all below. No view of the mountain road taken to get here, or the valley below.

Blue sky with light whispy clouds above. Moments of sunshine bringing warmth.

A quiet sort of peacefulness descended on her as she looked out the window. Something felt different about this place, this time.

Laughter and conversation with unlikely friends around the dinner table. Looking around the table, she was struck by how different they all were, yet they all shared what was most important.

They loved Jesus. They followed Him. They wanted to grow and help others grow in their journey with Christ.

That was what brought them together in this place. It was what had brought them together once a week for almost seven months.

What does this weekend hold?

What is God up to?

A sense of anticipation and wonder.

She'd felt the need for a time like this for a while, but it hadn't seemed to be happening. No matter what she'd tried, nothing seemed to work according to her plans.

But, maybe this was God's timing, His plan for when it should be. Trusting what He desired to do when it was right according to Him.


Sipping coffee in the morning sun. Looking down on the valley and the lake below. Not a cloud to be seen - just clear, pale blue sky above.

The beginning of a day spent together, yet alone with Jesus.

Worship music playing softly in the background. The only other sound the turning of pages in Bibles, books, journals.

There's something about this place. Really, something about an intentional time away. It just feels easier to put aside the distractions and hear God's voice.

Sharing. Praying together. Reflecting on our day.


Sunday morning dawns. Another beautiful day.

Breakfast finished. Dishes done. Conversation continues.

This space feels like holy ground as talk and laugh and enjoy each other's company. No agenda. No hurry to get things done.


A month later, walking into a room of people, looking for familiar faces. It seems such a short time and a long time all at once since our retreat together.

Connecting again. Sharing together.


When I started writing these words on the weekend, I had my own thoughts on what the post I was writing would be about. I quickly realized this was going somewhere else. 

As I reflect on this now, and try to sum it up, I'm at a loss. I don't have a neat lesson to tie this up with. Or a question to leave you with.

I simply am reminded of how God has plans that we may not even be aware of. Bringing me to this group. Creating the space for this retreat. Making His will happen in the midst of ours, as long as we're actually willing and available.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Why I'm Still at my Job After 10 Years

Ten years at one workplace. That's not something I ever really expected to reach. All the way through my education we were told to expect multiple job changes, especially as we began our careers, and that staying extended periods of time anywhere was a thing of the past. Because of that, I never expected to be looking at a quickly approaching 10 year anniversary at my current workplace.

But, as I sit here and reflect on that I realize that, on most days, I still look forward to going to work every day when I get up. There are days when I struggle and tasks that really aren't my favourite to do, but I think that's reality for every job for every person out there. I consider it a huge blessing from God that I want to go to work when I get up.

I've been thinking for a couple months about why this is true. And I have a list of reasons:

  1. I get to use my education and my skills for something that has a greater purpose than just making more money.
  2. I like the challenge of making sure everything balances and works like it should.
  3. It's been a great opportunity for learning and growth in my field.

I'm sure I could come up with more if I took enough time. I also know I could say those things about more than just this job. There are other choices that would offer me those things.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that, while the above reasons are true, there is a reason why I love my job most days that is beyond all of those. What it really comes down to are the people - my coworkers, our volunteers, those we serve.

As someone who isn't necessarily seen as a people-person this was a surprise to me at first. But, the more I think about it, the more I realize the truth of it.

I've the last 10 years, I've had the privilege of working with some incredible people. They really are some of the most patient, caring, grace-filled people I've ever known. My job often hides me from the day-to-day realities most of my coworkers face, but in the moments I do see them in action, this is what I see.

The volunteers - they come and give and love people on their own time. Giving selflessly to others.

It's also the people who come through our doors. Their needs are sometimes more obvious than ours, but I'm not sure our ability to hide our need is a good thing. Stories of life change.

So, as I sit and reflect on 10 years in one workplace, I'm reminded of the importance of the people around us. And I'm grateful for the people God has given me the privilege of working with. My life is better and richer because of them.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

A Warning about Remaining Free

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." (Galatians 5:1)

The entire book of Galatians is about our freedom in Christ. Paul talks about it over and over again, writing to a church that seemed to be struggling with it.

Theses words in Galatians 5:1 really sum up all of the arguements Paul has been making. He builds the arguement, lays the ground work for this statement, in the first four chapters of Galatians. The last two chapters begin to flesh out the details of what Paul is talking about - practically living our freedom.

This verse stopped me recently. I got stuck on it for a while as I realized more about the implications of it for our lives.

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." (Galatians 5:1)

Christ paid the price for our sins through His death on the cross. He then set us free from the power of sin through His resurrection. We can't earn that freedom. Any attempts to earn it become new forms of slavery in our lives. We have to be intentional about standing firm in our freedom and not letting another form of slavery be put on us.

As I reflected on this verse, I kept coming back to a couple of questions:
-Why do we so easily burden ourselves with a yoke of slavery when we've been set free?
-Why do we struggle do much to live the truly free that Christ has given to us?
I suppose, those are really two sides of the same question: Why was it necessary for Paul to write these words - to his original audience and to us?

I think in our search for the answer we don't need to any further than our flesh nature and the society we live in. These words in Galatians 5:1 go completely against what they tell us. We're told that we have to earn everything - that nothing we receive really comes without strings attached. Even when someone gives us a gift, we struggle to accept it. Sometimes overtly, but more often quietly, we look for a way to repay the giver of a gift.

I think that's why we so easily burden ourselves again with a yoke of slavery. We're really bad at receiving gifts, especially when we don't feel like there was a reason why we earned it. But this freedom that Christ brings us is a gift we can never earn or repay. All we can do is accept it. That's what makes it so beautiful and so difficult all at the same time.

How are you doing with the gift of freedom Christ has given you?
Have you accepted it as a gift?
Or, are you putting yourself in slavery again by trying to find a way to earn it or repay it?

Tuesday, May 9, 2017


"Trust Me," He said.

She wasn't so sure. She couldn't see the ground where He was telling her to place her next step. She didn't know if the ground would be stable. Was it firm? Was it flat? Were there rocks on the ground that would make her food slide when she put it down? How far down would she have to go before her foot felt the ground beneath her again?

"Trust Me," He said again, "You can do this. I'm right her; I'll keep you steady as you take the step."

She still didn't know exactly where this step would land. But the most important question she had to answer was whether she trusted Him. Did she trust Him enough to take the step based on His words and His promise to be there for her?

"Trust Me. Whatever this brings, you're not alone. I'm with you and I'm not leaving you."

She hesitantly began to move - to take that first step. As she did, she grabbed His hand and held on tight. She realized that no matter how tightly she held, He was holding her securely enough and He would not lose His grip on her.

That step didn't land where she would have liked. It required her to completely trust His promise to be there, to keep His grip on her. And that's exactly what did happen. She made it on that step, and each subsequent one to come.


Sometimes this is what it feels like walking with God. He asks us to trust Him and take the next step He's calling us to. We may be unsure, but we can choose to trust Him, and when we cling tightly to Him as we take that step, we'll find He's holding onto us more securely than we could ever hold onto Him.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Is There Room?

Is there space in your life for God to interrupt and call you to something new or different?

Is there room for God to bring about His plan for your life?

This is something I've been challenged about a lot lately. It's so easy to fill our calendars and our schedules so full that we don't leave any room for God to have His way with us. We live in a culture that seems to prize busy-ness, and our spiritual lives pay the price for that if we're not careful.

We're only going to hear God interrupting our plans with His if we're actually creating space where we can listen. If we're able to pay attention, because we don't always have to run to the next thing. It won't happen on the run with out thoughts focused on what we need to do next.

In the culture we live in, we have to become intentional about creating this space to pay attention. Until it becomes our habit, we have to do the work of making it ahppen. Even once it becomes habit, we have to continue to watch that we don't slowly get off course and back into the busy-ness of our culture again.

Is there space in your life for God to interrupt and call you to something new or different?

Is there room for God to bring about His plan for your life?

If not, what can you do to create some space?

If there is, what can you to guard that time, so it doesn't disappear?