Down the mountain and into the plain. Thoughts on life.

A stream of consciousness and a peek into my journal:

July 29, 2017

Lord, help me to stop living for the next big thing or the next “mountaintop experience.” The only destination is heaven. Everything else is bonus, or better yet, your grace on display. Help me to live for today, this moment, this people, right here and right now. Help me to see life as linear. The problem with living life as though it were just one mountain to climb is that once you get there you just start searching for the next mountain top. Life becomes a never-ending mission to seek one climactic event after the next. Let us remember that You are our High Point, and Heaven is out final climactic end.

Let me rest in the journey. Let me appreciate the mundane. Help me to rejoice in the subtleties of life. Let me take enjoyment in restful seasons. Because You are there. You are always there. In and out of every season, You are there.

God Almighty is His name.

There’s no point in saying, “I have arrived,” because you will only arrive when you are sitting at the feet of Jesus. There is no next best thing. There is only Jesus.

We search and we search for more and for what’s next because our soul is constantly wandering through this life unconsciously crying out because it knows “this is not our home.” We cannot find true contentment here. We cannot find love and peace and joy here in it’s purest form. When we try, we will always come up empty.

But Jesus is saying, “Here I am.” I am peace. I am love. I am patient and kind. I am all things and more, and I offer them to you in the purest state. I AM that I AM . There is nothing else. I AM and I always will be. I AM the first and the last, the beginning and the end. Your life is but a blink, but I AM forever. I AM the answer you seek. I AM the hope you desire. I AM the fulfillment of your heart’s desire. I AM because I AM.

Trust Me. Seek Me. Find Me. Know that I AM God.

 

 

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Root Bound

rootboundThere’s a term in horticulture called, “root bound.” In short, it’s “the nature of plants whose roots are ‘bound’ by some kind of barrier” (Roades). The plant can wilt quickly and/or have stunted growth. Thinking of this metaphor, I started wondering if people, like plants, can become root bound.

The Seedling
Yesterday, I caught myself wondering if I had outgrown my surroundings. I have lived in my hometown for 38 years. I have explored almost every nearby county, and I have been employed by at least two dozen companies. For years, I’ve been plagued with the desire to move. Like a plant in its container, I’ve been reaching for something more, but my roots always bring me back. This is where I’m secure. This is where my family is. This is where I grew up. Some days, I feel like I am wilting, or I worry that my growth is being stunted. In light of that, I can’t help but wonder if being transplanted elsewhere will help me to grow even more.

The Transplant
Plants that have outgrown their container need to be replanted into either a bigger planter, or into the ground. However, the transplant process is extremely delicate. There are many factors to consider. If transplanted too early, fragile flowers can go into shock and die. To deter this, many plants are brought outside for a few hours at a time until they get used to the new environment. This process is called, “hardening.”

For years, God has been at work in my life. Possibly, he has been “hardening” me for a life as a transplant. Foreseeing my need for growth, the tender Gardener has been cultivating my leaves and bringing me out for little spurts until the timing would be right. In the meantime, I grow and I wait.

The Gardner
Regardless of my little musings, God knows exactly what He is doing and when.  In a way, we are all like tender plants. He knows when we need to be sheltered. He knows when it’s time for us to bloom. We all serve a specific purpose. Some of us are prickly; some of us are sweet; some of us are big and showy, while others radiate a quiet wonder; some of us provide food; others provide shelter. Plants don’t worry about what they will do, or how they will do it. They just trust in their Gardner to make sure that their life is used for its ultimate purpose. Unlike foliage, we have the ultimate privilege available to us– an intimate relationship with the Creator, Himself.

Grafting
One of my favorite images in the Bible comes from John 15:
1“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples (NIV).

We are all in the process of being remade. Truth be told, there will be times when we have outgrown our surroundings. But no matter how we may feel, the Gardner will not let us become root bound. He knows the exact moment when we will be ready to move on; we just have to trust His timing. In the meantime, we continue to draw nearer to Him, producing fruit for the people that find shelter in our shade.

 

 

Rhoades, Heather. “Root Bound Symptoms .” Gardening Know How, Gardening Know How, LLC, 29 Mar. 2015, http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/plant-problems/environmental/root-bound-symptoms.htm. Accessed 19 June 2017.

“Pink Purple Sky.” https://www.freewebheaders.com.

In Lieu of Grief

Deciding to leave your job without a backup plan seems to have the same crippling effect as the five stages of grief. I’ve been in denial about thirty times, and I have bargained, or better yet, wrestled with God throughout this process. I’ve accepted it, only to start my walk through the stages again. Many people have asked me, “What are you going to do now?” Faking bravery, I smile and say, “I don’t know.” While this answer suits me most of the time, I am often completely freaking inside the rest of the time.

Yesterday, I was freaking out internally again when I stumbled upon something in my Bible that I had written almost a month ago. It was something that God had showed me the same week I decided not to return to my teaching position in the fall.

For the full story, I suggest that you read Genesis 24. In brief, Abraham decides that it is time to find a wife for his son, Isaac. Abraham sends his chief servant into his homeland so that he may find a wife for his son.

There are five major events that take place during the servant’s journey:

1. He prayed. Before reaching Nahor, the servant prayed, “[God], give me success today” (verse 12).

2. He watched. “Without saying a word, the man watched [Rebekah] closely to learn whether or not the Lord had made his journey successful” (verse 21)

3. He gave thanks. When he realized that Rebekah was a potential partner for Isaac, he praised God (verse 27).

4. He told others. After Rebekah brought the servant to her father, he tells them of how God moved on his behalf and timely answered his prayer (verse 40).

5. He did not stop. While he took the time to tell the others of God’s work, he did not stay for long. He even asked Rebekah’s family not to detain him since the Lord had granted his request. He wished to return to his master so that he could share the good news (and the success) with him as well (verse 56).

Almost everyone at one time or another has felt as if they were on a journey. As anyone who has ever stepped outside the flat lands of South Florida knows, journeys aren’t all smooth-paved. Paths, much like life, curve and dip, jag and slope. Through it all, we have to remember the One who establishes our ways. This is why I felt so drawWindingRoadn to the character of the servant. When doubt creeps in, these details can help to keep wavering faith in check. The first thing he did with Abraham’s difficult request was to pray. Amazingly enough, before he had even finished praying, Rebekah showed up at the well that God had led the servant to. There, he waited and watched (probably the hardest part for any of us!). When the servant was sure that Rebekah was the proper helpmate for Isaac, he stopped and gave thanks to God right then and there. Unable to hold in his excitement, he spread the good news to everyone around him. Lastly, even though his request was answered, he did not stop. He immediately continued the work the Lord had prepared for him.

Maybe you are like me, and you find yourself on a new journey. Maybe you too are struggling with doubt and uncertainty.

As we navigate through new territory, it’s important to remember the actions of the servant and:

•Pray for success.
•Wait and watch for the Lord to move.
•Praise Him when he answers.
•Share the good news with others.
•Keep moving forward until the race has been won.

And,

Journey on, Sojourner. Journey on.

 

It’s Time

In 2012, God asked me to leave my job and go to the Czech Republic. I went and returned 30 days later with a better relationship with my Creator that was deepened even more over the next six months, as I went without a job. Now, here I am nearly 5 years later, and I find myself at another crossroad. As it stands, I am about to decline my teaching pomost-inspiring-quotes-9-480x720sition for next year, and instead, take a trip across the United States. Not since I was 17 years old, have I thought about making this cross-country trek. Yet, at nearly 40 (1 year and 6 months to go), I find myself readying for a grand adventure.

There are many questions, but the few that plague me the most are:

• Is this what God wants me to do?
• Have I lost my mind?
• Can I trust Him?
• How will I get the money I need?

I may not have the answers to these questions, but I do have these promises to rely on:

• For I know the plan I have for you, says the Lord. Jeremiah 29:11
•  What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived— the things God has prepared for those who love him— I Corinthians 2:9
• In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. Proverbs16:9
I would love to hear about any crazy trips you have taken or any road trip advice. Leave all of these and more in the comment section.