Tag Archives: God’s plan

I’m supposed to be on Vacation!

Standard

I’m supposed to be on vacation for one week before the week of Teacher Orientation.  One week.  We are done with teams for the year.  We have no more traveling planned for this week.  I only wanted to brush up on my Spanish subjunctive tense, devour a few books on my Kindle, and knock off a few Sudokus a day.  I’m supposed to be on vacation.

Photo credit: BrittneyBush / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Photo credit: BrittneyBush / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

So if you read my blog yesterday, you will know that I started my day with bad news.  Now that it’s official, I can tell you that our 2nd grade teacher quit… two weeks before the first day of school.  I’m the Vice Principal, so of course she sent the email to me.  I saw a month’s worth of work unravel before my eyes.  I’m supposed to be on vacation.  I’m not supposed to be madly searching for a new teacher just days before the school year starts.

Yesterday I spent a lot of time in prayer and a lot of time hovering around my cell phone, email, and Facebook just communicating with those who needed to know and those who could help get the word out.  I could do nothing else.  It’s not like there are a bunch of American teachers just waiting around in Costa Rica, longing to be hired.  And anyone that we hire needs to move to a foreign country basically by the end of the week, two weeks at the latest.  How many of YOU could do that?  I certainly could not.  So you can see how limited my pool of teacher choices is.  So much for being on vacation.

Eight Facebook friends reposted my desperate plea for a new teacher.  And I posted the need on a prayer group board for our home church.  A friend of a friend of a friend connected me to a name.  My parents both wrote with a recommendation of their own.  Another teacher offered to ask a friend of hers if she was interested.  One of our sweet newly graduated students wrote offering to substitute until we found another teacher.  We were all beating the bushes simultaneously.

At dinner time I did a quick phone interview with one potential candidate and received a resume from another.  In the morning (today) I will have a meeting with our Head Director the Principal and myself.  We will discuss the situation and read the resume together.  They will probably want to do a Skype interview right on the spot.  None of us are supposed to be in the office this week.  We are all on vacation.

How will this drama end?  I’ll be sure to let you know when I come to the end of the story.  I am sure that God has a plan.  I am confident that God has the right person in place for this job.  I am totally convinced that we are seeing a miracle unfold even as I write these words.  It’s just excrutiatingly stressful to see the birth of something new even though it didn’t take God by surprise and neither is He stressed out by this contraction of my best laid plans.  I just have to remember to keep breathing.  Breathe, breathe, breathe and think about vacation.

Refiner’s Fire

Standard

Christians have a different perspective on suffering because we look for meaning in the process.  We feel God close to us in times of trials.  How else could Paul and Silas sing songs of praise to the Lord while chained up in a prison cell?  How else do you explain the servant of God who is arrested in a Muslim country yet begs his friends NOT to push for his release, just let God have His way?  How else do you account for the Chinese pastor who spends the rest of his life talking about the “golden days” of his captivity when Jesus was so sweet and close?  “Suffering produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.” so says Romans 5:3-4.

But I like how The Message version says it:

“We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next.  In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged.  Quite the contrary- we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!”  (Romans 5:3-5 The Message)

There’s an old song sung by Vineyard from back when I was a kid.  It talks about the Refining Fire of the Holy Spirit at work in the life of a Jesus Follower.  It requires fire to purify silver and gold… very hot fire.  And it is the same way with us.  In our troubles, we are made more useful and beautiful and pure for our work here on this Earth.  God always has a plan where suffering is concerned.  It is not random. I hum this tune to myself quite often as I meditate on the lyrics:

Purify my heart
Let me be as gold and precious silver
Purify my heart
Let me be as gold, pure gold
Purify my heart
Cleanse me from within
And make me holy
Purify my heart
Cleanse me from my sin
Deep within

Refiner’s fire

My heart’s one desire

Is to be holy

Set apart for You, Lord

I choose to be holy

Set apart for You, my Master

Ready to do Your will

The Process IS the Purpose

Standard

Taken from Oswald Chamber’s “My Utmost for His Highest”.  Emphasis mine.

We tend to think that if Jesus Christ compels us to do something and we are obedient to Him, He will lead us to great success.  We should never have the thought that our dreams of success are God’s purpose for us.  In fact, His purpose may be exactly the opposite.  We have the idea that God is leading us toward a particular end or a desired goal, but He is not.  The question of whether or not we arrive at a particular goal is of little importance, and reaching it becomes merely an episode along the way.  What we see as only the process of reaching a particular end, God sees as the goal itself…  What people call preparation, God calls the goal.
Process is not something that anyone really enjoys, most of the time.  We are very often so focused on the destination, that we forget to stop and smell the roses along the way… or roll in the poison ivy along the way of some routes.  God has a purpose for us along the way.  It involves the death of our own ideas about how things should be done or what the end result will look like.  For me, language school was the first intense dying to myself process that I had ever really experienced.  Before, I could control most of what happened in my life.  But once I was put into a new culture with a new language, I had no handles to steer with.  I had to take my hands off the wheel and let God do the steering.
.
Stripping of pride, laying down of conveniences, forgetting my own identity, and adjusting my values were just a small part of the process that happened as I learned to conjugate Spanish verbs.  When I nearly had a panic attack at the thought of ordering pizza over the phone, I hit an all-time low.  What is God doing with THIS kind of process?  Crushing, refining, purifying, kneading and reforming are all words that come to mind.
.
Probably many of you have heard this illustration before… but it’s worth sharing again.  
As a butterfly struggles to push out of its cocoon, it squeezes itself through a tiny opening at the bottom of the confining sack.  It pushes and struggles and takes a long time.  Its body bloated with transforming fluids, it presses through the little hole and this forces the fluids into the wings.  The fluids help the wet, crumpled new wings to spread and dry straight and strong.  
.
If some compassionate person were to come along and see this great struggle, they might be tempted to free the butterfly from its confinement and thus bypass the work and struggle of emerging from the cocoon.  But if that happens, the wings will never fill and spread.  The fat, bloated body will never fly with purposeful grace.  That act of compassion would be seen as cruelty.  The butterfly MUST go through a process in order to live and thrive.  It can not take short cuts.  Struggle and pain are part of the plan, part of the process.  
.
It is this way with us.  God has a plan for us and sometimes it involves suffering for a “moment”.  Think of the Children of Israel wandering in the wilderness for 40 years.  They learned through that process that they could trust God to take care of them, to fight for them, to lead them, to heal them, to provide for them, and to speak to them.  What if they had taken the short cut and gone straight to the Promised Land.  They would have never had their terrifying and glorious Red Sea experience.  They would have remained butterflies with crippled, crumpled spiritual wings.  They would have never thrived in Trusting the Lord.
.
What process are you pushing through right now?  Embrace the slow and painful growth.  Focus less on the end result and more on the path you are on.  Process is the purpose.

She will be worth it…

Standard

Ashley and Sean, look at that ROCK on her hand! I think those smiles say that yes, it was worth the wait.

I’m on a theme this week.  What do you feel is “worth it”?

A friend of mine got engaged this last August while she was home.  Now that she’s back in San Jose we finally went out to lunch so I could hear the story in all it’s girly detail.

My friend is 30 years old… and a virgin.  Way back in her late teens, she made a promise to the Lord.  She said, “Lord, I give you my 20’s.  Do whatever you want with my life.  This decade is dedicated to you.”  And the Lord took her 20’s.

For 10 years she served God faithfully.  She poured her life into mentoring young girls.  She went on missions trips.  She served in her church.  She lived 100% for God.  This was by faith.

God made her no promises that someday she would meet “the one”, Mr. Right, the man of her dreams.  She had no assurance that she would not be single for life.  She had no “deal” with God.  She just walked through that decade by faith.  The only thing she held on to was the belief that “God is worth it”.

She believed that God had a plan.  She had faith that someday, it would be worth it all.  She sometimes cried at night.  She sometimes doubted that God knew the depth of her loneliness.  She sometimes doubted that there was a husband out there for her.  She sometimes “took back” her promise to God in her heart, but she still walked it out every day.   She believed that it would be worth it all.

Then, less than a year ago.  God brought a man into her life.  This man had made a promise to God too.  This man had given God his 20’s as well.  This man was 30 years old… and still a virgin.

When he proposed to my friend he said, “you are not the girl of my dreams… you are better than I could have ever dreamed!”  I am sure he will feel that waiting for her was so worth it.  It was not easy, but it was worth it.

Waiting for the other shoe to drop

Standard

Within the last few months I have had two separate conversations with two separate girlfriends about this topic:  Waiting for the second shoe to drop.  Both of my friends grew up in families where the men were either abusive or absent.  Both of my friends are now in loving relationships with wonderful men- one married, one almost engaged.  And both of them have told me that in the beginning of their relationship they found themselves picking fights with their man and doing crazy stuff just to drive him nuts.

One girlfriend said, “I couldn’t understand why I was acting this way, but I just kept pushing him and pushing him.  It was like I was trying to see how far I could go before he abandoned me.  I needed to know where his breaking point was.”

My other girlfriend told me that it took her years to build up trust in her husband, and in God.  She kept thinking, “Things are going too good… when is God going to drop the other shoe on me?  When is this guy going to walk out on me?”  She learned to trust the stability of God by learning to trust the stability of her godly husband.

Both men took the time and effort to prove their worth to the women they loved.  One guy said, “I’m not like the men in your family!  I’m not going to walk out on you.”  And that was that.  A solid promise that brought peace to the inner turmoil of her mind and heart.  She could stop waiting for the other shoe to drop.

I don’t know if there is a psychological term for “waiting for the other shoe to drop” but on some level most of us deal with this kind of fear.  Whether we believe in God or not, there remains a fear that the bubble will indeed burst someday.  Our past experience has taught us that no one is perfectly happy, or that happiness doesn’t last, or that when you are at the peak of your happiness that’s when disaster will target you.

At the root of fear is always a lie.  This fear is rooted in the lie that says, “God has it out for you.”  God doesn’t want you to be too happy.  If you’re too happy, you’ll draw the attention of a spiteful God who will focus his revenge on you in order to take you down a notch.  But it’s a lie.

God has told us that He is FOR us not AGAINST us.  He has come to give us LIFE ABUNDANTLY.  And he has our best interests at his heart, always.  “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘Plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” Jeremiah 29:11  This is the truth.  These are the promises of God with which you fight the lies of your great Enemy.  God doesn’t lie.

He’s on your side, so you can just exhale, Baby!  God is for you all the way!  There is no other shoe waiting to drop.  Happiness doesn’t have to be short lived, peace does not have to be temporary.  Joy is meant to be deep and satisfying. You can trust God, he’s not out to squash you like a bug.  He has good plans for you, Good Things.