When our children were younger, we had a rule for disobedience in public. It was taught to them that it may look like you are getting away with your disobedience while we remain in public, but just wait until we get home. You were sure to reap a level of discipline commensurate with your offense.
On one particular weekly trip to Walmart (better known as Wally-World at our house) our son Bryce decided he was going to test the waters with me just a bit. He was four years old. In an attempt to bring his mischief to a halt I took him by the arm and quietly whispered in his ear, “You know the rules, Bryce. When we get home you are going to receive a spanking for your disobedience.” My whisper was certainly more than enough to instantly cure his behavioral issues.
Like any parents, Steve and I pursued consistency in our parenting, attempting to offer our children a distinct foundation in accountability. So, after a few hours passed in our morning of errands and with Bryce suffering no more “behavioral setbacks” I found myself dreading the imminent discipline that was to occur once we arrived home. I kept reassuring myself that I indeed HAD to punish Bryce or I would surely be relaying inconsistency in my parenting skills.
As my thoughts turned over and over privately in my mind, a small voice spoke from the backseat. “Mommie”, Bryce said. “Will you forgive me for being ugly at Walmart?”
My first thought was, “Are you kidding, you little turkey? You are just asking me for forgiveness so you will not have to get your spanking.” Suddenly I thought, “Wait a minute! Bryce has never asked me to forgive him for his disobedience.” The sound of his sweet voice resonated with such sincerity and remorse.
Instantly, the Holy Spirit spoke to me saying, “If you received recompense for every offense you committed you would surely be dead right now. Do you know how many times you have “deserved” punishment, but instead were shown mercy?” A spirit of compassion was released over me in the car and I realized that more important than being dogmatically consistent with my parenting values was the opportunity to show my son the forgiving love of Christ. I quickly accepted his apology and taught him a new, more important lesson that day - repentance.
When we accept God’s forgiveness for the all the wrongs we have committed against Him, we should be grateful and willing to offer that same kind of forgiveness to those who have wronged us. (Mark 11:25-26)
SPRING is in the air with signs of new life appearing everywhere. Along with the glorious sunshine, freshly budding trees, golden daffodils, and the smell of freshly cut grass, Steve and I have a new friend at our house. A relentless bird with a new song! A very loud song that we have never heard before. Oddly, he appears in the early morning hours between two and five o’clock singing so loudly we are both awakened from our sleep. As Steve leaves for work each morning our curiosities are peaked as we search diligently to find the location of our new friend. His voice resounds with dominance though we have never seen him.
Our new friend is a reminder of another dominant voice heard crying out to us. Though He too has never been seen with our eyes, HIS voice can be heard as we prioritize our time to be quiet and still. “Forget what happened before, and do not think about the past. Look at the new thing I am going to do. It is already happening. Don’t you see it? I will make a road in the desert and rivers in the dry land,” says the Lord. (Isaiah 43:18-19 NCV)
God is always desiring to do a new and fresh thing in our lives. He is all about the now. Too often, we continuously set our sights on the disappointments, hurts, failures, and offenses of the past that we never see the new thing God desires to do in our lives TODAY. My friend, you cannot change the past, but you have the awesome privilege of TODAY. What will you do with it?
God is always moving. The important thing is are you moving with Him? He cries out to you, “Look at the new thing I am going to do. It is already happening. Don’t you see it?” Maybe you are sitting there today saying, “No, I do not see anything, Lord.” I have learned through the years that you must activate the new thing God is longing to do in your life with the eyes of faith before you will ever behold it with the natural eye. God wants to give you a new mindset, new ideas, new joy, new peace, new love, and new power. Will you allow Him to refresh your soul today? He has perfect plans for your life. “I know what I am planning for you, says the Lord. I have good plans for you, not plans to harm you. I will give you hope and a good future.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NCV)
Perhaps you feel stuck in your present existence with no hope of ever propelling forward in life, but our scripture today also reminds us, “I will make a road in the desert and rivers in a dry land.” Nothing is impossible with our God. He can make something out of our nothing. When you least expect it, God will spring forth newness in your life you never dreamed possible.
“It is written, Eye has not seen, neither ear heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9
In this new spring season, set aside time to bask daily in the presence of God. Soak up His goodness and allow your heart to trust Him like never before. May your 2012 be as beautiful as this new Spring season, bursting forth with glorious light, the smell of glory, and the buds of newness of life in Christ.
In our quest to succeed and lead a joyous life, it is important to ask ourselves a very important question: Am I driven by flesh or led by the Spirit?
Every created being has a destiny. We are known by God even before we become substance in our mother’s womb. Every characteristic of our lives is recorded in God’s book before even one is fashioned. His thoughts toward us are more in number than the sands of the seas.(Psalm 139:14-18) Our lives have great purpose and value.
What career path should I take? Who should I marry? Where should I live? What church should I attend? These are just a few of the decisive questions we face in life. Would it not be beneficial to consult our Maker as we move forward into our future instead of freely making these decisions on our own? After all, who knows us best? Who is more familiar with our talents, gifts, and calling than the One who created us?
Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths.” This scripture provides peace to my often weary soul. How comforting it is to know that I am not aimlessly wandering around in this world, left to decide my future alone. I have a Creator who designed me. He is intimately acquainted with me and my future because He destined my future and if I will acknowledge Him in my decision-making processes He will make the right path clear.
Many would say, “God does not have time. Neither does He care about such trivial decisions. He has bigger and better things to take care of in the world.” Left to our own limited human understanding, we are driven to make life decisions based on need, emotion and desire which can often be deceiving and lead us down a path of unfulfillment. I have had many desires in life that after carefully seeking God’s will were determined to be unfruitful. I am thankful for the guidance of the faithful Holy Spirit early in my life. I look back now and see the many times I chose to trust His plan instead of my own and I have never been disappointed or led astray. He has been and continues to be my Great Shepherd.
Several times in scripture we see Jesus being “led” by the Holy Spirit. He knew His purpose. He did not come to earth to fulfill His own plan, but the will of His Father. Jesus Christ Himself submitted to the plan and purposes of God. What makes us any different? You and I are sojourners in this foreign land. We are ambassadors and representatives of His great kingdom. Romans 12:2 reminds us that our reasonable service is to offer our lives as living sacrifices unto God Almighty, surrendering freely our will and plan to His.
At first, it may seem difficult to relinquish self-made plans and desires because the flesh loves being in control, but when we learn to trust that God has our best interest at heart we can accept that His plan is ultimately best for our lives anyway. He knows you inside and out, from beginning to end. Learn to acknowledge and trust Him with all of your decisions. You will never be disappointed. He is speaking to you today, “Lift your sail, child of God, and allow My Spirit to blow you any which way I choose. Trust in My guidance, for I created you and I know the future. I am able to lead you to the blessed life you have always dreamed of.” You can live peacefully in uncharted territory when you learn to trust the captain of your sail.
Remember, the Lord IS your shepherd. You shall not want. He leads you beside still waters. He leads you in paths of righteousness...Psalm 23