Monthly Archives: July 2023

You Can’t See it if You Aren’t Looking

Recently as a family we were walking around a large store. I remember walking around a large store as a child – you have the sense of how very big the place is. You have no sense of bearings – where is the exit, where you’ve been or where you’re going, the ceiling is a million miles away. You just feel small. As an adult, I was in full possession of my bearings in the store. My children were looking for the steps, and I knew right where we were and where the stairs were. Of course they knew that I would know, and so they asked me where the stairs were. I responded, “They’re over this way,” while pointing in the direction of the stairs. But guess what? None of my children were looking at me. They continued to turn this way and that, looking around their surroundings for the stairs. How silly! I called them out, “Guys, you asked me where the stairs are but then you failed to look at me for the answer. You just kept looking on your own.”

Oh how often we do this in our journey with God. We are seeking answers for life’s problems, and we know we need to ask him for those answers, but then we fail to keep our eyes on him, we fail to look to him to see his direction and guidance. We just keep searching about aimlessly for the answer. God doesn’t want us to fumble our way through life. He knows that if we just keep our eyes on him, he will lead us in the way we should go. But in order to be led, we have to follow, and to follow, we have to look.

Here are a few of my favorite verses that instruct us to keep our eyes on the Lord:

Proverbs 4:25 “Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.”

Psalm 16:8 “I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”

Psalm 121:1-2 “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.”

Jesus, Light of the World, promised us this: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

Why do we ask God in prayer for direction but then fail to keep our eyes on him? It’s as silly as my children asking me where the steps were located but then not looking at me to see where I was guiding them.

As I answered my children about the steps, I felt God’s Spirit nudge that I have been seeking a lot of answers lately regarding my husband’s job, but all I really need to do is keep my eyes on Him. He’s a faithful guide – so much more so than I am, and I would never lead my own children astray. He will be faithful to lead my family in the way we need to go, but we won’t see the way unless we actually keep our eyes on him instead of frantically looking every which way in life like my children did in the store.

If you are walking through uncertain times, I encourage you to join me in fixing your gaze on God. He is the Good Shepherd and he longs to lead you in the way you should go. But if you’re not looking to him, you won’t see it. You may even be asking him for direction, but in looking all around you seeking those answers, your eyes are not on him. And that’s what he wants most – he wants our eyes on him; he wants to walk with us. The promises of his Word are true for you and me. When we look to him, he will guide us in the way we should go. But you can’t see it if you aren’t looking.

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This spring we have had some very rainy long days at home. On days like these, I like to tackle organizing projects. One such day, I was helping my son organize the new lego sets that he had received for his birthday. I was kneeling down in front of his bookshelf when I felt a sharp pain in my knee. I assumed that I had struck a nerve in my aging knees, or perhaps rested my knee on a small sharp lego-like object. So I rolled quickly off my knees to relieve the pressure. I felt something on my pants as I rubbed the sore area and noticed that I now had a small hole in my favorite lounge pants. But then we noticed a burning smell. The smell triggered me to look again at my pant leg and see that the hole was not torn, but melted and burned. I had knelt down on one of the caps from Micah’s cap gun, and the pressure and friction had caused it to ignite, melting my pants, and burning my knee.

So too with our faith, sometimes a little pressure in life is what we need to ignite a spark. Yes, sometimes that pressure is uncomfortable, but if it ignites our faith, then it is worth it.

The pressure we are feeling right now in my family is provision – the economy is not great, as we all know, and my husband’s job has been greatly affected by this. It’s a nose-at-the-water-line type of situation. But I allowed this pressure to spark faith in me on a recent Sunday as I was listening to a sermon entitled, “What’s In Your Hand?” God’s Spirit whispered in my heart – “your flowers are in your hand. Give them to me, and let’s see what we can do.” As I have reflected on the start up of my cut flower arrangement sales, I realize that the initial spark happened years ago, but it took the pressure of our finances to ignite something greater. (Who knows how long that cap had been sitting on Micah’s floor? It took the pressure of my knee to ignite it!) It took pressure for my faith to grow, to place this passion in God’s hands, to give it over to him and let him use it for his purposes.

The reality is that without some pressure or some discomfort, we are unlikely to move, change, take a step, grow. We like our comfort zones. They’re comfortable. But they are not where growth happens. Growth happens in the pressure, the heat, the trial by fire.

When I think of a life from the Bible that is marked by great trial, great pressure, great difficulty, of course Job comes to mind. Job lost everything, if you are unfamiliar with his story. He lost all the many herds of animals he owned, all his wealth; he lost his home; he lost his children; he even lost his health. His life was in utter ruins. When we get into places like this, not that I can pretend to ever have been in such a dismal place as Job, we have choices: We can give up, turn our backs on God; we can be angry with God; or we can allow the pressure to spark faith.

Job chose faith. And so do I.

“When he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.” (Job 23)

“I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19)

Whatever trial you are facing right now, I encourage you to let the pressure you feel ignite faith in your heart. Don’t turn your back on God or be angry with him; choose faith. Your redeemer lives. And you will see him face to face one day, with all made right. Allow your difficulties to grow your faith, to move you in the direction God is urging you. Choose faith.

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I Sowed the Seed, but Where is the Flower?

Last summer we sowed wildflower seeds across a large section of our back hillside. It is a rocky, sandstone area with lots of weeds and wild growth. We cultivated the area to ensure good seed contact with the soil, we kept the area moist, and it certainly got lots of sunshine. Yet we were disappointed with the outcome. Last summer, only a precious few wildflowers popped up on the hill, despite hundreds of seeds being dispersed. Disappointing to say the least!

Much to my shock, THIS summer, a huge swatch of the hillside was covered with wildflowers! WHAT. I never saw these guys last year. The seed laid there all summer, through the winter, and finally germinated this spring. I could not have been more surprised to see all these flowers popping up over a year later!

Because the culture of the Bible time period was largely agrarian, there are many many sowing and seed references in the Bible. But in this season of life, what I found particularly encouraging about this object lesson of the delayed wildflower bloom is found in Galatians and Isaiah.

Galatians 6:9 says “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

Isaiah 55:10-11 says, “10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

As a mom, I am spending a ton of time sowing into the lives of my children. And it is not always so rewarding. This is especially so because we are raising a child with special needs. It is challenging. Summers are very hard with their lack of structure, long lazy days, and slower pace. None of this is helpful for my Sophie-girl. This summer her anxiety and OCD have reared their ugly heads in full force. I feel like I sow the same truths into my kids’ lives MANY times a day, but all that I am seeing is that sparse wildflower or two that I saw on the hillside last year. It is encouraging to me to know that those seeds may lie there for quite some time, but they will eventually accomplish the purpose for which God had me sow them. If I do not give up, the harvest will eventually come in their lives. Someday they won’t use potty language from sun-up to sun-down! Someday they will WANT to brush their teeth… Someday they will become more grateful people…. The seeds are there, and God IS making them grow, even if I can’t see it right now.

God’s Word also makes it clear that HE is the one who makes the seed grow (Mark 4:27-28, I Corinthians 3:6-7). My job is to be obedient, faithful, and PATIENT with these children. Whether you are in my season of life or not, I imagine there is a situation coming to your mind just now. Most of us are in a long game of some sorts no matter where we’re at in life. Be encouraged today not to give up. Let’s keep in mind this great verse from Philippians 1:6: “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” It may take a long time to see the beauty from the seed you sowed, but keep on and you will see it eventually.

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