Posts Tagged ‘God’

A new thing…

God confused me this morning.  Not a first, mind you… but it happened.

I was reading Isaiah 43:17-21.  And it was verse 18 that tripped me up.

Do not call to mind the former things,
Or ponder things of the past.

Don’t remember? Wait a minute… what?  I thought the Old Testament and the New were full of calls to remember.  Remember what God has done for us.  Remember where God has brought us. Remember the commands. Remember the miracles. Remember Jesus as we break the bread and share the wine. Remember Lot’s wife!  Even the bookmark I’m currently using in my Bible says “Remember Me” and has a verse attached.

So why were they told not to remember?  Now to be fair, I had read the rest of the passage, too.  Like verse 19:

Behold, I will do something new,
Now it will spring forth;
Will you not be aware of it?
I will even make a roadway in the wilderness,
Rivers in the desert.

And so I read them both again.  And again.  And again.  And again.  Until the words ran through my mind.

Don’t call to mind the things past.  I’m doing something new.  Don’t ponder what was.  Something new is coming.

And in the midst of the words tumbling over and over, God began to clear away what He was saying to them through Isaiah.

Don’t keep looking at things behind.  Don’t dwell on the past.  Or you’ll miss what I’m about to do…

Yes, I had told you before to remember.  I had asked it of you.  I had instructed it to you.  But you failed to remember and you turned instead to sin and now you’re here in exile, your land and your faith in ruins.  But don’t look back now.  Don’t dwell on what has been.  Because if you do you’ll miss what I’m about to do.  I’m about to do something new. Something you’ve never seen.  Something your ancestors never even saw.  A roadway in the wilderness.  Rivers in the desert.  Don’t miss it.

And so my prayer became

Lord, even as I recall and am thankful for what You have done and where You have brought me thus far, help me not to be so focused on it that I miss what You’re doing now.

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Ebenezer Hands

I mentioned my Ebenezer hands in a previous post.  And I’ve been wanting to review all the stones, so thought I’d let you share in my re-discovery of how far God has brought me!

I got the idea from 1 Samuel 7:12 where Samuel takes a rock, calls it Ebenezer as a reminder that God has helped them so far.  I thought Samuel was brilliant.  It’s not the first time in scripture that we see monuments of sorts meant to remind someone of something, but this one for me is the most potent.  So I took my ceramic figurine of open hands and I began to fill it with little stones.  On each stone, I would write an event, date and/or phrase to remind me of a time when God got me through something.  As you can see, it’s practically overflowing now!

So journey with me through stones and memories…

“Breath of Air” RGC Pool Jr. 1 – I think it was my second year as a camper, one day I found myself jumping off the diving board to go deep and kick off the bottom of the pool. Except this time I didn’t reach the bottom. I remember kicking furiously to get to the top. I remember looking up and seeing a lot of water still above me. I remember my lungs hurting. I remember opening my mouth and inhaling.  And I remember it being air.  A few moments later, I reached the surface…

Junior High School – Spent my 8th grade year (and a little of 9th) being the brunt of much teasing.  It got bad.  Really bad.  A few years later one of my teasers would apologize and admit “we wanted someone to make fun of, it happened to be you.”  Thoughts of suicide never came to fruition. And through it all, Divine arms carried me.

Reno 1996- Peace for the Move – Just about the time I had begun to reestablish myself back home and make friends again, Dad got a project in Reno.  It was only a 6 month project, so I was given the option of staying in the area and living with my grandparents.  But I had an incredible peace-that-passes-understanding about moving with them. So I did.  It was good.  It was God…

Angel 1996 – But before it was good, it was rough. I was homesick and introverted and not good at making friends. I’d been reading those “Angel in a Backpack” stories and (somewhat jokingly) prayed one night, “God, it would be really cool if I could have an angel to get me through this.”  A couple days later I went to see the guidance counselor who had offereed to hook me up with a senior (I was a sophomore) who could show me around and buddy up with me for a couple of weeks till I got settled, so I finally agreed.  Her name? Angel.

Seek Ye First 1997 RGC – It was my last summer as a camper at the camp I grew up at and loved. I had worked hard to memorize verses, clean my cabin, help my team win points so that my team or cabin could win the end-of-the-week ice cream party – because I had never been a part of a winning team or cabin all my years there!  My team wasn’t the greatest at the games nor my cabin mates so interested in “clean cabin” points.  I got upset. Then God reprimanded me by pointing out Matthew 6:33. I realized that the point of camp wasn’t ice cream parties, but growing closer to God and so I repented, focusing on Him the rest of the week.  And you know what? I got a bonus – my cabin won the ice cream party!

Fall 1997 “Hope Exists” – Fall of my senior year was stressful.  Mom and Dad were in Georgia wrapping up a project, but I wanted to graduate from my hometown so I was living with a family friend.  I was having all sorts of health problems (the beginning of my most major fibro issues that wouldn’t be diagnosed for 2 more years) and I was at the end of my rope.  Driving home one evening I was going around a sharp curve and the image of me simply letting go, missing the curve and ramming into the trees flashed through my head. And then I realized something.  There was a light at the end of the tunnel, even if I couldn’t see it yet.  That is something I still hold onto!

“Light the Fire” RGC – Not sure of the exact year, but during my time working at camp, during day camp one year we took some staff who were visiting from “across the pond” to Gettysburg to see around. We were in the tower-like monument up on Little Round Top, watching the sun set over the mountain and for an hour we simply stood there and sang praise songs to God.  And God was very present.  And that was my prayer, “Lord, light the fire again.”

A M.I.M.E. Team – I was gonna minor in theatre so early fall of my freshman year, I participated in the “Fresh Faces” program doing a mime piece with the senior theatre major who was to help me. In the audience was a senior who played piano for the church I would later end up going to. The week after I first visited that church, I got a call from the pastor, who had heard I did mime, asking if I could do a children’s program. I asked my new friends. They agreed to help. And our college mime team was born. There are many more God-moments associated with rotation of team members and the presentations we did… it was simply another God-thing!

PRIME 2001 – PRIME was my 7-8 (ish) month internship for my Youth Ministry degree.  It was with ACTION Ministries (now AIM Around the World). From my “hit the ground running” experience in Alaska, to my grandmother’s passing while I was away, to 9/11 and the East Coast Tour that followed, God challenged me, grew me, encouraged me, enriched me and, yes, carried me… for there was a time when I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to even finish my internship…

BS in Youth Ministry 2002 – I struggled with my fibro through college – wrist pain, other pain, fatigue and brain fog that made reading and comprehending very difficult.  Shortly after my diagnosis (which was just before my sophomore year), a friend said to me, “why don’t you just take time off to heal?”  My response, “Because there’s no way of knowing I’ll get any better than this, most get worse.”  It was another example of God carrying me through.  Like that “A” test book cover that I still have framed in my scrapbook…

Bathroom and Parking 12-2002 – It was near my birthday. I was new to grad school, having trouble finding a job and finding my health poor once again.  I was having a rough day, but God reminded me He is always there by showing up in the most simple of ways – like finding a bathroom when needed or a parking spot close when usually there are none…

Fall 2002 Provision – speaking of finding a job, it took much longer than I’d hoped – and planned for – when I got to seminary in Pasadena, CA.  Long after my saved-up money ran out, I was discovering that God provided what I needed when I needed it – not always when I thought I needed it.  A graduation card (with money) that came 6 months late, yet right on time.  An anonymous card containing a gift card for a local grocery store…

“Blessed” 2003 – It was my third visit to Dr. St. Amand and I had been on the guaifenesin protocol for about 4 months. I started in February, was showing improvement by March, left grad school in April to concentrate on healing at home and had come back for another check-up in the summer.  It was a good check-up. I was showing continued improvement. I was starting to feel better. When I got in the car to drive back to Pasadena where I was staying with friends, Martina McBride’s “Blessed” came on the radio. It was so true. So I sang along as I headed East on the 10 and worshipped…

Spring 2004 – Getting through the Darkness – The guai protocol means that I reverse what ever symptoms I had.  Spring 2004 I hit that point in my reversal where I was cycling through the nasty symptoms I’d had the fall of my senior year of high school.  I was dizzy, practically bedridden for a week (and living on my own) and questions and depression circled me with ever increasing fury.  But again, I knew there was a light at the end of the tunnel, even though I couldn’t see it yet…

“Voice of Truth” 2005 – I was feeling a bit burnt-out.  I felt the need to be around some AIM people – since they are so on fire for God – and so I called up Kim of the Apple Valley team and basically asked if I could come hang out for the weekend.  To get away from things a bit. She said sure and turns out they were participating in a showcase of Christian dance ministries (I even got to do a mime piece!)… one of the dance teams did “Voice of Truth.” I’d never heard the song. Now I’ll never forget it. God spoke to my heart just as needed!

Stamina CIA Workshop 2006 – Speaking of the Apple Valley team, in the spring of 2006 they invited me to be a teacher at their creative arts workshop.  I taught 4 or 5 sessions – several straight hours – and though I had been once again having some health problems, God gave me the stamina and energy I needed for that day – to do that which He had called me to do!

MAT in Theology & Art 2006 – Sorta like my college degree. Except this time I was living on my own, on the other side of the country, it was graduate studies (ie. more difficult) and  it took me 2x as long to achieve as was “typical” for the program.  Again, it was a God-thing!

De Profundis 2007 – In March 2007 I presented an hour long solo mime show (well, there was one team piece and my Dad sang a song).  That I ever had enough solo pieces to even think about a whole show, and then that I had the stamina to actually get through it – all God-things!

Wildwood 2007 – Mom and Dad and I took Elmer to Wildwood for several days just after Memorial Day. It wasn’t the first time we had taken him, but it would be the last.  It was such a special time for us – and that with his recent health problems that we had even made it there in the first place – that I could not overlook God’s hand in it all.  Elmer died that August.

Passion of Jesus 2008 – I got involved in the passion play at our church.  And in doing what I love, I ended up also taking on areas in which my skills and giftings were weak and practically burned out on it. I ended up compiling (writing – from scripture) the playbook, helping the choir director (and real “buck stops here” leader of the whole thing) to pick out music, doing a good portion of the casting, helping to cast vision for the set and costume folks, designing a website plus all promotional materials for (and later editing and designing the DVDs), choreographing a mime and a dance piece – oh – and directing the acting and movement for like 80+ actors and choir members on stage for this massive production.  In some ways I was in my element.  In other ways, I was so far out of it!  But in all ways, God pulled me through and HE got the glory that weekend!

ECMT 2008 – My auto-response when Tess would ask about me going on another tour (aka missions trip) was “I can’t.”  For some reason, that day I said I’d pray about it.  Something inside said that this was of God.  Less than two weeks – getting time off work and raising all funds – later, I was on my way to join the 2008 AIM East Coast Missions Trip. From the kids, to the mime teaching opportunities, to the fact that my struggles with fibro was an encouragement to those I met – it was, indeed, very much a God thing!

Apprenticeship Physical Exam August 2009 – I had been putting off taking this mime exam for years.  Years. I finally bucked up, worked on that stupid robot and seed, and went for  it.  And I passed!  Yes, even now God is still working in me through the mime thing…

Gift of Encouragement (2009) – In November 2009, I got a letter from a friend mentioning my gift of encouragement – how I had encouraged her through the years.  I can’t take the credit for that one. It’s a gift from God. Truly. One I want to never stop using to build others up!

Oh yeah, and there’s a new one I need to make:

Mom – Complete Remission – 2/2011!

It is good to see and remember where God has been, what He has done and when He has carried me throughout the years.  I know I’m missing some – but these are the highlights that have stood out and so became memorialized on stone.  I hope they encourage you to recall God’s hand in your own life!

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Somewhere between versus 17 and 18 of Genesis 42, I can imagine this taking place…

Joseph is upstairs in his plush mansion in Egypt looking out a window, trying to forget the old wounds which were violently ripped open by the appearance of his brothers three days before.  Yes! trying to forget the wounds once again gaping, all the pain brought again to the surface.  Some twenty years it had taken him to forget how they sold him into slavery, how they had ignored his cries for mercy!  Then to be wrongfully accused and imprisoned on top of that?  But these past 8 or so years had finally been a balm to his pain.  Now he had a beautiful home of  his own, a wife and children and he was second in command in all of Egypt!  Now he had the power to really make his brothers hurt like he had, to show them what it was like to be stuck someplace they did not want to be! But that wasn’t the reason he locked them up to begin with.  It was for a test, not out of anger.  Still… No.  But…

Joseph turned away from the window, his thoughts and emotions swirling and confused.  He was a man of thought and decision and action, why was this so hard?

“Do you feel better now that they are locked away in prison as you were?”

Joseph turned to find the owner of the voice, but there was no form to go with it.  Nevertheless, Joseph recognized the voice at once.  “Yes!” He nearly shouted up at the ceiling. But then he diverted his eyes downward, sighing.  “No… not really.”

“I want you to treat them well.  Very well.”

“They don’t deserve to be treated well!”

“I did not ask you to treat them well because they deserve it.”

Joseph paced the floor. “They bowed to me.  Bowed! To me!  Just like in the dream that you gave me!  And I know it is because of you that I am out of prison and second in command in all of Egypt.  And with the famine in Canaan, too, well… it only makes sense that they would come, and would come to me… that the dreams and promises you gave to father would work out through this… but that doesn’t mean I have to be nice to them in the process, does it?”

There was a sigh from the voice. But it was a tangible sort of sigh.  Joseph stopped his pacing and looked around again.  There was a figure sitting upon the window sill, silhouetted by the sunset outside and yet radiating light at the same time.  Joseph made the only appropriate move, he dropped to his knees and bowed.

“That is irrelevant,” the voice responded to Joseph’s previous rant. “Neither the past things they did to you, nor the future things that I am working out through you matter.  You should do this simply because I am asking you to…”

Joseph’s story is a multifaceted masterpiece. For every person who tries to imagine what he or she would do in that situation, there is a new way of reading between the lines of the story presented to us.  Did forgiveness come easy to Joseph, or was it a difficult wrestling that took years? Was it somehow both?  But my reading today – vs. 18-25 – brought me to this point: Whether dealing with forgiveness or something else, sometimes the reason we must do it is simply because God asks it of us.  Not because they deserve it.  Not because we’re in a “better place” now.  But simply because God asks us to…

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So I am finally trying to get around to this list of a half dozen or so “blog ideas” that I’ve been collecting for over a year!  Figured this one should be short and sweet.

Late last spring I heard a Sunday School teacher teaching on 1 Corinthians 13.  And I can’t remember where or when she said this thought struck her, but she mentioned an analogy or word picture for the whole love “keeps no record of wrongs” part.

A cache.  Like in a computer.  Like in your web browser history.  Forgiving someone (and keeping no record of wrongs) is like clearing your cache – clearing out your web browser history and cookies.

The picture struck a chord with me.  And not only that, but my mind continued on further…. including remembering how a pastor in California once included in a sermon how we can’t move on and forgive when we keep rehashing (rethinking and retelling) the incident.

In many browsers, though I am now most keenly aware of it in Google’s Chrome, if you start to type an address, it will fill it in for you from places you’ve been before (your browser history).  In fact, with Chrome, you can type the website name and even as you start with a few letters it knows which sites you visit the most and will fill in the rest for you…

These browsers have an amazing memory.  Unfortunately, we as humans also tend to have an amazing memory when it comes to ways in which we were hurt or wronged.  It doesn’t take many keystrokes for our memories to pull up the places we’ve been hurt.  Just a few keystrokes and there it is again, that place we were wronged.  And, like Google’s Chrome browser, the more often you visit the site, the quicker it comes back.

This is great for web browsers, but bad for us as Christians.

1 Corinthians 13:5 tells us that love “keeps no record of wrongs.”  We are called to love and we are called to forgive.  Now, forgiveness doesn’t mean that we excuse the wrong done, or sweep it under the rug, or immediately trust and have an intimate relationship again – but forgiveness does mean that we choose (by the power and grace of God) not to hold the wrong against the person who wronged us, not to hold onto a grudge or take revenge.  In other words, to keep no record of wrongs.

The old song relays God saying to us:

What sins are you talking about
I don’t remember them anymore.
From the Book of Life they’ve all been torn out
I don’t remember them anymore.


God forgives and chooses not to remember.  To keep no record of wrongs.  To clear the cache.

And we as His followers are called to do the same.  So allow God into the “preferences panel” of your life.  Allow Him to adjust your settings.  Delete the browser history, get rid of the cookies.

Keep no record of wrongs.

Clear your cache.

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I think often things come upon us and when we get through them we look back and see how God used that to work out something in our lives that needed worked out… Though there are times, and perhaps more frequent for those who are contemplative by nature or highly aware of their own spiritual journey, when we can see what God is working in us in the midst of it.  But have you ever known ahead of time what was coming up?

I haven’t even hit the curve yet, where the road bends back around that huge precipice which blocks my sight.  I’m not there yet.  I can’t even really see it.  But I know it’s coming.  I know the road will be rough and the terrain unfamiliar and the vegetation won’t agree with my stomach and the flowers will give off a smell that is almost too much for me.  I will meet strange creatures which I will fear but who are really only trying to befriend me…  Yes, somehow I know the road ahead.  And though I continue forward, I do so almost with a fear and trepidation.

Three things have begun to be woven into my life.  Or, rather, there are three strands which have now taken on a distinctive color and have captured my eye and are coming closer and closer together on the tapestry.  (And yes, I switched metaphors – I do that frequently.)  First of all, over the past couple of months, and perhaps through a particular friendship, I have become more and more aware of my OCD tendencies and how they affect little parts of my life.  I had already become aware in grad school that when I get stressed, I clean and organize more – as if trying to control the portions of my life that are left to my control!  But in recent months more little aspects of the OCD have been seen (and understood) more plainly.  Numbers, organization, order, lack of spontaneity, lists, patterns, social issues and control.

Control has also come up a great deal in the book I’m reading.  Invitation to a Journey frequently mentions how even when we have a relationship with God we try to control it and grow on our terms.  Over and over again – or perhaps I simply pick it out because I need to – he talks of relinquishing control fully to God.  In every aspect.  And to be honest, he mentions many areas in which I had never thought of control as being controlled or controlling.

And then there’s mime.  Mime.  O how I love mime!  I love the beauty of body and space and movement and expression and creating stories without saying a word.  I love the silence and depth.  I love the technique and teaching and creating and performing pieces.  I love mime!  But I hate the box.  I hate statues.  I hate anything that has to do with doing mime “on the street” and I really hate improv.  Now it is true that I enjoy mime improv more than speaking improv. And it is also true that I have already come a ways in growth with improv – in fact, I taught a mime improv class at the National Creative Arts Festival back in 2006.  But that’s just it.  I taught.  And to teach you have to have a plan.

I like plans.  I dislike improv.

I have come to realize more fully over the past few weeks (but it’s been gradually culminating for months) that the reason I hate telling random people that I am a mime is that I fear they will ask me to demonstrate, or to come and “mime” at their party or for a street event.  And the reason I hate this is because I don’t know what to do.  Not that I don’t know technique.  But I don’t know how to let my mind come up with it spur of the moment.  I simply don’t know how to play.  And it’s even worse when others are around.  For then I over analyze and I fear they will lead me down a path I don’t want to go on. (I was the same way in  acting class, always fearing during improv that someone would give me a title or position or past that I didn’t want.)  And, really, what’s at the root of all this?


There it is again.  And so I clearly sense that God is preparing to work in me on this issue.  And to work hard at that.  And I sense that mime and learning how to play and improv is actually going to be a means to and/or a way to show how God is working in my life.  And is it ever going to be difficult and painful!  I am actually quite scared.

But like that dream I had, where I stood upon the banks of the river of fire, knowing full well I must cross, I will not give the fear a foothold.  I will dive into that river of fire.  For though I may feel the burning of my skin, I know it will not be the death of me.  I will allow the river of fire to burn through me and purge me of this area so that I may come out the other side, pure and clean and light, no longer with that burden on my back…

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So I’ve been doing lectio divina for devotions for a couple months now.  I’d first been introduced to this practice of lectio (reading), meditatio (meditating), oratio (prayer) and contemplatio (contemplation) several years ago in seminary.  I went through a youth guide on lectio and I have a group guide for lectio and then my Beginning Again: Benedictine Wisdom for Living with Illness book shed some more light onto the ancient practice.

But recently, as I am reading Invitation for a Journey, it was brought up and described again.  I realized the other evening that while I am getting better at coming to a quiet place (and stilling my thoughts) and better in the reading and meditating and even the oratio part, I had been pretty much forgetting the contemplatio part!

Most of the books I had read simply describe that part as sitting silently in the presence of God.  Like those times when you are with someone very close to you and whom you love deeply and you just sit in silence together, the presence of the other person being enough without having to talk or be at some activity.

But Mulholland brought a new picture to my mind.  He used Psalm 131:2 to describe the contemplatio portion of lectio divina:

But I have stilled and quieted my soul;
like a weaned child with its mother,
like a weaned child is my soul within me.

And you know how sometimes you can read Bible passages over and over and over and just take for granted that you know the meaning but then someone points something out and you are totally amazed at the light it sheds?  That happened.  Maybe it’s because I’m not a mother.  But the “like a weaned child” didn’t mean much to me.  The NASB words it this way “”Like a weaned child rests against his mother.”  Mulholland pointed out that a weaned child no longer feeds at his mother’s breasts.  But this resting against her is simply being there, resting, in her presence, not asking or suckling on his own, but simply receiving whatever the mother has to give.

And that stopped me.  Content to receive whatever the mother has to give.  And at that point it is often just presence and peace… and a heartbeat.

You see, that picture of a weaned child content to simply rest upon his mother’s chest has stuck with me the past couple of mornings as I have gone through the lectio divina exercise.  After my reading and meditating and prayers back to God I want to be able to simply sit there and rest in His presence like a child in her father’s lap.  My head upon His chest content and resting like that weaned child upon his mother’s chest… and you know what? …when you are a child resting upon a parent’s chest you can clearly hear the heartbeat.  And your heart begins beating in time with it.

And isn’t that what I want most after all?  To be able to rest in the presence of God, to hear His heartbeat and to have mine adjusted to match His?  His heartbeat for the lost, the hurting, the hungry, the broken, the repentant and the unrepentant…

So I still struggle and strive each morning to engage in this practice of contemplatio.  To simply be still in the presence of God.  To put my head upon His chest and listen to His heartbeat.  And to let Him transform mine.

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“God has a wonderful plan for your life!”

Have you ever had someone tell you that?  Have you ever said it yourself?  In what context?

That phrase came up today in Sunday School.  We’re talking about evangelism and how so many use that as a way to introduce the gospel.  (The series we’re doing, on the other hand, focuses on the call to righteousness, the reality of Hell and the need for salvation.)  On the video they asked us if we would say “God has a wonderful plan for your life” if speaking to a group of people we knew would experience a violent death within the next 24 hours.  That phrasing doesn’t work well for that situation, so why then would we think it’s what the gospel is all about?

But the thing is, we hear and say that line frequently.  When talking about the gospel, when talking about suffering or trial and in new phases of life.  Case in point: graduation.

For years it has been a pet peeve of mine how every May thousands of products suddenly show up on the market containing Jeremiah 29:11.  “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 a hope and a future.”

It’s over-used.  It’s out of context.  And it’s become trite.

Now, am I saying that God doesn’t have wonderful plans?  No.  Am I saying God wants to bring us harm?  Absolutely not!  Am saying that God doesn’t give us hope or a future?  By no means!

But what I am saying is that in context these things look very different than how we tend to understand this verse.  We think of wonderful plans in terms of good education and good career and being well-paid and married and having good kids and a healthy body.  We tend to think “not to harm you” means nothing bad will ever happen to us.  Our hope tends to be centered on those “wonderful plans” and our future is limited to the here and now.

Go read Jeremiah 29.  Read the whole chapter.

Verse 11 was part of a letter written to the exiles in Babylon.  They had been captured by the enemy and their country (and their temple) was falling apart.  They were there because the nation was being punished.  And it wasn’t about to end any time soon.  70 years was the time set for their punishment.  70 years of exile.  There were “prophets” giving people a “health and wealth” gospel of sorts – that God would rise up in just a year or two and destroy their enemies and bring them all back and everything would be good and rosey again.  And in the midst of this comes verse 11.

God’s plans weren’t given for an individual, but for a nation.  The hope and future wasn’t immediate, but 70+ years out (and some of them would be dead before they saw it)!  And “not to harm” didn’t mean no suffering or shame, it meant that He wasn’t going to totally destroy them but that their punishment was for their good… so that they would call on and seek their God again.

God does have a wonderful plan for His people.  And it hinges on that unbelievable, incomprehensible moment when Jesus died for our sins so that we could be saved from Hell and have a relationship with Him!  And it includes bringing as many to Himself as will have it.  And it concludes (or does it then begin again) with making all wrongs right and making all things new – a future, eternal, hope!

And I will dare to say that God even has a wonderful plan for my life and for yours – and by that I mean full of wonder.  Wonder that God loves us and forgives us.  Wonder that we can go through beatings and stoning and shipwrecks like Paul and still live on to spread the Good News!  Wonder that we can be transformed into new creations.  Wonder that we have the courage to stand up for Him and face death like martyrs, past and present, have all over the world.  Wonder that in our sufferings He is with us, even when we cannot see Him.  Wonders.  Lots of wonders….

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