What’s Your ETA?

“For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭55:9‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I’m a planner. I love having a schedule planned out for the day and/or week and sticking to that plan. I don’t tend to respond well when my plan goes awry or doesn’t play out at all. That holds true even when I’m traveling or running errands. I plan out my stops to ensure the shortest route and alleviate driving out of my way or back tracking. What I typically don’t plan for are detours.

When I take a road trip, I plan out the start time, my expected time of arrival (ETA) and my return home time. When I lived in another state, I used to travel several hours to get home for visits and even had designated stopping points along the way-for every single trip. As a traveler, I’m more of a “let’s look at the map and find the shortest route from point A to point B.” I tend to always be running behind so short cuts are the best at helping make great time.

When I was younger, I traveled with someone who was the complete opposite of me. Sure they’d plan out a trip but their idea of travel was not “let’s get there.” Their idea of travel was more like, let’s find the longest route possible, make an innumerable amount of stops and enjoy all the sites we experience along the way. When traveling with them, I learned not to have a planned ETA. I also saw many spectacular views of waterfalls, caves and other beautifully hidden treasures that go unseen when you’re merely focused on getting to where you’re going and avoiding delays.

Where I live, there’s a joke that says, “We have four seasons-winter, spring, road construction and fall.” This is said because every summer our highways are covered with orange barrels and reduced down to one lane in an effort to repair the cracks and damage our harsh winters do to the pavement. Although the never ending process brings about safer roads, when you’re stuck in a traffic jam, or trying to navigate your vehicle through orange barrels or even better, detoured through areas you’re completely unfamiliar with-your appreciation for road construction is more like the feeling you get when you have to go to the dentist and have a tooth pulled. You simply want to avoid it altogether.

My daughter is learning to drive now. Recently I let her drive home from a family reunion that was two hours away. We were talking and I got distracted. I forgot she didn’t exactly know the way home and we missed the exit that led to home. We were probably 10 or 20 minutes passed that exit when I realized what had happened. I was tired and didn’t want to drive an hour out of our way to get home. I quickly got onto my iMaps to find the shortest route from where we were at. It consisted of backroads but it got us home. My daughter’s response, “It’s ok mom. It’s an adventure!” She even turned it into a site seeing tour pointing out strange lawn ornaments in peoplE’s yards from time to time.

Not to sound like Forrest Gump, but life is merely a journey full of point A’s and point B’s. We each have starting and ending points with many scenic tours, detours, back tracks, side steps, and even stand stills. Some parts of the journey are painstaking and we wish for a shortcut to get us to where we want to be a whole lot quicker. Somedays life is like trying to go around the block in a city filled with 1 way streets. What seems like the simplest of task ends up taking you way out of your way, just to get back to where you started from. It’s even more frustrating when we have a goal in mind, we’ve been working hard to reach that goal, we can see it in reach but life takes a right turn and feels like we’re driving the opposite way of what we are striving for. It can be additionally frustrating, even faith shaking, when we believe that goal was God spoken yet seems as though it will never come to fruition.

My own life has felt like a constant detour. Some road blocks I created myself based on wrong turns. Others are like traffic jams where I feel parked and no matter how hard I try, God is not moving me at all. Yet other days it feels as though I’m actually driving in reverse. Those are the days I realize I keep going back to the same sin or the same destructive pattern. On the days when life actually feels like a good traffic day, I’m learning those days still don’t reveal to me where I’m going or what God’s ETA for my goals really is. Those days were merely smooth driving days with minimal speed bumps.

Everyone has a starting time (your date of birth) and an ending (your date of death.) The dash in between is our individual road map of our own individual journey. Life is a road trip. You can get impatient and try to shortcut to your goals. Or you can enjoy the scenic route God takes you on, even if He makes you go the opposite way. Let your ETA be His ETA for you. During your roadblocks, speed bumps, traffic jams and detours, look around and admire the view. God has beauty in every moment of our lives and He shows it best when we’re less focused on the goal and more focused on the journey. If you make a wrong turn-that’s ok. We all get lost in our travels. God’s GPS will always bring us back to the road He has set before us when we repent and surrender to His ways.

If today you’re feeling like Abraham, Moses, David, Sarah, Hannah or Elizabeth, with a God given goal but no direction on how tor each it, or you’re experiencing road blocks that feel like closed doors, read about the delays the experienced before God gave them their ETA’s. Abraham specifically experienced this: God promised him offspring. Then told him to move away from all he was familiar with. Twenty-five years later, God’s word finally came to pass for Abraham. May his and the others’ stories give you the strength to trust God most during the road construction detours in your own life.

Advertisements

What’s Your ETA?

“For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭55:9‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I’m a planner. I love having a schedule planned out for the day and/or week and sticking to that plan. I don’t tend to respond well when my plan goes awry or doesn’t play out at all. That holds true even when I’m traveling or running errands. I plan out my stops to ensure the shortest route and alleviate driving out of my way or back tracking. What I typically don’t plan for are detours.

When I take a road trip, I plan out the start time, my expected time of arrival (ETA) and my return home time. When I lived in another state, I used to travel several hours to get home for visits and even had designated stopping points along the way-for every single trip. As a traveler, I’m more of a “let’s look at the map and find the shortest route from point A to point B.” I tend to always be running behind so short cuts are the best at helping make great time.

When I was younger, I traveled with someone who was the complete opposite of me. Sure they’d plan out a trip but their idea of travel was not “let’s get there.” Their idea of travel was more like, let’s find the longest route possible, make an innumerable amount of stops and enjoy all the sites we experience along the way. When traveling with them, I learned not to have a planned ETA. I also saw many spectacular views of waterfalls, caves and other beautifully hidden treasures that go unseen when you’re merely focused on getting to where you’re going and avoiding delays.

Where I live, there’s a joke that says, “We have four seasons-winter, spring, road construction and fall.” This is said because every summer our highways are covered with orange barrels and reduced down to one lane in an effort to repair the cracks and damage our harsh winters do to the pavement. Although the never ending process brings about safer roads, when you’re stuck in a traffic jam, or trying to navigate your vehicle through orange barrels or even better, detoured through areas you’re completely unfamiliar with-your appreciation for road construction is more like the feeling you get when you have to go to the dentist and have a tooth pulled. You simply want to avoid it altogether.

My daughter is learning to drive now. Recently I let her drive home from a family reunion that was two hours away. We were talking and I got distracted. I forgot she didn’t exactly know the way home and we missed the exit that led to home. We were probably 10 or 20 minutes passed that exit when I realized what had happened. I was tired and didn’t want to drive an hour out of our way to get home. I quickly got onto my iMaps to find the shortest route from where we were at. It consisted of backroads but it got us home. My daughter’s response, “It’s ok mom. It’s an adventure!” She even turned it into a site seeing tour pointing out strange lawn ornaments in peoplE’s yards from time to time.

Not to sound like Forrest Gump, but life is merely a journey full of point A’s and point B’s. We each have starting and ending points with many scenic tours, detours, back tracks, side steps, and even stand stills. Some parts of the journey are painstaking and we wish for a shortcut to get us to where we want to be a whole lot quicker. Somedays life is like trying to go around the block in a city filled with 1 way streets. What seems like the simplest of task ends up taking you way out of your way, just to get back to where you started from. It’s even more frustrating when we have a goal in mind, we’ve been working hard to reach that goal, we can see it in reach but life takes a right turn and feels like we’re driving the opposite way of what we are striving for. It can be additionally frustrating, even faith shaking, when we believe that goal was God spoken yet seems as though it will never come to fruition.

My own life has felt like a constant detour. Some road blocks I created myself based on wrong turns. Others are like traffic jams where I feel parked and no matter how hard I try, God is not moving me at all. Yet other days it feels as though I’m actually driving in reverse. Those are the days I realize I keep going back to the same sin or the same destructive pattern. On the days when life actually feels like a good traffic day, I’m learning those days still don’t reveal to me where I’m going or what God’s ETA for my goals really is. Those days were merely smooth driving days with minimal speed bumps.

Everyone has a starting time (your date of birth) and an ending (your date of death.) The dash in between is our individual road map of our own individual journey. Life is a road trip. You can get impatient and try to shortcut to your goals. Or you can enjoy the scenic route God takes you on, even if He makes you go the opposite way. Let your ETA be His ETA for you. During your roadblocks, speed bumps, traffic jams and detours, look around and admire the view. God has beauty in every moment of our lives and He shows it best when we’re less focused on the goal and more focused on the journey. If you make a wrong turn-that’s ok. We all get lost in our travels. God’s GPS will always bring us back to the road He has set before us when we repent and surrender to His ways.

If today you’re feeling like Abraham, Moses, David, Sarah, Hannah or Elizabeth, with a God given goal but no direction on how tor each it, or you’re experiencing road blocks that feel like closed doors, read about the delays the experienced before God gave them their ETA’s. Abraham specifically experienced this: God promised him offspring. Then told him to move away from all he was familiar with. Twenty-five years later, God’s word finally came to pass for Abraham. May his and the others’ stories give you the strength to trust God most during the road construction detours in your own life.

While You’re Waiting…

“For I am waiting for you, O Lord. You must answer for me, O Lord my God.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭38:15‬ ‭NLT‬‬

When you live in a world of high speed data, iInstapot cooking and even drive thru medicine, waiting seems like a never ending inconvenience. It’s especially frustrating when you’re running late and caught in a traffic jam or you have a screaming toddler on a long flight. Maybe you’re waiting for a job promotion or for an open door to get a job. Maybe you’re struggling with an illness or debilitating ailment and God hasn’t healed you yet. Or maybe you’re like me, waiting for God’s best when it comes to dating and marriage. Whatever your season of waiting is, it may feel like God isn’t there, that He’s said or no that maybe He even wants you stuck. Rest assured, God is there, waiting is not always a “No” and He definitely does not want His children stuck.

I’m going to be very vulnerable for a moment and share something I’ve been waiting for-a godly marriage. My biological father left my mom and I when I was a toddler. My mom married the man I called Dad when I was 3. Sadly, he died when I was 8. When he was alive my family felt complete. I’ve lived with a big hole in my life ever since.

In high school I fell for boys who were unkind and just wanted to play games. I had one serious relationship with a boy that lasted through college. He was loyal, kind and hardworking. He even wanted to marry me. But we were both too young to know how to make a relationship work, let alone a marriage. So, five years after it started it came to an end. After that, I settled for relationships that were not God’s design for me simply trying to fill the hole my dad’s death left in me. Each break-up led to more self defeat and left me in a constant of rejection.

As a single mom, now in my early 40’s, I am clearly still waiting for God to give me the desire of my heart. I’ve spent years watching others’ fall in love and get married. I’ve seen redeeming love stories and wondered when I would be next? I’ve cried, begged and yelled at God wondering what He was doing in this area of my life. Then I convinced myself God had so no to my heart’s desire and I gave up on dating altogether. I even professed the enemy’s lie that I simply wasn’t marriage material. I even used to tell my family and friends that if God wanted me married then He was going to have to drop my husband on my doorstep. To which one of my funny besties replied with; “So you’re going to marry the UPS man?”

Clearly, I have not waited well. Thankfully God gives uses the story of Ruth to remind us how to wait. But also, I think Ruth teaches us that God is the only one who can fill the hole left from losing a loved one. Boss may have been Ruth’s kinsman redeemer but he’s not who made her whole. God did before Ruth even met Boaz.

Ruth experienced a great loss in her lifetime. She lost her father-in-law, her husband and her brother-in-law also. In Ruth’s day, men were the provider and stability of their household. She lost family members. She lost her spouse. But she also lost her financial stability and her home. If there was anyone who was left with a big hole in their life, Ruth would be the poster-child example.

Here’s an interesting fact about Ruth. She lost much but she clung to what she had left. While Orpah even let go of Naomi, Ruth said; “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.” (Ruth‬ ‭1:16‬ ‭NLT‬‬) If Ruth had stayed in Moab, she would’ve never met Boaz.

The first thing Ruth did in her season of waiting was clung to what she still had. The second thing she did was go to work. As the now provider for herself and her mother-in-law, Ruth has to find a way to ensure they would have food to eat. So she set out to the wheat fields and she gleaned. Please note this-Ruth did not apply for a top notch job with excellent pay and amazing benefits. She didn’t even apply for a minimum wages job. She went to work picking up the scraps left behind from the harvesters. Her primary focus was gathering enough grain to feed Naomi and herself. She was not too proud to glean.

The third thing Ruth did was listen to godly advice. There’s nowhere in Ruth’s story that mentions her desire to remarry. Yet Naomi knew a husband for Ruth would redeem both of them. When she learned that Ruth was gleaming in Boaz’s field, she gave her daughter-in-law some crucial advice. Ruth worked for Boaz through at least two season before Naomi said this; “My daughter, it’s time that I found a permanent home for you, so that you will be provided for. Boaz is a close relative of ours, and he’s been very kind by letting you gather grain with his young women. Tonight he will be winnowing barley at the threshing floor. Now do as I tell you—take a bath and put on perfume and dress in your nicest clothes. Then go to the threshing floor, but don’t let Boaz see you until he has finished eating and drinking. Be sure to notice where he lies down; then go and uncover his feet and lie down there. He will tell you what to do.” (Ruth‬ ‭3:1-4‬ ‭NLT‬‬) Ruth’s response was this; “I will do everything you say…” (vs 5) Talk about a trusting and obedient heart.

Ruth did what Naomi instructed her to do and not only did she end up married to Boaz, the Lord redeemed her and Naomi when Ruth bore a son named Obed. Obed was King David’s grandfather. God’s love story for Ruth was merely a chapter in His great design for king David. Ruth was a woman who waited well.

If you’re in a waiting season, what are you waiting for and what are you doing while you wait? Are you making your heart’s desire a god in your life or are you trusting God and waiting on His timing? Are you trying to manufacture your own miracle and producing Ishmael’s when God has promised you an Isaac? Are you running in circles through modern medicine trying to heal yourself? Are you financially drowning because you tried keeping up with the Joneses? Are you wallowing in self-pity, bitterness and wrestling with a spirit of rejection? Are you giving up on everything and losing all hope in God’s goodness? OR-are you clinging to Jesus (what we will always have), getting work (doing your best to make ends meet and not living beyond your means) and following godly advice? If you are waiting well, there’s no guarantee you won’t have to wait less than someone who’s waiting poorly but it will give you peace of mind, added measures of patience and keep your focus on where it needs to be which is fully trusting and relying on God.

What Fruit is Your Tree Producing?

“A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭12:33‬ ‭NLT‬‬

For the past few months I have been obsessively craving oranges. I can eat six of them or more in a day sometimes. Definitely can eat several over the span of a week. But I’m a bit weird with how I eat them. I can’t peel just one and then eat it. I have to peel several at a time and store them in a dish so they’re readily available whenever my belly craves them. If I don’t peel them all at once, they tend to sit, rot and get wasted.

Tasting the juicy sweetness of a ripe orange and throwing away one that’s mushy and covered in a fuzzy green substance reminds me of God’s calling on all of us to be fruit bearers. In Galatians (Chapter 5 verse 22 and 23) we read about the fruits of the Spirit being love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, gentleness, kindness, perseverance and self-control. These are all characteristics God requires of us to display in our day to day lives. Reading the list sounds easy and I am confident there are many times practicing all of these have come natural to all of us. But what about the times when it doesn’t? Let’s look at some scenarios.

When a person cuts us off on the road it’s human nature to react in a harsh manner (not practice gentleness.) when someone wounds us deeply or continues to disappoint us, it’s human nature to stop loving them, maybe even feel hatred toward them. When we’re grief stricken if feels impossible to experience joy. Addictions make it incredibly challenging to practice self-control. When life feels out of control it’s easy to worry and be anxious instead of choosing to be at peace fully trusting Abba. If you’re a parent dealing with a toddler meltdown or a disrespectful know-it-all teenager it’s super easy to lose patience. On days when we’re just feeling grumpy it’s easier to lash out at others rather than practice goodness and kindness.

Then there’s the concept of being known by our fruit. If we are a person bearing good fruit we should be identified as such. But what about those who constantly bear bad fruit? What about the people who cross our paths who appear to be mean-spirited, toxic, hard-hearted or down right evil? What about those people who seem so hard hearted that no amount of prayer covering seems ever possible that they will ever change?

First and foremost if you’re a Christian who’s known for bearing bad fruit (maybe you hold grudges, is unwelcoming, always arguing, gossips, harbors hatred toward others, loses your temper easily, over spends/over eats or even over works) it’s time to take a long hard look in the mirror, confess these attitudes and behaviors and ask God to cut off the branches that aren’t bearing good fruit. Until you refuse to repent, you will be a tree that produces bad fruit and bears a false witness as to what being Christ like is all about. If you repent, God promises to prune you in a way that will make your tree overflowing with His fruit once again (John 15:2.)

Dealing with nonbelievers who bear bad fruit is a bit more challenging. None of us hold the power in our human strength to change a human heart, including our own. Part of bearing good fruit is being a seed planter for those who bear bad fruit. If you have any knowledge of botany (which mine is very limited) you know that some plants actually populate from having their seeds spread elsewhere. This happens in both plants and weeds which means Christians can plant both good and bad seeds in the lives of those whom we cross paths with. If we want to be good fruit bearers, we have to be good seed planters also (read Mark 4 regarding Jesus’ parable on seed planting.)

How do we do that? We practice the fruits of the Spirit at all times. Think about being a comedian performing on stage for the first time. Your audience boos you and throws rotten tomatoes at you. This is the epitome of being exposed to bad fruit bearers and toxic people. It’s also human nature to want to defend ourselves and to pick up those rotted tomatoes and throw them back. Instead, God calls us to give them good fruit. Sticking with this analogy let’s say when someone throws rotten tomatoes at you, you pull out fresh ripe ones and ask them to join you for a salad. If someone steals from your apple tree, bake them a pie with what’s left. By doing so, you will be planting seeds of the Spirit that God can use to grow your enemies into good fruit bearers also.

This is definitely easier said than done. Trust me-I struggle daily with practicing any of this. I tend to live out my feelings instead of practicing self-control. I lose my temper and throw gentleness, kindness and goodness right out the window replacing them with anger, harsh words and unforgiveness. I wallow in my sorrows and give the enemy my joy. When I try problem solving in my own human wisdom, I get engulfed in worry and anxiety which suffocates any ounce of His peace within me. There are days I make a conscious effort to choose His fruit instead though. Just like choosing healthy food gives your body more energy, choosing His fruit gives my spirit a supernatural energy boost that produces more fruit within me. The more we pour out into others, the more He pours back into us. To keep using a scientific analogy, this would be a spiritual osmosis!

Whether you’re in a season of seed planting or fruit bearing remember three things-one, just like growing a garden or planting trees takes a length of time before the plant is fully matured and fruit is produced, so it may take years before you see changes in those you are discipling to, including even your own children. That’s where consistency, perseverance and the power of prayer play their biggest roles. Just because you can’t see anything growing, doesn’t mean there aren’t roots forming beneath the surface. So don’t give up.

Second, you may not be the person God uses to fully change their hearts. Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 3:6 that he planted the seed but Apollo watered it and only God actually made it grow. This verse reminds us that some hearts may take more than one person to soften and that no matter who God uses, He ultimately gets the glory. It’s His power alone that truly changes hearts. We are just His tools.

Lastly, and this part is a sad reality, some hearts will never change. Choosing the fruits of the Spirit is a choice. There are people who choose to be hard hearted and no effort will ever change them. (Matthew 21:19) I believe God will show you when it’s time to walk away from such a person and surrender them fully to the Lord. We can still pray for a miracle in them but walking away means protecting ourselves emotionally and avoiding getting spiritually burned out. You may not agree with this last concept but just remember Judas was a prime example of such a heart. He walked right beside Jesus and betrayed him. Jesus never pursued Judas after the betrayal because He knew there was no changing him.

Jesus forgave Judas and He calls us to forgive our enemies also-even if they refuse to change. Forgiveness is definitely a seed that when planted can produce amazing fruit in ourselves and in those we choose to forgive. Jesus modeled this as He was hanging on a cross enduring excruciating pain, pushing himself up just to take a breath, and said “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” So what seeds are you planting? What fruit are you producing? What is your spiritual tree bearing? Strive to plant seeds that inevitably produce trees that bear His fruit.