"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
July 10, 2019
Very few things in life go as planned, regardless of how much thought, effort, and time is put into the details. That's not to say that we should never think ahead or make plans or dream about the future; after all, we can't necessarily go through life flying by the seat of our pants, never knowing what's going on. But we all must be willing to be flexible; which comes more easily to some, than others.
James 4:13-15 says, "Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.' Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.'"
Then in Proverbs 27:1 we are told, "Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring."
Many times we make plans, then get upset if something comes up and disrupts what we wanted to do. This can be anything from planning a picnic and a rainstorm unexpectedly comes along and we have to cancel; to heading to church and having a flat tire on the way there; to planning a long-term career at a certain job and the company closes or has layoffs and you find yourself without work; to having retirement plans with your spouse, then they become ill and pass away; and a whole lot of other stuff in between.
I have often made the statement, "Well, this day didn't go as planned!" I had an idea of what I was going to do, then something came up that completely changed what I had in mind.
Just last week Jon and I had that happen. Jon didn't have to work on July 4th, and had also taken that Friday off so that he would have a 4-day weekend. We didn't have a lot going on, but had a few things in mind that we wanted to do. We intended to go visit his mom, have a get-together on Saturday with my family in Missouri, church and then a birthday party on Sunday.
But that's not what happened! Jon was sick on Thursday; then ended up going to urgent care on Friday afternoon. Blood work showed that his white blood count was high, his blood pressure and heart rate was high, he was running a fever, and had no appetite; all were signs that his body was trying to fight some type of infection. So we ended up at ER. The PA from urgent care had called ahead so that they what was going on with Jon, so he was whisked back immediately upon arrival. After more blood tests and a CAT scan, he was diagnosed with diverticulitis. That was not how either of us had envisioned spending Friday afternoon and evening!
On Saturday, Jon stayed home and slept and rested. Since he knew that he'd likely be sleeping most of the day, he wanted me to go ahead and go to the family get together in Missouri; which I did. I had a good day, but was disappointed that Jon had to miss out, because I knew that he had been looking forward to going with me. He ended up having a few days where nothing went as he had hoped!
My mom passing away when I was fifteen years old, was not in my plans. My prayer and desire was for her to be healed from cancer. I didn't want to grow up and go through all of the important occasions in life with Mama being there with me. I needed her. But that wasn't what happened.
But really, this is pretty much how life has been for people since the beginning of time..... things not going as planned, and different twist and turns and endings to people's stories than what they had expected.
Adam and Eve didn't expect to be removed from the garden in Eden due to their sinful choice. They experienced the grief of losing a child when Cain killed Abel; which was not something that they could have ever expected or imagined happening.
Sarah likely had no idea that she would have to leave all of her family behind and travel to an unknown location when she married Abraham; but she willingly obeyed when God told him to go. I'm sure that she also had envisioned that she would become pregnant and end up with tent full of children while she and Abraham were young and vital. Having her first baby at age 90 was definitely not her dream!
Moses never saw himself as a leader and was surprised when God chose him to lead the Israelites out of Egyptian bondage. He had a speech problem, and thought that would prevent him from any possible leadership positions; but God had a different plan. He also never dreamed that their journey through the desert and wilderness would go on and on for forty years; and he would never get to enter into the Promised Land due to his own disobedience to God. But I'm sure he also had never dreamed of going to the mountaintop with God and hearing Him speak and having a face to face encounter!
When Ruth married, she was young and probably had all sorts of daydreams for her future with her husband. She had no idea that her husband, father-in-law, and two brother-in-laws would all die. She had no idea that she would ever leave her homeland and family behind, following Naomi, her mother-in-law, to a foreign land. When she was gleaning the leftover wheat in the field of Boaz, so that she and Naomi could make a little bread to eat, she didn't know that she would end up marrying him and become the great-grandmother of a King David.
David became a shepherd when he was a young boy, spending hours upon hours out in the field with his father's sheep. He may have thought that was his future -- to spend his life being a shepherd. I'm sure that it never even occurred to him that he would one day be anointed to be king over Israel. When he was all alone in the field playing his harp and writing Psalms, he never imagined that he would one day be called upon to go play in the palace in order to soothe King Saul. Being a mighty warrior may or may not have been his dream. Disobeying God by having an affair with Bathsheba, then having her husband killed had not been in his plans; and he probably never even envisioned that he would be capable of doing such things. Having his newborn son die as a result of his disobedience broke his heart.
Job had done well for himself and was quite wealthy. He had everything his heart desired; a wife and children, servants, riches, cattle, friends, a nice home..... But in one day everything changed for him! Every one of his children died; he lost his wealth, all of his animals, his crops, and servants. He became very sick with boils all over his body, and friends and family deserted him. His wife told him to curse God and die. This all happened suddenly, with no warning. Yet Job chose to keep his focus on God, not lose faith, and to trust fully in God regardless of what all had happened. His relationship with God could not be shaken. God restored his health and blessed him with more afterwards than Job had had prior to this.
Peter was a fisherman when Jesus called him to follow Him. Living by the Sea of Galilee, likely that had been the vocation of his father and grandfather before him. Peter probably thought that he would teach his sons to be fisherman and pass on the trade. While out in his boat fishing or while mending his nets, he had no idea that his life would ever be any different. That was all he knew and likely what he had been taught by his own father from a young age. His wife married him, thinking that their life would be contained there in that little village where they'd raise their family. But all of that changed the day that Jesus passed by and called out to Peter and chose him to become one of His disciples. Not only was it life-changing for Peter, but for his wife as well. (We know that he was married, because he prayed for his mother-in-law and she was healed.) He never went back to the trade of being a fisherman.
Mary was a young girl dreaming of her life with Joseph, when an angel appeared and changed everything. She became pregnant by the Holy Spirit, and gave birth to the Son of God. No one could have planned for that! Mary and Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem due to a census, so she had to give birth away from her home and family. There were no available rooms, so she gave birth in a stable. Shepherds came shortly after the birth to honor her baby boy. Then wisemen show up and offer gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh; bowing down and worshipping this special child. An angel showed up in Joseph's dream and told them that they needed to flee to Egypt, due to the king wanting to find Jesus and kill him. Later they were able to move back to Nazareth. Mary had to stand at the foot of the cross and watch this son of hers be crucified and mocked. Then three days later, Jesus is raised from the dead, then a few days later ascends to His Father in Heaven. Nothing about her life went as planned!
I could go on and on with more examples from the Bible of people whose lives and situations were shaken or didn't go as they had planned.
In fact, we all can think of many family and friends whose lives have taken a different turn than what was expected. Often, things happen very suddenly and unexpectedly. We can all think of our own lives and situations where things took a turn and things didn't go as planned. No one is exempt; but we all have experienced this.
The question is, how do we respond when this happens? Do we become angry, upset, bitter, hard-hearted, mad at God, disobedient, worried, stressed, or just want to give up and die? Or do we fully trust God and keep our focus on Him?
Sometimes things happen due to our own disobedience. David brought his grief upon himself when he stood there on his rooftop, watching Bathsheba bathing, instead of turning away and going back inside... then had her brought to him and slept with her... then had her husband killed when she became pregnant with his baby... then the baby died. Had he turned away and gone back inside when he saw her from his rooftop, he would have saved himself a lot of grief. God sent the prophet, Nathan, to confront David about his sin.
Yet, David chose whole-hearted repentance. He confessed his sin and turned back fully to God. In return, God forgave David and blessed him. He married Bathsheba, they had another son, and that son, Solomon, became king after the death of David. So God brings restoration and healing when a person truly repents and turns their heart back to Him. He doesn't hold their sin and disobedience against them, but forgives and forgets once the sin is confessed and repentance is made. It is never the will of God for His children to live in shame and regret.
Sometimes situations just happen, and it changes our life. It's nothing that we've done wrong, and nothing that we did to cause it. It just happened!
Regardless of how life happens for each of us, we can rest in knowing that Jesus loves us so very much! As the scriptures I used in the beginning say, none of us know what our life is going to be like tomorrow. No one knows that! We can plan, hope, and dream -- which are good things -- but God may change things up and life may take a completely different turn than what we thought it would. Whenever that happens, we need to just say, "Okay!", and keep loving Jesus and keep following Him, with our faith firmly established in our relationship with Him.
Many of the examples Loretta used spanned a long time. Mary and Joseph, for example, appear to have only gotten a few words from God to let them know what was happening over a span of about nine months. In the first few weeks (we don't really know how long), Mary received an angelic visit, and Joseph a dream to confirm it, and they got one confirmation from Mary's cousin. Then, as far as we know, they went for 9 months with no more word. They got married, and were forced out of town by the oppressive Roman invaders for a census, and had to have their baby in miserable conditions. I can't imagine they never had a moment of doubt, wondering if God had abandoned them, or Joseph wondering if Mary had lied to them. But if they doubted, they never let it stop them. They stayed together long enough to finally get several very strong confirmations that their trust in God was right. The shepherds came to worship Jesus. The wise men from the east came, giving them enough to help them flee to Egypt. Joseph received another dream warning them to flee (and I'm sure they learned why soon after).
I'm sure God gives each of us a push in some right direction that we should go. Does that mean it will go exactly as we plan it? Of course not, it's not our plan. Or, does it mean it will go smoothly? No, if everything important was easy, they wouldn't mean all that much. Will God keep telling you each morning, "Yep, you're still on the right path."? No, but I wish He would. As long as we aren't contradicting His Word, and don't receive a course correction, then we need to keep holding onto the faith that He set us in the right direction. Is the course always a straight line? No. In fact, the best, safest route for trade between India and Italy for many years was around Africa. You'd have to depart Italy heading almost exactly in the opposite direction from India.
1-1/2 cup leftover mashed potatoes
Dash of pepper
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cooking oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
Mash cold potatoes with fork until soft. Add milk; mix well. Add egg, salt, pepper, and flour; mix until well blended. Shape into patties. Heat oil in skillet. Fry potato patties in oil until golden brown on both sides.
My nephew and his wife have a 2-year old son and a newborn who is about 1 month old now. Their newborn son had to be in NICU for quite some time following his birth, due to being premature. The first night that they brought him home, he woke up crying for his 3:00 AM feeding. Big brother had recently been moved from his crib to a toddler bed. Apparently, the baby crying woke him up and he got up, went into his parents bedroom, and walked over and told his baby brother, "Hi!" Although it was cute, his parents were thinking, "Oh great! Now we have 2 babies to get back to sleep!!" They decided perhaps having big brother in a toddler bed that he can easily get in and out of by himself may not be the best idea right now!
There is no pit so deep that God's love is not deeper still. - Corrie ten Boom
We love you!
Loretta & Jon