Tag Archive | problems

Lessons from a dead tree

Psalm 8:3-4 – “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?”

We had a pretty intense storm a few months ago that left our little yard with one small, dead tree. Now, this tree had a diameter at it’s base of about 4-5 inches – big enough to be difficult but small enough to drag around. My son and my husband had removed it and set it by the side of the road for pick up, in September. 

Needless to say, the grass was beginning to grow through it and the county has passed by it several times. It isn’t big enough to require a large truck to pick up the debris but it is too big for the lawn waste people to heave it into their truck.

So, I set out yesterday to hack this poor dead, dried up tree into pieces and stick it in a garbage can with the hopes that the lawn waste people will begin to pick it up today. And as I was sawing away with my little hand saw, God began to remind of a few things:

1. When you go after something that seems overwhelming, you have to attack it little by little. For me to try to saw through the largest branches with my hand saw and all the other limbs still hanging off the end was near impossible. I found that if I cut off the little branches, the larger ones were much easier to deal with. 

2. Persistence is the key. Have you ever tried to cut through a 4 inch piece of wood with a 2 inch wide hand saw? It takes persistence. I found that if I stopped while sawing through a limb this size, I looked like a crazy person trying to get it started again. I just had to keep going. Even when my puny arms were screaming and my strength was giving out, I had to keep going. Eventually, I got it in two but it wasn’t easy.                                                                                                                                                                         

You know, sometimes we feel like we are getting nowhere in reaching people. We feel like living our lives for the Lord isn’t enough. We feel like inviting them to Sunday school and worship services and fellowships is just not working. But God is using it. Little by little, He is chipping away at their heart. He is pursuing them in a holy manner that we can’t always see or understand. All He asks us to do is keep going. Keep doing those little things that mean more to them than we will ever know. 

3. Do your best and let God take care of the rest. He doesn’t always expect us to conquer something. Sometimes He wants us to trust Him and get out there and do something. 

The lawn waste people may or may not pick up that hacked up dead tree, but I have done all that I can. I know that I have attempted to do something to get rid of the dead tree. If nothing else, it is easier now to transport to that secret place on the other side of the retention pond where things seem to disappear into the woods. I don’t have to solve the problem. I just needed to work on it. 

You may not have a dead tree hanging out in your front yard, but I would guess that you do have something in your life that needs attention. It needs to be attacked little by little. It needs to be addressed persistently. God may or may not want you to conquer it, but He does want you to put forth your best effort in addressing it. 

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The River

Job 28:7-12 – “There is a path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture’s eye hath not seen: The lion’s whelps have not trodden it, nor the fierce lion passed by it. He putteth forth his hand upon the rock; he overturneth the mountains by the roots. He cutteth out rivers among the rocks; and his eye seeth every precious thing. He bindeth the floods from overflowing; and the thing that is hid bringeth he forth to light. But where shall wisdom be found? and where is the place of understanding?”

Yesterday, we hiked The Narrows in Zion National Park. It was incredible! Words cannot describe it!

I remember walking around a bend and just stopping with tears in my eyes while my heart cried out – Oh Lord, “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” (Psalm 139:14)  

All along the way, though, I kept going back to one thing – the power of the water. God had sent the worldwide flood upon the earth many, many years ago which created this marvelous beauty that I was experiencing today. The water was rushing in places, shallow in others and chest deep in other places. (We avoided those places by watching the brave souls, or stupid souls, attempt them.) There were rocks strategically places to create bends in the canyon. There were walls hundreds of feet (probably more like thousands of feet) tall that sheltered us from the blistering desert heat. The water was chilly but not too cold. There were birds soaring in the canyon. There was a waterfall (tiny) that cascaded into the river. I’m telling you, it was amazing! And all because God created beauty from tragedy.

So today, if you find the river cutting into your heart, if your day feels like it is dividing you asunder, remember this – maybe God is trying to make something spectacular in your life. God just needs you to hold onto Him and let Him create a masterpiece in you. Happy Friday. 

Be prepared 

1 Peter 3:15,16 – “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.”

Well, the packing is almost done. I have been thinking about as many scenarios as possible to prepare for. I have bandaids, moleskin for blisters, a first aid kit, sunscreen, muscle rub, medication for pain and headaches, aloe. I have extra clothes. I have water bottles to fill. My goodness, I can’t believe all the stuff I have packed!

I like to be prepared. I don’t like to be caught off guard. I have even written off the address and lock box info for the house we are staying at just in case I don’t have cell phone service. I try to be prepared. 

But how well do I prepare myself for spiritual journeys? 

Each and every day is a new challenge, a new focus, a new opportunity to share Christ with someone. But am I ready?

Getting into the Word is a great start. Reading and studying and thinking about God’s precepts and principles is a necessary step in growing and preparing. 

Prayer is also a necessity. How can we expect to be ready for any spiritual battle or situation if we don’t communicate with The Commander and Chief? 

There is also one more thing that helps get me ready for spiritual journeys – my brothers and sisters in Christ, aka – my church family. I need them. I need their love. I need their support. I need their encouragement. But you can’t have that church family if you don’t make the sacrifice to be a part of it. 

Be prepared. Be prepared for life. Be prepared for spiritual issues and battles. Be prepared to be in His Word. Be prepared to spend time with your Savior. Be prepared to find love in your church family. Happy Monday. 

Bad days come & go

Proverbs 24:10-12 – “If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small. If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?”

We all have bad days from time to time. We all have mornings that we wake up an hour or so before our alarm goes off and can’t go back to sleep. We all have those days when we feel like we have broken every glass in the house. We all have bad days. 

What can we possibly gain from a bad day? How can we seek out something good in amongst all the seemingly bad things going on? How do we see positive out of a day reeking of headaches?

In truth, it’s all about how we handle those kinds of days. Do we turn our head to the difficulties of others just because our day is rotten? Or do we turn our attention to something other than our own problems? Usually when we do the later, we find our problems are just tiny stumbles. 

I woke up really early this morning with a headache. And as I laid in bed trying not to toss and turn, my mind began to race. I thought about everything from what I needed to add to my grocery list to all the ones that I knew would be traveling today. It gave me an opportunity to pray. It gave me an opportunity to reflect on some things that have been going on in my life and the time to look forward to some new things that will be happening soon. 

And although the day promises to be long due to lack of sleep, I’m kinda excited about the day. It’s the first day of a new month. My son leaves for the UK soon (I’m sure there will be more on that in the future – it’s a big deal!). My daughter has a to-do list a mile long. We are going on a getaway this weekend. My husband is in full swing of a new position at work. And I am in the process of a career change. It’s an exciting month. 

So my encouragement for you today is this – don’t let a bad start or bad event spoil the entire day. God sees your struggles. He knows the challenges. But He expects you to face them like Jesus would, with a positive attitude and a ready heart. 

He’s got it!

Numbers 4:49 – “According to the commandment of the LORD they were numbered by the hand of Moses, every one according to his service, and according to his burden: thus were they numbered of him, as the LORD commanded Moses.”

Do you ever think to yourself that you have way too much to do? How in the world are you going to get everything accomplished that you need to for that day? Do you ever feel that God must have forgotten about you that day because things just are not going as you had planned?

Well, just ponder this for a moment – organizing 603,550 men. Now, remember this number does not include women and children, nor does it take into account the Levites. 603,550 men. That, my friend, is overwhelming.

But not for God. As I was reading through Numbers 1-4 this morning, I started thinking about what was really going on here in these chapters. God was numbering the people for several reasons – for dividing the land once the children of Israel got there, to know the number of soldiers available AND to see whose job it was to transport what. You see, God already knew these numbers but the leaders did not.

The ones leading this group needed some guidance in organization. They needed to know what they were dealing with and how to get things done. Can you imagine the bedlam that would have ensued if God hadn’t taken the lead to tell those 603,55o men who was to carry what and how they were to move the tabernacle? They would have probably stood there staring at one another waiting for the other one to move first.

And then when it came to setting up again, God had that covered too! He told them exactly where each tribe was to set up its tents.

Organization. I love it. It drives me crazy when things are scattered everywhere. But there are days and times in my life that are hectic. I am overwhelmed and crazy. I feel like God may have forgotten that I’m floundering like a fish out of water. When I begin to feel like that, I hear this little voice in my head reminding me that He has got this, if only I would let Him have it. I have trouble with that one. I get possessive of my troubles. It’s not really a good place to be. If God could organize and take care of all those people in the middle of the wilderness, surely He can take care of my piddly little problems.

So, let me challenge you today to remember this awe-inspiring truth – God saw probably over a million people through 40 years in the wilderness with no help from man. If He can take on this crazy-big task, trust me, He can handle your problems. No matter how overwhelming, no matter how big, no matter how complicated, God can handle it.

Problems vs. Burdens

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 – “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

What is a problem? I could not find the specific word “problem” in the Bible. They used different terminology than we use today. But from this verse you can get the gist of what problems were in Paul’s time. Paul experienced problems. He had some sort of “thorn in the flesh” that God would not allow to be taken from him. Some think it could have been blindness. I guess we may find out when we get to Heaven. But until then, let’s just look at problems in general. 

A problem can be defined as “In general, any question involving doubt or uncertainty, and requiring some operation, experiment or further evidence for its solution.” (Webster’s 1828 Dictionary) Paul had a problem that he had to choose how he was going to respond it. He could whine and complain about it or he could choose to give God glory in and through it. He chose the later. And the reason is because God reminded him that when he (Paul) is weak, He (Jesus) is strong. God can use our weaknesses to show His strength. 

Problems are something that we encounter every day. Some may be long term problems and some may be spur of the moment problems. Either way, we have to choose how we are going to respond to them. Sometimes our spur of the moment problems become chronic. Why? Sometimes it is because we choose not respond to them properly the first time. They keep coming back. And we keep responding to them incorrectly. And that’s when a transformation happens – they become burdens. 

A burden is defined as “That which is borne with labor or difficulty; that which is grievous, wearisome or oppressive.” (Webster’s 1828 Dictionary). When we choose not to give it over to Jesus to handle, when we think that we can handle this problem on our own, it becomes grievous and wearisome and oppressive. I am the first one in line for this issue. Problems are my specialty. For example, give me a knot in a rope or chain or something that is supposed to be straight and I can figure out a way to straighten it. I am a professional knot-getter-outer. Yep, that’s a word in my world. Sometimes I think I can do the same thing with problems. I think I can handle them all on my own. I’ll show them. I can do this. And then not too long afterwards, I find myself on my knees because the burden is too much, my heart is too heavy and my spirit is too weak. 

And that is when I turn around and see Jesus right there waiting to hear from me. That’s when He is standing there with arms open wide, ready to receive me right where I left Him. 

1 Peter 5:7 – “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”

So let me encourage you today to make the right choice with your problems. Don’t let them become burdens. See them as problems and let Jesus help you solve them. Don’t try to go at it alone – that’s when the potential for a burden sets in. Jesus is ready and willing to walk with you through whatever comes across your path. 

One step away

Romans 2:1,2 – “Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.”

Judging. It is a common practice for us today. It is easy. You look at someone or see some action and boom! Judgement is passed. 

It is hard not to judge someone. We think that we are above reproach and therefore have the right to pass judgement upon someone, especially someone “in the world”. We see their action and see their clothes and we automatically assume that we know exactly how they are. What we don’t know is that on the inside a major war is raging for their eternity. We have no clue of the internal struggles that these people may be going through. Instead of bombarding them with judgements, we should be embracing them and encouraging their desire to walk a different path. 

We also read about and hear about people who have made the choice to seek out another affects instead of their spouse. In this case, we know by their actions and their choices that they have made this decision. However, we need to be cautious of our wrath and disappointment. We need to understand this truth – we are all but one step away from the same decision. 

One step away from choosing someone else over our spouse. One step away from seeking out the temporary comfort of drugs and alcohol. One step away from maxing out our credit cards and stepping into the world of bankruptcy. One step away from losing our jobs and our homes. 

There are times that require us to make judgements in regards to someone’s choice and actions. However, when those times do present themselves, we need to do so with love and the opportunity for forgiveness and restoration. Vengeance is something that we are to reject. It is not our responsibilty to seek it out. God will take care of that. But above all, we need to be careful. 

We need to be cautious in our judgements and we need to remember that only by the grace of God do we stand where we are today. He has given us the ability to recognize problems and potential situations that may cause us harm. We need to use it. We need to listen when He is whispering to our heart that this is just not right. 

I want to encourage you today, princess, to be cautious in your judgements. Be aware and appreciative of your delicate situation. Remember, you are only one step away.