A New Chapter

“There is a time for everything. and a season for every activity under heave

a time to be born and a time to die,

a time to plant and a time to uproot,

a time to kill and a time to heal,

a time to tear down and a time to build,

a time to weep and a time to laugh,

a time to mourn and a time to dance,

a time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them,

a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

a time to search and a time to give up,

a time to keep and a time to throw away,

a time to tear and a time to mend,

a time to be silent and a time to speak,

a time to love and a time to hate,

a time for war and a time for peace.”  Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

My husband is retiring after Easter, so I’ll be entering a whole new season of my life.  If you’re a book lover, like I am, you might think of it as a new chapter.  We’ve decided we’ll keep living in the same place, but many things are uncertain.  Will we continue attending the same church?  How will we fill the extra time?  How will the reduction in our income affect our lifestyle?

I’m the kind of person who has a hard time of letting go of what I have and the life in which I’ve become comfortable.  I’m an introvert, so it takes me time to adjust to new circumstances and new people.  It isn’t easy, so if I have a choice, I’ll often prefer to stay where I am — even if it isn’t so good– because at least things are familiar.

I’ve learned, however, that moving on can be an adventure.  I wasn’t excited about becoming a Pastor’s wife and leaving my home congregation;  now I can see that I’ve grown and done some exciting things I would never have tried if I hadn’t been forced to change.  I wasn’t very happy about my own retirement — but the last eight years have been some of the most happy and fulfilling of my life.

There’s a time for everything.  Right now, it feels like a time of scattering, tearing down and uprooting.  But God has a plan, and I’m looking forward to see what He’ll do with this new chapter in my life.  It’s bound to be a good one so I’m going to keep reading!

For more about retirement see this post:

Reimagine Retirement by C.J. Cagle– Book Review

For more about the book of Ecclesiastes see:

God Moments in Ecclesiastes

A Time for Everything

 

The Twists and Turns of Life

My husband and I were looking back recently, thinking about how decisions we made affected the whole trajectory of our lives.  We could have married other people, and ended up living in  different places. We could have married sooner, while he was in the army.  In that case, he might have remained in the military.  He could have continued in graduate school and become a college professor instead of stopping after his Master’s degree to take a business position.  I could have gotten my Master’s in Library Science and become a librarian instead of a buyers.  We could have had children sooner, or not at all.  And so it goes.  Do we regret those roads not taken?  Would they have turned out better in some way for us?  Who knows?  For the most part we are satisfied that we have enjoyed a long marriage, raised children, had careers and served God.

Planning is certainly good, but we have to realize that life takes us to unexpected places.  We can map out where we want to go, but there is no guarantee that we will get there or that the timing will work out the way we imagine. There is simply too much uncertainty.  The Bible tells us:

Proverbs 19:21 21Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.”

God has a plan for us.  Yes, we can mess up and get lost for a while.  We can take wrong turns and have to head back.  However, if we’re paying attention to God’s leading and seeking His Will, we will eventually end up in the right spot.  The spot He wanted for us all along.

What the Bible Says About Purpose by David Ramos–Book Review

I got this short e-book free through BookBub (www.bookbub.com) and thoroughly enjoyed it.  Of course, spiritual gifts and vocation are one of my big interests, but if you are not well versed on these topics, this would be a good place to begin.  It can be  finished in a couple of hours, and it’s chock full of good, biblically sound information about God’s will, God’s plan, and God’s timing as well as your purpose and calling as part of the Christian community and as an individual.

David Ramos lays his information out clearly and concisely.  It is well researched, with referenced Bible verses to support and illustrate his conclusions.  It includes:

  • Old Testament and New Testament verses that explain and clarify purpose
  • A definition of Biblical purpose
  • The difference between God’s will, God’s call and God’s plan
  • Lies and truths you may believe about your calling
  • Examples of good and bad waiting in the Bible
  • Examples of good and bad impatience in the Bible
  • Different types of calling as seen in the Bible

Of course, there is more.  The book also includes a list of more books by the author, a Guide for Growth in Difficult Times, some recommended articles on the web about finding your purpose, and a list of every verse about purpose in the Bible.

I looked up several of the suggested articles on purpose and found them to be engaging and helpful.  I was disappointed that one free resource mentioned for free download (5 Questions That Create Clarity) did not seem to be available any longer.  However, the author has a website with courses (at a charge) for further study.  You can check him out at https://faithspring.teachable.com/.

This would be an excellent book to read and discuss with a small group.

VERDICT: 5 STARS

For another book by David Ramos see these posts:

You’re Part of the Story

Step by Step

 

 

Thankful Saints

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 1 Thess. 5:18

We’ve adopted a new routine in our adult Sunday School class.  Each week before we begin the lesson, we try to answer this question:  Where have you seen God at work this week?  Most of the time, we see God at work in the good things that happen to us — someone recovers from illness;  we enjoy a beautiful day;  a friend encourages us;  and so on.   Today I’m reminding myself that God is at work in our difficulties also.

Our lesson last week was the story of Joseph.  Things just seemed to get worse and worse for him.  He’s sold into slavery, accused of rape, cast into prison.  It would be easy to feel that God had forgotten him.  Yet this was far from the truth!  God was at work.  He had a plan to bring good out of all the bad.  We all know that in the end, Joseph is becomes a respected advisor to the Pharoah, and is able to save his family and others from famine because of his God-given ability to interpret dreams.

The verse above tells us that, as saints,  we should give thanks in all circumstances.  God has a plan, and He’s working things out in ways that will ultimately benefit us and others.  We just have to trust Him.  I admit this is hard for me.  I’m sure it’s hard for you as well.  Keep this verse in your heart today as you give thanks.  Thank God for the good things, and also for the bad things He will use to bless you and others in His good time.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Have a blessed Thanksgiving.  God loves you and so do I!

 

Everything According To God’s Plan & Timing

Good morning everyone! Welcome to today’s blog post on our Ecclesiastes 3 series! If this is your first time joining us please go into our archives and read the other posts for this month. They are awesome! I thank all of our regular readers for following along with this Bible Study series, planted in the words of God through King Solomon! Let’s get going, continuing with verses 14&15…

And I know that whatever God does is final. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it. God’s purpose is that people should fear him. What is happening now has happened before, and what will happen in the future has happened before, because God makes the same things happen over and over again.

This is what I see in these verses…

God’s has the last say and things will happen exactly as He has planned.

Our main objective in life is to fear God… to respect and stand in awe of who He is.

The things that are going on in the world are not new concepts and neither are the things that will happen in the future.

History repeats itself.

Wow, this is mind-blowing! But then if you think about it…is it really? Reflecting on my life, there are things that I experienced that I can clearly see as God’s plan. As hard as they were to be faced with, I know deep in my heart that it was God’s purpose for my life… the things I suffered in my childhood, my mother dying of cancer when I was 16, the year of torment I suffered following her death, meeting my now husband at the end of that year, gaining a new mom in the process (my now mother in law, Mary), having children at a younger age, almost dying giving birth to our younger daughter Kirsten, being advised after her birth that I should not have any more children, the devastating finality of having my tubes tied at age 23, learning to navigate through my marriage and being a parent when I harbored so much anger and mistrust (all at the expense of my family), overcoming addictive habits, being estranged from my father for 9 years.

Then God took hold of my life, at just the right time. He gave me a new life, a new family, made the family I helped create become stronger and more unified, helped to mend the broken relationship between my dad and I, solidified my marriage with Him at the helm, made me a better parent, helped me to grow quality relationships with my daughters, help me to also grow quality relationships with other family and friends.

I couldn’t have done it without looking at the world through my “God goggles”, changing the lens by which I view the world around me. And for that I stand in awe… God leaves me speechless a lot. I can see the intricacies of how He works, how He operates. And sometimes all I can do is just smile.

Now, when I experience life, I am well equipped and those experiences don’t cripple me like they used to. History has repeated itself in my life, all part of God’s plan. But the peace… the strength… the power I have to get through those trials, comes from a mighty God, the love of my Savior, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. And I continually stand in awe of God… remembering the great works He has done in my life… remembering that I need to look at my trials as great joy, because when my faith is tested, my endurance has a chance to grow… and God says when my endurance grows and is fully developed, I will be perfect, complete, and need nothing else. (James 1:2-4)

And to always stand in awe, just like the Apostle Paul did when he wrote to the church in Ephesus…

God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding. God has now revealed to us his mysterious will regarding Christ—which is to fulfill his own good plan. And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth. Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan. Eph. 1:5-11

How about you? Do you understand that everything happens according to God’s plan? Do you fear, respect, and stand in awe of who He is? Can you look at your past and determine how you will be changed when history repeats itself? Do you count your trials as great joy? Do you embrace your faith being tested and remember that your endurance is giving you a chance to grow? Do you understand that when your endurance to navigate this life is fully developed you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing else? Do you realize that God chose you in advance to make everything work out according to His plan?

God loves you and so do I?

Leslie

 

photo courtesy of imgrum.org

 

Blessed Interruptions

“We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Okay, I freely admit I am bad at this.  I think it’s part of my slightly anxious personality to need a plan;  it gives me a sense of control.  If my plan is interrupted, it throws my whole day off. I feel rushed and flustered. I have to continually remind myself that I am retired–if circumstances intervene, I can do that chore or errand or make that phone call tomorrow!

If you read through the gospels, you will find that Jesus was constantly interrupted.  His teaching was interrupted by the men who lowered their friend down through the roof in hopes Jesus would heal him (He did);  His sleep was interrupted when the disciples begged Him to get up and save them from the storm that was threatening their boat (He did); His journey was interrupted by a blind man who called out to Him (He stopped);  He was interrupted by children (He blessed them).

My plans for today, this week, this year or even the rest of my life are trivial compared to the plans of Jesus, but He never failed to put people first.  In fact, He made people part of His plan;  every interaction was an opportunity to share God’s love and explain God’s plan.  That’s the plan that’s really important.

 

Remembering the Wrong Things

Sometimes we remember the wrong things. The same destructive thoughts go round and round in our heads, driving out God’s peace and presence.  This is not God’s will for us.

When we can’t forget our own sins, and think we have done what can never be forgiven, we are forgetting God’s promise to remove those transgressions from us.  We need to remember His grace.

When we can’t forget the wrongs we have suffered in the past, we are forgetting God’s command to forgive others as He has forgiven us.  We need to remember His mercy.

When we can’t forget that thing we wanted so badly and never got, we are forgetting God’s provision.  We need to remember to give thanks to God for all that we have.

When we can’t forget our failures, we are forgetting God’s omnipotence and His plan.  We need to remember we can trust Him.

When we can’t forget our worries and fears, we are forgetting God’s love.  We need to remember to pour out all our concerns in prayer.

What do you need to stop remembering?