The Spigot

As my husband, Gary,  watched from a distance the way I served others, he often described it this way: “You get to help people, who’s cups are depleted or empty, place themselves under the spigot of God and His Word so that He can fill them, restore them, guide them and use them.” 

Through these bi-weekly posts, move your cup under the spigot of God to receive encouragement in life and truth from God’s Word to live the full life offered by Jesus (John 10:10).

Broad

The park across the street from our neighborhood is getting a makeover. A new entrance, an expanded playground, and bigger sidewalks comprise much of the work in process. My favorite renovation thus far is the path. I walk the same pathway every day, both in the morning and in the evening, Not only does Joy (our 11 year old GSP) enjoy this necessary outdoor exercise but this walking routine also allows Gary and I, and sometimes Sophie, margin for prayer and to share about our days.

Until now the sidewalk width through the park has been only three feet. Walking side by side with a dog proves challenging. Recently, Sophie exclaimed, “Stop walking me into the grass.” :–) The path feels narrow, even skinny, and with more than one person walking simultaneously, we tend to bump each other off the concrete walkway and into the grass.

So, the first change to the park involved widening the path. The construction workers expanded a portion of the sidewalk to the width of five feet. This provides more room so that walking alongside each other is possible and more enjoyable. The path is now broad; it has been enlarged.

Broad

David proclaimed in Psalm 18:36 that God provided “a broad path for his feet so [his] ankles did not give way.” David declared God’s goodness, thanking Him for the bigger path. God broadened David’s path so his journey experienced support.

David’s use of “broad” in this Psalm is different from Jesus’ use of “wide” in Matthew 7:13. David referred to this enlarged space as a gift from God, not a distraction away from God as Jesus pointed out in His sermon. The broad path seems to connect with the Christian life. Sophie “falling” off the path and the times I too have been bumped from the sidewalk came to mind. I wondered how the spacious path offered support to David in the Psalms and the ways a broadened path today offers support for our spiritual journey.

Broad

God intends the spiritual journey to occur in community. We need other people and other people need us. Through these relationships we learn more of who God is and who He invites us to be. Because of the wider sidewalk, Gary, Sophie, and I now walk side by side, supporting each other through life. We journey together. The broad path provides space for us to stroll in tandem. Our shared community is stronger during the walk because we accompany one another shoulder to shoulder.

Have you noticed the ways God has enlarged the path before you, offering support and drawing you closer to Himself? In what ways do your interactions with other people spur your spiritual growth?

Think about your daily path.

Are you walking the broad path with others? Is there room for others to join you? Who could you invite to accompany you in the spiritual journey? Seek out companions.

Interestingly, the park renovations across the street do not include broadening all of the sidewalks throughout the open space. A section of the path remains narrow.

What is provocative, is the reality that both broad and narrow pathways stimulate our growth with Jesus Christ. The narrow pathway reminds me of walking with Jesus side by side, communing with Him. There truly isn’t room for anyone else. As we submit to Jesus, we realize that He saves, sustains, and steers the path before us. Time on the narrow path with Jesus is imperative to our spiritual growth.

In what ways do you ensure you walk the narrow path with Jesus as your companion? Perhaps intentionally incorporate silence, meditating on Scripture, worship, and daily reflection into your spiritual practices.

We need both broad and narrow paths in our lives. The narrow path reminds us to keep in step with Jesus, moving through life with Him by our side. On this skinny way we listen, receive and follow God through the movement of the Holy Spirit. The broad path, on the other hand, prompts connection with others; offering support and strength through community. Journeying with Jesus and others transpires upon both the broad and narrow path.

Take note of the path upon which you walk.

Savor the narrow sidewalks in life, embracing space to commune directly with Jesus through life-giving rhythms. Delight in the broad pathways, welcoming spiritual community through accountability and encouragement in the daily journey of life.

Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.

2 Samuel 22:37
You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way.

Hebrews 10:24-25
 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another…

Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Check out these suggested readings.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian Community. San Francisco, CA. 2009.

James Bryan Smith. The Good and Beautiful Community: Following the Spirit, Extending Grace, Demonstrating Love. Downers Grove, IL. 2010.

Puddles for Prayer: Thank you for praying for upcoming travel and speaking engagements.

June 12-25  – Manila, Philippines
Traveling with Gary and speaking to various groups and organizations on Soul Care for Boards, Ministry Staff and Senior Leaders.

Leviathan

Have you read the book of Job lately? Using The Daily Walk Bible, along with a group of friends, I am reading through the Bible from beginning to end in 2019. Every Thursday morning my friends and I gather to talk about underlined verses, intriguing questions, and awe filled moments with God, and we just finished the book of Job.

The story of Job resonates with each of us.

Job and his companions struggle with the ways of God and man for 37 chapters, and then in chapter 38, God breaks the silence and speaks directly to Job. From that point on, the last four chapters of this inspired, authentic book feature the magnificence of God’s created world, the grace of God, and the humble place of man in comparison.

I marvel as I read God’s description of Leviathan: an incredible animal that cannot be contained. God tells of this imposing sea creature for 34 verses, even declaring that all attempts to subdue it result in defeat. Imagine this creature described in Job 41.

“I will not fail to speak of Leviathan’s limbs, its strength and its graceful form.

Who can strip off its outer coat? Who can penetrate its double coat of armor? Who dares open the doors of its mouth, ringed about with fearsome teeth?

Its back has rows of shields tightly sealed together; each is so close to the next that no air can pass between. They are joined fast to one another; they cling together and cannot be parted.

Its snorting throws out flashes of light; its eyes are like the rays of dawn. Flames stream from its mouth; sparks of fire shoot out. Smoke pours from its nostrils as from a boiling pot over burning reeds. Its breath sets coals ablaze, and flames dart from its mouth,

Strength resides in its neck; dismay goes before it. The folds of its flesh are tightly joined; they are firm and immovable. Its chest is hard as rock, hard as a lower millstone.

When it rises up, the mighty are terrified; they retreat before its thrashing. The sword that reaches it has no effect, nor does the spear or the dart or the javelin. Iron it treats like straw and bronze like rotten wood. Arrows do not make it flee; slingstones are like chaff to it. A club seems to it but a piece of straw; it laughs at the rattling of the lance.

Its undersides are jagged potsherds, leaving a trail in the mud like a threshing sledge. It makes the depths churn like a boiling caldron and stirs up the sea like a pot of ointment. It leaves a glistening wake behind it; one would think the deep had white hair.

Nothing on earth is its equal—a creature without fear. It looks down on all that are haughty; it is king over all that are proud” (verses 12-34).

Leviathan

Perhaps like me, you found yourself imagining the Lock Ness Monster from the movie The Water Horse? Maybe you pictured the fierce dragon, Smaug, from The Hobbit? Or, your mind pictures dinosaurs, whose bones you have seen in a museum? Regardless, this created-being featured in the Bible lived in the water and commanded the attention of all. Its formidable presence summoned devastation, dismay, and destruction.

Why does God give such specific detail to an animal He created? What is the purpose of God’s words as He addresses Job in the midst of his suffering?

At first glance, it seems odd that God goes to such lengths to catalog the greatness of this animal. Yet, God makes his point to Job when He announces the reality that no matter the impressiveness nor significance of the Leviathan, God is greater!

God proclaims: “No one is fierce enough to rouse it. Who then is able to stand against me? Who has a claim against me that I must pay? Everything under heaven belongs to me.” Everything belongs to God. What an incredible reminder and truth for us today!

What are the Leviathans in your life?

Consider those giant intimidating and alarming situations that carry the potential to devastate, destroy and discourage. Maybe you feel like you are swimming in a tank of Leviathans?! You may have tried to subdue or control them; yet, they continue to overwhelm and discourage you. Only God can overcome these circumstances and their impact upon you.

  • Job transitions
  • A stagnant marriage
  • Confusing questions
  • Launching a new organization
  • Broken relationships
  • Financial turmoil
  • Rebellious children
  • Distracted friendships
  • Demanding co-workers
  • Delayed travel
  • Health crisis

Just as God uses the mighty nature of Leviathan to alert Job to the reality that nothing is too big for Him, so too can we read these verses and remember that whatever we face is within the control of God.

Everything belongs to God. We may not understand like Job, but like Job we can announce, “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted” (see Job 42:2).

Job’s response to the greatness of God, which overshadowed the Leviathan, is humility. Job noted that his knowledge of God was challenged by his experience of God; this eventually led him to a deeper respect and honor for God and His ways. “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know…my ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you” (see Job 42:3,5). In the end, we see God’s grace cover Job with increased trust by restoring relationships and bestowing blessing (see Job 42:7-17).

How do you respond to the Leviathan contexts in your life?

Do you allow any dissonance between your knowledge and experience of God to lead you to greater respect and honor of God?

Before rushing into your next commitment, take a moment to ponder with God the Leviathans in your life? Be attentive to the circumstances that evoke fear, defeat, confusion, anxiety, and anger.

Let’s follow Job’s example by humbly confessing our finite nature and depend upon the manifold grace of God.

Pray with me:     God, you are awesome and above all things. Forgive me for doubting your presence and power when I face daunting situations that look like Leviathans. I recognize that everything under heaven belongs to you. Help me see You and trust your ways. You are good! I love you, Amen.

 

Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Psalm 9:10
Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.

Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Check out these suggested readings.

Jerry Bridges.  Trusting God. Colorado Springs, CO. 2017.

Brennan Manning.  Ruthless Trust.  San Francisco. 2009.

Puddles for Prayer: Thank you for praying for upcoming travel and speaking engagements.

June 12-25  – Manila, Philippines
Traveling with Gary and speaking to various groups and organizations on Soul Care for Boards, Ministry Staff and Senior Leaders.

Commencement

Our mailbox experiences a flood every May. Graduation announcements arrive from students celebrating the completion of their coursework. Each scholar anticipates a transition into a fresh stage of life’s journey.

We give thanks for three graduates: our daughter Sophie, and her fiancé, Peter, from San Diego Christian College in Santee, California; and Emily, Sammy’s fiancé from Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa. We love how family and friends come together to celebrate the diligent accomplishments of the next generation.

Graduation marks both completion and inauguration. After fulfilling requirements, new seasons begin. Commencement recognizes students for their academic efforts and then launches them into the future with inspiring messages. While these ceremonies vary in length and style; most include music, prayer, a commendation of the graduates, tears of joy and exhaustion, and expressions of hope for the future. Graduates embark into a new phase of life filled with both uncertainties and possibilities; a season characterized with growth.

I find myself considering commencement scenes in the Bible. In other words, moments in Scripture when sojourners pass into new or unknown territory?

Perhaps the most provocative commencement scene occurred between Jesus and Peter in John 21, when three times Jesus asked, “Peter, do you love me?” After that, Jesus charged Peter with a new mission in life and spurred him toward faithfulness and obedience: “You must follow me” (see John 21:22).

The woman, who poured out perfume to anoint Jesus, experienced a commencement as well. Jesus gave an eye-opening message to Simon, the Pharisee, and his guests, followed by a three-point declaration to the woman: “Your sins are forgiven,” “Your faith has saved you,” and “go in peace” (see Luke 7:48, 50).

What commencement events come to your mind as you search the Scriptures?

  • The woman caught in adultery received a grace-filled charge to enter into a forgiven future (see John 8:9-11).
  • Saul entered into a new season after encountering Jesus on the road to Damascus. Ananias inspired him with a new assignment: “Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength” (see Acts 9:17-18).
  • David shifted from shepherd to king with the commissioning by Samuel the prophet in 1 Samuel 16.
  • Jacob encountered God, as noted in Genesis 32; thus, receiving a different name and fresh beginning.
  • Ruth embarked on an unfamiliar journey after a season of sorrow, followed by a great blessing from God (see Ruth 1).

Think about your own situation for a moment. How is God inviting you into a new journey? Have you received a charge or inspiring message to begin something original? Are you stepping out or holding back? Perhaps you are entering into a time of newness right now with a job, neighborhood, home, church, ministry, relationship, pregnancy, etc.

God creates new life within us the moment we commit to following Him. So, maybe the most profound commencement ceremony any of us experience is the day we place our trust in Jesus and choose to make the life He gives us about Him. A new journey commences when we walk across the proverbial stage of life and receive a new identity in Christ.

Jesus completed His work on earth, and He fulfilled all the requirements for the world. A new season commences for those who follow Him and walk in His ways. Are you mindful of Jesus’ commencement address?

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (see Matthew 28:18-20).

Has your commencement in Christ become mundane or forgotten? In what ways does Jesus’ message challenge and inspire you afresh today?

Just like family and friends support and encourage a graduate’s journey, the Holy Spirit journeys with us as our faithful companion, spurring us onward in the path of life.

What requirements are you called to complete? How can you be available to what God has in store? Pay attention to the new things to which God is calling you—they are opportunities for the future, the commencements in your life.

 

Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.

Daniel 2:21
He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: 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 from embracing, 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.

Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Check out these suggested readings.

Matt Roberts and Rob Cowles with Dean Merrill.  The God of New Beginnings: How the Power of Relationship Brings Hope and Redeems Lives.Nashville, TN. 2018.

Jay Payleitner.  If God Gave Your Graduation Speech: Unforgettable Words of Widsom from the One Who Knows Everything About You.  Nashville, IN. 2013.

Still

Last Friday was Field Day for the elementary students at Front Range Christian School. I had the privilege of substituting kindergarten. As we met awaiting parents on the field, several mothers and fathers exhorted their children to “Stand Still” so sunscreen could be lathered upon their faces and arms.

Be still!

This reminded me of a time Sammy, Sophie, and I ventured to the Butterfly Pavilion just north of Denver. The Pavilion hosted a number of exhibits. Perhaps the most fun experience occurred within the Wings of the Tropics enclosure where countless butterflies fluttered from plant to plant and other stationary objects. Upon entering the special doors, Sammy and Sophie stopped and stood as still as possible with the hope of a butterfly settling upon them. As they stood still, the butterflies found Sammy’s head and Sophie’s arms to be perfect perches to rest. In this still space, we noticed the beauty of the butterflies and wonder of God’s creation.

Do you think God calls out to His children: “Would you just be still for a moment?”

Whether it is putting on sunscreen, waiting for flying butterflies, posing for a photograph, or lounging on the couch, I believe our relational God invites us to be still with Him.

I began to discover the ways stillness attended to my soul during my cancer journey. Through all the medical procedures and treatments, I found that I couldn’t think clearly, my head was in a fog. I also recognized that I did not have the energy to serve at church, in my kid’s school, or in the neighborhood like when I was healthy. God brought my head and hands to a halt. He so graciously showed me that He wanted me to be with Him; to enjoy His presence. He wanted my heart. Being with Him was enough. It was during this space that I began to let God mine the depths of my soul and renew me from within. I learned how to truly be still with the Lover of my soul.

Stillness is crucial for a healthy soul. If ignored, we tend to reveal symptoms like exhaustion, aggression, addiction, and confusion. Have you ever been too tired to think, to assist someone, or to be kind? Simply doing “nothing” is a balm for our soul.

Psalm 23 reminds us that when we lie down, when we are still, God refreshes our soul. The Sons of Korah exhort us to “Be still and know God” (see Psalm 46:10).

A depth of “knowing” occurs in the stillness. When we cease rushing we experience more of who God is and who He created us to be. Often, we are afraid of being still, as it forces us to be alone with our thoughts in the presence of God. Yet, this is the very foundation for authentic living; being real with ourselves, real with God, and real with others.

Too often we fill stillness with activity. When we have a “few” minutes, we turn on the radio, TV, computer, check email, read a magazine, scroll social media, and even pick up the phone to call someone. In the end, we squeeze activity into an opportunity to be still with God.

Stop for a moment. Let Jesus catch your gaze and gently say, “Stop, be still with me a moment.”

John Eldridge captures the need for stillness well: “When I first listen to my heart, what I often hear is the language and clatter of my old lovers and not much else. There seems to be no stillness or rest. If I try to hold still, my soul reacts like a feather in the afternoon breeze, flitting from place to place without purpose or direction. I almost seem invisible in the noise… When I stop “doing” and simply listen to my heart, I am not anchored to anything substantive. I become aware that my very identity is synonymous with activity” (The Sacred Romance, 162-164).

What about you? Are you anchored to anything substantive?

Do you realize, as a disciple of Jesus Christ, God is your Rock? He is your Strong Tower, Fortress, Firm Foundation, and Solid Ground. When anchored to our triune God we can be still and be known in the deepest parts of our soul. Our identity is rooted to Whom we belong, not what we do.

God gives eternal purposes, faithful plans, and straight paths to those who follow Him. We are loved, forgiven, accepted, justified, and held by the God of the Universe. Safety, security, and satisfaction flow from Jesus, our Savior.

When is the last time you intentionally sat still with your Savior? How can you encourage those around you to engage stillness as a spiritual practice? Are there ways to be still together?

It is amazing how God refreshes us with just a moment or two of stillness with Him. Try it! Ask God to help your heart pay attention to still moments. Instead of filling the space with activity, be still, receive from the Lover of your soul and notice the ways the Holy Spirit refreshes you.

 

Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.

Psalm 33:11
But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.

Psalm 23:1-3
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul.

Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Check out these suggested readings.

Henry Blackaby and Richard Blackaby.  Being Still With God Every Day.Nashville, TN. 2014.

Brian Cosby.  Be Still & Know: Meditations on the Character of God.  Bloomington, IN. 2011.

Known

Recently I was reminded of one of my favorite scenes from the movie, Jingle All the Way. At the climax of the story, a young boy who was feeling forgotten by his father watched a parade with a downcast spirit. At that moment, the comic hero in the parade, Turboman, chooses to give a gift to one of the many children lining the streets. They are all  shouting, “Me! Me! Pick me! Pick me!”

The little boy has no idea that his father is actually the one dressed in the Turboman costume and mask. At that moment, Turboman points to this little boy and calls out his name, “Jamie.” The lad was stunned and, at first, speechless. Then, in awe the young Jamie proclaims, “He knows my name.” It is a powerful moment.

He knows my name!

This reminds me of the scene from the Bible when Mary Magdalene stood outside the empty tomb, weeping for Jesus.

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”). John 20:13-16

I think in similar fashion, Mary thought to herself, “He knows my name!”

Have you ever wondered if names are important to God? If so, just read the first 12 chapters of 1 Chronicles in the Bible. Recently while reading these chapters, I noticed the numerous names and contemplated the reason that God included those lists. The Bible records the names of people. Some are well-known like David, Solomon, and Joshua and others are lesser-known like Abishai, Jeiel, and Nahshon. But, all are known by God. I determined that names are people, and people are precious to God. Each person matters. He or she represents life and relationship. Each name represents a soul created and known by the King of the universe.

He knows my name, and He knows your name, too!

God reveals more than just a familiar “knowing” of our names. He knows everything about us. Psalm 139 assures us that God knows all there is to know about each of us. His knowledge of you and me is complete—nothing is hidden from Him. He knows every detail of our being and attends to us in all aspects of life.

Too often our identity becomes wrapped up in names given by other people, but not by God Himself. Have you ever been confused about who you truly are? As a follower of Jesus Christ, do you realize the implications of the fact that you are known by God?

Like a really good piece of chocolate or your favorite food (if you are one of those who doesn’t fancy sweets), savor these truths about what God knows to be true about you. Perhaps substitute your name for “You” in each statement. Delight in the reality of who you are.

God knows you (Psalm 139:13-18).
You are a child of God (John 1:12).
You are Christ’s friend (John 15:3).
You are chosen (Ephesians 1:4).
You are completely forgiven (Romans 5:1).
You are free from condemnation (Romans 8:1).
You are a joint heir with Christ (Romans 8:17).
You are the dwelling place of God (1 Corinthians 3:16).
You are victorious through Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:57).
You are a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).
You have been made for righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21).
You are a saint (1 Corinthians 1:2).
You have been made alive together with Christ (Ephesians 2:5)
You are God’s handiwork (Ephesians 2:10).
You are a citizen of heaven (Ephesians 2:6).
You are capable of facing any situation with Christ (Philippians 4:13).
You are made complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10).
You are dearly loved (1 Thessalonians 1:4).
You have life (1 John 5:12).
You are redeemed (Revelation 5:9).
You are marked with His seal (Ephesians 1:13).
You are His beloved (Colossians 3:12).
You belong to God (1 Corinthians 6:19).

God knows you well; He lives with the constant reminder of your existence. Your name is so significant and important, Isaiah 49:16 proclaims that you are engraved upon His hands: “See, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands.”

God loves you! He is unable to forget about you.

Do you believe the truth of who you are?

You.
You are.
You are His.
You are His treasured.
You are His treasured possession (1 Peter 2:9).

He knows your name! Savor and live into the reality of who knows you and whose you really are!

“Know that the LORD is God. It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, the sheep of His pasture.” Psalm 100:3

 

Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.

Romans 8:14-17
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by Him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory.

Who You Say I Am – Hillsong Worship
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKw6uqtGFfo

Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Check out these suggested readings.

Neil T. Anderson.  Who I Am In Christ: A Devotional.Ventura, CA. 2001.

Melissa Kruger.  Identity Theft: Reclaiming the Truth of our Identity in Christ.  Deerfield, IL, 2018.

Puddles for Prayer: Thank you for praying for upcoming travel and speaking engagements.

April 24-27  – Lake Wales, FL
Warner University

May 4  – Littleton, CO
Sanctuary – Women’s Retreat, South Fellowship Church

Unplanned

Last week I joined a few friends at the theater to watch the movie, Unplanned. It is the true story of a woman who devoted her life to Planned Parenthood for eight years before recognizing their twisted ways and resigning from senior leadership. The film reveals the anguish of unplanned pregnancy, the burden of unplanned duties, the gift of unplanned friendship, and the hope of unplanned forgiveness and grace.

Everyday we face unplanned events and encounters. Some of the unplanned create stress, conflict, and burdens: a medical diagnosis, disagreements with family members or friends, pressing work deadlines, car trouble, stormy weather, company layoffs, church closures, or financial burdens.

Other unplanned phenomena reveal hope, joy, and excitement: a doctor’s prognosis, authentic dialogue with family or friends, work extensions, alternative modes of transportation, blue skies and sunny days, new employment, church plants, or financial freedom.

Although much in life seems unplanned to humankind, God remains purposeful, redemptive, and pure in all His plans. Jeremiah 29:11 reminds us of this reality: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Additionally, verses such as Psalm 33:11; “But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations” and Proverbs 19:21; “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” reiterate the trustworthy and strong care of our sovereign God.

  • Unplanned by Moses, God would raise Him up to be the deliverer of His people from slavery under Pharaoh in Egypt (Exodus 3).
  • Unplanned by Bathsheba, God would restore her honor as she sat at the right hand of her son, Solomon, the king of Israel (2 Kings 2:19).
  • Unplanned resistance to bring the gospel to Asia, God would redirect Paul and his companions to the receptive people of Macedonia (Acts 16:6-10).
  • Unplanned by Esther, God would make her queen to save the Jewish people from horrible destruction (Esther 2:19, 8:11).

What other unplanned (from human-perspective) stories from the Bible come to your mind? Ponder God’s faithful presence and great intention. These true stories encourage faith and trust in God even when our own situations might cause us to feel disorientation, pain, and stress.

While the Bible abounds with examples of the exchange between what was unplanned by man to the redemptive plan of God, history reveals story upon story of God working through the unplanned events and encounters of people.

  • Jim Elliot’s unplanned death brought an entire tribe to repentance.
  • Joni Erickson Tada’s unplanned diving accident led to a worldwide ministry serving the disabled.
  • Chuck Colson’s unplanned criminal actions birthed Prison Fellowship which serves the incarcerated around the globe.

What is the unplanned in your life? Do you notice God’s redemptive movement? Sit in silence with the steadfast love of God and ask Him to show you His plan within the unexpected of your life.

My unplanned cancer led to God’s plan for me to experience more of His presence and transforming movement in my life. God was present with me in the pain of the unplanned heath assessment. He met my fears, confusion, and physical exhaustion with His hope, peace, and spiritual strength.

Scripture comforts us by telling us God “puts our tears into a bottle,” or as another translation states; He records our misery and lists our tears on His scroll; they are all in His record (see Psalm 56:8). Whether God collects our tears or writes them down, He must be present to witness them. God is with us in the planned as well as the unplanned events and encounters of life. His presence neither hides from our pain, nor only celebrates the happy, positive aspects of life. Through both, the Sovereign Lord is with each of us!

Where do you notice God’s presence and peace in the pain of the unplanned of your life?

How will you let God enter into the unplanned you encounter?

For the protagonist in the film, Unplanned, God worked through an unplanned experience in which she assisted in a procedure to open her eyes. God’s plan for healing, wholeness, and freedom often begins with an unplanned occurrence.  Look for the redeeming hand of God within the unplanned moments of life.

 

Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.

Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

Psalm 40:5
Many, Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare.

Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Check out these suggested readings.

Abby Johnson.  Unplanned: The Dramatic True Story of a Former Planned Parenthood Leader’s Eye-Opening Journey across the Life Line.  Carol Stream, IL, 2011.

Charles F. Stanley.  God Has a Plan for Your Life: The Discovery that Makes All the Difference.Nashville, TN. 2008,

Puddles for Prayer: Thank you for praying for upcoming travel and speaking engagements.

April 9  – Lakewood, CO
Rekindle your Soul – MOPS at The Bridge at Bear Creek