Over the past three weeks, Traci and I have been riding a roller coaster of emotions and feelings following the loss of my job, and the reality of facing a very uncertain future. God threw out a big stop sign, and we’ve been in the process of trusting Him while figuring out what’s next for our family. During this process, I’ve come across Psalm 143, and in particular, verses 7-10. Read them as written in The Message translation:
“Hurry with your answer, God!
I’m nearly at the end of my rope.
Don’t turn away; don’t ignore me!
That would be certain death.
If you awake me each morning with the sound of your loving voice,
I’ll go to sleep each night trusting you.
Point out the road I must travel;
I’m all ears, all eyes before you.
Save me from my enemies, God --
You’re my only hope!
Teach me how to live to please you,
because you’re my God.
Lead me by your blessed Spirit
into cleared and level pastureland.”
Those four verses have been powerful reminders in my journey the past few weeks. And here are five lessons God has been teaching me through this time:
- God is never in a hurry, He is never rushed. You and I feel the pinch of time, and we experience the anxiety of watching the sand fall through the hour glass. That’s why David exclaims, “Hurry with your answer...I’m nearly at the end of my rope!” God, however, is never pinched by time. God is never caught off guard by our experiences or sudden changes of direction; instead, He is able to keep a perfect perspective on our lives and circumstances. His timing is always precisely right, because He sees the big picture you and I are unable to see. I can’t remember who said it, but the quote goes something like this: “God is rarely early. He is never late, but He loves to make a grand entrance at ‘just the right moment!’” Indeed. I’m feeling the pinch as we are getting closer and closer to the time we have to decide what’s next about my job, our housing, the kids’ schooling etc... and I’m learning to trust God’s timing, even more, as the clock gets closer to zero.
- God’s love can be found every single day. Each day you and I wake up, is a new day for you and I to experience another facet of God’s love. David said, “If you awake me each morning with the sound of your loving voice...” It really is more of a statement of certainty than it is a statement of possibility. In other words, David is really saying, “Since you wake me up each morning with the sound of your loving voice...” In the mire of daily life, we can sometimes lose sight of the love of God actively playing out in our lives. Trust the Word -- when you don’t feel the love of God it’s not because God has suddenly vacated His commitment to love you! During this time I’ve discovered the love of God in so many details of my life; this hardship has enabled me to see His love more, not less.
- God knows the best path. 23 months ago, when Traci and I packed up our family and took this job in northern Michigan, God already knew that our plans and dreams for this chapter in our life were going to be cut short less than two years after arriving. We were thinking long term, but God knew it was going to be a short-lived experience. Despite the current situation, we both remain confident this was the right move for our family, this was the right path for us to start traveling. If it’s true that God laid this out for us in March of 2013, that means the uncertainty of the path before us in February of 2015, remains the best place for us to be! David can say, “Point out the road I must travel...” because He knows that God knows the best path for this life. I’m truly learning to trust the Lord for the best path, believing that whatever happens on that path is best for me, my wife and my children.
- Obedience is always right. At the end of the day, I’ve learned that obedience is always right no matter what it costs. While I can’t control the words and actions of others, with God’s help, I am able to work on controlling my own words and actions. As I wait for God to reveal the next step in our lives, I must choose to remain obedient to what I know He wants me to do. God delights in the obedience and righteousness of His children, and no matter what circumstances are before me, I can always choose the path of obedience.
- God is leading. I love David’s thoughts in verse 10: “Lead me by your Spirit into cleared and level pastureland.” God is leading me somewhere, even when I don’t know where that somewhere, is. And He is leading me to a place that is cleared and ready for me to be nourished. “Pastureland” is the place where the sheep were fed, and were given rest from their travels. God is leading me somewhere, and when we get there, there will be rest and there will be nourishment. Over the past three weeks I have been reminded that The Good Shepherd hasn’t abandoned His duties as the leader of the flock.
The Overboard Life will constantly challenge you to grow in the expression of your faith. I know I’m being stretched more now than ever before, but I’m also confident that this is precisely where God wants me to be. Are you experiencing the pinch of time or struggling to see God’s love in a particular circumstance? Are you searching for the best path or struggling with obedience? In the busyness of life, have you lost sight of the Shepherd? If any of that describes you, let me encourage you to make Psalm 143:7-10 a part of your life today. Embrace God’s truth and hold fast to the course He has given you.
Go ahead and take the plunge, life is always better on the water.