Smile! You’re on camera! The sign was posted on a chain link fence that had been put across the running trail. I smiled, waved both arms up high in the air, and then did an about-face. I was disappointed about the roadblock, detour, and unexpected route change, especially since it was a place I had been routinely running for years. I couldn’t help but think about how this sort of thing frequently happens to us in our life journey.

When we have a routine, it is what we know and what we do. It is comfortable. So when all of a sudden we are faced with an unexpected change, it can be challenging for us to switch gears and go with it. However, that is exactly what the Lord wants us to do. 

One of my favorite verses, found in Proverbs 3:5-6, tells us to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” It takes faith and trust in the Lord to be at peace when we are being stretched in new and unknown directions. But if we can just take that step of faith, believing that the Lord has our best in mind, we will find the unfamiliar route, although uncomfortable, full of pleasant surprises and beauty. 

We must be able to stay focused on the Lord if we want to experience the fullness of joy He has for us. If we are busy complaining about how hard things are, chances are, our attitude is going to reflect just that. Jesus doesn’t want us to feel overwhelmed or discouraged. In fact, He wants us to feel excited and follow His lead down the new path He has for us. Trusting in Him, step-by-step, makes it much easier when we encounter the potholes, bumps, or grueling hills of life.

If you are able to take your focus off the detour and the rough road, you will find the Lord places much beauty along the way. And when we start seeing those things, and having a thankful heart, and praising the Lord for all the good in our life, something beautiful begins to blossom. It is a joy that comes only from being content right where the Lord has you, embracing what He is doing in your life. 

I ended up running back on a rough rocky road instead of the smooth dirt trail I was used to running. There were hills, and I was hot and tired. However, as I set out, I discovered I was under an umbrella of towering pine trees, which provided cool shade. The rolling hills were actually refreshing, as I was able to pick up my pace on the downward side. It was quite beautiful with the carpet of pine needles and scattered pine cones that covered the uneven rocky terrain. There were purple sweet peas and wild yellow daisies in the greenery along the banks of the canal. There was a refreshing breeze, and the birds were singing their praises! 

Had I continued with a disgruntled attitude, I would have missed out on the joy. I was glad the Lord had rerouted me. It was a challenge I needed, and I enjoyed the new adventure. The Lord always knows just what we need. It is up to us to rise to the occasion and embrace that roadblock, detour, or unexpected route. Take that step of faith. Psalm 119:105 tells us, “Thy Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path.” You won’t be disappointed!

The Only One

We all have a go-to in life. That something we do when we are upset, or feel bad in some way. For some it may be food, alcohol, smoking, drugs, or other not-so-healthy choices people turn to when trying to escape their own pain and confusion. Some of these activities offer temporary relief. However, the feeling or problem is never really released or dealt with when one seeks to be comforted or numbed by such practices as these.  

I routinely reach for chocolate as a quick mood elevator. Chocolate fixes everything, I always joke! I also love a good run. Running clears my head and releases endorphins into my brain that actually create a feeling of euphoria. These are both also temporary in the way they change my mood, or distract me. Although these both help me and make me feel better, when I am truly troubled there is only one place for me to turn to that offers me complete relief. 

Psalm 46:1 tells us, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” He is the ONLY ONE who truly understands each of us. There may be people close to you that get you, but the Lord, He sees your heart, understands your intentions, and knows just what makes you tick. And when we bring our troubles to Him, our pain to Him, our worries to Him, He is the ONLY ONE who can truly calm our spirit completely. I thank the Lord for all He has done in my life. He is the One who has seen me through hard times. 

Even if our circumstances do not change, just going to the Lord with the issue or problem will, in fact, change things up! When we bring our brokenness to Him, He makes things happen inside our hearts. When we allow the Lord to minister to us where we hide and hold our pain, and have that connection to Christ, He provides amazing strength and peace of mind. Going to the Lord surpasses all other habits or resources. 

If you want to truly be set free of your pain, turn to the Lord. All you need to do is ask for His help and get into His Word. A whole new world and life awaits you when you allow the Lord into your life and give him your failures, pain, or whatever issue you are struggling with. As it says in John 8:32, “ Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Wake up Call

As I peeked down the hall stairwell, I saw it too. It was inside our home. And, it was alive and slithering! Surrounded by paved streets, fenced yards, and plenty of neighbors, I had felt a sense of relief. We live in town now… I don’t need to worry about running into snakes anymore. 

I can’t help but realize my own complacency and false sense of security just because things seemed fine. When we lived out in the country, surrounded by wildlife, I was vigilant about praying. I was concerned about the kids running into snakes, especially rattle snakes. I prayed, according to the promises of Psalm 91. I prayed a hedge of protection around our home and the entire property, that the snakes would not be allowed to enter onto our property, that it would be a safe place for us to live, and that we would NEVER have a run in with a snake. When people would show concern or warn me of the possible dangers, I would tell them, they are not allowed here. Period. No surprise, the Lord was Faithful. We NEVER saw one in all the years we lived in rural wooded properties.   

Seeing this snake inside my home has been a good wake up call for me. I have noticed in my own life, that I need to be vigilant in seeking out time with the Lord, especially when things are going well. Praising Him and having a thankful heart is so important! Spending time with the Lord intentionally, without presenting a need or agenda on our part, is just as essential for our growth in Him during the more peaceful seasons of our life. The Lord enjoys our setting aside special time just for Him. He wants us to be purposeful in seeking Him out. Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” 

On the other hand, when life presents challenges, pressing into the Lord is magnified in our lives as we seek strength and peace of mind. Being in the Word, looking for that nugget of truth to hang onto, knowing in our hearts that the Lord is with us, and that we are going to get through such tough times is imperative. We might fast and pray, and really search out extra time with the Lord. Our prayer life, as a result, is deepened, along with our relationship in the Lord. Beautiful fruit can come from a life of struggles and tumultuous times. Isaiah 43:19 tells us, “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

That snake is now outside of our home. But, the memory is imprinted on my mind. I will always remember the shock of seeing it in my hallway. I thank the Lord for His visual reminders that quicken my spirit into realizing just how easy it is to become complacent when things appear to be fine. Pressing into the Lord, especially during the more peaceful seasons in our life, is just as important for our growth and relationship with the Lord. He deserves our praise, adoration, and most importantly, our attention.

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