Tag Archives: friendships

Craving A Word

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. Psalm 42:1

Every night, we’d wait for them. Enjoying the coolness of a northern Michigan evening, my fellow campers would quiet ourselves and wait for the deer to relinquish their hiding places and come to the river for water. It was a highlight of our deer-waterday. The river shimmering in the setting sun seemed to welcome the approaching hush of the forest night. There would be slight movement, a quiet rustling and then timidly, the deer would free themselves from the lush foliage and approach the water’s edge. Once there, they would lower their heads down to the cold water and drink to their hearts content.

Their actions brought Psalm 42:1 alive for me. The deer fought back every fear of exposure to come to the river and drink their fill. How I long to crave God the same way they craved those unhurried sips of water!

God wants us to desire His presence. He won’t tell you about His dreams for your life until He knows you yearn to listen to His voice, to follow His footsteps for the rest of your days. He doesn’t want a debate. He didn’t put you on Earth just so you could say, “Let me think about it.”

No, hearing from God has got to be a necessity just like water is to the deer. You have to say, “God, let me know what You want me to do. I want to hear Your voice. I’ve got to hear it. I yearn to understand what Your vision is for me.”

King David wrote in the book of Psalms, “My God I want to do what you want” and “What I want most of all and at all times is to honor your laws” (Psalm 40:8, Psalm 199:20).

David was passionate in his declaration that what he wanted most was to honor God. It was the deepest desire of his heart. He used words for seeking the presence of God like, “I long for it, “ “I crave it,” “I hunger for it.” And my favorite, as you already know, “I’m like a deer panting for water.”

When you still yourself much like my fellow campers did to watch the deer in the glooming, you are going to hear from God.

That’s because while many people talk to God, but they never hear from God. They make prayer a monologue. You can’t have a relationship with God when it is so one-sided. Relationship only happens through conversation. You talk, then you listen. Just as important as talking to God in prayer is listening to God. You have to still yourself to heard His words. And in order to do that, you’ve got to want it so badly your heart pants for a word from Him.

Peace is a Matter of Perspective

When a mind is stayed on the Lord, peace is ours. That’s what the topic of the panel discussion was at Leadership Training that morning. Let me be perfectly frank: I’m not a big fan of panel discussions. I’ve been to many conventions and conferences. It is extremely rare I come away with great insight from a panel discussion. Whenever one is on the agenda, I tend to hit the snooze button. This one was different.

It wasn’t so much of a discussion as it was 5-minute talks by 5 different women explaining on how they found peace in their lives. They each had a unique story to tell and that’s what caught my attention. Good stories have the ability to transform hearts, stimulate imagination and inspire people. Stories ask questions and inspire conversations. Stories entertain us and make us laugh. More importantly stories open our minds to ideas that might be unfamiliar to us.

But there was one woman whose story grabbed me so much I want to share her wisdom.

Each of us has over 50,000 automatic thoughts each day. If we let negativity creep into those automatic thoughts, we’ll never have peace. So, we must be careful our thoughts uplift and encourage us. She had a simple, daily 5-step process to accomplish this. The steps are hers, the verbiage is mine.

  1. Each morning say a quick surrender prayer to God. Do this before sunriseyou even get out of bed or kneel beside your bed as soon as you get out of it. Lift up the day to God, surrendering all you will do to Him. Remind yourself of God’s promises to protect you, to use you for His glory and to always be with you as you move throughout your day. Every great victory begins with prayer.
  2. Write down gratitudes every day. Researchers have found if you scan for positive things in your life, your brain trains itself to see even more.  Sometimes we get entangled in bad habits, destructive behaviors and fear. But if we turn into God with an attitude of gratitude, He can wash away our wounds.
  3. Journal right. Many of my friends are not into journaling. I love it because it helps me experience the freedom and healing that only comes from being reconciled to God. Make it easy: just expand on your gratitudes. When I quiet myself to write down what makes me thankful, I turn to God, who is reaching out to heal me. Jesus is the One who give us strength. Don’t ever get caught in the trap of turning away from God. If you aren’t the type to put pen to paper, spend time every day thinking and meditating on all the wonderful ways God showed you His love.
  4. Complete a daily act of kindness. We can assure a brighter future by practicing profound kindness. There are times, often in the face of no easy solutions, when we restore each other with the strength of our kindness. This act need not be large or daunting; it can be just a simple as sending out a short text complimenting a friend. Start practicing: say ‘thank you’ to as many people as you can today, hand out as many compliments as you can, maybe even wave at as many truck drivers you see today.
  5. Movement – Each day, get your body into motion. It will enliven your spirit and replenish your heart. It could be taking a walk to soak in the beauty of nature or something even smaller like hugging someone who wouldn’t expect it.

Peace grows in our hearts when we share our love with others with our eyes locked on Jesus. The world may be divisive and seek to destroy our peace, but what changes our world is sharing and giving away His amazing grace. We get more peace when we spread it through our love.

The world can wear you down, even on good days. Yet, peace is not only possible, it is available in abundance through Christ. Learn to be so intimate with Christ, people will want to imitate you.  Peace only comes when a mind stays focused on God.

Rescuing Max

I wanted to celebrate! Knowing that afternoon was the end of a grueling public speaking class, I made arrangements to have dinner with a friend. The night signaled the end of speech writing, practicing and worse yet, standing in front of a camera to be videotaped. It was time for salad, garlic bread and fettuccini. And fun!

Living between my friend’s house and the restaurant, I asked her if she’d like to split the driving. She could drive to my house and I’d drive the rest of the way to our evening’s destination. When she arrived at my home, seeing she was clearly upset, I asked, “What’s wrong?”

“Do you know the owner of a golden retriever or maybe a golden lab?”

I shook my head no. “Why?”

“When I pulled into your subdivision, I noticed one walking aimlessly around. There didn’t seem to be anyone with him and I am worried.” Still, she hopped into my car and we prepared to leave.

golden retrieverDriving a little further down the street, we saw him – a golden dog sniffing the ground just out for a stroll by himself. I decided to turn my car to follow him down the street. He was an older dog, so it didn’t seem like he would be hard to catch. Would he even come to us? Fortunately, he ducked into a garage and walked around the car located inside. My friend stood at one end of the car; I stood at the other.

The dog didn’t seem to like my friend, but he came directly to me. Soon, I was holding him by his collar and reading his tags. Max, it said. Max Horton. And beside that both an address and a phone number. Pay dirt!

Because it was my car and I own a dog, I grabbed a leash from the back seat, put it on Max and lead him to my car. He jumped right into my backseat covered with blankets to protect the leather from my dog’s claws.

Calling the phone number got us voice mail, so we decided to drive Max to his house. As we made the last turn onto the street, a few teenage boys stood at the corner. One of them yelled, “Max!” As soon as I stopped my car, the boy opened the door and began hugging his newly found dog. This truly heartfelt reunion almost made two grown women cry.

The Lord directs the ways of the godly. He delights in every detail of their life. Psalm 37:23.

Both my friend and I were reminded once again God is always one step ahead of us. When my friend and I were making plans, the original plan was to meet at the restaurant since the end time of my class might be fluid. She was willing to be flexible, so we changed our plans and decided I’d call her once home and we’d go together. This meant she’d see Max on the way to my house and I’d be driving a car that was not only dog-proofed, but also contained a very necessary item: a dog leash. God had orchestrated our steps to help a needy canine.

It isn’t just dogs that need rescuing. Even though we are anxious about what is happening in our lives, God goes before us. He knew you would encounter a difficulty even before you were born and He has been planning its resolution since then.

If you are going through a rough patch in a relationship, God goes before you. He directs the steps of the godly. This means it’s up to God to be the director. Your job is to follow His direction. When we want to be in control, following is tough. But always remember, when you are navigating your life, God cannot direct you to His best.

All of us belong to a loving God. He is Lord and the sole director of our lives. It is only His grace that we are rescued and redeemed. No matter where your path is going –  through the weeds or to a sunny mountaintop victory – God is always directing your steps. He is writing a beautiful story worth telling. Keep trusting Him and keep walking in His grace. He will always be one step ahead of you.