Planovers

index“Planovers.”

Someone across the table named what we were talking about: when you prepare enough food with a plan for the overage to supply later meals.

Planovers.

Sometimes we look in the frig to see what we can use for leftovers, but planovers are something different. They are more intentional.

I wonder how we can be just as intentional about our spiritual nourishment. What if we stopped worshiping, studying, or praying enough for the now, feasting for the moment but not investing in the future? Sure, we might pray for the future, but are we truly relinquishing the future, ready and willing to do exactly what is necessary in the here and now? Or are our prayers more about hopes and dreams that we continue to measure as we progress? We might worship in the present during weekend services yet wonder why we’re already spiritually exhausted on Monday afternoon. We might set aside blocks of time for study but we have difficulty remembering anything, or if we do remember, we compartmentalize it instead of applying it in our daily lives.

We feel like we just don’t have enough left over at times, but what if we planned an overage instead of just hoping for one? I know there are times we can (and should) only gather, hold, and use so much, like the Israelites and manna. But many other times, God gives us not what we need right now but something we can’t understand how we will need in the future. When we trust Him, rely on Him, and respond to Him well, even when we don’t understand, we have planovers, not because of our own planning but because of His.

And I am thankful.

 

Yielding to the Map

yieldYou make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. (Psalm 16:11)

My dad loves maps. He often sat in his chair at night with a large atlas in front of him. When he interviewed for a job which included helping motorists with directional and other assistance, he was given several maps and a situation: “If someone calls from town A and wants to get to town B, what instructions would you give?”

Without looking at a single map, my dad asked, “The fastest, shortest, or more scenic route?” then proceeded to give specific direction options.

My dad’s trip plans took us to some beautiful, off-the-beaten-path places. A couple times his plans took us to a less-than-desirable road, like the one-lane gravel road through the Colorado Rockies.

I can say the same about life plans. Sometimes plans work out exceptionally well, and sometimes something unexpected gets in the way and takes us somewhere we don’t expect. The road is bumpy, unfamiliar, and treacherous.

The best plan we can make is to seek and follow God’s plans. He knows when it’s best for us to take the fastest route. He lets us know when it’s better to take the shortest or fastest routes in spite of the time either might take. He knows when the scenic route is worthwhile. He always knows the best option, every turn of the journey.

Even as you follow God’s plan, the journey won’t be perfect. There will be bumps, detours, and confusion. There’s an essential sign along the road of God’s plan for you: Yield. Yield to God’s plan, and you’ll be where you’re supposed to be, even when you think your plan might be better.

Pay attention to the yield sign today, letting God determine your direction and pace.

The Next Step

No matter where you are in life, the next step is often the most difficult to take. It’s exciting, frightening, breath-taking, daunting, lonely, reassuring, promising, and shaky. I don’t know what your next step is. I don’t know what your next breath requires. But I know this. God is God. He is purposeful. He longs for you to choose to take the next step with Him. He knows just how you feel. He’s ready. Are you?

Changing God’s Mind

waitGodchangemindI didn’t want to make the hospital visit.

It had nothing to do with a hesitation to make a hospital visit, because I do it often. I don’t have issues with the discomfort of difficult medical and emotional situations involved with hospital visits. Not that I like to see people in the hospital; I’d rather visit them in their homes when they’re feeling great, but we all know that’s not always possible. People get sick, and they need support. I’m honored and humbled when I get to briefly walk with someone through a trying experience.

No, it wasn’t about the patient’s situation; it was about my discomfort in a different area. I was concerned with the turmoil I might walk into because of some tenuous family relationships. I anticipated the possibility of significant tension with a family member, and I just didn’t want to risk it.

But God had another plan.

When I received a text that the person needed some visits that day, I could quickly dismiss the possibility. After all, my day was swamped. I couldn’t possibly make the necessary adjustments. But then my lunch date cancelled, and I knew…

After taking care of some responsibilities at church, I began the dilly-dally, doing some unimportant things. I messed with my phone, returned some emails, made some copies I didn’t need to make that day, and so on. After about thirty minutes, the secretary asked, “Um, Susan…what are you hanging around for so long?” Not that she minded me being there. She’s just used to me running around, not hanging around. I told her the truth.

“I know I’m supposed to do something, but I don’t want to, so I’m waiting around to see if God will change his mind.”

She chuckled, “And how is that working for you?”

It wasn’t.

Okay, okay. Off to the hospital I went.

It was a fantastic visit. I was so glad I went. There were not issues, but even if there had been, I have no doubt God would have given me whatever I needed for the situation.

I don’t know why I think I can play games with God and come out ahead. He always wins.

What are you supposed to do today that you’re trying to avoid? Get to it. God isn’t going to change his mind.

Settling Into Anticipation

settlinganticipationI find rest in God; only he gives me hope. He is my rock and my salvation. He is my defender; I will not be defeated. My honor and salvation come from God. He is my mighty rock and my protection. People, trust God all the time. Tell him all your problems, because God is our protection. (Psalm 62:5-8)

When we trust God, we sit back and settle into his peace and presence at the same time we lean forward in anticipation of his leading. It seems as if we’d have to choose between leaning back and leaning forward, but the two go hand in hand.

The problem is we often want to respond in what’s most natural or comfortable to us. We want to lean back in order to be comfortable and safe. We want to lean forward in how we plan, what we think is best, and how we can control a situation. God really isn’t invested in any of those responses. His way isn’t comfortable. Sure, we can get comfortable with the uncertainty of seeking and following God’s will, but it’s not comfort as we would define it. And God’s will is certainly not safe. We can be secure in who he is and who he says we are, but security and safety aren’t synonymous. And as far as leaning forward in how we plan, what we think is best, and how we can control a situation…well, our planning, thinking, and controlling doesn’t even begin to compare with God’s. The best we can plan is to intentionally seek and follow God. The best we can think is on the things of God. The best we can control is our focus on God.

Consider how you need to sit back and settle into God’s peace and presence.

Consider how you need to lean forward in anticipation of God’s leading.

You don’t have to choose. God intends for you to experience both. It’s time to settle into anticipation!

You Can’t Do It On Your Own

pitYou can reclaim some things and cannot reclaim others. In a world of self-sufficiency, being told you can’t do something likely doesn’t sit well with you. Yet no one person can do everything, and there is one thing you cannot do on your own no matter how hard you try. You cannot reclaim yourself.

One of the definitions of reclaim reflects a rescue from an undesirable place or condition. That’s just where you will encounter a problem. You cannot get yourself out of a pit. You might not even realize you’re in a pit. You’ve been in it so long that it’s all you know, or you’ve made it so comfortable that you have little or no motivation to leave it. Even if you want to crawl out of the pit, how can you defy gravity to the higher elevation of ground level? It might seem like a despairing situation, but there’s a plan. It’s God’s plan, and all you have to do is let him reclaim you. In fact, he already has. He’s extended his hand into the pit, but you have to reach out to him.

Even if you reached out to God years ago and are unable to recall a time you didn’t have a relationship with him, you likely have areas of your life which you need him to reclaim. You regularly visit a pit, which you thought was not a big deal, because at first, you just played in the ground a bit. Then you dug just a little deeper and a little deeper until you were actually in over your head. Trudging back and forth from that pit is exhausting you.

Perhaps you have a pit someone dug for you. You were thrown in. Or you fell in with no intention. Whatever the reason for the pit, it’s a pit. It’s preventing you from walking on level ground, the ground God intends for you to claim and journey. In order for you to claim what God has planned, you’ll need to trust him to reclaim you first. Today is a good day.

Dig Into God’s Word…

God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son so that whoever believes in him may not be lost, but have eternal life. God did not send his Son into the world to judge the world guilty, but to save the world through him. (John 3:17-17)

So when Joseph came to his brothers, they pulled off his robe with long sleeves and threw him into the well. It was empty, and there was no water in it. While Joseph was in the well, the brothers sat down to eat. When they looked up, they saw a group of Ishmaelites traveling from Gilead to Egypt. Their camels were carrying spices, balm, and myrrh. Then Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and hide his death? Let’s sell him to these Ishmaelites. Then we will not be guilty of killing our own brother. After all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.” And the other brothers agreed.

So Joseph said to them, “Come close to me.” When the brothers came close to him, he said to them, “I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold as a slave to go to Egypt. Now don’t be worried or angry with yourselves because you sold me here. God sent me here ahead of you to save people’s lives.” (Genesis 37:23-27;45:4-5)

No one can buy back the life of another. No one can pay God for his own life. (Psalm 49:7)

Let us, then, feel very sure that we can come before God’s throne where there is grace. There we can receive mercy and grace to help us when we need it. (Hebrews 4:16)

Live It Out Loud…

Make a fist with one hand and extend the arm with the closed fist straight in front of you. Without moving your body—just your arm—watch how far your fist extends. While still extending your arm, open your fist. Notice how much farther the simple act of opening your hand extends your reach. Nothing is beyond God’s reach. Pay attention to how you’re receiving him. Keeping your hands close to yourself might be comfortable but not very helpful in reaching out to God. Reaching with a clenched fists limits your reach as well as what can be placed in your hand. Stretch yourself for God with every millimeter you have.

Being Resolute in Today

So God planned another day, called “today.” He spoke about that day through David a long time later in the same Scripture used before: “Today listen to what he says. Do not be stubborn.” — Psalm 95:7-8 (Hebrews 4:7)

Is the majority of your focus on yesterday, today, or tomorrow?

How much do you take today for granted?

What do you have planned for today?

We can easily become so consumed with the yesterdays and tomorrows of our lives that we miss out on the todays. Yesterdays are simply past todays that we can no longer change. However, we can change how we respond to yesterdays in our today. Tomorrows are simply future todays we cannot yet live. However, we can prepare for our tomorrows in our today. Yesterdays and tomorrows shape our todays; there’s no doubt about that. We can’t completely ignore yesterdays and tomorrows, yet they often consume our todays. Today is what we have to live fully right now. Why waste it?

There are possibilities in today. We can grasp the moment we have or resign ourselves to it. We can find purpose or meaninglessness, be encouraged or discouraged, and stand on a firm foundation or stumble across shaky ground. God gives us many choices, but he gives them to us one at a time. We often focus on the big opportunities of our days – or we turn something small into something big – and we’re soon so consumed with one thing that we miss out on many others. Or we focus so much on the way in which we reached our today, basically focused on yesterday, that we miss out on the opportunity to shape our tomorrows. You get only one today. As you read this, the moment is gone. You can’t grasp the moment and keep it. You can only choose well and live it fully. Will you?

Keep a small notebook with you and jot one word each time you experience the opportunities God is providing you through the day. As you experience God more, you’ll watch for, notice, and acknowledge him more.