Enjoy the Ride! Or Not!

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I grew up fascinated with horses; I grew up in Houston. The two did not go together too well. No matter how much I pleaded, I just could not have a horse. So my mother did the next best thing. She drove me faithfully, every Saturday morning, 45 minutes one way to Westheimer Stables where I rented a horse for one hour.  Every week it was the same, the horse plodded away from the barn at a rate that would make a sloth jealous.  No matter how much prodding I did,  no matter how hard I kicked, I could never get them to break into a trot leaving the barn. I took, what seemed to me , like forever to get anywhere.  Every week, I hoped, this would be the Saturday I was successful in getting the horse to go even a little bit faster. Every week, I failed.

Returning to the barn,  however, was totally different. What took 50 minutes to cover at a walk, now took 10 to cover at a gallop.  No matter how hard I tried, I could never get them to do anything less than all out gallop. I grew to love that part. It only lasted a few minutes but it was the highlight of my week (once I got over being scared).

Looking back, I can’t help but wonder about what seems so obvious now. Why spend so much time trying to change something I couldn’t change? Why not instead, sit back and relax and enjoy the slow, seemingly tedious walk away from the stables. If I had, maybe that part of the ride wouldn’t seem so frustrating.  Maybe with a little practice, I would have noticed enjoyable things along the way  – the sun on my face, the rhythm of the horse, the wonderful sound of hooves on the ground.  Who knows what wonders I missed? Those rides took place nearly 45 years ago and yet, I can remember them like they were yesterday. I remember thinking that if I did something different this week, the horse would respond better. And when every attempt of mine failed, I remember thinking that it was my fault. Weird, right? I mean these are rental horses who do this daily over and over and over again like robots. But I wanted my ride to be different and when it wasn’t I felt like I failed.

That theme replays over and over again in my life – trying to change what isn’t mine to change and letting the failure of those attempts lessen my belief in me. If there is a lesson in the rental horses, it should be just this – if I truly employed the message of the Serenity prayer, I could sit back and enjoy the ride cherishing the parts I like without letting the parts I don’t like steal too much from me.  I can only change what is within my power to change and rest in the fact that God can take care of the remainders.  And prayerfully, with God’s grace, it won’t take me 45 years to know the difference.

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pic credit: besthorsesupplies.com

pic credit: whiskedawaykenya.com

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Something New

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Do not call to mind the former things,

or ponder things of the past.

Behold, I will do something new,

Now it will spring forth;

Will you not be aware of it? 

Isaiah 43:18-19

I have made the mistake of looking back. Looking back at times when God healed me, instantly and not so instantly. I’ve even looked back on days when my walk with the Lord was more spontaneous, more joyful than it is right now and yearned for a return to those days.  Then I read this verse and am encouraged to look ahead, to whatever the something new is that God wants to do in my life. I don’t want to miss it because I am looking back and making comparisons.

It’s all too easy to think God is going to do something the way He did before. It’s too easy to build doctrine on experiences and then limit God to our expectations. When Jesus walked on the earth, though, and healed people, He used different methods. Once He put spit in someone’s eye (I’d rather we didn’t build a doctrine on that!). Another time, He spoke the word of healing over a person and still another time He touched them. Once, instead of ministering physical healing, He extended forgiveness for sins and followed that with “be healed”. If we were to camp out on the things of the past, perhaps He would have used one method and encouraged us to stick with it, but He didn’t.

Whatever my pathway to healing, whatever my walk with the Lord is, it is for now, not back then. I want to be aware of the something new He wants to do in my life when it springs forth. I can appreciate those healings and those days for what they were, but I need to appreciate these days, more specifically this day for what it is, for all that it is. When God does a new thing, it will be amazing, of that I am sure.

Help me Lord to appreciate today for what it is – a chance for a new beginning, a day with Your mercies for me being brand new, a day to see You do a new thing in my life, a day full of opportunities and blessings waiting for me to discover. Forgive me for all the days I have lost contemplating an old thing, even a wonderful old thing like the ways You healed me. You who healed me yesterday are the same today and forever and I praise You for that. I ask that You lead me on this new pathway to healing, help me to be open to the methods that You decide are best for me, help me to humbly follow and graciously accept what You are doing in my life, today. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Cape Disappointment

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Some time ago, my son and I read a book about a dog named Seaman*.  This is a Newfoundland who traveled with Lewis and Clark.  The story is told from the dog’s perspective and shares writings from their journals.  It was a great read.  Seaman tells the story of their arrival at the point where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Coast.  The story goes that Lewis and Clark named this spot Cape Disappointment because the purpose of their journey was to discover a trade route to the Indies and clearly the ocean stopped them.  And they were disappointed.

Other historians say the area was name Cape Disappointment by the explorer John Meares.  He was a British fur trader in search of a trade route and after encountering a storm at this cape, turned his ship around and just missed the discovery of the Columbia River and gave the cape the name Disappointment.  So close and yet…

Either way, an incredibly, breath-taking spot on the coast was tagged Cape Disappointment.  Standing there one day with my family, I couldn’t help but be blown away by that thought.  The journey Lewis and Clark made was epic, what they did for our nation is legend and yet they ended disappointed.  The destination was more important than all the discoveries and sights they had made along the way.  What a sad commentary.

It could be our commentary too.  Whatever our destination, wherever we believe we are headed towards, if we don’t enjoy the journey, the end could be a disappointment.  I think of being healed at times as a destination – when I am healed I will…   That day standing at Cape Disappointment, I knew my journey had to become more than a waiting game.  I made a list of things I can do and would love to do even if I am not healed.  And I purposed to be here now, pain and all, to find ways to enjoy the moments of my life to my best ability.  I feel reasonably certain that I won’t do anything as epic and Lewis and Clark, but I can leave a legacy of hope and faith and offer the gift of being present with whomever I happen to be with.

When I get to the end of my journey, I would love to be able to say I counted it all joy as opposed to calling it a disappointment.  What about you?  Are you purposing to enjoy this present moment?  Or are you living with the mindset that things will be better when________________ (fill in the blank)?  What would be your bucket list of things you could do now so that the journey becomes the highlight and not a disappointment?

Father God, You who created the heavens and the earth and filled them with wonders beyond description.  How it must grieve Your heart when I miss those evidences of Your love because I am awash with my own self-absorbed thoughts and plans.  Open my eyes to Your wonders all along the way to the destination You have purposed for me.  Help me to count it all joy.  Everyday is a blessing from You, help me to use my moments and my days to Your glory and Your honor.  In Jesus’ name Amen.

*It is called, “The Captain’s Dog: My Journey with the Lewis and Clark Tribe by Roland Smith

Be Here Now!

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I had a dream the other night.  In this dream I was going somewhere and it seemed to be a long way away.  I was tired and had been walking a long time and for whatever reason, I was carrying a heavy backpack. Seemed heavy enough to be filled with rocks but I don’t know what was in it because I never stopped to look.  In the dream, I felt a sense of urgency.  Stopping to look in the backpack would only slow me down.  So I never looked.  I just kept on trudging along.

A little further on in this dream, I was still walking, still in a hurry, only this time I had on my back a blue kid’s wading pool. We have one like that in our backyard.  It is a carry over from when we bred dogs.  The pool was the nursery for the pups and their mother.  I kept it because I might someday breed my dog again.  It sits in the backyard and is pretty useless other than for puppies because it is cracked and won’t even hold water.  I have no desire to breed dogs again, but there it sits.

In the dream, I am worn out and exhausted and pushing to get somewhere with this awkward pool on my back.  After what seems like a very long time of this, I wake up.

I am no expert on dreams but this is my take on that dream.  I think the backpack represents my past and is full of things I carry along with me – baggage I would be better off without – regrets, hurts, wounds, broken relationships, missed opportunities, etc. We all have that and it is hard to stop and take a look at what is there and let it go.  Painful even.  But in my dream it was obvious that my progress to whatever destination I was headed was drastically impeded by the weight of objects in that backpack.

I can’t change the past.  I can forgive others and myself and I can let go.  I can quit beating myself up over past mistakes; I can release others from their past mistakes as well. I can lighten that load and move on but only by God’s grace.  I can’t do that on my own; I know, I have tried.  So once again I lay my backpack at the foot of the cross and ask for the grace to leave it there.

The pool represents the future – the things I hang onto because I might one day…  Letting go of my fears about the future is a little bit harder.  The future is so unknown and I like knowing where I am going.  I am not getting younger and the questions about my future sometime scream pretty loud at me.  Unlike God, I can’t see the end from the beginning.

What I can do, however, is learn to rest in the provision of God and take my concerns about the future to Him. Day by day,  hour by hour or even minute by minute if need be.

I can trust in His word that tells me my future is in His hands.  I don’t know the date my healing will manifest, only that it will, until then I have this moment.  I can be here now or I can give away this moment by reliving the past or fretting about the future, neither of which I can change.

If I practice these things, letting go of the past and laying down my future, then I can more easily enter this present moment which is really all I have and even that is not mine, it belongs to God.  I have come to believe that living in this present moment, recognizing the gifts and the wonder and the grace that abound in this present moment and giving myself to it in faith is not only a sacrifice but an act of worship; an act of recognizing God for all that He is and receiving of His grace to cover my past and provide for my future so I can just be here now.  Even if what I am going through is difficult or painful.  It’s not easy and sometimes I forget, but as I purpose to be here now and remember to let go,  I hope and pray it becomes my reality.

What about you?  Are you carrying around extra weight, weight you would be better off without?  Could you just leave it with Jesus?

All-Knowing God, You who see the end from the beginning, can I just hold Your hand right now?  I feel naked when I let go of worry and planning – like something that is terribly familiar is strangely missing.  Can You fill in those gaps in me?  If I let go of fear, will You fill me with Your peace, one moment at a time?  And if I try to pick it up again, will You gently whisper to me that You’ve got this?  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Are We There Yet?

There is an appointed time for everything.  And there is a time for every event under heaven … a time to heal.  Ecclesiastes 3: 1, 3

You have probably done road trips with kids who are constantly asking, “are we there yet?”  In the days before every kid owned some kind of electronic device to keep them busy or cars came with movie screens, I would pack up things for them to do while we were driving.  No matter how carefully I planned for their entertainment, they were still asking that same question.  Constantly.   Are we there yet? Generally, my response would be, “would we still be driving if we were there?”

If healing is my destination, this verse assures me that I will get there.  Am I there yet?  No. But there is an appointed time for my healing and for yours.  My timetable isn’t the same as God’s; much as I would like Him to heal on my schedule, He hasn’t.  But healing delayed is not healing denied. I have had arthritis in my knees for forty years but I still believe there is an appointed time for me to walk without pain.  I will make it to my destination.  What is your destination?

When I read further on in this chapter of Ecclesiastes I find where Solomon, full of wisdom, comes to this conclusion – that there is nothing better for them (you, me) than to rejoice and to do good in one’s lifetime; moreover, that every man (woman, child) who eats and drinks sees good in all his labor – it is the gift of God.

If our life is like a road trip, we can spend it asking the question – are we there yet? or we can spend it seeing good in all our labor and rejoicing and doing good in our lifetime.  If we are preoccupied with the destination, we miss the journey.  I have heard that referred to as Destination Disease!  Like any disease it is one that eats away at the good things in our lives and purposes to keep our thoughts and attentions away from finding joy in this present moment.

Focusing on this present moment requires intention.  It requires that we stop asking the question about our arrival and start finding something to celebrate right here, right now.  By God’s grace we can do that, one present moment at a time.  We will arrive at our destination – there is an appointed time for it.  The question becomes will we make the most of our trip or wish it away focusing on the destination?

Thank You Father, that there is appointed time for my healing.  Forgive me for my impatience and my willingness to let go of this moment because I am so focused on some future moment.  I am so grateful that You hold all my moments and Your plans come to pass in my life in your timetable.  Grant me the grace I need as I chose to rejoice in this day, the day You have made and leave my destination in Your hands.  Amen