Devotion of the Week | Pearls of Promise | Page 88

God Allows Roadblocks

“But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea blown and tossed by the wind.” (James 1:6)

roadblock

No one likes a roadblock, especially when you think you’re traveling the right direction. Didn’t the GPS lead me here, you think, as you turn around, and figure another way to reach your destination.

But today, I’m here to tell you that God doesn’t always use roadblocks to stop us from going down a path. Sometimes, like our navigation system, he tells us to proceed in a direction, and allows a blockade, so that he can be the one to bulldoze through it. It is then we know definitively the mission is from him, and that he is to receive all the glory for it.

Balaam1

The story of Balaam provides a great example. The king of the Moabites, Balak, wanted to hire a popular soothsayer, Balaam, to curse Israel. God allowed Balaam to go to Moab, but told him to say and do only what he told him to say and do. No cursing! So Balaam obediently went to Moab, but was intercepted by an Angel of the Lord blocking the road. You may know the story. The donkey saw the Angel, but Balaam missed the holy stop sign three different times.

Now why would God tell Balaam to go to Moab, then block him with such an ominous detour?

God knew Balaam’s heart was divided. He was a worshipper of many gods, including the one true God. The Lord may have known deep down, Balaam wanted a big payday for cursing Israel, rather than blessing them. Through the roadblock, God wanted to make sure there was no turning back for Balaam, in his mind, or in his actions.

When I felt a call from God to attend seminary, God knew I was waffling on the assignment, so he sent a couple of roadblocks my way. First, our car was stolen out of our driveway. You never recover what you owe on a car, so having to buy a new vehicle would prohibit us from affording the additional cost of seminary. Already getting cold feet about seminary, I told God “If you want me to go, you’ll have to bring the car back.”

It looked like a lost cause, but four days later, after a high-speed chase with the thieves, our SUV was recovered in perfect condition, with a full tank of gas.

The second roadblock had to do with financial aid. When I filled out paperwork for seminary, and for financial aid, I put an initial for my middle name on one form, and my full middle name on another. Because the names didn’t match, I was denied financial aid. I protested with the school, and they said the money was all gone.

It was another roadblock, and I used it to weasel out of seminary. I can remember sitting in the parking lot of my workplace, telling God that if he didn’t pull off a miracle for financial aid, I was going to defer school for a year. When I went up to my office and turned on my computer, there was an email saying, “Congratulations, you have just received a 40% tuition reduction grant.”

It was at that point I realized, the roadblocks were allowed by God, so he could move them out of the way, and open up the path he created for me. After these experiences, I never doubted my call, and I knew there would be no turning back, no matter how difficult school got, at test time or when writing a thirty-page paper.

If you are facing a roadblock in your life right now, and you’re confused because you thought it was a path that God chose for you, don’t be discouraged. Ask the Lord to plow through the roadblock. If he does, don’t look back, and never doubt the direction he has taken you. (LBW)

A Different Kind of “Left Behind” Story

Left Behind

Watching Nicholas Cage in the Left Behind movie reminded me of a time over ten years ago. I read that Cage’s mother suffered from depression, having to be hospitalized during his childhood, so because I went through a similar scenario with my mother, I wanted to write and encourage him. Nicholas Cage’s superstar status didn’t scare me. I spent almost twenty years as a sports reporter covering superstar athletes, and learned early on that timidity would not get me the interview.

Loop 410

As I was driving to work, I began to draft the letter in my mind, when my whole world turned upside down, literally. The highway flipped from one side to the other, causing my heart to race. I immediately pulled over, frightened, and shaking after what happened. But numerous heart tests later, doctors were unable to figure out why my world went topsy-turvy, and referred to it as an “event” they could not explain. All I know is that because of it, I never revisited the letter to Cage.

But today, in light of the release of Left Behind, the timing seems right to share with you what I would have said had I followed through on that correspondence. Instead of a letter addressed to Cage, this one is to all of you who have ever been “left behind” emotionally or physically by a parent.

Dear Wounded Ones,

You may still be running from parents who disappointed you as a child. Maybe they didn’t love you enough. Maybe they hurt you repeatedly. Maybe they were gone all the time, either emotionally, or physically. Could it be that you’re running, because if you stand still too long, you’re worried you’ll become them? I know, because that was my mindset.

Throwing yourself into your career may help you manage the pain. Alcohol and drugs may anesthetize you, so you don’t feel the pain. A life in another city or state may distance you from the pain, but it’s only Jesus who can reach into your wound and heal you from the pain.

I know, because when God allowed my television career to crash, and I surrendered my life to him, the first place he went was to the old wounds. He knew unless they were healed, I would never be able to fulfill the destiny he planned for me in ministry.

It was only through the strength of Christ that I gave up a national sports reporting career and moved from the northeast to return home to San Antonio, and honor my mother. Nothing had changed with my mom. In fact, she got worse after I left for college, and was now living in a group home. She still couldn’t give me the love or support I desired, but I was the one who had transformed, and God helped me to see her through his eyes, and to eventually forgive her. By the time she passed away, I can honestly say I loved my mother, nothing short of a miracle.

The Bible says, when we accept Christ, we are a new creation. The old has gone away. In the case of a difficult parent, the old memories are always there, but the chains of the nightmares are broken, and they no longer have the same stranglehold on us. I can’t explain how Christ did it, but he healed me supernaturally when nothing else worked before.

What’s stopping you from letting Jesus do some surgery on your heart? He can’t begin the process of healing you until you invite him in to operate. He’s a physician who understands your pain, better than anyone else.

“Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we consider him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53: 4-5).

If you can’t escape the past, try giving the past, and your life completely to Christ. The Word says, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

It’s time to discard all the other short-term remedies, and seek Jesus for eternal help. What do you have to lose? Has anything else worked?

It’s better than being “left behind” again.

Sincerely,

Lisa Burkhardt Worley, Healed and No Longer Running

 

 

 

Dancing Again by Joy Lewis

JoyLewisToday’s guest blogger is Joy Lewis. Joy is the founder and president of Joy and Company. a ministry that promotes and supports the reading, writing, application, and circulation of faith based literature. Joy is the co-host of “The Review with Joy and Company” with Rosemary Legrand, where she and Rosemary review new Christian books that are out. You can find the show on The Word, 100.7 in Dallas at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday’s; however, the show is seasonal and is currently taking a break. Joy also hosts the Christian Literary Awards in Dallas each November, where she and her team honor the best Christian books that have come out in the current year. You can find Joy at: www.joyandcompany.org and at www.christianliteraryawards.com.

Joyonbed

Recently one Saturday morning, I awoke around 2:00 am from an uncomfortable sleep on the sofa. Every muscle in my body ached.  Surely an 18-wheeler had run off course, into my den and rolled right over me.  I sat up somewhat discombobulated and found myself feeling a bit overwhelmed, unaccomplished, and outright disheartened.  I was haunted by memoirs of past mistakes, a scale with ever increasing numbers, and a strong desire to pull the covers over my head and sleep for the next six months or more.

I felt justified, since I was in fact mourning the passing of several loved ones. But we all know most times any ol’ excuse will do. To top things off, in a few weeks, I would be visited by yet another birthday. No big deal right? I mean I have already had 55 of them.

They come the same time every year, so it’s not like it was a surprise and I didn’t know it was coming.  But for some reason, the thought of this upcoming visit caused me to lower my head and count teardrops.  I reached for the uneaten portion of last night’s fast food dinner and with arm extended in mid-air… I STOPPED, looked up and yelled, “FATHER, HELP ME!”  I cupped my hands to my face and cried until I slumped backward on the sofa in exhaustion.

I laid in the stillness of the wee morning and suddenly heard, “Go Dancing.” It was a soft, somewhat muted sound, and I wasn’t sure what I heard, so by instinct I sat up and said, “What?”  After all, I knew I heard something.  Once again, but this time louder and more distinctly, “GO DANCING”.

dancing

I jumped off the sofa, and with hands on my hips, I pronounced matter-of-factly, “I am going back to my dance class!” (As though it were my idea).  I picked up last night’s mess, took a hot bath, and went to bed properly.  I awoke about 9:00 am, turned on my favorite Pandora station and cleaned my house with vigor.  I was excited, because on Sunday evening I would be dancing.  Later that evening instead of going to the closest fast food eatery I made a beautiful salad, and ate my heart content.  When thoughts of my upcoming birthday returned, instead of crying; with great enthusiasm I picked up pen and pad and began writing out my bucket list.   When I was done, I choose the most right now achievable item to give myself as a birthday gift.

I retired properly and awoke, excited to go to church and came home to prepare for dance class.  I was on a mission to let nothing interfere.  When I received a call from a friend to go out to dinner, I declined, as I proudly explained I had started back dancing.  It was a wonderful evening that left me sore but surged with excitement. Early Monday morning I scheduled swim lessons to commence on the morning of my birthday.

My birthday has come and gone, and though I wake up on Saturday mornings feeling revisited by an 18-wheeler, it is not because I greet Friday nights with fast foods and Netflix.

swimming

Today, with eight weeks of dancing, and three swim lessons behind me, I have swum the length of the pool twice and can do the “double turn- behind the back” maneuver on the dance floor with ease and finesse.  Unhealthy food is losing its enticing appeal, and I am loving smoothies, salads and grilled veggies.

“I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; He heard my cry for mercy.  Because He turned his ear to me, I will call on Him as long as I live.”…….Psalm 116:1……read in its entirety and BE BLESSED!!

 

 

 

Your Life in Three Panels

“…Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it onto completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)

crayons

The exercise was to use crayons and draw your life in three panels. Not an artist, this kind of exercise sends me into a cold sweat, but I attempted to put my life on paper using rudimentary drawings.

We were then supposed to explain our storyboard to someone else at our table. To my surprise, the woman I paired up with used the same image on her first panel, a horse. What were the odds of that? I wondered what the horse represented in her life?

As her story began to unfold, she said she grew up in the country, and horses represented happy things. Her childhood was good and horses did not bring back bad memories. She had a very different start in life than I did.

horse drawing

She probably couldn’t tell by my artwork that my first panel also contained a horse. I explained to her that I grew up being afraid of horses, because my grandmother always asked me, “You’re not riding horses are you?” The reason she quizzed me often about that is because she feared I would suffer the same fate as my father, who died of a heart attack while on a horse, playing polo at age 39.

While it wasn’t the horse’s fault, the horse represented the beginning of a dysfunctional childhood, due to my father’s death two months before I was born.

I realized that both my new friend’s and my life began with a horse, but God wove our lives in very different paths from that starting point.

A peaceful beginning vs. a tragic beginning, yet each of us were trying to make a difference by sharing a testimony about our lives.

God has created a different tapestry for each of us, yet our life experiences are woven together to be used for God’s glory. He wants us to be open and honest about the valleys and the mountaintop encounters because both can encourage others.

As you read through the Bible, it is full of honest accounts about people’s lives, the good, the bad and the ugly. Many had a rough start like I did, but by the grace of God and Jesus’ strength, they stood victorious at the end.

Today, the horse represents victory for me. I live in a neighborhood with streets named after horse racing tracks or horse terminology. And every time I turn into my subdivision, two horse heads stare at me as I turn towards my house.

Coincidence? I don’t think so. It is a daily reminder of how far God has brought me from my start.

What beginning did you have? Where are you now? If you had to draw your life in three panels, what would it look like?

Intersection

“But as for me it, is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.” (Psalm 73:28)

I want to start today’s Pearls of Promise devotion with a question.

intersection-clipart-intersection-ahead

When did God intersect your life this week?

In my accountability group I attend, we ask “When were you closest to Christ since we last met?”

Unless we reflect on this question, we often miss or dismiss our closest encounters with the risen Lord. They are the intersections, when our lives and God’s spirit touch.

But sometimes we pass through the intersections without a second thought, don’t we?

We miss the God touches because we are not looking for them. or expecting them.

This week, my life was intersected by God.  I had prayed for a national radio opportunity to get the word out about our new book, If I Only Had… but nothing had come through yet. However, my co-author, Catherine Weiskopf, and I were scheduled to do an interview with a Denver radio station on Wednesday. The show producer was supposed to call us at 12:30 p.m., but there was no call. 1:00 p.m., still no call. Finally after waiting 45 minutes, I decided to call the station myself to see what happened.

radio-clipart-radio-reciever-clip-art_416120

We found out through a computer glitch, our interview was dropped from the schedule. The show hostess apologized for the error, then told me she was also hosting a national radio show now, and would do a story on the book there, instead of on the local show. What seemed like a bad situation, turned out to be great! (Romans 8:28) My prayer for a national opportunity was answered, but not exactly how I imagined! I sat in amazing at how God responded to the prayer so quickly. He intersected my life.

Perhaps God recently answered your prayer in an unusual way or in a manner you would have never dreamed of.

Maybe someone’s personal story touched your heart, and you made a change because of it.

Maybe a friend or relative who was a non-believer accepted Christ because of your witness.

These are all examples of God intersections and it’s important to recognize them when they happened. Often times, they are faith building or life changing.

So today I challenge you to ask God to make you more aware of his presence in your life because he’s nearer than you know. If you do that, it’s doubtful you will ever miss a God intersection again. (LBW)

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