"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
November 14, 2018
I rarely title the devotionals that I write, because really.... what's the point! But I was lying in bed a few nights ago thinking about what I was going to write about this week and pondering about a topic that had come to mind, when this title jumped into my head. I thought that is was clever, which could be due to the lateness of the hour; but I'm going to use it anyway!
The title of this weeks devotional is "Waiting on a Good Time to Happen".
I've heard it said that if couples were to wait for the perfect time to have children and begin their family, no one would ever have kids. You begin with the newlywed phase and adjusting to one another and married life. Often young couples have student loan debts that need to be repaid. Many begin saving money for their first home.... which means buying furnishings and mowers and everything else that they think they need. If both the husband and wife work and don't have dependable vehicles, they often will go buy new or new-to-them cars, so have that payment. They may be establishing careers.
When they think about the expense of a child and the responsibilities....finding a good daycare or babysitter and how much that will cost, insurance for a child, loss of sleep with a newborn, the expense of diapers and formula (or the expense of a breast pump and the inconvenience of being a full-time working, breast-feeding mom), doctor appointments and sicknesses and who would be able to take off work for those things, and all the other numerous cost involved with a baby... many couples feel that they need to wait for the right time to begin their family. They want to get debts paid off, established in a lucrative job, settled in their own home, have money in savings for unexpected expenses, and all of their ducks in a row, and then when the stars line up and all is right with the world, they will have children.
But for many couples, things don't work out that perfectly. There is rarely that perfect moment in their lives when you are financially secure and everything is as it should be, so that the timing is right for beginning a family. Either pregnancy surprises them and they find themselves preparing for an unexpected baby; or they decide if they are going to have children, they are going to have to go ahead and hope for the best and everything will somehow work out.
I daresay that all of us have had various incidents in our lives when we wait for a good time to happen.
For the past thirteen years, I have wanted new flooring in our kitchen and dining room. It seems as if every single time I think that it may be a possibility, something more important comes up or there is an unexpected expense. "When we get property taxes paid and through the holiday season, then we will put in new flooring." "House and car insurances are due, so as soon as we get those paid, then we can get new flooring." "We have to get the pecan tree taken out so it won't fall on the electrical lines or on our house or on our neighbors property. That's a priority, then we'll get new flooring." (We've had to cut down 4 of our huge pecan trees in our yard in the past 5 years.) "Oops.... our washer or dryer broke and can't be repaired, so we need to replace that first so we can have clean clothing." "Uh-oh... our toilet bowl cracked and broke, spilling all the water from it onto the floor and soaking through the kitchen ceiling." "There's a leak in our master bathroom, so we have to cut through the living room ceiling and have a plumber come repair it... then fix the ceiling back." "We'll have to wait a little while; Loretta had to have a biopsy on her thyroid and then had to pay almost $2,000 out of pocket not covered by insurance." "We need to replace our car." "Grrr.... Loretta had an accident and we have to put the car in the body shop and gave it repaired!" "Oh no! Our zero-turn mower stopped working -- and then the self-propel mower broke." And I could go on and on........
It has been one thing after another, after another, after another. I have patiently, and sometimes not so patiently, been waiting for a good time to happen so that we could replace the flooring.
As I was thinking about this subject, I concluded that many times if we wait for perfect timing, nothing will ever happen or get done.
Many people live in the land of "someday". They take up residence there, and never move away. Oh, they have good intentions, but that's as far as it goes. Someday, I'm going to travel to places I've dreamed of visiting. Someday, I'm going to begin exercising and lose weight. I've always wanted to own a (certain car or truck)... someday I'm going to have one. Someday I'm going to live in a house with a big workshop out back... or have my dream kitchen... or whatever it may be. Someday I'm going to be able to retire and do all those projects I've been putting off. Someday I'm going to try that new adventure that I've always wanted to do. Someday I'm going to learn how to play the piano. Someday I'm going to learn how to sew. Someday I'm going to have the time to enjoy......whatever hobby or pleasure it may be.
My brother-in-law, Ken, stepped out of the land of someday and decided to live out some of his dreams. A year or so ago, he jumped on a plane and flew to Australia for vacation. That is someplace that he has wanted to visit for many years, so he decided to not talk about going "someday" and just do it. This year he went to Hawaii and rented a car and went sightseeing and enjoyed the islands for a couple weeks. It would be easy to say, "I don't want to go alone! Maybe someday, if I find someone to travel with me, I'll go." "Maybe when I retire I'll still have the energy and stamina and health to be able to travel and enjoy myself a little." But he didn't. He wanted to travel now, while he still had his health, was still young enough to really enjoy himself (Ken is still young... he's 53, the same as I am!), and felt like sightseeing and doing things. Yay, Ken!
Sadly, many people also apply that same principle, of waiting for a good time to happen, to their spiritual life. Their thinking is along the line of: "Someday... or when the timing is right... or when I get around to it... or when I'm not so busy... or when I don't have something better to do... I will start going to church." "I know that I need to be more committed to God. I will when....." "When the timing is right... or when life gets less busy... or when I don't have to work as much and have more time... or when my kids get bigger... or when I get more free time... then I will start serving the Lord like I know that I should." Always waiting for a good time to happen!
Honestly, committed christians also act and think along those lines many times. They delay teaching a Sunday School class, volunteering and helping, being involved in missions -- possibly even going on a missions trip, surrendering to a call that God has placed upon their life, committing themselves to a deeper relationship with Jesus, etc.; thinking that a better time to do so will happen sometime later.
We can even do this on a daily basis. We intend on spending time in prayer, read our Bibles, listen to the Holy Spirit, worship, have communion..... but we will do so later, when it's a more convenient time. We rush to and fro, our busyness and activities often keeping us from spending time with God. At times we may even think that if we only had a day at home where we didn't have to go anywhere, then we would make sure we spend part of our day with God. But that happens, and we think of all the things that we need to do.... laundry, mowing, cleaning, paying bills, emailing/messaging friends, sewing, cleaning the garage, home projects, repairs.... and at the end of the day, we find that once again, those things took priority over the intended time that we meant to set aside for Jesus.
If we wait for perfect timing, nothing will ever get done! That statement is so incredibly true. It's true regarding life, and it's true spiritually.
Proverbs 27:1 says, "Don't brag about tomorrow, since you don't know what the day will bring."
James 4:13-14 says, "Look here, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there for a year. We will do business there and make a profit. How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog -- it's here for a little while, then it's gone."
There is a famous quote by Benjamin Franklin that we have all heard that says, "Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today."
We all have put things off until tomorrow... then the next day... then the next. Sometimes our delays end in regret. We intend on spending more time with someone that we love, and we dream and make plans of traveling or growing old together; only disease and/or death takes that person before that "some day" comes. We plan on getting involved in a church and really committing ourself to God, but we are busy and time goes by and years pass; then at the end of our life we find that we wasted a whole lot of time struggling through life without really cultivating that relationship with our Father. We daydream of seeing the world (or at least a small portion of it), learning a new skill, having adventures, etc; but the time is never right and we never leave the land of "Someday, I want to...."
Abraham and Sarah had more gumption than most. God told them to pick up and leave their home and He would tell them when they arrived at their destination. In Genesis 12:1, "The Lord had said to Abram, 'Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father's family, and go to the land that I will show you.'"
Human nature would say, "I will, if you'll tell me where we're going. How will I know how to pack and what all I'm going to need or how far the journey will be? I need details so I can prepare!" "Will we be moving close enough where we can come back and visit our family from time to time? We want our kids to know their grandparents, aunts and uncles." "We will go.... some day... when the timing is right."
God gave a promise to Abraham: "I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you."
In order to receive God's promises to him, Abraham had to obey and do what God asked of him. That had to have been a bit disconcerting for him and his wife. They left home not knowing their destination. Can you imagine his in-laws questions? "Where are you taking our daughter? You need to have a plan and know where you're going before taking her away from her family. You can't just leave and travel to a foreign country without knowing where you're going to live, if you'll be welcomed there, if there will be land available and food to eat. What are you thinking?! Our grandchildren will never know us!" But Abraham trusted God and obeyed, without question. In doing so, he received every single promise that God had given to him!!
Hebrews 11:8-9a says, "It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith -- for he was like a foreigner, living in tents."
Today let us stop waiting on a good time to happen. Let's step out in faith and obey God so that we can receive His numerous promises to us. When we read the Bible, we find promise after promise that He gave to us, His children. It's time that we stopped waiting for a better time to fully commit ourselves to God, a better time to walk in full obedience, a better time to lay claim to all that our Father has promised us.
It's also time that we stop waiting on a good time to happen in order for us fully enjoy the life that God has blessed us with. He didn't put us on earth so that we could sit around waiting on our time to go to heaven. He placed us here for a purpose. Some situations may be difficult and we may not always understand everything that happens. But we need to get out of the land of "someday" and step into the joy and goodness and enjoyment that God wants us to partake of. He made a beautiful world for us to admire and appreciate. He gave us family and friends to spend time with and enjoy. He gave us the gift of laughter.
Today is the right time for you -- both your life and spiritually! Not sometime later... not tomorrow or next week or next year. If you've been waiting on a good time to happen, let today be your day!
I know it's tough getting into the mindset of trying something now, instead of putting it off. You can try a little practice, though. Try some foods you're not used to. I had to try cocoa gravy. It turns out it isn't bad, but I'm not too fond of it. Try sushi. That's one I love, and Loretta tolerates nicely. I don't recommend jumping straight to green curry; maybe start with a nice chicken vindaloo.
If you can't bear the thought of unusual foods, try taking a nice drive down a road you haven't taken before. If it gets rough, just turn around, and try another. At least you tried.
1 package fresh cranberries
8 ounces Cool Whip
3 cups sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
3 cups seedless red grapes, sliced
The night before serving: grind or chop cranberries. Add sugar; stir and refrigerate.
The next morning: drain cranberry mixture. Add sliced grapes, Cool Whip, and pecans. Stir together and refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.
As years go by, family traditions sometimes change as families change. When that happens, then you need to begin new traditions.
When I was a young girl, my mom's family always got together on Christmas Eve night for a family dinner. Then my dad's family would get together for lunch on Christmas day. As families grew and grandkids were born, those traditions were no longer feasible. So our family began having our own family get togethers on Thanksgiving and Christmas. After Mama passed away and Daddy remarried, those traditions changed. Then after my sisters kids began getting married and grandchildren were born, again it became more and more difficult for our family to all get together, so more changes. Such is life.
But when that occurs, that doesn't mean that you have to mourn lost traditions or stop celebrating the holidays. You create new traditions and continue finding ways to enjoy Thanksgiving and Christmas.
A few years I created a new tradition that has become one of my favorite days of the year. The second Saturday in November I have an early Christmas party for my sisters, their daughters, daughter-in-laws, and granddaughters. I decorate my house early for Christmas. We all bring food and the adults enjoy visiting while the younger girls play. Some years we've done gift exchanges, some years not. Most years, the night before my sisters and I all spend the night together. Not everyone can come, due to the distance; but those of us who do, always thoroughly enjoy ourselves and look forward to this each year.
Courage rises up in us when we see the people that we love in trouble. - Kris Vallotton
We love you!
Loretta & Jon