Do I dare venture outside my chosen spiritual tradition? Can we learn something from others so different from ourselves? These questions challenged me as I began reading a book called “A Sense of Place” with Michael Shapiro. As I read his interviews with great travel writers, I was surprised which writer impacted me most…Read More
Standing on tiptoe, I asked myself, “How will I reach those apples on the top shelf?” A small grocery store is located on the first floor of my apartment building. I had watched for its opening and my anticipation was rewarded last week. In my previous living situation, I used to dread carrying home 5-liter jugs of drinking water…Read More
Sometimes I reflect back on my “pilgrimage years.” When I traveled, I often chose to stay at retreat centers because of their reasonable priced accommodations and contemplative atmosphere. I remember the last time I went on a private retreat. I traveled to a seminary on the coast of Spain just south of Barcelona. The staff knew only a smattering of English, but I managed to engage at meals with them and the students. My time was spent wandering through a nearby town, walking the beaches and reading the Bible. I was drawn to the book of Jonah. As I read, it occurred to me that in making this sojourn to Spain, I was running away from divine assignments. That ended my “spiritual respites,” at least for a time, but recently the urge to travel has bubbled to the surface and is threatening to come to a full-blown boil.
Browsing through my book collection a few days ago, “Travels that Can Transform Your Life” caught my attention. I have read this book twice. Scanning its highlighted pages, I shouted, “Yes, this is it!” For me, travel has always been a spiritual experience. There have been times when I am drawn to a certain place, but I have no logical reason for going there. This can be embarrassing with people ask me, “Why are you going there?” When I ask, “Lord, why am I here,” I don’t always get an immediate answer, but over time I come to understand His purpose.
The next time you are planning a trip or find yourself on an airplane or at place that takes you away from your daily routine, ask yourself these questions:
What are you seeking in this place?
What are you missing while you are in this place?
How can this place or this trip bring about transformation in some aspect of your life?
If the “pot” doesn’t simmer down, I’ll send you at postcard from wherever I land!
See, I am going to send an angel in front of you, to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared (The Conquest of Canaan Promised: Exodus 23:20 NIV).
Some people deal with unfulfilled expectations and tragic losses on a daily basis; for example, a mother that has lost a child. More often, it is an accumulation of “little foxes” that threaten to pull us under. For example, take frustration. Today I read that frustration results from unfulfilled expectations. You tell yourself that things should be different from what they really are.* …Read More
Recently, I listened to a video discussion about the word “discernment” which broadened my understanding. Previously, I understood it to mean the ability to judge between good and evil, but the following story shed new light on its meaning, at least for me…Read More
This morning, Saturday, I woke up at 7:30 a.m. When I looked at my watch and saw the time, I jumped out of bed. I had planned to meet someone, and I needed to leave my apartment by 8 a.m. to get there on time. I couldn’t decide what to wear and the clock was ticking away as I tried on different outfits…Read More
My last post was about yearning for water. Afterwards, I heard a story from the late 1870s about residents in a small Texas town who were hurting for water. Their efforts to find water came to nothing, but they discovered oil. They discounted their oil discovery and kept digging for water. Finally, the people gave up their search. Their town went downhill.
I was not able to substantiate this story, but it stirred a response in me.
How often have I abandoned projects because I got tired of jumping over hurdles and going around road blocks? How often have I pass up an “unlikely” opportunity because I didn’t have the faith to believe for the resources needed to move forward or because I didn’t understand how God could work in the situation? The people in this story wanted water for survival, but the oil could have secured their future. According to the legend, the people in the Texas town gave up hope. They quit trusting. Eventually, nothing was left but a ghost town.
Seemingly futile or “impossible” circumstances affect us all at one time or another. Sometimes we need a “second wind.” We need to be open to a wisdom that is greater than our human understanding, a wisdom only God can give. Do I hear an “Amen!”?
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).
I yearn to be near water. Sometimes I wake up singing, “We come alive in the river”* or I find the words floating through my mind during the course of my day. On my annual treks to see family, the Oregon coast is tops on my list of places to visit. The ocean temperatures can be chilly, but that doesn’t stop me from putting my feet in the icy water. Back in this city of twelve million people, my favorite “get-away” is a magnificent park where there is a huge display of water fountains dancing to music. Today the park is buried in a few feet of snow, but I am hopeful that spring is just around the corner.
Some months ago, I traveled by train for twelve hours to attend a friend’s wedding. A map of the area showed a river near the center of town, but I didn’t know how far that might be from my hotel. Venturing out to do some exploring, I spotted the river and an adjoining park just two blocks away. Whenever I visit a new place, I look for signs of water.
Jesus said, “I am the Bread of life,” “I am the Door,” “I am the Light,” but He didn’t say, “I am the Water.” Instead He said, “…but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life” (John 4:14). I don’t know why Jesus didn’t say, “I am the Water,” but I do know that Jesus is the only one who can satisfy our deep longings. Amen?
*Lyrics by Jesus Culture
God, the Author and Finisher of our faith, has given each of us a role to play and part of life is discovering what that role is. For some reason, we think our role should be clear right from the start. Like Joseph, we launch forward to fulfill our dreams (Genesis 37:12-28). We imagine that if we only follow the script (the rules), the applause will thunder in our ears.Read More
Tears filled my eyes as I watched the smiling bride stand next to her groom. During the ten years that I have known her, I have never seen her so radiantly happy. The protective groom stood a foot taller. He tenderly brushed a wisp of hair out of her eyes as they gazed at each other. I watched, mesmerized. As the groom stroked her hand, they listened to the pastor’s words affirming their commitment to each other. I had the sense this union had already gone through some fires of testing and had come out strong. No doubt the testing will continue. I felt the Lord say to me, “This is a glimpse of Father God’s love and Jesus’ love for His bride.
Battered by the unhappy circumstances and disappointments of life, it is easy to fall into a trap, thinking such a love isn’t possible on this side of the Cross or worse yet – that God could never love us if He knew all the things we’ve done…or haven’t done.
It’s not too late. Jesus says, “I am waiting for you.” Jesus WANTS a relationship with me and with you. If you already know Him, He wants you to come closer.
“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her…and in that day, says the Lord, you will call me, ‘My husband’” (Hosea 2:14, 16).
Traveling by train, you never know who your bunk mate will be cross or above you, but you are guaranteed to meet some interesting people. Recently, I bunked across from a beautiful young lady who had won a national beauty contest...and then there was the time an older gentleman proposed to me...Read More
Dear All, we know God does not make mistakes, but sometimes I need to be reminded. For my flight from Amsterdam to Portland, Oregon last fall, I requested an aisle seat. I hate crawling over people when I need to stretch my legs. When I boarded the plane, my seat location was the second toward the middle of a four-seat section. I felt cramped and claustrophobic. After everyone boarded, the aisle behind me was vacant so I was able to move. The lady next to me was from Ukraine...Read More
We had a lot of thunder and lightning storms this past fall. Every time I heard a crashing noise, I said to myself, "God is moving furniture again." Then I wonder: Is He rearranging the universe? Is He hanging curtains of mercy over wounded war refugees? Is He stripping wallpaper off some nations and...Read More