Archive for the ‘Contentment’ Category


Fanny Crosby is probably one of the most inspirational women who ever lived. Though blind since infancy, Fanny penned more than nine-thousand of the most beautiful hymns ever written and devoted her entire life to selflessly serving the poor and needy.

What Fanny lacked in physical sight, she was more than compensated with spiritual insight. She once remarked: “It seemed intended by the blessed providence of God that I should be blind all my life, and I thank him for the dispensation. If perfect earthly sight were offered me tomorrow I would not accept it. I might not have sung hymns to the praise of God if I had been distracted by the beautiful and interesting things about me.”

Lord help us all, I pray, be blinded to the enticements of this world that we may see you more clearly. Let us proclaim, as did English clergyman John Newton, “Amazing Grace… (I) was blind but now I see!”
(“Blind Sight” is an archived message from my Polished Pearls blog.)


pencil lady

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The weather is not scorching at present, but this is a repost from a few years ago; so just think cold instead. I truly felt like someone really needed to hear this one today, so here you go! God bless!

“Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.” Well here in this little corner of the Midwest we have to, as far as the terrain is concerned anyway; It’s the closest thing to elevation that we have. Well almost…

My husband and I feel confident that we are living in the place which God has chosen for us, and are fairly settled. But if we had our druthers, we would be living on some mountain ridge. Or at the very least, on a small country farm somewhere in God’s country. By the way, if you don’t know what druthers are, you need to get out of the city for awhile and experience a little country life.

I often awake from pleasant dreams in which my family and I are living in such a place. Then the reality hits me; Nope, we’re still here in these allergy-inducing, scorched flatlands. Most of the time we are content enough to live here. Still, there have been several times throughout the years that we have all but begged God to let us relocate to an area more suited to our nature-loving genes and our manure-wading boots. And every single time, God said No.

Last night I couldn’t help but think about all the incredible things that God is doing in our lives right now -here in this place. I couldn’t even begin to list them all. Then it dawned on me, how many of these blessings would we have missed out on if we had gotten our way and moved? We may have thought at times that we would find more happiness elsewhere, but fortunately for us, God knows what we need and where He needs us, even more than we do and He always makes provision for that.

This realization led me to ponder some of the other times when God answered our prayers for other things with the same unyielding, “No.” I might not always have liked the answer, nor understood it, but I am now fully persuaded that His answers were always in our best interest whether we realized it or not.

Then, God clearly spoke to my heart. He said, “If you think I told you No a lot, you should see how many times I told the devil No. There were so many times he tried to trick you and deceive you, but I said NO! He tried to bring certain sicknesses and diseases upon you but I said NO! He even tried to take your lives but I said NO!”

My mind began to whir with memories of the car accidents we were in and the ones we narrowly escaped. I thought about several other times when I, personally, should have died but walked away unscathed. God has kept us safe through all of this and so much more. He healed us from that which the doctors couldn’t. And when we teetered on the brink of financial ruin, He miraculously provided. I cannot begin to imagine how many times God protected us and provided for us when we didn’t even know the need existed.

The devil has tried endlessly to bring harm to my family and I, but God repeatedly said NO! I don’t know about you, but right about now I feel like shouting for joy. Go ahead, ask me if I ever tire of talking about God and His amazing love. I will most emphatically tell you NO!

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alone prayer

“What a lovely surprise to finally discover how unlonely being alone can be.”
 Ellen Burstyn

Normally, if someone told me to go away, I would be hurt and offended. But Jesus isn’t just anybody; when He tells me to “go away,” I am more than happy to do so. Then again, He never asks me to go away from His presence; quite the opposite in fact. He longs for us to get away from the cares of this world in order that we might spend time in His glorious presence.

Mother Teresa summarized this well when she stated: “We too are called to withdraw at certain intervals into deeper silence and aloneness with God, together as a community as well as personally; to be alone with Him — not with our books, thoughts, and memories but completely stripped of everything — to dwell lovingly in His presence, silent, empty, expectant, and motionless. We cannot find God in noise or agitation.” ¹

Although Jesus never had difficulty in finding God, the Father, even He felt the urgency of going away from the crowds and from the daily demands of life. We read many accounts in Scripture of Jesus doing just that.

For example, the apostle Mark recounts that Jesus, after what must have been a very demanding and exhausting time of ministry in Capernaum, “went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.” Mark 1:35

Mark also records another time that Jesus, after teaching for a long time, fed the multitudes, then:

… made His disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side to Bethsaida, while He Himself was sending the crowd away. After bidding them farewell, He left for the mountain to pray. (Mark 6:45-46).

Luke records that Jesus “withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed.” And that at another time He “he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.” 5:16, 6:12).

No doubt Jesus went to the wilderness or the mountain in order to secure His privacy, but it is possible that He also felt God’s presence more keenly in the beauty and solitude of nature. I know I do! The most intense encounters I have had with my LORD have been while I was alone in the mountains; alone here meaning without the company of another person, but engulfed in  God’s very real, nearly tangible, presence.

Wouldn’t it be nice, dear reader, if we could all just take some time to go away, for an extended period of time, to the mountains, or seashore to spend time with the LORD, and He only?

But let’s be practical; very few of us have the opportunity to do so. Nevertheless, it is crucial that we make time in whatever way possible, as Mother Teresa said, “to dwell lovingly in His presence, silent, empty, expectant, and motionless.”

It is equally as important to occasionally take a temporary furlough from certain activities, be they television, sports, blogging, or whatever particular that steals away your days and whittles away your hours. Actually, this is why you haven’t seen a new blog on this site for a while. I was being obedient to God’s instruction to “go away” for awhile and recharge my batteries, spiritually speaking. Now that I feel more energized, I plan to do more writing again, LORD willing.

In closing, I wish to reiterate that God longs for us to go away from the cares of this world in order that we might spend time in His glorious presence. And if we can do so in the beautiful and majestic cathedral of nature, that’s all the better.

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul. ~John Muir

¹ Mother Teresa, In the Heart of the World: Thoughts, Stories and Prayers

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Twinkle, twinkle little star –or was that a distant plane, or satellite? It’s hard to tell these days. Is it just me, or does it seem that this country’s skyscape has become as frenzied as a New York freeway?

Besides the thousands of commercial aircraft that rip through the visible sky daily, there are also a number of private planes, military craft and the occasional bundle of escaped party balloons, kites and more. It’s a wonder the birds don’t just hang out at the beach and avoid all the sky rush traffic.

Outer space is pretty cluttered these days as well. There are thousands of satellites currently in orbit, some functional and others long-since broken apart. Multiple collisions have left some of them orbiting as nothing more than innumerable fragments. Additionally, there is an unbelievable amount of “space junk” orbiting our Earth, which came from the various spacecraft that have been launched over the years. Of the many types of debris -some as small as a paint chip- NASA reports more than 21,000 large pieces, 500,000 smaller pieces, and more than 100 million miniscule pieces.¹

So far, this has not yet become a threat to public safety, but it is potentially dangerous. In fact, in September 2011, the Washington Post (KidsPost online) reported that an out of control satellite, the size of a school bus, was headed towards Earth. It broke into much smaller pieces as it entered the Earth’s atmosphere, and no one was injured, but I must admit, anything falling from the sky at more than 17,000 miles per hour is enough to unsettle one’s nerves, to say the least.

Space travel is pretty much the flip side of the coin; and it certainly is vulnerable to complication. Although humanity continues to pursue their lofty goals of space exploration, “Earth is now surrounded by so much space junk that a leading expert on the issue has declared that we are at a “tipping point” — it may soon become too dangerous to venture into low-Earth orbit (LEO) through fear of having a manned spaceship punctured or a communications satellite trashed.”²

I don’t know about you dear reader, but I have more than enough things to tend to on this planet to even contemplate space travel. As far as satellite communication goes, I think technology is great, but I already find it difficult in our hustle and bustle world to pray as much as I would like, and no communication is more important than that.

There are days when I wish I was more like one of those escaped party balloons (no hot air jokes please), my thoughts and desires drifting heavenward, my soul lighter than air because of a noticeable lack of anything to weigh me down, until I reached the throne of Glory. Of course, that wondrous experience is always available to me, but sadly I just don’t make the time as often as I should because I let other stuff get in my way.

You see, life has a way of bombarding my time with all those things that I consider important. True, many of them are vitally important, but honestly, some of those things are nothing more than space junk to my Creator. And in His great wisdom, He knows that many of those things which clutters my life will eventually, like satellites and space junk, collide to create even more “stuff” to deal with; more stuff to come between Him and me.

Alas, this world is just too busy! I am too busy.

Therefore, LORD, “Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word” (Psalm 119:37 NIV).

¹NASA Orbital Debris Program Office. FAQ 2012. Question #3: How many orbital debris are currently in Earth orbit? http://orbitaldebris.jsc.nasa.gov/faqs.html#3
²O’Niell, Ian. Discovery News. Space Junk Problem Reaches Tipping Point. September 2, 2011. http://news.discovery.com/space/could-space-junk-leave-us-stranded-on-earth-110902.html

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There are moments in every person’s life when a single image, thought or statement illuminates the mind profoundly. I had such an experience just this week. As my sons and I were conversing, my youngest spoke of “the artistic beauty of ruins.”

Immediately my own thoughts flowed in an entirely different direction. “The artistic beauty of ruins,” I pondered. What a perfect summation of Isaiah 61:3

To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified .

Being an archaeology enthusiast, I long ago learned to appreciate the beauty in many of the structures made desolate over time. While it is true that some folks would view such ruins as nothing more than a heap of stones or toppled pillars, I see a work of art, once exquisitely crafted, now transformed into that which exhibits a different kind of beauty –more simplistic perhaps, but magnificent nonetheless.

Such is the essence of my own life. I was created in God’s image; a beautiful dwelling wherein His Holy Spirit could abide. But this frail, human vessel was broken down over time and made desolate –uninhabitable. So broken, in fact, that when others looked upon me, they ceased to notice that which was beautiful and were rather appalled at the shambles I had become.

Much of humanity can say the same of their own lives. Praise God, this is where “the artistic beauty of ruins” comes into fruition. No matter how broken or shattered our lives are, God still looks upon those who are His own, through eyes so filled with love that He sees only beauty. It is a more simplistic beauty because that is what brokenness does – it crumbles all the parts of us that remain lofty and impenetrable until we appear useless in the world’s sight, and yet of great value in God’s.

Perhaps, dear reader, you also feel that your life has gone from splendor to shambles. But remember, beauty and value lie in the eyes of the beholder. Had you been alive when Jesus Christ walked the earth as a man, would you have thought Him beautiful? I am certain you would have, yet this is how the Bible described Him:

He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.              Isaiah 53:2-3

Of course, it was only those of this world that esteemed Him not. Those who knew Him as LORD considered Him to be the most beautiful sight on earth. Even after His body was mangled and crucified, Jesus’ followers soon saw the artistic beauty in the ruins of his crucifixion stake, for their eyes looked upon the sight with a much different understanding.

Likewise, when this world looks upon you with indifference, or even disdain,  your Father in Heaven looks at you with a different understanding, as we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory  (II Corinthians 3:18).

I would like to encourage you, then, to begin seeing yourself as Jesus does. Initially, you may see only the ruins, but eventually you will begin to appreciate the artistic beauty of the ruins until that glorious day when we shall all be perfected.

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These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world. John 16:33

Greetings in the name of our precious LORD.

I don’t know about you, but my get-up-and-go seems to have gotten up and gone, and for the last few weeks I haven’t been able to find it. Pesky little medical conditions tend to do that to a person, but I am not the least bit discouraged. For now, I am resting my body, and more importantly, I am resting in the promises of my precious LORD. I do plan to dust my keyboard off very soon, but for today, I want to share one of my older “Polished Pearls” blogs that I feel quite applicable to my situation. Hopefully, it will bless you as well, as you face life’s challenges.

Like A Flood

“Sometimes God calms the storm. Sometimes He lets the storm rage and calms His child.”

This past weekend, the weather here was horrendous. We were hit with the whole gamut of storm threats, including tornadoes, hail and flooding. In fact the hail stone pictured –or should I say hail boulder- was one of many that pounded this region. There was quite a bit of property loss in our area, but praise the LORD, there were no serious injuries.

I thought of the second half of Isaiah 59:19: When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him. However, the ancient Hebrew texts did not have commas, or paragraphs for that matter, so instead of reading:

When the enemy shall come in like a flood —the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him

the verse could just as easily read

When the enemy shall come in —like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.

What’s the difference? The difference is where you place the emphasis. Dear reader, when you are bombarded with the storms of life, do you focus more on the storm, or on the one who can calm it?

It is only natural to feel completely overwhelmed at times. Undoubtedly, many of the folks here that lost their homes in the tornadoes felt that way. I’m sure they could relate to the words of King David did when he penned the following:

My heart is in anguish within me;
the terrors of death have fallen on me.
Fear and trembling have beset me;
horror has overwhelmed me.
I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest.
I would hurry to my place of shelter,
far from the tempest and storm.
Psalm 55:4-8 NIV

But David didn’t stop there, allowing his situation to flood him with despair. Instead, he confidently proclaimed, “As for me, I will call upon God; and the LORD shall save me” (verse 16).

Dear reader, I leave you with these encouraging words from the same Psalm; may they flood you with peace during your roughest storms.

“Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved (verse 22).

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I still had this idea that there was a whole world of marvelous golden people somewhere… Sort of heroic super-people, all of them beautiful and witty and calm and kind, and I always imagined that when I did find them I’d suddenly know that I Belonged among them, that I was one of them, that I’d been meant to be one of them all along, and everything in the meantime had been a mistake; and they’d know it too. I’d be like the ugly duckling among the swans.”
― Richard Yates, Revolutionary Road

As a child, all I wanted was to be loved by my parents and accepted by my peers. I tried in so many ways to make that happen, but my parents had their own issues and my classmates were just downright mean. If only I hadn’t been so desperate for acceptance at school, I might not have fallen so easily into the other kid’s traps.

Some of their taunts were less demeaning than others. The pencil incident might have fallen into this category, except that my foolish error earned me the nickname “Stubby” for most of fourth grade. As I said, kids can be mean.

Normally, I was suspicious when other kids showed an interest in me, but on that particular day, I totally dropped my guard when one of the really popular girls walked up to me and began chatting as though we were long-time buddies. I thought perhaps there were a few “golden people” after all. During the course of the conversation she asked me if I preferred long pencils or stubby ones. “Long,” I answered truthfully, “and very sharp.”

“Me too, she replied. “It looks like we have something in common after all.”

I stood there dumbfounded as she walked away, but I was happy.

Then the unthinkable happened; a second “golden girl” came up and began chatting with me also. I should’ve suspected something was amiss, but I was too busy basking in the moment. This girl also brought up the topic of pencils, but unlike the first, she volunteered that she loved writing with stubby pencils before asking me my preference.

It was very wrong of me, I know, but I wanted to have something in common with her too, so I assured her that I liked stubby pencils as well. “That’s what I thought,” she smugly barked, then walked away. My heart sank as the two girls started their confab, while shooting arrogant glances in my direction.  Naturally, they shared my indiscretion with all the other kids. They all sang their stinging words, “Liar, liar, pants on fire” and “Hey Stubby, got a pencil?”  until I was practically in tears and longed desperately to return to my invisible status.

Little did I know, but I was never invisible to the only one that mattered. Not only did He love me unconditionally, and accept me just as I was –lonely and broken- He loved me enough to lead me to a golden place when the time was right.

O LORD, you have searched me
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O LORD.
You hem me in—behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand.
When I awake,
I am still with you.
~~Psalm 139:1-18 NIV

To this day, I still don’t like stubby pencils. But I don’t keep a beautiful glass jar, full of long, sharp pencils, on my desktop because I have something to prove. They are there to remind me of the power of words. I guess that is one reason I still love the feeling of a pencil between my fingers. Every now and then, I pick-up one of my long, sharp pencils and think to myself, God loves me just as I am, and He has written me in His book.  And that, dear reader,  often inspires me to write words of encouragement to you.

I know that my words, in the midst of the psalmist’s are, as Mr. Yates penned, the ugly duckling among the swans.” Even so, I hope you were encouraged by them in some way.

Postscript: The opening quote from Revolutionary Road does not reflect an endorsement for Mr. Yates, nor his book.  Truthfully, I have never read the book and cannot, therefore, speak to its contents.  I merely stumbled upon the aforementioned quote and felt that it accurately described how I felt as a child, dreaming of far away places where people were kind and underdogs like myself would be accepted.  Mr. Yates’ book, as I understand, is a secular work with questionable themes.  So again, I am not endorsing His book by sharing this beautiful quote.

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Just past a golden cornfield in the middle of nowhere, lies a very quiet, obscure refuge. Though I haven’t been anywhere near the place for decades, it did serve me well during my dreadful teenage years. Life was very bleak back then, almost more than I could bear, so I was very thankful to have my own private “sump” to escape to.

The sump was really a drain-off ditch for the fields during the rainy season. Few people even realized it was there because it was carefully hidden behind a wind-breaking wall of trees. For most of the year, the interior of the sump looked like a dry creek bed strewn with a few fallen trees – those were my chairs, or airplane seats, or whatever else my imagination needed them to be at various times. I spent many hours alone in the sump contemplating the complexities of life or simply crying; it was very soothing. Had I known God back then, I would have spent many hours praying in the sump, but it would be many years before I would come to know Him. Still, looking back, I am certain that He was there with me in that place of refuge even though I was unaware.

Jesus, our Messiah, also understood the need for quiet refuge, especially to pray:

And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone (Matthew 14:23).

And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed (Luke 5:16).

There are several other Scriptures which indicate that it was Jesus’ habit to go off alone for quiet times of prayer, too many too include here. It seems to me that if the Son of God, Himself, understood the necessity of going off alone to pray, then we, in our human frailty, should do so all the more.

Dear reader, we live in a hustle and bustle world that pulls at us from every direction. It is so easy to become overwhelmed! May I encourage you to purpose in your heart to find more time to go off alone to contemplate life’s complexities, or even to cry if need be. I promise, however, you won’t be truly alone. The Lord, Jesus, will be with you even if you do not know Him yet. He longs to spend time with you and He will meet you there.

I also recommend that you go off occasionally and have some “me-time”  for no reason at all, at least sump-times. After all, there is nothing like a bit of quiet solitude to soothe and refresh one’s soul in a frenzied, hectic world.

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In memory of my dear friend, Shiela.

And, in tribute to all the faithful, loving pastors who really care about the hurting.


In the midst of frailty
Where the brier often grows,
God chose to lovingly restore
A beautiful, broken rose.

For her there was no sunshine;
She had known only rain.
Life’s storms had oft uprooted her,
And drenched her life with pain.

Thus, the rose was wilted;
Her natural luster had faded.
She thought her life to be a waste,
And her strength had been abated.

When she could no longer stand,
This rose crashed to the ground
Beneath the weight of her battles,
Which did so greatly abound.

She sought to find the answers
That would end her hellish war,
And give to her the kind of peace
We all are searching for.

At long last, she knelt and prayed,
Lest depression take its toll;
Until the soothing voice of God
Spoke life into her soul.

“Sheila, My child, I love you,”
He compassionately said.
“Your sufferings will come to an end;
There are brighter days ahead!”

“When you accepted me as Lord,
I forgave you of all your sin.
Now, I will fill you with inner peace,
And destroy the turmoil within.”

God spoke again to Sheila’s heart,
“I will send you a gentle pastor.
He will love you through each battle
And help your heart heal faster.”

He knew that Shiela needed support
In order for her to grow;
Until she reached the realms of glory
Where briers and weeds can’t go.

True to His Word, God sent a pastor
To embrace this broken rose,
And lead her back to the fertile garden
Where beauty and wisdom grows.

After only one brief chat with him,
Sheila knew she wasn’t alone
In her efforts to finally rid her life
Of all the weeds that had grown.

The pastor helped nourish her spirit,
And he lifted her always in prayer.
Sheila saw Jesus through him so oft,
She stopped yielding to hopeless despair.

Then, through her pastor’s guidance,
Which he offered with patience and grace;
Sheila understood God’s love and favor
Towards all those who seek His face.

She learned to believe God’s promises,
Of which she became quite zealous.
She clung to the life-giving words of God
Like the rose which clings to its trellis.

Though it took some time and trust,
Sheila was freed from all strife.
Her eyes then shone brightly with joy,
And peaceful contentment with life.

Unquestionably, Sheila had been restored,
And a lifetime of brokenness mended;
With the help of her faithful pastor,
Who loved her as God had intended.

No longer living in constant rain,
Shiela’s life reflected the Son
Until her radiant, inward beauty
Could be denied by none.

This rose had grown more beautiful
In the Master Gardner’s hand.
He then used her to touch others’ lives
In the many ways He planned.

Folks saw what God did for Shiela;
More than words can tell.
Thus, they were greatly encouraged
And turned to Him as well.

But alas, the beautiful rose has left.
She discarded her early vase.
In Heaven’s eternal garden,
She has gone to take her place.

Yet, Sheila will never be forgotten.
For the fragrance of God’s love,
Which flowed so freely through her,
Will linger with us, till we join her above.

To her faithful pastor,
And to all of her family and friends,
Sheila left a testimony of God’s healing
And of His love –a love which never ends!

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The coin was old, and it was gold; of that I am sure. I imagined that the notorious bandit, Jesse James, dropped it when he was headed to the caverns to stash some loot. After all, I was swimming just a stone’s throw from Meramec Caverns, famed hideout of the James-Younger Gang. True, they hadn’t been near the cavern for umpteen years, but it wouldn’t have been the first time someone found a relic from the gangs’ racketeering days in those parts.

The summer had been a scorcher and the water levels were extremely low. Everyone was concerned that some of the streams in the area would dry up altogether. That’s pretty much how I felt about my life at the time. And my prospects of ever escaping that life, it seemed, were drying-up just as quickly as those Missouri waters.

After graduating high school, I was able to leave that place – a place I had grown to hate– but all too soon, fate brought me back. If only I had known God, and understood how perfectly He orchestrates our lives, I might have been more content. But I didn’t know God back then; I only knew sorrow.

Swimming in the cool river brought a bit of diversionary relief, but I was still rather cranky. To make matters worse, my younger sister kept jumping on my back even though I had told her a dozen times to knock it off. I wasn’t even nice the last time I said it. “Get off my back!” I barked at her angrily.

In order to take my mind off things, I swam to a deep spot and dove under the water to search the rocky bottom for a nice keepsake. The water in that part of the river is normally too deep and fast-moving to swim in, but that summer, the conditions were more favorable. I figured that I might get lucky and find an arrowhead or an unusual piece for my rock collection. In my wildest dreams I would never have thought that I would find a gold coin from long ago, but I did.

With great anticipation, I brought the coin to the surface and slowly opened my hand to examine it. To my great dismay, however, I didn’t even get a chance to read the date on the coin, which was unquestionably quite old, because my sister had ignored my scolding and pounced on my back like a leopard on its prey. I don’t even know where she came from, but I know where the coin went –it flipped out of my hand and sank back into the river. Finding it in the first place was incredibly miraculous; finding it a second time was impossible! We all searched for more than an hour, but it was a hopeless cause and it was starting to get dark anyway, so we left the coin in its watery grave and headed home.

I was very angry at my sister; and that for quite a while. The more I thought about it, the more I had determined that the coin was my ticket out of that place. The realization that my golden opportunity had been knocked right out of my hands caused my heart to sink as well. I don’t know how much I would have gotten for the coin, but I figured it would surely be enough to start a new life. But again, fate was keeping me there -or was it God? I didn’t know Him then, but He certainly knew me. While I had my own ideas of how I wanted life to be, God had a different plan for my life all along.

Scripture says: “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps” (Proverbs 16:9 NKJV).

To be honest, I still don’t like the fact that my sister jumped on my back that day, but I’m glad that God stopped me from pursuing my own desires. Had I gotten my way, my life would have gone in a completely different direction than it did, and there is no telling where I may have ended up. God loved me enough to keep me where I needed to be at the time. When He was ready to move me forward, according to His plan, He did. And I have no regrets, because my precious Lord has given me a life more wonderful than I could ever have imagined. I still don’t have much gold, but I do have something much better –genuine peace and happiness.

Dear reader, is there someone you want desperately to “get off your back;” a boss or family member perhaps? Is there a circumstance in your life that has caused your heart to sink and given you a feeling of hopelessness? I want to encourage you that God, in His great love and mercy, knows just where you are and what you are going through. If you are frustrated because you are stuck in a place you don’t want to be, whether physically, financially, emotionally or spiritually; be patient. The events in your life are not decided by some cosmic flip of the coin, but rather, God is working all things out for your good, according to His divine plan.

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).

Finally, please remember that the riches of this world may come and go, but God’s love is forever. Once you take hold of it, no one can ever knock it out of your hands. Even when this life’s difficulties ‘pounce’ on you, as they sometimes will, God is still in control;  and He is working to ensure that you have a rich life despite the way things appear to be.

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