Asking Directions


It’s an old joke, but still worth repeating:

Why did the Israelites wander around the desert for forty days?  Because Moses wouldn’t stop to ask directions!

You and I know there was a whole lot more to the Exodus story than that, but how often do we wander around in a foggy mess because we haven’t stopped to ask our Lord directions?

Let me introduce you to John M. Whitall, a Quaker ship captain in the 1800’s. He was a man who refused to use weapons, sailing through waters where pirates plied their trade. (God worked it out. You can read all about him, and catch longer versions of the quotes below, in John M. Whitall: the Story of His Life, available on Google Books.)

John learned the secret of asking directions. ”He asked the Lord’s guidance, waiting in silence often times to listen, and expected in every instance to receive it.”

Have we come to expect guidance from our loving Lord?

He observed a time of silence “to wait upon the Lord, twice daily to make it a special business to draw nigh unto him.”

How often are we silent in the presence of our Lord?

He was sure that the Lord, “who counted the hairs of our head, and who noticed the fall of a sparrow, would take care of even the smallest matters that affected His children.” Thus it was his custom in every time of emergency, whether small or great, to refer the situation to this indwelling Teacher or Guide, and to wait until he received what seemed like a sufficient answer. And this was the case in all his temporal affairs as well as his spiritual ones.”

Where do we turn first in a moment of emergency?

John wrote, in a letter to his sister, that “the belief that we all, at every place and time, are under the protecting care of our dear Friend, is most comfortable.”

May we learn to be still, to expect guidance, to trust our Father, and to be at peace in his protection!


Don’t Worry, Pray

Greg Laurie, I am happy to say, pastors the church where two of my children attend. My husband and I now laugh and learn as we listen to his podcasts. The one you’ll find at this link is a favorite. Although I’m hoping you’ll download the whole sermon, here are some of the best bits in bullet form.

  • Old hymns impart great wisdom. Consider the lines below.
    “O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
    All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.”
  • Philippians 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice.” To not rejoice can be disobedient to God. So why do some Christians walk around looking like they’ve been “baptized in lemon juice?” When life is rotten, we might not rejoice in the circumstances, but we can still rejoice in the Lord. (See Habakkuk 3:17-18, “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”)
  • Our natural reflex when bad news comes may be to worry, but we can develop a different, conditioned reflex, to go immediately to prayer.
  • Our perspective changes when we see remember how big God is. “Big God, small problems. Big problems, small God.”
  • God will say “no” to us sometimes because he loves us. Any parent who says “yes” to every request a child makes is an idiot. (Greg’s words, not mine!)
  • We never need to be afraid to commit an unknown future to our known God. (Corrie ten Boom’s words, well worth repeating!)
  • And if we will go to prayer with our worries, the peace of God will keep or guard our hearts as a military guard protects an outpost. (The apostle Paul’s words, and I believe ’em!)

Thanks, Pastor Laurie, for the great reminders!

The One in Charge


A few weeks ago we were headed to a wedding. Traffic stopped ahead, but our car didn’t. Our son was saying, “Careful! Careful!” as my mind tried to figure out why we were still moving. A water bottle had slipped from the seat and lodged underneath the brake. The bottle shifted, the car stopped, and before long we reached our destination. But I was reminded once again that we are never in control.

Yes, I know. Water bottles belong in cup holders, and mine will be carefully stowed there from now on. Still, we are NEVER in control. Even if we take every possible precaution as to health and safety, we can’t guarantee our own security. Tucked into bed in some quiet corner of the world, we are still vulnerable. An earthquake, a tornado, a ruptured aneurism, a heart attack: a host of life-changing or life-ending events remain real possibilities despite our efforts to forestall them.

So, what do we do? We trust and obey. Can you hear that great old hymn in the background of your brain? “Trust and obey for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.” John H. Sammis. Awesome theology to a delightful tune. You can read all the lyrics here.

Check out Psalm 100. Our Lord loves us, and he is faithful! If our situation seems “safe,” we trust him. If the storm comes and we suffer loss, we trust him. And to the best of our ability, we do things his way. If we were sick, we would listen to our doctors. If we were lost in the jungle, we would happily follow an expert guide, should one appear. We serve the Great Physician. We have an all-knowing Guide. Obedience to our loving Lord is simply logical. Why would we want to live outside of his plan?

Someday the car may not stop. The tornado may strike. Even then we can be sure that God is there. He loves us, he sees the big picture, and he is in control.

Psalm 100: 3-5 Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his;we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise;give thanks to him and praise his name.For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Don’t Worry. Be Happy!


The worship leader played a couple of bars of “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” before the service began. I heard a friend say, “I wonder if he’s actually going to play that during church. It sure isn’t very spiritual.” Actually, I think those two lines are very spiritual. What about that verse, ‘Be anxious for nothing’? What if we all lived these words: “Don’t worry. Be happy! Trust the Lord!” I think people would start coming up to us and saying, “What have you got? I want that!”

Imagine a couple of heavily loaded hitchhikers finally offered a ride. (I’m not condoning hitchhiking here). Suppose, once in the vehicle, they refused to take off their heavy packs, saying, “You were so nice to give us a lift. It would be too much to ask you to carry all our gear as well.” Dumb, huh? We do that every time we wallow in anxiety about some part of our lives when we’ve already told the Lord we want him to be in charge. Why miss out on the peace we’ve been promised? Do we think what we’re dealing with is too much for him to handle?

Jesus asked us to become as little children. I would be hurt beyond measure if my children stopped trusting me to care for them. I wonder if our heavenly Father is saddened when he sees us worried about our lives.

Maybe we should start each day with a prayer like this. “Okay, God, it’s all yours. You can have my life and do whatever you want with it. You can have my health, my reputation, my possessions, my family, and everything else that concerns me. I’ll keep working, but I’m done worrying.”

Philippians 4 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). In other words, don’t worry, and you can be filled with the peace of God. What could be a happier state than that?