Figuring Out Your Course

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.”

For most official races, runners can view the course online. You can view every single twist and turn. In detail, you can see the highest point of elevation. You know precisely at which mile markers the path will ascend to steep hills. You can sigh with relief knowing exactly where the path will descend, giving you breaks throughout the race. Some runners will even determine whether or not to register for a race based on the course layout. Too many hills! I want a flatter course. Better not run this race, the elevation is too steep towards the end. I’ll be too exhausted.

You can even view the places where water stops are located. Knowing this beforehand, runners can train to run specific lengths, spacing out their water intake. Mentally you can prepare for worst case scenarios, seeing exactly where medical tents are located. Most importantly, you can see exactly where the finish line is. You tuck the names of the intersecting streets in the back of your mind. That’s where I’ll finish the race. That’s where my family will meet me afterwards and congratulate me.

All of this information we are privy to is great!  Can you imagine how cool it would be to see the course of your real life? To actually see in detail what was in your future? You’d see every exciting milestone awaiting you. In wonderful elation, you could anticipate all those mountain top experiences in your future.

But if you examined the course a little closer, you’d also see the dark valleys up ahead. What?! Just around that corner you’d see a marriage crumbling, ending in divorce. The unexpected job loss—the one you thought was secure just a few miles back. Huh?! And when you keep looking further down the course, you’d find that one of your kids has broken your heart. And you don’t even see a medical tent anywhere in sight. What would you do?

Maybe you wouldn’t even want to continue your race of life any longer. I can’t bear the thought of these things coming. I want an easier course. I won’t be able to live this kind of life.

Thankfully, we don’t get this kind of information in our journey of life. That’s not how God designed us to live. While we don’t get to see the whole course of our lives mapped out in front of us, God does. We don’t know the details of trials and challenges headed our way, but He does. We can’t fathom the abundant blessings He has in store for us, but He knows and can’t wait to lavish them upon us.

He’s designed us to live one moment at a time, in total dependence on him. Our flesh craves to see an entire mile at a time. But God wants to lead us one step at a time. We desire to know how long a certain trial will last. But God wants us to trust.

When we register to run the race of faith with Jesus as our guide, we run with all our might. We run with boldness and perseverance. We run like there’s no tomorrow. In fact, we don’t know what a day will bring forth. We may think our course is quite long, but we don’t know exactly where our finish line will be. Whether it’s a quick 5K or multiple marathons back-to-back, we must keep on running. Keep on trusting. Keep on thriving.

So while we don’t know where our earthly finish line will be, we know who is leading us on the course. And we are promised that He will greet us at the intersection of time and eternity. Now that’s something to get excited about!

READY? If there was one thing you could figure out about your future, what would it be? Are you willing to surrender this concern to Jesus? Take some extended time to pray about your fears and worries and lay them at the foot of the cross.

GET SET. Proverbs 16:9 “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord determines his steps.”

GO! Lord Jesus, help me to trust you with every twist and turn of my life. I’m so prone to worry and wanting to know what’s up ahead, that I’m missing out on knowing you more intimately. Help me to let go of the things out of my control and trust you completely. Amen

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Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

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One Piece of the Puzzle

Grasping one piece of a puzzle tightly in her stubby fingers, my daughter wailed, “Mommy! Help me! I don’t know where this goes!”

I gently bent down in the floor with her and took the puzzle piece out of her hand. “Let’s see what you’ve got so far.” She’d completed about a third of her Little Mermaid puzzle but was stuck on where this one piece should go.

I reached over and picked up the puzzle box, which revealed the entire completed picture. Looking at her one piece, I tried to show her how it would fit into the top right portion of her puzzle.

After several attempts, my daughter finally found the place for her piece of the puzzle. Giggling with delight, she said, “I see it now! It’s almost done, Mommy!”

Curling up on the couch to continue watching my daughter, I felt a gentle whisper tugging on my heart.

Lisa, your daughter’s frustration with the puzzle piece is how my children act when life doesn’t make sense.

You only see a small part of my purpose and plan for your life. You have to trust me because I’m the one who holds the puzzle box with the completed picture.

Wow. My eyes were opened wide to this astounding truth as I continued watching my child finish her puzzle.

How often do we feel stuck in our journey of life? Like a frustrated child, we throw up our hands, wailing out to God, “I don’t understand! This doesn’t make sense. I don’t know what to do.”

Just imagine God looking over at His completed picture of our lives. Maybe he smiles and says, “I can’t wait for her to see where the next piece goes. What a day it will be when she sees the whole picture.”

In the meantime, we have to wait. We have to trust. We have to surrender our urge to see the entire completed picture NOW.

I had access to the puzzle box with the completed picture to help my daughter. But in our faith journey, we don’t get to hold the puzzle box. Only God has that power.

So instead, we must trust that he sees and knows. Along the way with each step, God will give us strength and wisdom to handle the piece of the puzzle we currently hold. He longs for us to cry out to him. He loves to watch us giggle with delight when we finally see something that once was unclear become clear.

Some pieces of our life puzzle will make sense to us while we walk this earth. But others will not. And for those unknown pieces, we can look forward to a day when we see him face-to-face. When it all will make sense. When all will be well.

As a little child maybe we’ll say something like this:

“I see it now! It’s all done!”

1 Corinthians 13:12(NLT)  Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

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Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

 

View From the Top

A couple of weeks ago, I traveled to New York City for a fast-paced, adventurous get-away with my mom. A popular landmark constantly being pointed out to us was the Chrysler Building. This skyscraper stands strong at 1,046 feet tall with 77 floors. Straining your neck to look at it from the ground, it towers over you with its monstrous stance. Insurmountable. Overwhelming. You can’t even fathom how tall it is.

The_Chrysler_Building.2  2ndCB

 

But just a few days later we ventured up to the top of the Empire State Building. Once we finally arrived at the observation deck, we peered out at the magnificent view in front of us. We tried to point out the landmarks we’d previously seen. Suddenly it came into view. There it was!

The Chrysler Building….

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Really? Was this the same building we observed earlier?

The same building that appeared monstrous, insurmountable and overwhelming now looked much smaller! From the view at the top, you could see the entire building without straining your neck. You could see for miles! The view was breathtaking and spectacular.

The difference between the ground view and the top view was PERSPECTIVE.

As I looked out over the magnificent view of New York City, a powerful truth hit me hard:

From our perspective, the challenges and trials we face appear to be insurmountable, monstrous and quite overwhelming. But from God’s perspective, our challenges and trials are part of a magnificent and spectacular plan that only He can see all at once!

As humans, we will never have the top-of-the-observation-deck view of our lives. We will not be able to see the whole picture but only one part at a time. But we can trust our faithful God because He always has the upper view of everything.

We can absolutely trust Him with the things we can’t see.

The challenges that seem overwhelming.

The trials that threaten to strain our souls.

Yes. That is what true faith is, dear friend! Trusting God with the things we can’t see, knowing that He sees it all.

Where are you today? Are you looking up at something that seems overwhelming? Is there a challenge smack in front of you, crowding your vision?

I encourage you to run to your Heavenly Father to the top of the observation deck. Take his hand and let him lead you out to a place of rest. Let your soul soar with peace as you gaze upon the spectacular purpose He has for you.

Proverbs 18:10 The name of the Lord is like a strong tower. The righteous run to it and are safe.

Blessings to you, dear friend!

Lisa Preuett

 

At the Crack of Dawn

Psalm 5:3 In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.

Darkness hovers. Most people still slumber in deep sleep. Our alarm clock blares. Eyes widening, we quickly bound out of bed. Careful not to wake anyone else in the house, we throw on our clothes. We’re ready to do what we planned all along. It’s the crack of dawn. Time to run.

Why is it that we runners choose to run so darn early? For heaven’s sake, it’s still dark outside! Our non-runner family members and friends question our motives to exchange another hour of sleep to run. Why not run later in the day when it’s not so, umm, dark?

Most runners claim that it’s beneficial to run in the early morning hours before other things start to interfere. Once the demands of the work day are underway or kids are bounding out of bed, it can be much harder to squeeze in a run. Feeling wiped out after a demanding day, the thought of running later in the day can seem daunting.

Running in the early morning gets your metabolism geared up for the rest of the day. Energy you didn’t have at first rushes through your blood vessels and you’re suddenly ready to face the day ahead with a more positive attitude. You’re also more likely to be aware of the food you put into your mouth after putting in hard work.

Runners claim it’s worth getting up early to see a sunrise first thing in the morning. The beauty and sheer joy of watching the sun come up is invigorating. Breathing in the cool air of the morning. Breathing out gratitude for such an awesome part of creation. With a refreshed perspective, you’re more able to tackle the day ahead.

While running early in the morning is good, seeking God in our first waking moments is even better. David writes in Psalms that his requests are brought to the Lord, in the morning. Early in the morning before we fall into our break-neck pace of life, we are urged to put our focus on God. Before we get distracted with work and interruptions from our kids. Before we start tackling our to-do list. Before we pick up our phone to check social media.

Seeking God first puts everything in perspective. Fixing our eyes on him before anything or anyone else grabs our attention sets the pace for the rest of the day. Humbling acknowledging him first allows the holy spirit to flow more freely through every part of your soul. Asking for his guidance makes us more cautious about what we choose to put into our mind throughout the day.

Even Jesus got up early in the morning to spend time with his heavenly father. He was fully man and fully God, yet he modeled for us what we should embrace first upon waking. His example should challenge us to follow in his footsteps. Footsteps that ran to God early in the morning.

It’s well worth rising early to encounter Jesus. Sitting still in his presence washes peace and joy over us like nothing else can. The power he infuses upon us is invigorating. We can then breathe in his grace. And this prepares us to breathe out praise to him throughout the rest of the day. Before we start our day, we’re refreshed with an eternal perspective. He prepares us to not just tackle the day ahead, but to thrive in it!

READY? How are you doing with spending time with God before your day gets going? Are there any changes you need to make in your schedule? How does spending quality time with God affect the rest of your day?

GET SET. Mark 1:35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

GO! Lord Jesus, thank you for the truth of your word. Help me to realize the importance of acknowledging you first in the morning. Forgive me for the times I’ve put other things ahead of you. Help me carve out the time to be still in your presence. Praise you for the promise that when we seek you first, you will provide all that we need. Amen.

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Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone!

Matthew 14:29  So Peter got out of the boat. He walked on the water toward Jesus. But when Peter saw the wind, he was afraid. He began to sink. He cried out, “Lord, save me!” Right away Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “Your faith is so small! Why did you doubt me?”

After running six half marathons during a four-year stretch, I felt God nudging me to attempt a full marathon. At first I fought against this gentle nudging. What? Are you getting me mixed up with someone else, God? Can’t I just stick with what I’m already doing? But when I realized He was indeed nudging me, I completely surrendered. Yes! I stepped way out of my comfort zone. I’d grown quite comfortable in running half marathons. I knew what to expect. I was comfortable with my pace. Comfortable with the training schedule. Confident in beating my own personal records from previous races. I was satisfied with my collection of medals from finished half-marathons.

But when I finally decided to attempt a full marathon, I stepped into unknown territory. It took me several days to muster up enough courage to actually register for the race. And once I officially registered, fear gripped my heart. I was no longer comfortable.  Maybe you’re comfortable jogging a few miles around the block, but you think you’d be too uncomfortable to sign up for a 5K. Perhaps you’ve grown accustomed to running nothing but 5K’s and the mere thought of going beyond that distance makes you break out in a sweat. You don’t want to leave your comfort zone because it’s just not….comfortable. But you know what? Sometimes that’s exactly where God wants us to be.

I’m sure Peter felt the same way in today’s passage. It’s pretty obvious that Peter most certainly stepped out of his comfort zone! The other disciples huddled together as they watched comfortably from inside the boat. Nobody else dared to follow behind him. He progressed from being a spectator to a participant. He stepped completely out of the boat and then he walked toward Jesus.

But when Peter saw the huge waves in the distance, he began to sink. He didn’t sink from the presence of the waves; he sank because he gawked at the ferocious waves and took his eyes off Jesus. When Jesus calls us out of our comfort zones, the wind and waves may still distract us. What are your distractions? Doubts from your inner soul? Criticism from others who don’t understand? Unexpected circumstances?

When Peter began to sink, he didn’t have to wait long for Jesus to rescue him. It’s because Jesus was right there. When Jesus calls you out of your comfort zone, he doesn’t just watch from a distance. He is right there beside you to catch you when you fall. The first timid step into the unknown can often usher in a tidal wave of fear. When that happens, humbly drop to your knees in prayer. Call out to Him like Peter did and let him rescue you with the strong grip of his loving hand.

READY? Where do you think Jesus is calling you to come out of your comfort zone? Are you still in the boat? Then trust Him as you take that first step out. Are you a few steps out of the boat? Then keep going one step at a time as you fix your eyes on Jesus. Are you beginning to sink? Then call out to Him! He is still there to catch you and get you going again.

GET SET. Psalm 105:4 Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always.

GO!  Lord Jesus, I humbly come to you and ask you to show me where I need to come out of my own comfort zone. Please forgive my unbelief and my human tendency to worry! Help me to not focus on the gushing waves around me, but to focus on the strength and peace you promise when we choose to seek your face. 

 

 

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Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

http://www.reststopforthesoul.com

God is Faithful

After trudging through the valley of unemployment for two and a half months, I praise God that my husband will be starting a new job this week! When the rug was pulled out from underneath us unexpectedly on June 23rd, we had no idea how many days, weeks or months it would be until God opened the door for a new job.

But God knew.

When we began walking this unknown  path, we trusted God to lead us one day at a time. Although we had no control of what was happening, we trusted that He was in control. To be honest, there were days our flesh struggled with this lack of control. Without control, we often feel helpless. Worried. Frustrated. Don’t we all just want a glimpse of what is ahead–a  little reassurance of what is coming? But God doesn’t always give us previews of the future. In fact, He rarely shows us what is around the corner.  That’s why it’s called faith!

The scripture I clung tightly to during this journey was Psalm 62:1-2: “My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my fortress; I will not be shaken.”

The day I posted my reaction to my husband’s job loss, we were most certainly shocked, but not shaken: https://reststopforthesoul.com/2014/06/24/shocked-but-not-shaken/

This was a true test of resting in God alone. Our flesh finds it much easier to rest when things are predictable, structured, and familiar. We grow accustomed to incoming paychecks. We feel secure when the savings account balance increases. But when the paychecks stop and the account gradually decreases, it is a wake-up call as to what your true rest is in. When our eyes were fixed on trusting God and not fixated on the numbers, we found true rest!

God was faithful and He provided.

The blessings showered upon us during this time were priceless. Here’s some of the highlights:

*The very day he lost his job opened up the opportunity for him to join us on a trip to visit our son.

*My husband got to spend the majority of the summer with his wife and daughter. How rare is that? Most dads and husbands only get a couple of weeks vacation at the most to spend uninterrupted time with their families.

*We enjoyed multiple boating trips that we wouldn’t have been able to take if he’d been working. He usually travels for his job and is too exhausted to do a lot on the weekends. (We got the boat just weeks before he lost his job!)

*He had time to start (and finish) multiple projects around the house that are usually put on a “wish list”.

*We went on a mission trip to Beattyville in the Appalachia Mountains through our church and someone anonymously paid the balance of our expenses.

*My mom decided to treat us to an unexpected vacation in Florida to wind down our summer.

*The amount of money he received from unemployment was more than enough to pay our mortgage payment.

*God blessed us through his previous job to be able to save money for this “rainy season”. (And over the years He’s given us wise advisers such as Dave Ramsey who encourages people to put away money in an emergency fund when job loss occurs.)

*God has strengthened our faith!

*This season of uncertainty has given us a front row seat to witness that God is faithful and can be trusted.

If you are in a season of uncertainty, I want to encourage you to trust God wholeheartedly. Surrender your frustration, worries and fears to Him. Rest in Him alone. You might not know what’s around the corner.

But He does.

And because He loves us, we can trust Him. We will not be shaken.

God is my rock

 

 

Blind Faith

Psalm 32:8 “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with my eye upon you”

Just five more minutes and the race would start. Runners all around me were jogging in place to stay warm, setting stopwatches, taking start-line photos with smart phones and stretching one last time. My GPS watch was set. My eyes fixed ahead. Suddenly some runners to my left brushed up against me. I glanced over and noticed a young man with a rope tied to his waist. An older man in front of him tightly held the other end of the rope in his hand. The older man sported a bright-orange vest with the word Guide boldly printed on the back.  It was obvious the young man was blind. And he wasn’t a spectator… He was going to run the race. Wow! I couldn’t believe this man was going to run a half-marathon…..blind. He was completely at the mercy of his guide.

I avoid obstacles when I run. Patches of ice, cracked sidewalks, uneven pathways and scattered debris cause interference if you’re not watching closely. Sometimes other people get in the way as I’m trying to maneuver around them. But I have perfect vision! I can see where the road gets narrow or where an incline is waiting for me to push harder. Can you imagine running any distance blind? You’d have to possess a strong trust in the person guiding you to let them lead you like that.

Oh to have this kind of faith in our journey of life—with God as our guide!  The kind of faith that doesn’t doubt. The kind of faith that trusts completely. The kind of faith that says “Okay God, I can’t see what’s up ahead, but I trust you to lead me through this challenge. So often we’re guilty of untying the rope that connects us to God and decide to do things our own way. Thinking we know better and don’t need His help, we let go of the rope. Then we wonder later how we got off track and why we crashed and burned from something we didn’t see before. Why do we doubt? Why don’t we trust?

The blind runner wasn’t anxious. His beaming smile spoke volumes. Maybe he felt secure because he was firmly attached to his guide. The psalmist in today’s verse confidently states that God’s watchful eye is on us as He guides us.  Perhaps that’s the key to our security in God: to be firmly attached to Him. That means we fix our eyes on Him. We seek Him whole heartedly. We stay as close to Him as we can possibly get. If we truly do this, maybe we won’t be anxious. Then we can display a beaming smile for all around us to see. And when people are attracted to our joyous countenance, we can point them to our awesome guide.

Wherever you are, I encourage you to hold tightly to God. Whatever your struggle, He will show you the next step. Stay close to Him because He knows what’s up ahead. It might not be easy, but He promises to be with you every step of the way.

READY?  Is your rope tied tightly to your heavenly guide? Or is it starting to lose its grip? Do you trust God to help you navigate the unknown road up ahead? Can you identify times when you’ve let go of the rope? What were the consequences of letting go? Keep your rope tightly tied and stay close to your savior.

GET SET.  Psalm 25:4-6 “Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.

GO!  Lord God, I come before you and ask you to secure my rope tightly to your side. Help me keep it firmly tied and not be tempted to loosen its grip. I confess the times I’ve chosen to go my own way. Forgive my unbelief! Help me trust you when I can’t see what’s up ahead. Help me to rest securely in the fact that you are in control and you know what’s best for me. Thank you for directing my steps. Thank you for the hope you’ve promised. Amen

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Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

http://www.reststopforthesoul.com