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June 30, 2009

Times and Places...

BeautifulPath

Greetings, Dear Friends!



And to those visiting, I say welcome! I post every Wednesday and my sole purpose is to nourish your soul along the way.

Each month I give away a $10.00 gift card to someone who posts on my blog. Would you believe it's already time to announce the winner for June? The winner of a $10.00 gift card from Starbucks goes to...

Drum roll please...

Stephanie Carlson! Congratulations! Please note that you have to email me your mailing address some time before I award next month's winner. Contact me at: info@susielarson.com 

*One more important note. I will be on vacation next week and will be away from the internet and out of email range. I'll look forward to connecting with you on the 15th of July. 

Now on to my topic...

Many years ago, I learned a valuable lesson: God is not subject to my timetables. I may have good reason for expecting Him to come through for me on specific occasions, but His actions will not be dictated by my timelines. 

As a young mom, I never realized how much I had hoped in God for my circumstances (instead of through them). 

After six months on bed rest due to a high risk pregnancy and in spite of some scary neurological symptoms during that pregnancy, I had hoped God wouldn't allow me to go from dealing with bed rest to dealing with a disease. But He did.

Amidst babies in the hospital and my own health battles, I had hoped that God wouldn't allow us to suffer financially, but He did. 

After going through several years of crisis, and then finally having the opportunity to go on a vacation to a resort with my extended family, I had hoped God would bless us with great weather and healthy kids for a week, but He didn't. 

At the end of the day, I wanted to stomp and scream and wonder what was the point of faith (and I definitely had my moments), but deep in my soul, I knew God was there with me, teaching me to hope in Him - and not in my circumstances. 

A verse that I love comes from first Timothy (6:6) and it reads:

Godliness with contentment is great gain.

To me, godliness speaks of forward movement; an earnest pursuit of the Father; a strong hope that He will come through for us; and a faith that believes in God's promises amidst the absence of evidence. 

And then there's contentment. My Thesaurus describes contentment with these words: fulfillment, peace, happiness, ease, comfort, well-being, satisfaction, serenity.  

To me, that's a measure of maturity; embracing a forward moving faith, along with a peaceful, satisfied heart that embraces God amidst your current circumstances.

When our hoped-for plans come to a screeching halt and God disappoints, how do we find peace, fulfillment, ease, well-being, and satisfaction amidst it all?

We step back and remember that God is God. And He is good. And He is always up to something. 

We wrap our arms around the Vine, we pursue godliness, and we embrace contentment; a contentment that declares, "I will find God in this somehow! My hope is in the Lord, and not in the idea that things should always go my way. Plans may fail, the rain will fall, and circumstances will sometimes fall short of my expectations, but this is where my faith counts. When I put everything on the table and give God room to work, I will find Him in the most unexpected places, and I will grow in the process!" 

Godliness with contentment is great gain. 

Though our plans may fall short of our expectations, we must not miss the opportunity to gain ground in our walk of faith. We hope in the Lord, not in that next raise, the next potential job, vacation, family time, etc. We make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps (See Proverbs 16:9). And in due time, we will enjoy a surprisingly sunny day, or a peaceful morning, or a sweet vacation, or a quick breakthrough. And those times are especially sweet when we learn to put our hope in the Lord. It's like icing on the cake. :)

In closing, read this wonderful quote by John Tauler written in the 1300's:

"Be assured of this, you do not know God in truth, and have no true peace, if you are depending upon times and places. Remember that whatever God gives you to do, from moment to moment, that is the very best thing you could possibly be doing, and you little know where and when the Lord will meet you. He who does not seek to find God everywhere, and in everything, finds Him nowhere and in nothing." 

Have a blessed couple of weeks.

PS ~ If you haven't signed up for my free quarterly E-zine, you might want to. Some of my author friends give away free copies of their books, I write a devotional, share some great book recommendations, great quotes, and a prayer to send you on your way. My next issue releases on the 15th of July. Click the link below to sign up:

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Comments

Aimee,

Welcome back! So glad to have you! Be blessed today!

Love this post! I have been doing a little stomping and screaming at the end of my days lately! Thanks for the reminder that God is always up to something. That was great. I had to laugh as I read it and I wrote it down to remind me at the end of the day it's not about me - it's God's timing. It's so good to be back! Thanks.

Dear Genny,

Welcome! Glad you stopped by. And I'm thankful you found a timely word here. May God continue to strengthen and establish you for His purposes. Be blessed this day!

Dear Rebecca,

Nice to hear from you! I do hope you are enjoying a fantastic summer. Save time for yourself. :)

Peace to you~

Dear Cherie,

I think of you often (whenever I look at my necklace). :)

You have such an amazing passion for God. I SO loved ministering alongside you and your gang in Indiana. May God continue to bless and protect and work through every one of you!

Peace, friend~

Dear Cheyenne,

Thanks for your post! Yes, Lord! Make us grateful people! May we take every opportunity we can to offer thanks to Him.

God bless you!

Dear Anna,

Amen and amen. Not that I know anything about control or anything. :)

Bless you~

Dear Maggi,

Thanks for your post! God is good all the time! He is always watching out for us; always has our best interest in mind; and always works in ways beyond our understanding. He is faithful and can be trusted even in the worst of times. In our early wilderness years, I wondered why He allowed us to go through so many painful trials, but then I realized He was using the painful seasons to extract from me that which the enemy wanted to use against me. He was purifying and refining me for His greater purposes. Eventually I 'leaned in' and hung on for dear life. In due time the seasons changed and I was stronger and more prepared for the things He had for me! May His goodness never be up for grabs! Blessings to you!

I came over here from Hearts at Home. Just wanted to comment and say thank you for the reminder that God is always up to something. I needed to hear that! :)

Thanks for the great reminder Susie!
I hope and pray your enjoying summer.
God is so good!!!
Rich blessings~

So good, sweet Susie! Taste and see that the Lord is good! Thanking you for your faithfulness in filling us up each week with a word from the Lord:) Have an amazing week out. Love, Sister Cherie

I was talking to a friend about this truth today, that life doesn't go according to our plans . . . "the best-laid plans of man" ;-) But you know, I find it comforting, if I can remind myself of the big picture: we [especially those of us who are controllers -- we know who we are!] get so caught up in our plans for every aspect of life that we forget how stressed out it makes us: the truth is that the reality that it's not all up to us, not all weighing on our own shoulders, is a breath of fresh air, and a sweet gift of grace from God! How good to rest in the assurance that the Creator of all, who is goodness itself, has us in his gentle hands!

Amen susie, you said it perfectly, what we want and what we need are two very different things! Lord make us grateful people! i look forward to your emails weekly.-

Susie-
I have walked in similar paths. With the pregnancy thing, I remember asking my husband outloud "What did we do wrong? Are we not godly enough? Why would God choose us for this?" I remember just groaning to God because I couldn't even articulate my prayers.

BUT-God is good. Even when things are bad. I have found myself saying "God is good all the time." While the theology might be a bit off, it helps remind me most that God is in control....even when I can't see it.
Thanks for the encouragement.
Maggi

Sherrill,

Thanks so much for sending your friends my way! May God continue to nourish your soul and encourage your faith!
Bless you~

Dear Linda,

I'm glad this week's post encouraged you. May God continue to build you up, strengthen you, and give you a sense of your next place of promise. Peace to you!

Chasta,

I'm expecting perfect, sunny weather and cool nights. I want everyone to get along and no one to get sick. I want to eat a bunch of my gluten free brownies but not gain any weight. I want to read my seven novels and still have time for swimming and family fun. I want to enjoy three hour prayer times in the morning and deep sleep at night. I wouldn't mind catching a fish or two either. Oh, and I'd like a few nice long walks with my husband and my sons. Hmmmm. I'll let you know how it goes. :) Bless you...

Dear Tami,

Thanks so much for your post. You know, I prayed specifically that this post would encourage and strengthen those who need it. Bless you.

Susie,
Thank you for writing what God is teaching you ! I look forward to Wednesdays!
Everything you write is full of wisdom and honesty ! I am often telling my friends to read too ! Enjoy you vacation !
Much Blessings to you !
Sherrill

Dear Susie,

Enjoyed your new devotional today, so true. Have a great vacation and time of refreshment. God Bless you. and may God keep you and all in His watchcare,

In Christ,

Linda D.

Thanks for the reminder that God is so big and we can't limit him in our own plans. I hope the wedding went well. Many Blessings to you and your family! Enjoy your well deserved vacation, even if all doesn't go as you have planned. (hee hee) :)

God spoke to me through this today, Susie. Thank you.

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