Category Archive: Promises

GPS and a Shepherd

I had just gotten into my SUV after the Sunday school class and had not asked for directions. But my phone’s GPS popped up with “17 minutes to Evergreen Valley Church.” I have been attending a Sunday school class at another church, then scooting home to pick Don up and go to Evergreen (EVC), our home church. How did my GPS know where I was going next? Hmmmm, think someone/thing is tracking?

Pastor Tim is teaching on Psalm 23 this month. He challenged us to memorize this psalm, and to use it as a basis for thanksgiving. There is so much wealth in this poem. We need to start with God–always; it’s so easy to start from my point of view, my circumstances. But the Psalmist begins, “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.”

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
   He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
    He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name’s sake.

Psalm 23:1-3, ESV
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When I start with my circumstances I can easily become disheartened, overwhelmed, and even numb. But when I look to God first and ask what He is doing through my circumstances, I have a different perspective.

He is my shepherd, right now. My GPS, my personal guidance system, from now ’til eternity. You don’t see sheep running around on their own, like you might wild Mustangs. Sheep are totally dependent on their shepherd for food, water and protection.

And so am I. I live in a country where independence is highly valued. Self-reliance can become a barrier to trusting God. But I’ve often been reminded of my need to rely on my Good Shepherd…

  1. When I, and the staff women with whom I lived in the inner city, were threatened with death and mutilation
  2. When I had to trust God for financial provision while working in a non-profit
  3. When I have choices to make that will either further my agenda, or His
  4. When I lost a beloved husband to death
  5. When I’m weary and my husband needs help with his computer and I need my shepherd’s “green pastures” and “still waters” to respond rightly
  6. When my neighbor is critically ill and I feel helpless in knowing what to say, and God just helps me love her
  7. When family members and dear friends suffer with chemo and Covid and loss, and I cry out to Him for them

We are made to have companionship with the Lord, to rely on Him, to trust in Him. These words of Isaiah are familiar to many because they are repeated in Handel’s MESSIAH:

He will tend his flock like a shepherd;

    he will gather the lambs in his arms;

he will carry them in his bosom,

    and gently lead those that are with young.

Isaiah 40:11

Within the twenty-third Psalm is the wonderful truth that as our Shepherd, God leads, guides, and directs our paths. How often have I headed one direction to have Him turn me around, sometimes painfully.

  • The man I thought I’d marry (which would not have been His best for me)
  • The career choices I made with His guidance
  • Asking forgiveness of others where needed because of His Spirit’s conviction
  • The two lovely men I did marry, and the blessings of each
  • And the joy of serving God in a variety of ways over the years.

There’s much more in this Psalm yet, but for this week, these scriptures will be my focus.

Where have you experienced God as your Shepherd?

NOTHING CAN SEPARATE US

Jan died Tuesday morning. She told me awhile back that the doctors said the cancer that lay dormant for a few years had returned with a vengeance. She had six months or less to live.

We met Jan, our next-door neighbor, before we ever moved to our current home. She phoned to say the fence was broken and ask if we would split the cost of repairs. Of course we agreed.

After we moved in, we often met Jan walking Sophie, her golden Lab, while we walked Paige. After Sophie passed, Jan’s daughter gave her Harley, a handsome black Lab. Jan’s pockets always carried an abundance of Charlee Bears, which she freely shared with other dogs along her walk. First Sophie, then Harley, was “just perfect”. She loved these canine companions dearly.

close up of dog relaxing on bed
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Don and I prayed for opportunities to serve her, and to share the love of Jesus with her. One day I asked, in the context of the conversation, if Jesus was her Savior.

“Yes, He is. I talk to Him every night.”

Jan continued walking Harley ’til about two weeks ago, when she simply was too weary to continue. Harley went back to Jan’s daughter and was reunited with old buddies there.

Over these months we took baked goods, flowers, replaced light bulbs, sent cards and assured her of our prayers, so grateful to know Jesus was on this journey with Jan.

Monday morning Don and I read Romans 8:38-39:

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

sky sunset person silhouette
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I felt those verses were for Jan that day. We hadn’t seen her in a week, so didn’t realize how quickly she had declined. I wrote the scriptures in a card and called to see if we could bring it over.

One of her daughters answered the phone. “She’s unconscious, on morphine, but you’re welcome to come talk to her.”

Entering Jan’s room that afternoon, we saw her unconscious form. As we stood at her bedside I took her hand and said, “Jan, it’s Carol and Don.” She seemed to try to respond as her lips moved, without sound. “We brought you a card, and I’ll just read it to you.”

I read the verses aloud. Medical professionals say hearing is the last sense to go, so I wanted these scriptures to be in her heart and mind as she transitioned. “NOTHING will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Unknown to me, two of her three daughters had entered the room and listened. As I told Jan “When you see Jesus calling you, just go to Him – just let go.” Her daughter murmured, “yes.”

Jan let go Tuesday morning at about 6 o’clock.

Isn’t it just like God to give us a scripture that we’ll need for something that very day? Don and I were so glad to see Jan and say goodbye, tell her we look forward to seeing her again at Jesus’ feet.

And yes, walking out our garage doors feels empty now, just knowing our Jan is no longer here. And yet we rejoice knowing she is in the presence of Jesus Christ, Lord, Savior, Messiah. And because of God’s provision for our sin through Jesus’ death and resurrection, we will see her again.

Thought: if you have a loved one in a coma, or near death, keep talking to them, asking God to allow your words to sink into their spirit.

Perspective and Promise

Did you notice more grey hairs during the past six months of shelter in place? I did. Not that I had more, but that without going to the salon they were coming out of hiding!

I’m thrilled that nail and hair salons in our area have reopened and I can deal with those grey hairs.

But I’m even more encouraged by the Old Testament prophet Isaiah.

Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all you who remain of the house of Israel, you whom I have upheld since you were conceived, and have carried since your birth. Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.

Isaiah 46:3-4

What a promise! The God of creation upheld me since conception, carried me since birth, and will sustain me to my old age. There’s another wonderful promise in Psalm 92.

The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”

Psalm 92:12-15

Oh, we will have difficulties and trials in this life. Jesus promised that.

Sometimes I feel I’ve had my share of challenges, between the losses of a husband, both parents and parents-in-law, and some dear friends; challenges of illnesses; Covid-19 restrictions; and leaving/healing from a legalistic ministry.

But then I think of those in countries where people are being held captive for years, separated from family who may not even know whether or not they are alive, because of their faith in Jesus Christ. Others are giving their lives rather than renounce their Lord. He said if they hated me, they will hate you. And I pray for God’s sustenance for those dear brothers and sisters. And I ask how I can help.

These are righteous, and they will be honored by God in His kingdom. And I’m humbled because I have not experienced what they have. And yet all who have trusted in Christ’s work on the cross are counted righteous–not because of what we have done, but because of his grace! (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Perspective and promise. Perspective that comes from recognizing God’s loving hand throughout my life (and trusting him for my future) and from seeing others remain faithful through extremely difficult trials.

God’s promises, which are true because he cannot lie. It would be against his character. And he has promised “a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11) to all who trust in him. We may not see that hope in its fullness until we’re on the other side; but his promise is true.

How are you doing through this time of shelter in place and division in our country? I pray you will be encouraged by these two focus areas, perspective and promise.

I’d love to hear from you.