Life in 4,320 Minutes

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I am not a potter, but this past year, I was able to experience what it was like to literally put my sweat and blood into a tiny little clay bowl when my fiancé and I went to a class together. I messed up at least 2 times and had to throw the used clay back in the bucket. This bucket didn’t hold clay to be tossed out, but to be used again for another time. The reason I had to put the clay back into the bucket was that I am an amateur. I am not a potter.

In the Christian life, we are clay and God is our potter and He is not an amateur.

But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.

Isaiah 64: 8

In the past 72 hours, God has been doing some deep work in my heart. 4,320 minutes of heart-wrenching pain and joy. In those hours, I’ve gone to marriage counseling with my best friend and have been shown some of my deepest struggles and in turn had to ask forgiveness from the one I love the most here on earth and pray that God would change me to be more like Jesus. I’ve sat in a beautiful room listening to two friends joyfully give of their talents while giving testimony to the goodness of God through their pain and sorrow. I’ve received the message that two close friends have become new parents to a beautiful baby girl. I’ve talked with a mom whose child is going through physical difficulties. I’ve been to a work luncheon where I heard testimonies of women who have been set free from the bondage of life on the streets where I live. Today, I received the message that a sweet friend and mentor has gone home to be with her Savior.

This life is momentary and can change in a moment’s notice…in 4,320 minutes.

Yet, none of this is about me or even the people mentioned. It is about who it is that has His mighty hand in the making of this very small window of life, death, joy and pain. It is about God and we can praise Him in the midst of the pain in life because He has made a way for it all to end.

Do you realize that it was good that God forbade Adam and Eve from going back into the Garden of Eden once they fell? You see, once Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, sin entered the world. If God had allowed them to eat from the Tree of Life they would still be here…stuck in their everlasting pit of sin.

“Then the LORD God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—’ therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.”

Genesis 3:22-24

Despite the initial thoughts that come into our mind when we think of banishment, God was kind and merciful to send them out so that one day…they could die.

Not only did God provide a way out of eternity in our filthiness and broken relationship with Him, but He provided a way for us to have eternal life with Him free from sin and sadness with a new body and a restored relationship with Him.

Life can change in a minute, but that change can be an everlasting one.

“ For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:17-18

And if Not: The Story of Saul the Caterpillar

 

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Dear Friends and Family,

Introducing… And If Not: The Story of Saul the Caterpillar…a new children’s story that God has enabled me to publish this year. God is so good!

The publishing of this book started this past January, but God has had this project be in process for the last 7 years. I never thought I would do anything with this little story, but God had different plans. I decided to publish this book after the passing of a sweet friend and although this story has a bitter taste to it, I pray that it will be a blessing to many families and point to the true and wonderful message of Jesus. If you would like the story of how this book came to be then please read below.

The Story:

“And if Not: The Story of Saul the Caterpillar” initially was a quick response to anxious children in thirst of a new adventure story. Whatever the story was about, it had to have a life lesson. Later, it was written as a poem with the title, “The Fuzzy Little Caterpillar.” There were no names given to the characters nor was it set in any particular place. Over the years, it was realized that this was more than a simple poem. Soon the story details, characters and names started to develop. One very important detail was the meaning of each name in the story. In Hebrew, the name, Saul, means, “asked for, prayed for,” Zimri, means, “my praise” or “my music,” and Ebenezer, means, “stone of help.”

It wasn’t until a missionary from China visited a little island in the Pacific that Saul’s story really came to life. One evening, the missionary gave her testimony and shared her struggles being content with the trials that she and her family had gone through. Two weeks later, she received the terrible news that she was diagnosed with cancer. That was when it was decided that this special story about trials would take place in China. The citrus grove, the cinnamon tree, and even the moths and butterflies are from the China region. Still, Saul’s story wasn’t complete and was put on the shelf for two years.

In December of 2017, a tragic accident happened. A special family lost a son, brother, husband and father; while others lost a close friend, and co-laborer of the Gospel. This was the moment God used to move the author’s heart to finish and publish Saul’s story and see what God could do with its message. This book is dedicated to the son of the friend whom God chose to bring home. May this story be used to glorify God and bring you to the full knowledge and joy of knowing Jesus as your personal Savior.

The book is available now on the Westbow Press website in softcover and in E-Book here.

Soon it will also be available on Barnes and Noble and Amazon websites. I have yet to receive any physical copies, but if you would like to reserve a copy of the book then please email me at beyondtheroadlesstraveled@gmail.com with the subject: “Book Reserve”. I would love to hear your feedback as well so please don’t hesitate to contact me.

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1,000 Years

“Now, Lord, I would be Yours alone
And live so all might see
The strength to follow Your commands
Could never come from me
Oh Father, use my ransomed life
In any way You choose
And let my song forever be
My only boast is You

Hallelujah! All I have is Christ
Hallelujah! Jesus is my life.

-All I Have is Christ, Bob Kauflin

Continue reading “1,000 Years”

“And If Not…”

Woman with luggage in mountains.

Each one of us can understand the feeling of change. The resistance, the pain, the excitement, the joy. Some fear it and shy away from it. Some embrace it for the sake of adventure. For the rest of us, change is like starting a new series of books. You start reading the first book trying to understand the setting and details of the characters, but at the same time your mind keeps bringing up this thought, “Either I’m going to love this story or this is going to be a big waste of time.” No matter how many recommendations from others you’ve received or reviews you’ve read, you won’t fully know if you love the story until you’ve read the words, “The End.”

That’s what’s nice about books. They have an end. They have a physical end that you can pick up and have a complete understanding about. It’s really not that complicated. Life, however, is different. Each year, week, day and moment is messy, complicated and completely unpredictable. You can’t even look ahead to the end like some do with a book (I personally think that takes the fun out of it!). Maybe you’re like me and wish that your life was simple and uncomplicated with little change. Just enough for adventure, but not enough to be painful.

Well, unfortunately, this isn’t what life brings.

What is that one thing that makes a lump form in your throat the minute someone asks the right/wrong question? Is it that horrible disease, financial debt, relational issue/status, sin struggle, life-changing decision or even that overwhelming theological question that you just can’t muster up the courage to ask? How can you possibly describe what you are going through or can you avoid the question altogether?

The moment that Adam and Eve fell, man was separated from God by a deep barrier of darkness filled with spiritual and physical thorns, suffocating mires and depressing loneliness. No good deed or standing could ever be our advocate. We needed a perfect and holy sacrifice. Jesus was that sacrifice and our propitiation for our sin. At the very moment we confess our sin, ask forgiveness and accept Jesus as our personal Savior, change happens. And that change is gloriously painful. The most painful thing we will ever experience now is our time here on earth. Our spiritual bodies are now secured alone in Christ, but our physical ones still need to die in order to be with the Lord. So, what does that mean? It means we still have to live with ourselves and now our spiritual and physical bodies don’t agree. Sanctification doesn’t look all that great to us because it also means pain. However, sanctification is a sweet smelling savor to our Father; making us holy, making us essentially more like His Son, Jesus. At the end of it all, we eternally get to be with our Lord and Savior. The One who created us loved us died for us and was raised is now interceding for us at the throne of God where we will one day be with Him forever. That’s the good news. The end of change is a perfect relationship with God. He is a good and gracious God.

So, what if your circumstances change for the better (in your opinion)? Would that change you? Let’s not try to put a, “Well, what if God is trying to do such and such” kind of statement on this. What if you thought you were doing what God wanted you to do and then your plans changed? Are you out of God’s will now?

Do we really think that we have the control to change the perfect will of God? Do we really have to understand every little detail of our lives? Why do we think we have to control everything or ask God to fit into our god-like box that we can understand. His ways are perfect and always for our good. A friend once asked me, “Sarah, if you had the choice, would you rather struggle and have God or would you rather never struggle and not have God?”

Whatever the circumstance, whatever the hurt, whatever the trial, joy or pain, God has a purpose. If He wills it, He will do it, and if not, He is still good.

Cried Out in Anguish That I Might Sing

Has God ever used a phrase in scripture, in a book or even a song to pierce your soul and make something so vividly clear about Himself to you? He definitely has for me. Each Wednesday, some of our teens and sponsors come early to practice music before we sing them in our youth group. Practicing went smoothly. However, once the service began and we started the song, “How Deep,” I suddenly remembered that there was one phrase in the song that would catch me off guard. As we sung the phrase, “cried out in anguish that I might sing” I lost all control of my emotions and couldn’t finish the song. All I could do was listen as the teens sang the words that kept piercing my heart. Since music is a big part of my life, this presses on a deep place in my heart. The Spirit was reminding me of Christ’s love through His sacrifice.

Good Friday starts the Easter Celebrations. Most people may have the day off and will probably use it to spend with family or run errands. Those aren’t bad things, but do take a moment today and read through the accounts of Christ and His crucifixion. Why? Because we need to remember what He sacrificed for us. God loved us so much that He sent His only Son, Jesus to die a cruel death, to be separated from Him and to take on the full wrath of God that was meant for us. All so that we could be restored as God’s children and to be clothed with Christ’s robe of righteousness. What a beautiful and humbling thing. How deep is God’s love for us? This deep.

“And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying,

 “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Matthew 27: 46 ESV

Do you realize that if we are truly God’s children through Jesus Christ, we will never say these words? He cried out these words from the deepest anguish and no one will ever have to endure them as He did. He was completely alone, separated from His Father for us. No one will suffer like Jesus. However, those who do not accept the gift of salvation through Christ alone will indeed suffer separation from God in Hell. But this is not God’s plan!  (“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”-2 Peter 3:9). To receive this gift, you must accept it and have faith in the finished work of Christ alone. Will you accept this free gift of salvation?

And Jesus did not stay dead.

For death was not the end…for what happened next was nothing short of a miracle. On the third day, He defeated and conquered death; He rose from the grave. He crushed the serpent’s head and He paid the price for our sin. He did that for me and for you! After a small time on earth after His resurrection, He ascended into Heaven. Today He is very much alive and interceding for His children (Hebrews 12:2)! He has also never left us, for He left the Spirit to live in us and dwell with us. God has freed us through Christ so that we may live and praise Him! Let us rejoice and give praise to God our Father and Creator, our Redeemer and King in what He has done and what He is doing in us!

How Deep

You were broken that I might be healed.

You were cast off that I might draw near.

You were thirsty that I might come drink.

Cried out in anguish that I might sing.

 

How deep is Your love!

How high and how wide is Your mercy!

How deep is Your grace!

Our hearts overflow with praise

To You!

You knew darkness that I might know light.

Wept great tears that mine might be dried.

Stripped of glory that I might be clothed.

Crushed by Your Father to call me Your own.

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