His goodness is not contingent upon my feelings, reactions, or justifications. He is good. Period. And His mercy endureth forever (Psalm 136:1) – which means whatever I’m going through, whenever I’m going through, wherever I’m going through it, He is still good. He transcends time and situation. There is nothing too far where God’s mercy can’t reach; He’s already tHEre. There is nothing too hard for Him where His goodness will not reign.
I have a list of things that went wrong in the last 7 days, but I also have a list of what went right. They combat each other, and then they balance each other out.
How can you laugh when your license plate was stolen off of your car in broad daylight? You get grateful that your car wasn’t missing too.
How do you not be upset that you have to work on your day off? You become grateful for employment.
How do you breathe when someone leaves your life? You begin to thank God for the time you had, knowing that s/he could have been born on the other side of the world and you would have missed out on her/his awesomeness.
I’ve grown in this area, this No Matter What territory. Life’s challenges continue to improve my agility. I’d like to think that I came straight from heaven with it, but it was forged in me through my parents and mentors that served as night lights along the way.
CAUTION: This No Matter What mentality is not for the faint of heart. It comes with distractions sprinkled like glitter on a carpeted floor, luring your focus away from your purpose as you attempt to walk forward. It has splashes of anger as you recall the sacrifices you made while fighting your demons… alone. It requires you to acknowledge the bad stuff, square up, and say that all things work together for the good of those that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28)… and believeit. It means crying tears of courage that leak from your broken heart.
No Matter What takes practice. Expect bruises. Check for sores. They’ll be there, but keep walking, keep praying, and keep fasting from the feast of your fears.
Believe, no matter what.
Give, no matter what.
Go,no matter what.
Love, no matter what.
And while you’re standing there braving the winds or bent over wounded from the blows, remember that Jesus is Immanuel. He is with you… all the time…
There are few times when I travel backward in my mind and find nuggets of perfect synchronicity in a fraction of a second. Saturday was one of those times, so allow me to walk you through the steps. Bear with the chain link of events below as I bare my soul.
STEP 1: THE PLAN
It all began with an idea to have a fun-filled, let-your-hair-down kinda day for my performing arts troupe, which consists of experienced professionals in various industries. They’re amazing superheroes in their respective fields and on any stage of creativity. A beautiful dichotomy of talent if you ask me. This delicate balance needed a breeze of fellowship, so August 13th was set for Summer Fun Day at Avondale Park. I could hardly wait.
STEP 2: THE CONSIDERATION
One of our members attends graduate school out-of-state and was making the trek to spend time with the team, so I watched the weather closely to ensure that she could travel to us safely. I didn’t see some responses from my crew (which I later discovered was due to a technical glitch), so I considered canceling it altogether. After all, we had received bursts of thunderstorms every day that week and Saturday was going to follow suit. I decided to keep the plan based upon the forecast, and added some extra prayer to the meteorologist’s news. So glad I did. The weather was perfect.
STEP 3: THE IDEA
On the previous evening, we held rehearsal and one of our members brought up the notion of eating at Saw’s Soul Kitchen in Avondale, Alabama. I had never been, so I immediately was intrigued and ready to go. The dance of overcasting clouds and sunshine made for a mean game of volleyball and Uno. We were having fun, exactly what I prayed for. It seemed only fitting that we carry the good vibrations over to the restaurant.
STEP 4: THE GOODNESS
The food was delicious and so was the laughter. We sang along to the old school soul music showering over our cozy little table of five. We were enjoying each other’s company, exactly what I prayed for. Then, enter a smiling stranger who politely asked us if we were about to leave and if he and his family could have our table. If you’ve been to Saw’s in Avondale, you know the severity of this request. There are less than 10 tables in this eatery and the line to obtain one when they open at 11 starts at 10:40 AM at best. I’m ashamed to admit that I shook my head “no.” Thank God for my friend, who apparently was closer to Jesus than I was in that moment, that said yes and my stone-faced look morphed into a smile and a nod. He was kind and respectful, and I was proudly selfish. I’m usually the person that is cognizant of busy hours and needed seats, but on that day, I didn’t want to be considerate. I was marinating in the loveliness of time that our team rarely experiences without the demands of a deadline. I didn’t want to leave. I didn’t want it to end…
but it was time.
STEP 5: THE SUGGESTION
After releasing our table, the same friend that suggested Saw’s pointed our attention to a thrift store nearby that she loves to visit. Sozo Trading Company was the destined place. Being the economical giants that we are, we jumped at the chance to embark on another adventure. Like giddy children filled with wonder, we walked inside and immediately felt peace. Dakota greeted us with a smile and noticed our matching shirts. She inquired of our talents and we agreed to perform a human video before we left.
STEP 6: THE CRUX
Remember when I gave you the demographics of the team in THE PLAN? The challenge that comes with our creative make-up is that schedule clashes are inevitable and not everyone learns the same piece at the time it is taught. In this instance, there was also the factor that one of our members had not performed with us in over a year. So, the suggestions started flowing. “What about this?” “Were you here when we did that song?” “I don’t know that one, but I can learn it.” The communication about the business at hand resulted in my spirit being nudged to return to the first song I heard in my soul stereo – How He Loves Usby Jesus Culture featuring Kim Walker-Smith. It fitted the mission of Sozo perfectly, so I shared those thoughts with my team. So, in true Workmanship Incorporated anointing, we quickly forged as a unit and half of our quad learned the piece in the back of the store. The funny part is that no one batted an eye of curiosity or annoyance. They just shopped around us as if our full-bodied belonged in the setting. In less than 45 minutes, we were all caught up and ready to serve.
STEP 7: THE BLESSING
We ministered. Right there inside of the front entrance doors.
If you’ve never performed a human video, it requires all of your muscles to cooperate and be in sync with those around you in order to present the storyline clearly. Two of us were negotiating with our bodies about previous injuries, two of us had learned the piece in minutes, and all of us were in sync. It was beautifully amazing. As usual, we performed for an audience of ONE – the ONE who gives us Life and the ONE who needs it. Dakota recorded and took pictures. When the song was over and we expired all we had, Dakota was teary and patrons were nearby. A man approached us with watery gratefulness in his eyes and hugged us, thanking us for the message of Love. His courage to be touched is what sincerely touched me. An open masculine heart is said to be soft, weak, or feminine by society’s standards unless they’re crying about winning a championship, but at that moment… he felt loved and reminded, and that was all that mattered. Then, it dawned on me. He was my blessing. Dakota was my blessing. Austin and Amanda (fellow Sozo staff) were my blessing. The gentleman at the restaurant was my blessing. Steps 1 through 7 were the blessing that led to the makarios moment… this man hugging people he didn’t know because of a Message that we said silently. We were presented with the opportunity to eulogeó (to speak well of, praise, or bless) God in the presence of His people and it resulted as a makariosexperience for ourselves and others (refers to the believer in Christ who is satisfied and secure in the midst of life’s hardships because of the indwelling fullness of the Spirit).
What did I learn that day?
That your plans are never yours. They always affect someone else, even when you don’t know it. And you’ll be better off letting God lead the choices you make because He always has a two-edged blessing waiting for you. Blessings are always simultaneously designed. They are never unilateral.
To learn more about Greek words related to “blessing/blessed,” click here and here. I hope you enjoy the insight as much as I did.
Peace & Thanks for Listening. (I know it was a long one this time, so really… thank you.)
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But desire fulfilled is a tree of life. – Proverbs 13:12
Hope deferred… That pair of words reminds me of Harlem, the famous Langston Hughes poem. It was one of my favorite reads in high school.
What truly happens to a dream deferred? That question has been a mystery for years, but the truth hasn’t changed in that the dream only dies when we allow it to cease. When you stop feeding it, it will starve and die within you. Then, you carry dead dreams, dead hope in desperate need of resuscitation. It’s hard to carry broken promises, shredded heart tissue, and withered hope. They’re like cannon balls in your chest, holding you down from flying past your present potential. This is where faith comes in from Hebrews 11:1 – Now faith is the substance of things HOPED for and the evidence of things not seen. Faith kicks in and stands at the door when hope runs out and fear circulates the perimeter of your heart in wait of your paralysis.
You can also think of this as a monetary transaction. Faith is the check written to you, while hope is the construction of belief that you’ll receive the cash. You can hold on to faith because it supersedes hope. Hope deferred will make your heart ill in longing to fulfill your purpose on Earth. Now this is where the 2nd part of the proverb makes its impact and where I get excited.
Desire fulfilled is a tree of life. Trees are designed to bear seeds. They can’t control where these seeds go, but they produce them out of obedience to their Maker. It has one job… to produce. The tree stands tall and bears seeds and that’s how forests are formed. When your desires line up with God’s will, not fulfilling that desire/dream will make you feel seedless, unfruitful.The key word is here is FEEL. You are not a sterile spiritual being. You weren’t created to be that.
Once you tap into that TRUTH, you’ll see a tree of life inside of you, not a death sentence. Then, like a tree, the life cycle of your dream will continue well after you’re gone and growth will be inevitable. Your purpose-filled dream will touch many lives after your hands (or “branches”) have aged and produced seeds of great service.Your hope and dream(s) can not afford you to be lazy, discouraged, or spiritually sick. When something is deferred, it is not canceled… so your hope can still be resuscitated.
Keep your hope alive and intimately near so that your rich, customized life can be the gift that keeps on giving to the soil and air around you.
Have you ever felt like your hope was petrified?
Your dream is a gift, so what are you giving?
What can you do this week to oxygenate your hope and aerate your dreams?
Caution: Let’s go swimming in our thoughts for a bit…. 622 words deep to be exact.
I don’t know how to swim (effectively), but I love the beach. I see a swimming pool and I want to jump in like an Olympic diver and scuba diving is on my LTD (life-to-do) List. With all of this enchantment over water, such a simple necessity, it would make sense as to why God would use it to get His points across.
THE LATSOL MOMENT
One morning while I was walking my dog Sammy, I noticed the dew on the grass. My dog loves to slurp it off the grass in order to prolong his morning ritual. It was nothing new, but the temperature had been consistently 90 degrees or more in Alabama for a week and even the evenings felt like a cough of heat from the daytime. On this particular morning, the dew arrested my attention. How was there dew on the grass in the midst of heat?I know the scientific answer, but that wasn’t satisfying at that moment. Then I heard God say gently…
“No matter how hot it gets, there’s always dew on the grass in the morning.
That alone should be proof that I will take care of you.”
Wow. That was my water proof. Finally. See a few years ago, I asked for God to help me understand him more… to make himself tangible to my curiosity and satisfy my itch to learn Him in a deeper way. So in order to understand my excitement about this “theorem,” you must hear my “proof.” (Hey, math teachers… two points?)
We need God. He created water as something that we must consume and depend on in which to live. We need Him.
We are made of God. God created each of us in His likeness.
God can affect, penetrate, or saturate anything over time. He is all-powerful.
God is underneath us, with us, and above us. He is omnipresent.
God has 3 forms and each has a specific purpose. The Holy Trinity consists of God the Father (the Protector and Judge), Jesus the Son (the Savior and Advocate), and The Holy Spirit (The Comforter and Guide).
God was made to move. He is omnipotent and can not be contained.
God can be customized. He manages to speak to anyone who desires a relationship with Him regardless of geographical location and demographics.
Proof: God is like water.
It is a representation of His deity and awesomeness and is not bound by circumstances.
Lastly and personally…
To say that water fascinates me would be an understatement. The shower is my thinking placeand a warm bath is a cozy envelope for my questions and feelings of frustration. I leave them there, in the envelope, to go down the drain forevermore. When I step out of the shower, I am new. I’m ready for the day or evening and mentally prepared for what’s ahead.
So, when I saw the blades of grass with dew and Sammy was enjoying the natural refreshment in spite of the heat, I felt like God gave my proof some recognition. More like I finally listened to what He had been saying all along. I am God. I will provide. I am not affected by your changes. I am always here.
I took a deep breath that morning and my soul agreed… and I felt amazing.
A plan with no direction… What a sad plight. You’ve gotten everything ready. The paperwork. The people. The protocol. The capital. But where’s North?
Figuratively, I see North as the place where all other movement hinges. It’s the starting point. Once you know where North is, you know where to start moving. The next steps are predicated upon confirming that one direction and ignorance, in this case, is not bliss. Without this vital information, we travel in circles of frustration and become disoriented in our mistakes. Our former “Big Idea” becomes the bane of our existence and we sit on a pile of confusion praying for the answer to that simple question… “Where’s North?”
If there was just a glimpse of light, a twinkle of a star, a rudimentary clue, you could find your way out of the woods. Until that moment arrives, you wait and heighten your attention in hopes of finding out sooner than later.
The mind of a man has plans, but they are nothing without God’s direction (Proverbs 16:9). He is North. Your plans are well made, but they’re in a jungle of questions and uncertainty.
Find North first. The rest of your journey will make sense as you walk.
What forest have you been wandering in lately? When’s the last time you were still enough to hear where North is?
If you try to reach me using Facebook, good luck. I’m simply not as big of a user, especially of the messaging system. I turned off the notifications to my phone a long time ago. “This person like your picture… this person commented on a picture you liked… This person liked the same picture you liked…” It was becoming too nerve-wrecking. Then there’s the infamous question:
Did you see my post/get my message on Facebook?
My usual response – No. Do you still have my number? Why didn’t you just call me?
Sure, I understand that social media is the wave of the future in terms of communicating with the masses and with loved ones abroad. It makes perfect sense to use it in that fashion; however, if you truly want my attention for a time-sensitive matter… call me. That’s the direct line to anything you need from me. I’ve often wondered how we moved so far from using the phone for its intended purpose, yet claim that we can’t keep in touch? Don’t hide. I’m guilty too.
With so much technology, you would think the ties that bind us would be stronger, but instead, they’re sparse and brittle.
While I was wandering around this topic, I heard God say the following:
“You have complete access to me, but you always choose a 3rd party to reach me. You have direct access and barely use it.”
Wow. I couldn’t believe the conviction and hurt in His voice. We listen to sermons, read devotionals, attend bible studies, all to receive a Word from God. He loves that about us… that we seek Him diligently and collaborate with others to sharpen our Faith. Nevertheless, there is nothing like that sweet alone time with God. Our Father is lovingly waiting for us to use the only liaisons we need… His Son and His Spirit. The requirement to patch through to Him is Jesus. That’s why Jesus died on the cross. His Spirit allows us direct connection any time we wish and without delay.
I encourage you to use your hotline today to say “I need you” or just to say “hi.” You can use any of the above mentioned methods to dig deeper in His Word, but He truly loves to hear your voice. He knows what you sound like.
Its timbre is sweet to Him
because He made it the perfect pitch
and wavelength; it is a custom fit for His ear.
Isn’t that amazing? Out of the 7.4 billion people in the world, He leans forward when you say His name in passion and sincerity. Speak with the Holy Spirit, by way of Jesus the Son, to your Father. Use your party of Three to be heard by the One.