The Driving Focus

thNPKLYT4U

“Look up! Stop looking at what’s right in front of the hood,” He pounded on the dashboard to get my attention.

Leaning forward, my sweaty hands gripped the steering wheel tightly, while I rolled my father’s old Ford around the empty parking lot of a grocery store. I was fifteen years old, eager for the independence and freedom a driver’s license promised.

“Keep your eyes on the road at least 15 seconds ahead,” my father coached.  “You’re going to have an accident if you don’t watch what’s happening in the distance.”

I snapped my eyes up, widening my view of the road but keeping them that way took concentration and effort.  It felt unnatural, like wearing shoes on the wrong feet. I kept getting distracted by the mechanics of working the car.  After just a few minutes my focus would narrow again.  Each time my dad would remind me to relax and lift my gaze to the wider perspective on the horizon.

I’m almost forty years old now and have driven for more than twenty years. Focusing on the distant road is second nature to me.   Yet on this Christian journey I sometimes feel that I am still trying to earn my learners permit.

Hebrews 12:2 says, we must focus our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.

Lately, I sense God prompting me again and again to lift my eyes away from immediate landscape. He is reminding me that if I stay hunched over the steering wheel, staring at the road rushing beneath me, I will be crushingly blindsided by something, an illness, a death, heartbreak. He is coaching me to see the bigger picture and not just the immediate crisis at hand so when the inevitable crisis presents itself, my eyes will be open, my heart and body braced so I might avoid a spiritual collision. I may come out of it bruised but I won’t be broken.

It is all too easy to become distracted by the daily mechanics of operating our lives. We get consumed by the day-to-day chores that move our families forward yet keep our spirits stalled. Jesus says keep your eyes on me and on the salvation promised to you.  It is the destination, more than the journey, that should capture our attention.

For those who haven’t read Revelation 21 lately, let me paint a picture of the view up ahead in the distance. The Lord himself is standing there, smiling, waving you in.  When you finally arrive, He will wipe every tear from your tired eyes.  He will soothe your weary soul, rocking you in his arms until you see that there is no more death, mourning, crying or pain because the broken unpaved road on which you traveled no longer exists.

“Look,” he’ll say, “I am making all things new.”

Then He will lead you into your new home, designed to showcase His brilliant glory, shining like jasper, clear as crystal, pure as gold. The sun and the moon will be replaced by the light and warmth of His glory.  You will recline peacefully on the riverbank of the water of life, overcome with joy, tracing your finger across the imprint of His name on your forehead.  Your eyes will gaze upon His beautiful face and you will know, once and for always, that you are safe.

In The Cleft – Chapter Quotables

thVF41GYY1

 

Hey Book Club,
I would love it if you’d post your favorite quote from our current book choice, In The Cleft. Post any and every that speak to you.  Just click Leave a comment at the top and leave your best quote.  Here’s mine so far. It’s from the Foreword

“In the gap between now and heaven, Jesus tethers me to himself, giving me what I need to walk out this earthly journey.”

 

 

Unleashing the power to be yourself

third thursday

This month’s blog hop theme is Unleashing the Power to be Yourself.

Please visit http://www.hearts-at-home.org/ for more courageous stories of women finding themselves.

 

 

“We got an offer,” he breathed into the phone unable to contain the excitement in his voice.    “Full price, all cash.  They want to close the deal in thirty days. “

My stomach seized.  “Oh… Wow.  Really?”

Even though I’d been the driving force pushing to sell our real estate brokerage, I suddenly felt territorial. Doubts crept out of the dark corners of my mind like feral wolves ready to pounce.  My business partner was obviously not having these same issues.

“What do you think?”

“I don’t know. I can’t believe it.  Are we really sure we want to sell it?”

“Are you kidding? This was the plan, right?” he teased. “Where do I sign?”

Why did I feel like cold water had been dumped on my head?  This is what I’d prayed for.  I’d been miserable for years.  The real estate business had never been my passion.  Making money was my passion.

Growing up, our family was always coming up short on rent and other bills, sometimes spending days without electricity or running water.  My dad would hide the car from the repo man at night.  We moved more times than I could count.  I hated the instability.  After high school, I signed up for community college, working two and for a time, even three jobs at once to pay for it.  But it was pointless.  I couldn’t keep up with the academic demands while working twelve-hour days, so I dropped out.  When I finally stumbled into the real estate business, I put everything I had into it.   I set strict goals and within a short time, teamed up with my business partner to acquire our real estate company.

I was still relatively young for a business owner but what people admired as driving ambition, was nothing more than disciplined fear.   Money represented security for me. There was no amount that would satisfy the anxious beast within. For years, I hoarded almost every extra dollar I earned, just in case.   I didn’t realize it then but I was losing myself.  At the end of each day, I’d lay my head on the pillow, as drained as a corpse, held together by just a thin layer of skin.

One morning while standing over the bathroom sink, squeezing the last bit of toothpaste from the tube, I glanced up in the mirror to see a haggard middle-aged woman I didn’t recognize. I stared at the bags under my eyes, wondering if there was more to life than this torturous hamster wheel. Something came over me that day.  I crawled back under the sheets feeling the kind of exhaustion that comes from a soul pushed beyond its limit with no hope of rest.   I begged God to rescue me from what I’d become. If there was something better, I wanted Him to take me there because, in all these years, I hadn’t been able to get there on my own.

With each new prayer, I felt God revealing promises, shining His light just a few steps into the future, asking me to trust him the rest of the way.  So we put the business up for sale and now, seven months later, here it was, the culmination of all that.  We got an offer.  The prison door had been flung wide open and here I was, afraid to walk out of it.

What pushed me on in that moment was the story in the book of Mark when a furious squall came upon the boat that Jesus and the disciples were traveling in.  Jesus was sleeping in the stern when the disciples became afraid.  They woke him up, saying “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” Jesus got up, quieted the wind and stilled the waves. Then he turned to the disciples and said, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

Relinquishing control of my security and trusting in God to provide for my needs, following his lead on this journey has challenged me at times but I have never felt truer to myself than during this process.   It’s the trust in God that frees us to be our unencumbered selves.   He didn’t create us to be hindered by fear, doubt, insecurity or shame; that is the inhibiting  byproduct of sin.  They are the weeds that choke out the magnificent and lush souls He created us to be.   I couldn’t know then, the beautiful potential that God had buried inside of me; the same potential he buries in all of us.   I was just a languishing seed, trying to flourish by the dim light of my own dry efforts.

 

growing seed

Book Club

 thVF41GYY1

 

Hello Bookworms.

After some research, I am finally getting together a list of selections for our faith based book club.  

I propose we meet once per month, starting the first Saturday after Easter, April 11, for group discussion about the book and fellowship.   We could meet at a restaurant for brunch, coffee or if someone wants to open their home for an hour or so, please let me know.  

Here are a few choices to get us started. There are four all together, 2 fiction and 2 non-fiction.  If you’re interested in joining, send me an email or leave a comment with your full name, book choice and any other thoughts about developing our group.  The majority vote wins and at our first meeting, we can vote on the next book selection.  

  I’m so excited to get together with a group of intelligent women for some thoughtful discussion!

 

thH35T8SWS

 

 

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

The Hiding Place is the true story of how Corrie Ten Boom and her family hid Jewish families from Nazis during World War II and how she survived Hitler’s death camps with a strong faith in a good and loving God.

“I pray that God forgive them…” Corrie Ten Boom stood naked with her older sister Betsie, watching a concentration camp matron beating a prisoner. “Oh, the poor woman,” Corrie cried. “Yes. May God forgive her,” Betsie replied. And, once again, Corrie realized that it was for the souls of the brutal Nazi guards that her sister prayed. Both women had been sent to the camp for helping the Jews. Christ’s Spirit and words were their guide; it was His persecuted people they tried to save—at the risk of their own lives; it was His strength that sustained them through times of profound horror. Here is a book aglow with the glory of God and the courage of a quiet Christian spinster whose life was transformed by it. A story of Christ’s message and the courage woman who listened and lived to pass it along—with joy and triumph!

 

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers born of a secret union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon. Orphaned by their mother’s death and their father’s disappearance, bound together by a preternatural connection and a shared fascination with medicine, the twins come of age as Ethiopia hovers on the brink of revolution.   Moving from Addis Ababa to New York City and back again, Cutting for Stone is an unforgettable story of love and betrayal, medicine and ordinary miracles—and two brothers whose fates are forever intertwined.

 

 

The Case for Faith: A Journalist Investigates the Toughest Objections to Christianity

By Lee Strobel

In his #1 best-seller The Case for Christ, legally trained investigative reporter Lee Strobel examined the claims of Christ, reaching the hard-won verdict that Jesus is God’s unique son.

But despite the compelling historical evidence that Strobel presented, many people grapple with serious concerns about faith in God. As in a court of law, they want to shout, “Objection!” They say, “If God is love, then what about all the suffering in our world?” Or, “If Jesus is the door to heaven, then what about the millions who have never heard of him?” Or, “If God cares for everyone, then why does he eternally torture some in hell?”

In The Case for Faith, Strobel turns his tenacious investigative skills to the most persistent emotional objections to belief—the eight “heart” barriers to faith. The Case for Faith is for those who may be feeling attracted toward Jesus, but who are faced with formidable intellectual barriers standing squarely in their path. For Christians, it will deepen their convictions and give them fresh confidence in discussing Christianity with even their most skeptical friends.

 

Vines of Entanglement

By Lisa Carter

 

A tangled web of lies characterizes the life Laura Mabry has built for herself and her son after the tragic death of her husband. But Laura’s carefully constructed world slides off its axis when she stumbles upon the body of a young college student on the recreational trails of Raleigh’s Greenway. What’s worse, Detective Jon Locklear is Laura’s worst nightmare…and her dream come true.

 

Jon has spent years trying to forget Laura. Past experience has taught him that he can’t trust her, but old habits—like old loves—die hard. When the killer turns his attention on Laura, Jon may be the only one who can save her.

 

Truth and murder lurk just around the corner for Laura. Can she find the courage to face her deepest fears and unravel the lies of her past before she and her son become the Greenway Killer’s next victims.