Choose Your Way



What looks like the easy way, the way out, the way up, isn’t always the right way. That path strewn with flowers, smooth as a baby’s behind, you know the one that looks sunny and bright, may not be the path that you need to take. In fact most often, in the long run, it isn’t easy at all.

The paths we choose can’t be based on what they look like. We can never rely on our natural senses. The roughest looking road may be exactly the one God would have us walk. I often use the analogy out of the Disney movie “Beauty and the Beast.” There is a place where Bell’s father is faced with two paths. One looks lovely and the other is shrouded in darkness, there is an evil looking mist, and some scary looking trees. The horse is the only one who seems to have any sense, and in our hearts we are screaming “take the sunny path!” However, if we watch the scene through, the path he took was the right path to lead us to our happy ending. It is the same with us. Be led by God, not by our fears, anxiety, or laziness.

So why would God want us to take the road that is less traveled? Is it because He wants us to suffer and fight every step of the way? No. Those pits, road blocks, speed bumps, and glare ice have all been put there by our enemy. He wants to stop us from advancing. That’s how we know we are on the right road. Why would Satan hinder our path to Hell? He hinders our walk to the Abundant Life, the road that leads us into a deeper relationship with our Heavenly Father. Our enemy doesn’t just try to impede our way, he also tries to distract us from the path. If he can get us to step off of the path, to try an “easier” way, or to completely suck us in by that sunny little path that leads straight to that beautiful oasis. You know, the one that leads to the sunny beach with a life of ease. Don’t be fooled that life is a mirage! All that glitters is not gold!

So why doesn’t God just sweep our paths clear? After all, He is all powerful. Because He knows what is best for us. He sees what’s up ahead. He knows the people we will influence, the trust and strength we will gain. Simply put, He wants us to be led by His Spirit, to learn to trust and rely on Him. In reality, we will never know how many obstacles He has removed! I know that He has protected me so many times. I put myself in some pretty dangerous situations when I wasn’t living for Him, and He brought me through them all. How much more protection do you think I have now that I have committed my way to Him? There are angels guarding around me at all times. I am confident that they have carried me up an over many pits and snares. God knows we need His strength. That’s why Jesus promised to never leave us nor forsake us. Matthew 28:20 (God’s Word Translation), Teach them to do everything I have commanded you. “And remember that I am always with you until the end of time.”

There were many times in my life when I was tempted to “take the easy way.” I went through things that weren’t easy. My teen years were some of the worst. I struggled with self worth, anxiety, and alcohol and drugs. Several times I almost gave into that voice telling me to “end it all.” Though I had left the path God had chosen for me at the time, He still kept me safe. My marriage is another example. We both came into it with issues and at many different times we wanted to “call it quits.” But, we stuck it out. (Granted sometimes in fear or stubbornness, but God turns it all around for our good.) We found some Godly counsel, many times over the years, and finally went through some deliverance. For years we both lived in a messy marriage, but we knew that God’s best for us and our children was to stay together. This summer it will be thirty years since we said our vows. For about the last ten, they have been better than we ever dreamed of! It was all worth it!

Sometimes the way gets rough. We can’t always see the light at the end of the tunnel. I have been known to say, “enough already” and “really?” Those both directed at God. At times in anger, and other times joking with my Father. Thankfully He is patient and forgiving, and He has a sense of humor. Do we always know why we have to walk such a spooky looking path? No. But can we be confident that God is good and He has our back? Yes.

The more we know Him, the more we know His word, the easier this walk gets. Are all the obstacles removed? No, but His word is a light unto our path. We can see them way ahead of time, so we can be built up and strong in the Lord. Whatever you do, keep walking forward. No turning to the left or the right, and for Heaven’s sake, don’t sit down! Never set up camp in a rough spot. Go through! Let His praises be on your lips. Let your heart be full of His joy. That’s where our strength comes from.


A+ Rubber Stamp on Notebook Paper
I’ve often wondered about “tests” by God. Some religions believe that God “tests the hearts of men” to see if they will be true to Him. I always had a problem with that. God is omniscient; He knows everything, all the time. He knows…all at the same time… the past, present and future. He knows the thoughts and intents of men’s hearts. He knows the beginning from the end. So- He knows our hearts better than we do. He doesn’t just “read” our minds. He knows what we are going to think, before the thought comes into our head! So my conclusion is the “testing” isn’t for His benefit, so He can find something out about us. I think the trials and tests help US to discover things about HIM, (and ourselves). 1 Peter 1:7 says, “These trials are only to test your faith, to see whether or not it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests gold and purifies it-and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold; so if your faith remains strong after being tried in the test tube of fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day of his return.” God knows how much faith I have, so this scripture is telling me that these trials are to show me how much faith I have, or don’t have.
Each trial I have gone through has taught me more about the Father. Coming through financial problems showed me how much He wants to provide for me. When I stumble, I find out how much He loves me and that He is quick to forgive. When I come through an illness, I know Him as Healer. I am so glad that God is NOT grading my “tests”! Just think if He was like a school teacher. I used to give grades to my pupils to determine their grasp or their understanding of the subject, whether or not they have paid attention in class, studied their information, and their effort put forth. If they have done well and mastered the information I give them an “A”! If they didn’t make the effort, or didn’t pay attention, refused to read the information that I presented to them, they earn a lower score, sometimes an “F” for FAIL. God gives us what is known as a “Pass/Fail”. Even if we haven’t really paid attention (in church, or to the Holy Spirit), even if we don’t read our information (God’s Word), even if we don’t study (Pray in tongues, or praying at all) as much as we should, we can still “Pass” the test. Of course some people do fail. They forsake God and turn back to the world for answers.
I love taking Tests in the natural, always have. Love to learn new things. But in the spiritual, if I got to vote, I’d say no to tests. If God had been giving me letter grades, based on my performance, I believe they would have been maybe some “B’s”, several “C’s” and unfortunately a lot “D’s”! I’ve never failed. Praise God for His patience and grace! But I’ve never earned an “A”. Talk about an embarrassing report card! But these tests have “purified” me, helped me to draw closer to Him. To rely on God. I have learned how important it is to listen, pray and read the word. Not as busy work, or as an obligation, but as a way of getting more intimate with God. So…am I “counting it all joy” as James said? Well maybe not all the time, sometimes I just get frustrated. But I am getting better. I won’t be asking God to test me, but when He does, I WILL be paying attention!

God Stretches Us

God stretches us…and I really don’t enjoy the experience! I know it is good for me, but…not fun. A few years ago I took a visit to my past. Went to Washington where I spent my high school and early adult years. I love to see my family, but there is so much junk from my past that feels right “in my face.” I think this time I finally buried the “old me” there. Left her in Washington! I spent way too much time re-living my past, and finally God reminded me that those memories belonged to someone else! Who I am now is a “new creation” who I was then has been crucified, and is dead and buried. A stretching time. On the way home from that visit, our car broke down. Hadn’t even made it half way! Stuck in Butte, Montana, where it was 100 degrees, and dusty (the people were so very nice and helpful). Spent two days there, pretty stressful, looking for a way home, without giving our car away. God came through and we made it back, after a long 24 hour drive straight through, in an unfamiliar truck, towing our car, no bed, no bath and we all were stretched. My husband called it an “adventure,” same word he used in the spring when our kids car broke down on the way to their vacation in Florida, and he went with truck and dolly to pick them up.(We’ve had more than our share of car problems that year). He said to me while our daughter was sleeping in the back seat of the big truck, “we’ve had lots of adventures in our marriage, and we made it through them all. We still have each other and we have God!”
Stretching has been good for us. Ten years ago, he would have lost it, ranted and raved and been totally mad at the world, now he teases and gives God the glory. Stretching has mellowed him. Ten years ago, I would have panicked and had some anxiety attacks, maybe cried and got emotional. Stretching has strengthened me. God is faithful and He has always brought us through every “adventure”. Until I am made perfect, I’ll be stretched. I am determined to give way and be elastic, not to be brittle and bitter and to snap like an old rubber band. Who will I be when I am done? More like Him… more grown up, better and more beautiful!

Today’s Joy

I had to ask myself today, “Do I have joy in my life?” Not happiness, which is a fickle friend, but that inner joy in my spirit. You know the joy that has absolutely nothing to do with our circumstances. My honest answer is “not as often as I should”, and some days, (especially lately, as our family is going through a trail), I have to admit, “not very often.” It is so easy to allow the mundane experiences of our lives, or the frustrating circumstances chase away our joy. But, if joy isn’t dependent on our circumstances, then how does that happen? I believe it is when we lose our gratitude. It’s easy to take our eyes off of Jesus and put them on our problems, especially if those around us are hurting. Or to simply lose patience with our dreams because they seem so slow in coming.

Even in the midst of hard situations, we can maintain a thankful heart. Sometimes we get stuck in the ‘thank-you-for” rut where we rattle off our tiny list, you know the same one every time. Mine includes, hubby, kids, grandkids, food I eat, house, cars and Church, or pretty close. That just shows we are either in a hurry, or can’t see past our nose. When we slow down and make the effort to be thankful, we can see so many things, people, places that touch our lives. A few examples: a babies smile, doesn’t even have to by your baby, any baby smiling, the smell of lilacs on a damp spring morning. Then there are those things that we really aren’t too thankful for. This category is hard for me, shoveling snow, giving the dog a bath, dealing with that one person who rubs me the wrong way. Yes, we need to be thankful for those things. God has a purpose and a plan for our lives, and part of that plan is for us to work hard, love people, be a witness at our jobs.

It seems like the last few months, my family has been under it. Most due to some poor choices of one family member and the rest either come along with the territory, or just because we have a real enemy. So though it’s been tough, I have still been able to find joy in the middle of it all. If I was a spiritual superhero, I could say I held onto my joy the whole time, but sadly I am not. I can say that I know right were to find it. Because in all truthfulness, despite what I said earlier, nothing can chase or steal our joy away. We lay it down, sometimes absentmindedly, like a spare pair of reading glasses. Psalms 16:11 “You will show me the path of life; in your presence is fullness of joy. At your right hand there are pleasured for evermore.” We find our joy in the presence of God. Simple really. Sometimes we willingly lay down our joy to trade it for fleeting happiness or satisfaction. Usually that comes out of willful sin, which includes harboring bitterness, and nursing un-forgiveness. We lay down our joy when we disobey God.

How do we hold on to our joy? By being thankful, a heart full of gratitude. When we keep our minds fixed on Jesus, His promises, His goodness, and remember those who have gone before us, we can keep that unspeakable joy in our lives. Hebrews 12:1-3 “therefor, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrances and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of he throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and love heart.”