A Prelude to Beauty

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One thing I’ve been learning this year is that God always has Good Stuff planned for my future … no matter what my circumstances are saying at any given time.

He promised to make my path straight and to give me a bunch of Good Stuff instead of what the enemy wants me to settle for.

I believe Him and hope this story will encourage you in your own journey.

Last Wednesday afternoon, I ran home on my lunch break to complete a few tasks in preparation for my Christmas Vacation. Upon my arrival, I discovered a new, unexpected task: Finding a different ride to the airport. Record-breaking fires in Ventura and Los Angeles had shut down the entire Amtrak schedule.

Undaunted (mostly), I explored my options and decided a limo ride to the Hollywood Airport would be cheaper than parking my car in the longterm lot.

I headed back to the office for my last two clients of 2017 … in rush hour traffic … feeling rather pleased with my “instead.”

Traffic was slow. But at least it was moving.
Until it wasn’t.

Suddenly a BMW was sitting motionless in front of me. I hit the brakes. And nothing happened. The impact was imminent, so I whispered, “Lord, You’ve got me.”

I was in the left lane and hit the BMW hard. He hit the guy in front of him.

Not to be outdone, I somehow swerved to the right around the car I’d hit, and sideswiped the car the BMW had already hit, miraculously avoiding four more lanes of traffic on my right.

Debris flew everywhere … in slow motion.

After fully passing the second car, my little bug veered to the left and slammed into the retaining wall … in FRONT of both the cars I’d hit!

ashes

(Neither of the other drivers were injured, and they carried no passengers.)

As I had sped toward the unknown, I was confident The Lord was in charge. Although Heaven will be amazing, I’m grateful He chose to save me (a) to lavish more love on others and (b) to complete the work He created me to do.

I got a whole bunch of “insteads” that day.
  1. Peace instead of panic. I felt amazingly calm through it all. And I’ve had zero nightmares or even nervousness about riding in a car.
  2. Bruises and abrasions instead of death or disability. The CHP officer said, “I don’t have to ask if you were wearing your seat belt because I can see that you were.” I’ll spare you the pix of my long and lovely seat-belt slice from shoulder to sternum. And 5 days later, I am sporting the biggest, most colorful contusions my chest and abdomen have ever known!
  3. Road Trip instead of flight. Yes, I made it to the airport the next day. My son’s taking me shopping for a Chevy while I’m here. Oh, the possibilities!

This story illustrates, of course, how “insteads” usually vary in size, from a limo ride to life itself.

So keep your heart set on Jesus!

Because The One Who sees
the ashes of your life as a
Prelude to Beauty knows exactly
what He wants to give you instead!

Isaiah 61 declares that The Messiah would come

to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes …

Yes, life often turns out differently than you plan. But trusting in The Lord will always bring the Beauty of Something Better. Starting with more of Him! ❤️

Safe & Secure

I long for a truly safe haven. Where we’re protected and loved. Not only Spiritually. But also Physically. A Refuge from the world. Yet so much more than a hiding place. A secure base. A Fortress from which to launch brave campaigns against the enemy of our souls. And to take territory for the Kingdom of God.

Shortly before I turned 3, my mom loaded up her friend’s pale green Pontiac with clothes and stuff, tucked my older brother and me into the already-packed backseat, and headed out of town.

… while my dad was at work. He had no idea what was happening. And neither did I, of course. But it left me with a painful longing – a longing to go home – that I didn’t even begin to understand for several decades.

I missed my daddy.
But we never saw him.
And he never came for me.

All my life, I’ve longed for a real home.
I wanted to belong. But I often felt like I didn’t.

As a kid, I filled my days with school. I was good at it. At 40, I moved on to the fancier academics of college and graduate school. Always dreams of traveling. Of being someone who went places and did stuff. My goal was to be “in charge.”

Little did I know all of that would fail me.

Because it wasn’t My Deepest Desire. And because it didn’t consider my most basic needs. My emotional, physical, and spiritual needs. In fact, those seemed so impossible to meet that I tried hard to ignore them altogether. But they didn’t go away.

Today I realize more of who God created me to be.
He knows what I need. Maybe it’s what you’re looking for, too?

A Safe Haven and a Secure Base

Attachment Theory uses the terms safe haven (a place of comfort) and secure base (a place from which to explore).

But those aren’t new concepts. It’s how God made us. It’s how He made me. A long time ago, the psalmist put it this way:

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

Surely he will save you
    from the fowler’s snare
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
    and see the punishment of the wicked.

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
    and you make the Most High your dwelling,
no harm will overtake you,
    no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
    you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
    I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call on me, and I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble,
    I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.” (Psalm 91)