Trust the Plan

“What’s your plan for today?”

That is a common question in our home on Saturday mornings. My husband knows my whereabouts Monday through Friday, but Saturdays are often unscheduled. I usually wake up late (meaning after 7:00 a.m.), enjoy my morning coffee, catch up on reading, and generally — just slow down.

Tick Tock

Do you live by a schedule? Is your day planned right down to the moment your head hits the pillow? If you answered yes, you are in good company.

Most of us are driven by the calendar and the clock. We’re constantly rushing from one appointment to the next. Always planning. Always filling every spare moment of the day with activity. And if we’re sitting still, we panic that we must have missed something.

We definitely are missing something. We have lost our way in the storm.

Keep Calm and . . .

We’ve all been hearing a lot about mindfulness lately. Merriam-Webster.com defines mindfulness as:

the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis

Maybe you’ve seen a commercial for one of the hottest new apps called “Calm”. It’s promoted as the perfect mindfulness app for beginners, and is the listed as the #1 app for sleep, meditation and relaxation. Millions of people use it to help lower their stress and anxiety levels.

When you have to Google the definition (as I did), you are probably a mindfulness beginner. Or you have embraced other ways to cope with stress. To be honest, there are days when I’d rather be any place other than sitting at my desk, staring at a computer screen. And on such days, I would definitely enjoy listening to a rainforest waterfall, or the soothing sound of ocean waves while I work.

But there is calm in silence too. When I need to breathe, I will often open my Bible, read a devotion, or spend a few quiet moments in the empty church sanctuary.

“The work of righteousness will be peace, And the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever. My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation, In secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places,”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭32:17-18‬ ‭

Peace is found in the presence of Jesus, the One who walked on water and literally calmed the raging sea. His words, “Peace, be still!” have the power to calm life’s storms today, even as they did 2000 years ago.

Best of all, no download is needed. 🙂

God Loves the World

As the season of Lent approaches, I have been thinking back to my trip to Israel last summer.

One cannot visit the Holy Land without feeling a tremendous sense of awe. Everywhere you look, there is Biblical history coming to life right before your eyes. Archaeologists are digging all over the region. They are unearthing amazing treasures and civilizations that have buried beneath centuries of sand and silt. It is fascinating!

Magdala

One of my favorite places in Israel was a relatively new archaeological site on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. During a construction project in 2009, a 1st century synagogue was discovered in Magdala — the hometown of Mary Magdalene.

And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people. — Matthew 4:23

Inside the synagogue archaeologists also found what some say is the most significant discovery in 50 years. The Magdala Stone is the earliest known artistic depiction of the Second Temple, which also bears the oldest carved image of the seven-branched menorah. There are additional carvings on this stone that may help archaeologists learn more about the Second Temple period.

Although the mid-morning temperature was approaching 90 degrees, I was covered in goosebumps. I thought to myself, “Jesus once stood in this very synagogue!” My dust-covered sneakers were standing on holy ground.

I would have lingered there all day if I could, but there were many more sights to see. But this was the first of many places in Israel where I felt the presence of my Savior.

 

Living History

On our second full day in Israel, we took a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee.

I cannot explain how that felt as I thought . . .
Jesus walked on this water.
He calmed its raging waves.
He walked along its shoreline.

As I touched the Western Wall, I felt his presence again. And again when standing on the Mount of Olives. And in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Now I am thousands of miles away from those beautiful places, but I feel Jesus’ presence more often. I’m sure he has always been by my side, but now I feel it deeply.

A New Theme

In my post-Israel life, I just completed my PraiseMoves re-certification. I’ll be leading a 6-week Lenten series that begins tomorrow. I’ve decided to focus on John 3:16-17. There is no other scripture or theme that captures the Easter story, or sums up Jesus’ mission on earth.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. – John 3:16-17

We don’t need to visit the Holy Land or stand in the Magdala synagogue to know how Jesus lived.

We need only to read his words, share his stories, and live out his teachings to feel his presence each day.

Sea of Galilee