He Leads Us

04/28/2004

Our time here in Tucson is coming to an end. Jim is fully trained for his job now and is out on his own looking for gas leaks each day. He usually finds one too! Itís amazing when we experience new things in life, how it expands our world into places we never knew existed. We didnít realize how often gas lines have to be checked and how often they leak. Now everywhere we go, Jimís attention is drawn to markings on the ground, or other indications of where the gas lines are running through a field or district or neighborhood! Itís a little bit of this world that had gone "undetected" by us until now!

We will soon head from here up into northern Nevada. We donít know what to expect, exactly where we will be, or for how long, but we do know that God will provide as He has here in Tucson. When I think back on leaving the Bay Area, driving here and wondering what this portion of the "journey" would be like, it is amazing to see all the ways that God has provided for us.

In Psalm 37:23 it says, "The steps of the godly are directed by the Lord. He delights in every detail of their lives." Doesnít that seem like a bit much? That God would be interested in "every detail" of our lives? It amazes me, but it seems to be so. When we were driving towards Tucson, we called a few RV parks looking for a place to park our home. We ended up in this one, and after spending a few days here, we started to call around for another place that might be better. We narrowed it down to three and went out to take a look at them. What we found was that this was the best place to be! Isnít it amazing how God knew that? And yet, we questioned His leading us here until we had gone out and proven it to be true? Iím glad He is a patient God!

When we leave this place, we will have spent two months here and to tell you the truth, Iím sort of "settled in." We have a nice little routine, life is very peaceful and the weather is warm and sunny. That suits me just fine, although it can be a little hot for Jim on some days as he walks the gas lines. Being that this is Arizona, itís actually a good time to get going before the temperatures rise to an unbearable level! But our time here has been good. We know our way around now, the churches we have been able to visit have been a joy, the people that we have met have expanded our world just that much more and we have seen a few interesting sights in the area too! The desert can be a very beautiful place and the mountains that surround Tucson are awesome at sunset!

To "pull up stakes" now will once again be an adjustment. Not knowing where we are heading or for how long we will stay, could be daunting. It is easier to remain, than to change, but change is what we are called to do! We donít believe God put our home on six wheels to have us sit for too long! He has plans for us, and we will follow Him. Right now, that means we will go where Jimís job leads us. God has provided this "traveling" job and where it leads us is in Godís control also.

Donít be impatient for the Lord to act!
Travel steadily along his path.
Psalm 37:34a

What is it the Lord calls us to do in this life? What is His path? It seems Iím trying to figure that out and yet there is no easy answer to it from a human perspective. As I have spent a great deal of time in prayer here in Tucson, I am torn between my times with God, and what it seems I "should be doing." My flesh says, "Get busy," my spirit says, "Be still."

Be still in the presence of the Lord,
and wait patiently for him to act.
Psalm 37:7

I am not a slacker, although some might argue that pointóin good humor, I would hope! It does not go against my nature to sit and have long talks with friends or family, thinking that is time that I have used wisely. It does not go against my nature to find a park bench and sit and soak up the warm sunshine, or to take a long walk and enjoy the serenity of it. These things all come pretty naturally to me, but there is my other side also. The side that says, we need to get something done--do something "productive," as I would put it to my boys! When thereís a job to do, letís get it done, so of course then we can relax!!

It seems I have a split personality--one that could be addicted to work, one that could be addicted to rest. Which side of me am I supposed to follow? Which side is God wanting for my life, or is it a healthy balance between the two?

Commit everything you do to the Lord.
Trust him, and he will help you.
Psalm 37:5

Maybe thatís the answer. By committing every day to Him, He will help me get it sorted out--and yet it seems when I do that, He calls me to rest in Him. Then the question becomes, what does that "rest" look like?

I asked God this morning why it was that Jim was called to work, to walk around looking for gas leaks all day, when I am not being called out to work. Itís not that Jim and I have not discussed it, we certainly have. It would make sense for me to get a job somewhere, bring in a little income, do something "productive." And yet we both agree that I am doing what God is calling me to do by spending time with Him, and writing about the things He calls me to write about. And yet, I still question God about it because from the human standpoint, it seems unfair. It seems I get to "rest" while Jim has to work! My flesh battles this thought.

My load seems easy, my burden seems light. Can it possibly be that I am doing anything productive with my time when it seems so easy, so light? Or is this exactly what God is calling all of us to each day? I believe His Word says exactly that, but our flesh battles against it. It canít be so! It has to be harder than this!

After writing this message, we watched a movie called, "The Guys." It was a movie about the events of 9-11 and the eulogies that needed to be written for all the firemen who had lost their lives. The "writer" in the movie got a call because she was needed. She made the comment, "Writers are never needed." As the movie played on, she was visited by the fire chief, I believe it was, who had to deliver all these eulogies and he didnít know what to say. He started to share with her about his "guys" and she made notes. She would then write out the eulogy that he could deliver to their family and friends at the funeral service.

As she walked the streets of New York, talking with firemen and witnessing the scenes, she felt she had nothing to give, nothing of worth in such a mass of destruction. She was "only" a writer. As the movie ends, the fire chief is delivering one of the eulogies she has written and she is standing in the back listening. He explains that we all have our tools that are to be used--and it becomes clear that she has used the tool that God has given her, the tool of words. When he finishes the eulogy, he is given a standing ovation for the comfort those words have brought to the family and friendsóit was just what they needed to hear on that very difficult day.

Thinking about that movie as I was once again by the pool here in Tucson, talking things over with Godóyes, this is a rough place to pray--I realized that writing is a gift that God has given me, it is my tool, and this is what I do. Those words kept coming to me, "this is what I do." It seemed God was saying, embrace it and use it as I am calling you to. Donít apologize because it seems to you to be less than it is. It is what it is, and it is what you do! It may not have a dollar value to it, but perhaps it is priceless? Only God knows the answer to that, and I only know that I am to be obedient with the "tool" He has given me.

Taking a look back on our two months here, on what has been accomplished and what God has been calling us to do, I start to make a mental list of things that have happened and it amazes me. I have not been a slacker, I have been busy!! But a different busy, not the Being-Under-Satanís-Yoke BUSY, but the resting-in-God busy. The work that comes easy, and the work that flows out of His strength and His guidance.

When I look back and see that each morning since the day we arrived, I have risen early without an alarm clock, watching the sun come up just outside my window. I am amazed! I am not an early-morning person. When we first got here, it came up at 6:40, now it comes up around 6:02!

When I look back and see the days when I could have been bored out of my mind with Jim being gone all day and me here alone in an RV with no one around I knew, I am amazed at how content and happy and at peace I have been. At how fast each day goes by, almost wanting more hours in each day to accomplish the things set before me.

When I look back and see the things God has taught me, the books I have been able to finish, the writing I have done, the conversations that I have had with the people I have met and the amazing amount of time I have been able to pray, it overwhelms me with gratitude.

I call this my "Tuscany." Having watched the movie, "Under the Tuscan Sun" while here, it makes me think of the woman in this movie and how she went to Italy to be inspired. Unfortunately, her inspiration comes from other means, but it makes me smile as I relate to what she was searching for. She wanted to be inspired to write and she longed for peace and new adventure. That is what I have found here in Tucson. It has been my "Tuscany." So many of us sometimes wish we could just get away from it all, and I have here! The days are quiet, peaceful and serene. God inspires me as I spend my time with Him, and He fills me with a great excitement for life!

When the human side of me starts to battle with the spiritual side of me, the only way to settle the matter is to take it to the Lord. What would You have me do God? If there is anything more that You require of me, just let me know, and I will do it! Until then, I will "be" with You and understand that "this is what I do" right now in my life.

As I sit by the pool, I read. I am at "work" so to speak. I am studying the things that bring me closer to God! I am busy underlining important passages, like this one in "Song of the Shepherd" by Mark A. Tabb:

"Western Christians may live with the delusion of self-sufficiency, but David never did. As he wrote the third line of the Twenty-third Psalm, he was in effect confessing his own dependence upon the Lordís provision and celebrating its sufficiency. God not only made him lie down, but He placed him in the best of all places. Davidís words describe every sheepís dream, a luscious green field of tender new grass. All of it is ours to enjoy, to eat our fill and roll around in. Celebrate!...God is great! Wonderful! Better than we could ever imagine! ĎTaste and see that the Lord is good,í David wrote in Psalm 34:8."

Iím studying the 23rd Psalm. That is what I am doing by the pool. Does this feel like work? No, it doesnít! The burden is easy and the yoke is light.

As I do my laps I am thinking of God, of His goodness and okay...also "Survivor"! I think of how I would be in training for months ahead of time building up my stamina if I were ever to be on the show! But that is only my mind wandering to other places as we tend to do! I like the thought of the challenge on that show! I donít like the thought of the conniving way they work their way towards the one million dollars! But thatís another story!

What I am saying is, I am at rest, but I am working. The work it seems God has called me to. God reminds me that He is calling me to something different than Jim. Jim has his time each morning with God, and then he goes on his way to work or whatever. I am called to a different path. I have read that a writer is never off work. I find that to be true. Whatever I am doing, watching, reading or whomever I am talking with, I am absorbing it and processing it and wondering what God is teaching me in each instance.

Jim and I were just talking about movies we had watched and expressing our likes and dislikes. Both of us didnít really enjoy one of them we watched, but I laughed and said, "But I needed to write about it." It was not a waste of time to me, because even in something that I didnít particularly enjoy, God was teaching me something and then I could pass this lesson on to others. It makes life so interesting because I never know what God will use and what He will then call me to write about.

It doesnít seem like much to the human side of me. The Enemy likes to tell me I am wasting my time and I better get busy soon and do something productive. My spirit tells me to keep on this path so as not to miss out on what God is calling Jim and me to in the future. Which voice do I listen to? I have to listen to Godís Spirit in me. I know that. If I do not, I will arrive in heaven when I die but I will have missed out on the very best part of living on this earth.

In that same book by Mark A. Tabb, he writes from his perspective as a minister:

"Maybe it was during the commercials for new and improved dog food in the super-duper size bag, but somewhere along the line we bought the lie that bigger means better and busier means more effective. The more involved we are, the greater our responsibilities, the bigger the place we serve, the better we like it. I especially see this in myself and my fellow pastors. We justify our pursuit of bigger and better places of service and our mountain of activity by saying it all allows us to do more for God. But the very opposite is actually the case. Francis Schaeffer said it best in his essay, ĎNo little people, No little placesí: ĎIf by taking a bigger place our quietness with God is lost, then to that extent our fellowship with Him is broken and we are living in the flesh, and the final result will not be as great, no matter how important the larger place may look in the eyes of other men or in our own eyes.í"

It made me think about the difference of being still before the Lord, and being busy before people. If we are still before the Lord, the flesh says weíre not accomplishing much. If we are busy before people, we are somehow given a false sense of doing what is right in our human eyes. But what about the eyes of God that are watching us, longing for us to turn to Him and acknowledge that He is our Shepherd and He leads us beside still waters for a reason?

I laughed the other night while studying the 23rd Psalm because I told Jim I just realized that the pool here is still water! He was amazed that I had not put that together yet! As I sit there and listen to worship music, soak up the warm sunshine, read an inspirational book or have a conversation with someone new, I am quite busy being still before the Lord. Do I need to get busier than that to be "more effective?" What would Godís opinion on that be?

"Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.
Remind me that my days are numbered, and that my
life is fleeing away. My life is no longer than the width
of my hand. An entire lifetime is just a moment to you;
human existence is but a breath."
We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing
ends in nothing. We heap up wealth for someone else to spend.
Psalm 39:4-6

"All our busy rushing ends in nothing," and yet that is what we feel called to do! Itís like thereís something inside of us that says, "GO! Keep moving! Donít stop!"

I asked God this morning what that was in us? It seems a simple answer, once He gives it to me, but why am I so blinded to it before then? He simply said, "Thatís the Enemy." Well, of course it is!! The Enemy wants us to keep moving faster and faster each day because that is one of his best weapons against our spiritual lives!

Why does the Enemy tell us weíre wasting our time and we should be doing something more productive when weíre trying to pray? Seems pretty clear doesnít it? He doesnít want us talking to our Father, the One with all wisdom, the One who provides our peace and leads us in the right direction! The Enemy wants us distracted, busy, worried, stressed, and if we do call out to God, he wants us moving so fast we canít hear Godís answers when they do come.

Was that You God?
Oh well, I donít have time. Iím in a hurry!
Iíll figure it out myself!
I donít have time to wait around for Godís answer this time!

Not all of us need to spend hours in prayer. Jim doesnít, he isnít called to. But what he is called to do is to drink from the "well" each day and then rest in God as he does the work he is called to do. If I am to be able to write, I am called to a great deal of prayer in preparation for those assignments. There is nothing the Enemy would like better than for me to be too busy to pray. Psalm 37:4 says, "Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heartís desires." I desire to write, I love to write, I love to share the comfort that God has given to me with others I meet. This is only possible when I delight myself in Himóthe Enemy knows that and will do anything to keep me from doing it, even lie to me!!

God calls us His sheep for a reason and He is called our Shepherd for a reason. Sheep are pretty dumb, Iím sorry to say, and so are we on our own. If we are not led by our Great Shepherd, we get lost, we get hurt, we get scared and we canít rest properly. Sheep are most at peace when their shepherd is in the field with them. They stop fighting with each other, stop butting heads and they know that they are protected from all dangers. They like their shepherd within their sight. We should also! When we draw near to God, He will draw near to us! We will be protected, cared for, looked after and we will be able to rest.

As I study the 23rd Psalm and about sheep also, I learned an interesting fact. Phillip Keller explained this about sheep:

"Most people are not aware that sheep can go for months on end, especially if the weather is not too hot, without actually drinking, if there is heavy dew on the grass each morning. Sheep, by habit, rise just before dawn and start to feed...The early hours are when the vegetation is drenched with dew, and sheep can keep fit on the amount of water taken in with their forage when they graze just before and after dawn...And there is no more resplendent picture of still waters than the silver droplets of the dew hanging heavy on leaves and grass at break of day."
..."In my mindís eye I can see my flock again. The gentleness, stillness and softness of early morning always found my sheep knee keep in dew-drenched grass...As the sun rose and its heat burned the dewdrops from the leaves, the flock would retire to find shade. There, fully satisfied and happily refreshed, they would lie down to rest and ruminate through the day. Nothing pleased me more. I am confident this is precisely the same reaction in my Masterís heart and mind when I meet the day in the same way...He delights to know my soul and spirit have been refreshed and satisfied."
..."But the irony of life, and tragic truth for most Christians, is that this is not so. It is often the case that they try, instead, to satisfy their thirst by pursuing almost every other sort of substitute."


I donít believe we do this on purpose, I believe we do it because we are lied to by the Enemy! He tells us weíre wasting our precious time, thereís work to be done and we better get to it immediately!

My best friend is a very busy person! She can accomplish so much in one day that when I talk with her at dayís end, Iím exhausted with her tales of what her day held. What amazes me is she still finds time with God first thing in the morning. She is an early riser and she understands the importance of prayer and quiet time. She, like Jim though, isnít asked to spend hours upon hours with God each day because her gifts are very different than mine. She is a worker-bee. She can whip up ten pounds of potato salad while Iíd still be searching for the recipe--and then even if I did find it, I wouldnít know what to do with it!

But what makes me most happy is when I hear she is going to have a day of rest. When she says, thatís enough. There is a joy that rises up in me just to hear those words from her. I want her to rest, to take a nap, to watch a good movie, or to sit on the beach and be quiet for a while. I know those times are good for her and she gets so few of them!

Is this how God feels? As I was thinking about this, this morning, and that Jesus is our Friend, doesnít He want the same for us? Isnít He happy to hear that we are going to be quiet for a while, take a rest, breathe in deep and let it out slowly while filling with a gratitude for all that He has done in our lives? He wants us to drink from His well, not look for "every other sort of substitute" to satisfy our desires. And then after we drink, donít you think He is happy to see how truly satisfied we are in Him?

Oh, the trap we get caught up in believing the lies of the Enemy that bigger is better and busier is more effective! When we as believers all get to heaven, I think most of us are going to be shocked at how God viewed our daily activities as opposed to how we view them now. We may have humanly accomplished so very much, but we may have missed the full joy of living in the truth of His burden being easy and His yoke being light.

It is better to be godly and have little
than to be evil and possess much. For
the strength of the wicked will be
shattered, but the Lord takes care of the godly.
Day by day, the Lord takes care of the innocent,
and they will receive a reward that lasts forever.
Psalm 37:16-18

Some may say we donít have much here in Tucson. We live in a very small space and our days are quiet and simple, but we sense Godís love and care day by day. His peace fills our hearts and I think thatís what makes it difficult to "pull up stakes" and move on. This has been a precious time that not many experience in the world we live in today. Life is too busy, there is too much to be done, and we are being pulled in too many different directions to be still for very long. We have been able to be still here, and we have cherished it! This may not have been Tuscany, but it is Tucson and Godís blessings have been abundant each day!

Look at those who are honest and good,
for a wonderful future lies before those who love peace.
Psalm 37:37

Who doesnít love peace and who doesnít want a wonderful future?
The Prince of peace is longing to give it to all of us if we will only sit beside His still waters.

Enjoying His Peace,

Diane