A Walk on Dog Street

Dog Street 2017

Isaiah 40:31 “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Dog Street is a nickname for Colonial Williamsburg’s Duke of Gloucester Street. It is quaint and well-trodden and almost in my own backyard. I have spent many hours walking on this historic pathway, mostly alone, but sometimes with my children and others. The street could generally be considered my “stomping grounds” since I walked the street as a student at the College of William and Mary many many years ago and still walk it today.

From participating in the Homecoming Parade with my sorority sisters, to watching my children march in the Matthew Whaley Elementary School Halloween Parade, to making it my “happy place” in my later years – this street holds my heart for some reason. Even for mishaps like my toddler son’s broken leg incident (don’t ask) when he was two years old and my broken arm in 2013 in a tripping accident while wearing crocks – this street is like my security blanket. I know it. I feel at home on it. I find peace and quiet there, even among the throngs of tourists.

Walking and waiting have a lot in common. Walking, it turns out, is very therapeutic for me. For the last 15 years, it has been my road for prayer, my opportunity to complete needed weight bearing exercise, and my remedy for getting stiff joints working and lower back pain relieved. For me, Dog Street is a perfect stress remover. I would add calorie burner, except on the days I go to Aroma’s to get a coffee smoothie…

Waiting on the Lord is also very therapeutic. It is my road for trust, my opportunity to believe His Word, and my remedy for removing doubt. Waiting allows God’s Spirit in. The July 20th devotional from My Utmost For His Highest (Oswald Chambers) challenges me to simply depend on God’s presence as the way to “wait on the Lord…walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31) Depending on God’s presence rather than succumbing to emotional rollercoasters. Depending on God’s presence rather than giving in to addictive distractions. Depending on God’s presence instead of seeking the next big spiritual high or ministry position.

Waiting for the Lord doesn’t mean inactivity. It means walking forward in faith while knowing that God’s presence doesn’t depend on a specific location or practice. There is no perfect time and no perfect place and no perfect circumstance needed. Just simply God’s presence.

Psalm 37:7 “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.”

Even when bad things happen, the Lord leads my soul beside still waters (Psalm 23:2). So, I will keep the Lord in front of me as I possess the realness of His presence. With Him I will unhurriedly and carefully walk forward in faith. I will not fret. I will not faint. I will not trip. I will wait for Him. I will walk with Him.

Psalm 23:3 “He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for His Name’s sake.”

 

Putting it Back Together

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Psalm 37:18 “The blameless spend their days under the Lord’s care, and their inheritance will endure forever.”

Sometimes things happen in threes. I have grown accustomed to waiting for that third shoe to drop in a sequence of unfortunate happenings. Recently, I experienced unresolved and annoying eustachian tube pressure from some plane travel that resulted in a doctor visit. Then, as I love to do, I moved some furniture in the house (nothing major – we are talking dragging a small table and hanging a scripture in a hard-to-get-at corner) and somehow twisted my lower back into a spasm. So, it wasn’t long before I accidentally dropped the beautiful custom made terracotta planter that my oldest granddaughters made for their Pop Pop for Father’s Day. Not completely shattered, but broken into multiple pieces!

There it was. Three unfortunate happenings. While there are medications for ear pressure and back spasms, there is nothing that can replace the thoughtful artwork of two very sweet granddaughters using their own pink handprints to bless their Pop Pop with his favorite flamingos. So, after asking for forgiveness and feeling pretty low, I set about gluing the pot back together. The photo does not show the extent of breakage and the number of glued cracks, but it does show a feeble attempt to put things back together.

I thought back to a major time in my life when I put “my common sense on the throne and then tried to attach God’s name to it.” (My Utmost for His Highest, June 27).  This was a time when I leaned ridiculously on my own understanding instead of trusting God. There were plenty of signs that God didn’t want His name attached to my so-called common sense decision. There were plenty of indicators that reminded me that I stepped ahead of God and just expected Him to make everything fit together nicely, despite a risky rationalization.

Well, nothing in that particular endeavor ever fit together nicely. And there were consequences. The pot shattered. Pretty far-reaching…

However, God is faithful to make His children fruitful in the suffering that comes from mistaken common sense. “The second son he <Joseph> named Ephraim and said, ‘It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.’ ” I realize that the Lord is the only One who can make things right and put shambles of our own making back together. In the land of our suffering, focusing on Jesus is our only hope for bringing His enduring good out of our bad decisions and their ensuing consequences. He is faithful to teach us to lean on Him.

In Matthew 14:29-30, Peter trusted Jesus by getting out of the boat against all the distracting odds. He didn’t even contemplate the odds. He focused on Christ alone. But, when he allowed his own common sense to enter the picture, he got sidetracked by his own human sight. He contemplated the waves and gauged the wind, leaning on his own understanding.

If I spend my days under the Lord’s care, I won’t sink because I will keep my trust only in Him. Deep waters will not have any power to overcome me and common sense won’t wreak havoc in my circumstances. When trouble comes, in threes or in thousands, God will cause me to be fruitful on His own terms and in His own timing. I have experienced His “beauty from ashes” goodness many times.

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.”