Paths Opened

Transitions, #2

tran·​si·​tion | noun | a passage, movement, or development from one state, place, or style to another

2-PathsOpened-Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Last week, at the end of Patterns Changed, I wrote that God has wonderful, trustworthy plans for us to discover. A change in patterns open paths that we may have never considered.

The grief that follows the loss of a familiar pattern, is valid and necessary. A mourning period is natural, cathartic, healthy. But it is a period—a cycle with an end. Often it’s hard to imagine what fresh thing can fill the new void in our heart, our mind, our days. And if we are able to peek down the road, we may feel intimidated. The unknown is not frightening when we know we don’t face it alone.

Ephesians 2:10 assures us God has prepared works for us to do before we even show up. And if He prepared them, He’s there to walk through them with us. Broken patterns present us with open paths.

New beginnings, ventures, discoveries, relationships, challenges—opportunities for us to stretch and grow, expand our horizons, flex new muscles, test unused gifts.

Has a door closed, a detour popped up, a change been imposed? Walk down a new path with the One who’s already prepared the way.

  • So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. 41:10
  • It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. 31:8
  • For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Eph. 2:10

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Patterns Broken

Transitions, #1

tran·​si·​tion | noun a passage, movement, or development from one state, place, or style to another

1-PatternsBroken-Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Transition means things are no longer the same. A pattern is broken; habits have changed; our routine is disoriented. New has replaced old and the unfamiliar supersedes the comfortable. Confidence wobbles and life becomes a little scary.

Some transitions are easy—like going from third grade to fourth grade, or moving to a bigger and better home, or being promoted in the same company. Other transitions are challenging—like going from high school to college (for the parent as well as the student), or downsizing, or embarking on a new career.

Every beginning comes on the heels of an ending. Patterns broken by choice are easier to accept than those forced on us but, either way, life is difficult if we bemoan what once was. Only by releasing the past will we be able to embrace a new venture.

Transition means patterns are broken, but also that discoveries await. Be an adventurer and accept change as a chance to experience new vistas with God. He has opportunities for you that will fulfill wonderful, trustworthy plans for your life.

  • “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.” Isa. 48:17
  • “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.” Ps. 32:8
  • Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Gal. 5:25 (NLT)
  • I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Ps. 16:7-8
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Expectant Ground

Paths to Hope, #5

#5_Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay .jpgUncertain ground—barren, dormant, complacent. Ground that bores us, but sucks us in to its lethargic state. Unexciting and inactive, it is the place where vision fades and apathy takes root. Dead ground, dangerous ground, unproductive ground, forbidden ground.

I say forbidden because it’s not where God wants us…

  • He tells us to plant ourselves by streams of living water and yield fruit—even our leaves won’t wither (Psalm 1:3).
  • Jesus tells us to live in Him, the Vine, and bear fruit that lasts—much fruit and more fruit (John 15:16).
  • The Spirit produces fruit in us—love, joy, peace, and more (Galatians 5:22).

So move. Walk the path to expectant ground and replant yourself where green shoots push through watered soil, vines flower with promised produce, and popsicle sticks flaunt seed packets that proclaim an expected crop.

Let your roots dig deep, face the Son, drink Living Water, and expect the Master Gardener to do what you cannot do on your own—bring forth fruit in abundance.

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.” (Isa 60:1)

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Positive Ground

Paths to Hope, #4#4_SolidGround_by David Mark from Pixabay

Life is ever-changing. Our place in time and space fluctuates with vacillating circumstances and relationships. Seismic shifts shake our well-ordered lives and we find ourselves on unfamiliar paths. If we want to walk strong and sure, it’s critical we find ground that is firm and true—no sink holes, shifting sand, or marshy muck—no reliance on wavering emotions or skewed perspectives.

The one foundation that offers consistently stable, rock-hard ground is the Bible. The path it offers is a groundwork of truth—all truth, only truth, nonfluctuating truth, solid truth. The Bible’s words and its Author never shift.

Jesus said that the wise dig down deep and lay a foundation on rock. When floods come (and they always come) the house will be hit, but not shaken. (Luke 6:48)

Unshaken. That’s how I want to walk out my moments, days, and years—not shifting and tripping, mired or entangled, fearful or uncertain.

Let’s pound the road before us on the positive, reliable truth of God’s Word—a rock sure foundation.

He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. (Ps 40:2b)

Next week we’ll explore the E Path to H.O.P.E.
Image by David Mark from Pixabay

 

Open Ground

Paths to Hope, #3

#3OpenGround_Image by Julio Pablo Vázquez from Pixabay

Flexibility—the quality we encourage in others but struggle to apply ourselves. After all, we thought long and hard about the route we’re on. We prayed to God and sought counsel from others. We weighed the pluses and minuses and searched our hearts to make sure there were no dishonorable motives. We may remember the moment of divine inspiration and be able to cite each God-led step. And yet, the course we were on crashed. The disaster came—the division, the death, the divorce, the disease—and it destroyed everything.

It’s over. But we won’t let go, as if cherishing the dream will resurrect it. If you have been in this place you will object, as I did, to the following advice: Open your heart to new opportunities. 

Step onto open ground. Don’t fear being unfaithful to your past or approaching a new challenge. Understand God’s heart and you will open yours. 

His plans are perfect, though His revelation is partial. We see only one step ahead, our Father sees the end from the beginning and we are wrong to make assumptions based on where our past has led or where we now stand. 

One step—just take one prayerful step in a new direction and see where God will lead, what He will do, and what surprises He has for you.  

Flexible, fluid, pliable—attitudes necessary for that next great thing God has for us. Without those qualities we just may stubbornly, self-righteously miss out on the unexpected. 

Let’s be brave and open our hearts to God’s opportunities.

More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ. Philippians 3:8 NRSV

Next week we’ll explore the P Path to H.O.P.E.

Image by Julio Pablo Vázquez from Pixabay

High Ground

Paths to Hope, #2

#2HighGround_Image by O12 from PixabayIt’s hard to walk one direction while looking another—just try striding ahead while looking behind you or walking a straight line while gazing to the right. It’s natural for our feet to follow our eyes, physically and in our journey through life. This is why it’s really important to focus on the direction in which we want to move.

Left on our own, life on earth can be low-level walking. There are lots of attractions (and distractions) that pull our focus from our path. Paul calls us to a higher walk when he says, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Col. 3:2). In essence he’s saying, “Look where you want to live,” or “Focus on where you want to go.”

Don’t let life’s sorrows━or joys━become your focus with downcast eyes. The H of H.O.P.E. tells us, “Hold your eyes higher.” Walk the high ground, where the view is clear, faith is fed, and hope is found.

Next week we’ll test the O Path to Hope.

Image by O12 from Pixabay

Common Ground

Paths to Hope, #1

1_CommonGround_Image by Jim Semonik from PixabayWe set out on the journey to hope from common ground—our lives are mutually pocked with pits and scars, unpleasant memories and devastated dreams. Our brokenness marks us, whether it comes from shattered promises, damaged relationships, splintered plans, threatening health, or challenging finances. Whatever our unique challenges may be, we are rendered vulnerable and our hope is assaulted.

We must waste no time rescuing what little hope remains and fan a flame under its smoldering embers.

The problem is, bruised hope has blurred our vision. Our strength is sapped, our motivation maimed. But we must press on and engage in one more battle for hope—the alternative is too dreadful to consider. So we step forward.

Yes, step. There is no energy for a surge so we put one foot in front of the other and haltingly limp down a path that promises to renew our hope. But we don’t limp alone—before us we have the Spirit of God [1], beside us are fellow travelers [2], above us is a cloud of cheering witnesses [3], and beneath us is the well-trodden path they walked.

Don’t give up. Brokenness and pain do not end your story. There is more to be written, so let us press on.

Join me next week to embark on the H Path of Hope.

[1]  Isaiah 31:8, [2]  Romans 12:4,5, [3]  Hebrews 12:1
Image by Jim Semonik from Pixabay

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