Thursday, February 7, 2013

Remembered

I'm reaching the one-month mark of paying proper attention to my blog. We’re making progress! I hope to remain as blog-dedicated when the writing process takes shape again, but time will tell. For those who wonder, I’ve got ideas marinating inside for a fourth novel and really want to get preparation work and early pounding on the first draft this year. Meanwhile, I’ve put more of a spiritual focus on my blog these days.

Have you noticed how much we forget as time passes? We allow too much time to pass before talking to a friend. Someone makes us a promise, but forgets to keep it. Or my original intent to blog every two weeks, which fell by the wayside when things got busy.

We didn’t intend to forget. It just happened.

We’ve all been treated that way. And if we’re honest, we’d admit we’ve treated others that way, too. And if being forgotten touches a deep area in our lives, it can hurt—a lot.

Or sometimes it’s not a broken promise. Sometimes life just isn’t fair. How often do we think of someone and say, “He is one of the kindest, most faithful people I know. If anyone deserves good things in their life, it’s him. So why is he the first to be downsized or the last to be picked?”

That’s when God’s faithfulness shines through for me. One thing that fascinates me about God is that He notices us. When no one else sees us, He does.

Two Bible verses touch me every time I read them:
 
“Then the LORD took note of Sarah as He had said, and the LORD did for Sarah as He had promised” (Genesis 21:1 NASB).
 
“Then God remembered Rachel, and God gave heed to her and opened her womb” (Genesis 30:22 NASB).
 
I never look those verses up just to read them. I tend to forget about them until I’m reading the chapter. For anyone not familiar with the Bible, Sarah and Rachel each had been married for many years. Each had watched others discover the joy of giving birth and raising children.

But Sarah and Rachel were both barren.

Until God remembered them.

Actually, God never forgets. He always notices us, always remembers us. According to Isaiah 49:16, God inscribed His kids’ pictures on the palms of His hands. (Yep, God has tattoos!)

God just has broader timing than we do. And that was the case with Sarah and Rachel. As you read about them, you can see their heartache. They probably reached points in their lives when they doubted they would ever see their dreams of motherhood fulfilled. But eventually, their barrenness ended. They became pregnant.

You might be thinking it’s odd for a guy to relate to barren women. But I relate to delays in their dreams—that feeling of wanting to be farther along your personal path than you are. In other words, you hold a dream on the inside, but it hasn’t yet been born.

Some of you reading this probably feel the same way right now.

Barrenness feels empty. Barrenness feels empty. Barrenness often means holding a lot of heartache inside, because it doesn’t look like people around you would understand—either because their life’s path looks stellar, or because they don’t care enough to dream in the first place.

But for you, there’s no escape. There’s a God-given sense inside you that He has a plan for your life, a destiny. So you can’t turn your back on it. But that means going through barren seasons (or years!) along the way. 

The barrenness has an end point, though.

“’Shout for joy, O barren one, you who have borne no child…for the sons of the desolate one will be more numerous than the sons of the married woman,’ says the LORD. ‘Enlarge the place of your tent…lengthen your cords and strengthen your pegs. For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left’” (Isaiah 54:1-3 NASB).

I soaked in that passage countless times back when I did computer programming. I spent a year reading that passage, the story of Joseph in Genesis 37-47, and Hebrews 11. I read them almost exclusively for about a year, over and over and over again, building up faith and encouragement from them. And to this day, I still cling to those verses because dreams always seem to have a next phase.

You might feel barren, but God hasn’t forgotten you. God takes notice.

And sometimes, we don’t have the ability to make our own dreams come true—hence the long waits—but God will put people in your life. We can help make their dreams come true while we’re waiting for ours. So if we’re waiting, it’s a great time to sow seed into the dreams of someone else—to let them know they’re not forgotten.

The best things in life, those with true substance, seem to involve the hardest-fought battles and the longest waits. But keep pressing on with those genuine heart desires until God brings them to pass.

Never give up!


Today’s playlist:  21 by Adele


Monday, February 4, 2013

Missed Opportunities, Willing Heart

Does opportunity only knock once? Did you miss its knock this week?

Don’t you love days when you awake and don’t feel groggy? You feel content, and your body believes you got the perfect amount of sleep. Last year, I visited my brother in California, and he introduced me to a memory foam pillow. Best sleep I’ve gotten in years! So I bought one and wow, I fall asleep much sooner!

So anyway, I felt unusually rested this morning. And because I’m the type who sets his alarm extra early so he can have the pleasure of hitting the snooze button four or five times before actually getting out of bed, I laid there and reflected on this blog idea for a while.

Have you ever had an interaction with someone, and a few hours or days later, it hits you: I missed an opportunity!

You’ve had desires on your heart but don’t know your next step. The person you talked to seemed to have a desire that matched yours, or perhaps your desire and theirs could have enhanced each other. But it didn’t hit you until later. And in retrospect, it looked like such a missed opportunity—one that will never come around again. At least not with that person.

That person might not be the type you would ever cross paths with again. And because you’re not the type who uses people, you’re busy trying to build them up. It isn’t your M.O. to be on the lookout for how people can serve you.

I wonder if all those missed opportunities were truly opportunities at all.

Maybe God wasn’t setting up an opportunity for us there. Maybe He was just testing the willingness in our hearts instead.

God knows everything. He knew everything from eternity past. And He tells us He mapped out our lives before we were born:

“Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them” (Psalm 139:16 NASB).

Personally, that Bible verse brings such relief to me when I feel like I’ve missed a chance. And it gives me peace about my future, a calm confidence that everything will work out fine.

We’re not robots. God gives us free will. But God also knew our days and knew all our actions from eternity past. That tells me He knew from eternity past how to factor our actions into His perfect plan. In other words, He knew we weren’t going to take action on that so-called opportunity.

So perhaps He wanted to see if we were willing to take hold of something He wanted to give us.

God loves His kids. Maybe He just wanted to take pleasure in seeing what’s in our hearts.

Maybe He just wanted to hear that heart’s response, “God, I would’ve done it. God, I want to step out into what You have planned for me. Please help me not to miss out on Your plan.”

Maybe He wanted to strengthen our resolve for the genuine opportunity when it arrives—so we won’t miss out on it. After all, His perspective is much farther-reaching than ours.

If you do receive an opportunity, seize it! Be on the lookout for those God-given provisions. I’m a big believer in that, and yes, we each have a responsibility to do our part. But worrying about so-called missed opportunities—or even worrying about genuine missed opportunities—seems overrated.

Our only option is to move forward.

And if God was big enough to give us that first “opportunity,” then He’s big enough to do it again.

With God on your side, the One who knew your misses in advance and made provision for them, you have a huge advantage. Your chances are much better than 50/50.

For some reason I can’t fathom, God values each one of us. And He wants us as partners in His plan. If we’ll do the part He gives us, our chances are much closer to 100 percent than we realize.

Sometimes it feels like we’re falling behind. In actuality, we’re probably right on schedule.

Never give up!

John Herrick

Today’s Playlist:  Greatest Hits by Shania Twain


Saturday, February 2, 2013

*NSYNC Dance Moves

I'll probably regret doing this! In my last post, I mentioned doing *NSYNC dance moves for my friend Karis. Well, she told me I should put a video on the blog, so here's some random foolishness. Karis, I hope this makes you happy. :-)

video
 
Never give up!

John Herrick
johnherrick.net
johnherricknet.blogspot.com