Plan On It

I had to run some errands today.  We were out of some household items, so I was off to Sam’s Club this afternoon. Normally it’s not a big deal, but when you’re trekking the four miles from my house in New Tampa to the discount club in Wesley Chapel, the after-work traffic makes it a thirty-five minute event.

Patience. I need to work on my patience. 

As I walked into the store and flashed my membership card, I remembered the conversation my wife and I had about how we didn’t need to be carrying two memberships for discount clubs; one for Sam’s and one for BJ’s. I made a mental note to follow-up on that at later time.

sams

I grabbed what I needed and headed toward the checkout lanes, all in under ten minutes. This is the benefit of going sans spouse to the warehouse. I swiped my card at the terminal of the self-checkout aisle.

“Your membership expired on March 10. Would you like to renew now and complete your transaction?”

It seems I no longer had to worry about the membership club decision seeing as how God had already made the decision for me. I giggled as I meandered back to the shelves to return my items, thinking of how I now needed to stop by BJ’s. Thankfully, the nightmare, afternoon traffic on this side of town is only in one direction, and I would be travelling the opposite way.

I pull into BJ’s, blissfully unaware of my immediate surroundings, completely consumed by the music on my radio. As I get out of my car, I notice a man reaching into the back of his trunk. This is completely normal given people are often loading their vehicle after shopping at the store. Then I saw it. His rear tire was flat. He wasn’t loading groceries or goods, but rather unloading items from his trunk to get to his spare.

My first impulse was to say in my head, “Good luck, dude” and be on my way. I actually got about seven steps away from my car before the feelings in my heart consumed me. The Holy Spirit had initially whispered to me to help that man. Now He was screaming at me.

Obedience. I need to work on my obedience. 

In my class at Bible College, we recently had a discussion on how some young people feel we don’t need the Old Testament because we have the New Testament. What that view overlooks is the fact the Bible, all sixty-six books, is how God reveals Himself to us. Additional, the OT is about promises made while the NT is about promises kept.

For me, what I love about the Old Testament are the stories of the nation of Israel after they left Egypt. It’s a series of cyclical stories showing how Israel would lose patience with God, choose disobedience to God, face the consequences of their behavior, and repent of their sins to once again find favor with the Lord. Through it all God is with them. Yes, He is angered, and yes, His wrath is displayed. But so is His love and mercy and infinite patience.

OT

In a nutshell, the story of Israel wandering in the desert is the story of my life. Praise God for all He’s done. Lose patience with where I’m at. Falter in obedience to what He’s calling me to do. Stumble, fall, and accept the consequences of my behavior. Ask Him for forgiveness. Become redeemed once again in His eyes.

Sometimes I experience that cycle with small things; sitting in traffic, standing in line, etc. In my past I’ve experienced that cycle with the big things. It’s the reason I have an ex-wife and a period in my life that is marred with regrets.

Yet through it all, God was, is, and always will be with me. With each experience I build up my patience. With each opportunity, I display my obedience.

The man with the flat tire, his name is Joe. He was in his late sixties. He was very appreciative of me getting on the ground and situating his jack so we could change the tire and put on the spare. It was a blessing to be able to help him. It was the highlight of an otherwise mundane day. And it makes me smile to think that had my Sam’s club membership not expired, Joe would be on his on with that flat tire.

flat-tire

Don’t resist when the Holy Spirit compels you to do something. His plans are always greater than ours, and it’s through patience and obedience that we serve the Lord.

“If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully keep all his commands that I am giving you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the world.” Deuteronomy 28:1 NLT

Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread

I don’t particularly enjoy working out alone. My wife and I have shared the experience of going to the gym together, and although we may do different exercises or use different machines, knowing we’re both there together makes the experience more fulfilling for me.

The same goes for my spiritual workouts.

At the end of last year, our dear friend Lindsey invited Lee and me to undertake a new challenge.

“Will you join me in reading the entire Bible in one year?”

“Ummm…..what?”

“The Bible. I am going to read it all in one year, and I want you to join me.”

<uneasy silence> “Ummmmm …… yes?”

It was very much a daunting task at the time it was presented to us. Yet another thing I needed to make time for in my day to day. It’s not like I wasn’t already falling behind on everything else, so sure, why not add something else to the To Do list (which in my case usually ends up being a Good Intentions list)?

But undertake it I did, with the help of the YouVersion Bible app. Every morning in the car I would start the readings for the day of the reading plan. The great thing about YouVersion is, depending on the translation, you can have the app read it to you. This is especially helpful because I find it easier to follow along as I hear someone else read, and I don’t have to stumble over the pronunciation of names and places (especially in the Old Testament). Also, I can take advantage of my commute time to take in His word.

So here we are three months removed from that awkward conversation with my friend and I’m 25% done with reading the Bible. Think about that. I’ve read a quarter of the Good Book, and I’ve done it a few chapters at a time. Not only has this plan made it manageable by spreading out the reading between Old and New Testaments, it has also opened my eyes to the amazing stories in the Bible.

I’ve been introduced to the talking donkeys, how the sons of Jacob plotted to avenge the rape of their sister, and passages that have made me blush. More importantly, I’ve made the time in my day to nourish my spirit and grow in my relationship with God. And I am finding that as situations and challenges present themselves in my life, I am able to lean on what I’ve read and learned in order to better deal with them. I’m able to reference a particular story in the Bible that provides me with a better perspective as to how I should act or not act. Like going to the gym, I am stronger now than when I started.

And I am so blessed to be doing this with my wife and friends. We turn to each other to discuss His word and better understand what we’ve read. We push and encourage each other to stay on plan and not fall behind, which is what fellowship is all about.

So if you’re feeling you can use some new perspective, insight, and encouragement in your life, I invite you to turn to a resource that’s been there for you from the beginning. Download the YouVersion app and check out The Bible in a Year plan. Or if you’re old school, open up your Bible and read a chapter a day. As the plan overview says, “The Bible is God’s love letter to each one of us. Why should you miss out on any of the things God wants to say to you?”

Daily Bread