I so look forward to the summer months - cookouts at church and more time for writing, praying, resting, sunbathing a little bit, and family fun.
“Man plans his ways, but God directs His steps,” it says in Proverbs 16:9. In
seasons of sudden twists and turns how should we be? Of course, we should be submitted, pliable and discerning. But when the winds come, the tides turn, and the unexpected comes swiftly, how should we be? The Holy Spirit is likened unto the wind. We don’t know from where it comes, and we don’t know where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit according to John 3:8. Look at the birds of the air, they neither toil nor spin. This speaks of worry. When the winds shift, can we navigate effortlessly and freely or do we toil, fear, and push against its current?
On June 20, I headed to Moravian Falls for a private prayer retreat and then I planned to go to Sacramento for a few days to meet up with some friends for time at Bethel in Redding. I planned it for well over three months. I was all packed! Summer here we go! The mountain retreat was awaiting my arrival! Woo Hoo, here I come!
While in the prayer cabin the morning of the 21st, I got a very unexpected text that shook me to the core. My older brother Richie had suffered a brain hemorrhage and was in critical condition in Jensen, Florida. Tears streamed down my face as I desperately wanted to go be with my family and wait this out with them! My prayer time turned into the cry, “What do I do?” I tried to wait, but that did not seem to be an option. I wanted to go home but it was pouring outside, and I was in the mountains with all its twists and turns. I waited a bit, texted a few people, and then drove home. All I knew for certain was to cancel my trip to California.
My mind raced and I felt tossed in the wind. There was not a fiber in my being that was at peace. Why didn’t God tell me, prepare me, warn me not to plan the way I did? In times past there would have been a sense, a dream, a restraint…something! But there was nothing. Some prophet, huh? So, I cancelled my trip, not sure if I would recover the $750 I had already spent on the flight. It did not matter. Family mattered. And then the flight course changed. Florida was calling. A ticket was booked, but I was rerouted. Thankfully, I was already packed for hot weather. God is in the details!
I spent the entire month of July with my brother every day from morning till night by his side, assisting and encouraging where I could, praying and waiting. My heart hurt to see a strong, brilliant man who took my dad’s place growing up reduced to complete dependency on others for basic needs. He needed Jesus, and perhaps I could finally lead him to the One who gives life!
I watched and waited for even the smallest opportunity but there was none. The wind seemed still. So, I felt to just love, serve, and just be there. That is all. In my restraint, I learned that silence speaks louder than a multitude of words. I had been on silent mode like my phone is so often. For six months, I knew the restraint and discipline of silence. At Holy Spirit’s direction, I had not preached in a pulpit in six months. My agenda had to take a back seat to the wind of the spirit. My brother was not a project. I listened and waited. I always look for a lesson to learn or a revelation to unfold. I only knew to love.
I am reminded of the book of James that says that faith without works is dead. It would have been easier for me to preach to him once again as I had so many times in the past. But helping him cut his food and comb his hair was harder. These were the works. I felt the pleasure of God on the simplest deeds.
So where is this going for a newsletter, my friends? Learn to discern the wind. Sometimes it takes you on a journey upward; at other times, you dovetail downward. This is life. Be prepared for the unexpected and the opportunity to be still. Psalm 46:10 says to be still and know that He is God. Our lives are not our own. That is why the Helper has come. Discern the wind.
As I am now making the descent into Newark airport, it is really choppy; however, it’s necessary to land in this particular path because it’s to our destination. In this hour, the Lord wants us to be very discerning. Discernment is our safety net.
What a privilege to be invited into the life in the Spirit! We can choose to learn from all our experiences.
As I look back on my summer, I would not have changed a thing. I would rather be in the will of God than choose my own path. Jesus Himself needed the Spirit. Imagine the King of Glory needing to learn the ways of the Spirit for full obedience? How much more do we!
I bless you with amazing grace for a greater sensitivity to the way of the Spirit. Set your sails and go!