What’s Next?

Don’t give up today, in what could be the final hours of your struggles or stagnancy. The first day of your good future may be as near as tomorrow.

While we can be in difficult circumstances for a very long time, it can all change in a moment.

Hang in there. Don’t let go.

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Don’t stop paddling. Keep your eyes focussed forward with anticipation of rest and reward, and your arrival in the promised land of all things good.

Replace your inner dismal voice of, “I give up” with an inner hopeful voice, of “What’s next?”

If it’s God you are following; if it’s God you are waiting on, the culmination of his preparations and orchestration of plans for your life will still happen. Change will arrive. It will be infinitely more than you ask or imagine.

Just ahead are freedom from captivity, dry land and sun, purpose and fulfillment, blessings and justice, joy and righteousness. 

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Remember, when your sole trust is in our Father and singular focus is on him, this will always be true:

New International Version
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

So many translations of Jeremiah 29:11 … So much hope … 

New Living Translation
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

English Standard Version
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Berean Study Bible
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope.

New American Standard Bible 
‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.

King James Bible
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

Christian Standard Bible
For I know the plans I have for you”–this is the LORD’s declaration–“plans for your well-being, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

Contemporary English Version
I will bless you with a future filled with hope–a future of success, not of suffering.

Good News Translation
I alone know the plans I have for you, plans to bring you prosperity and not disaster, plans to bring about the future you hope for.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
For I know the plans I have for you”–this is the LORD’s declaration–“plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

International Standard Version
For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for well-being, and not for calamity, in order to give you a future and a hope.

NET Bible
For I know what I have planned for you,’ says the LORD. ‘I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope.

New Heart English Bible
For I know the plans that I have for you,’ says the LORD, ‘plans for your welfare, and not for calamity, to give you hope and a future.

GOD’S WORD® Translation
I know the plans that I have for you, declares the LORD. They are plans for peace and not disaster, plans to give you a future filled with hope.

JPS Tanakh 1917
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

New American Standard 1977 
‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.

Jubilee Bible 2000
For I know the thoughts that I think concerning you, said the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you the end that you wait for.

King James 2000 Bible
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

American King James Version
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, said the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

American Standard Version
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith Jehovah, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you hope in your latter end.

Brenton Septuagint Translation
And I will devise for you a device of peace, and not evil, to bestow upon you these good things.

Douay-Rheims Bible
For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of affliction, to give you an end and patience.

Darby Bible Translation
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith Jehovah, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you in your latter end a hope.

English Revised Version
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you hope in your latter end.

Webster’s Bible Translation
For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

World English Bible
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says Yahweh, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you hope and a future.

Young’s Literal Translation
For I have known the thoughts that I am thinking towards you — an affirmation of Jehovah; thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give to you posterity and hope.

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No Darkness

Where do I go when darkness overwhelms? Where do I go when evil abounds and hopelessness prevails? Where do I go when I am powerless to right what is wrong?

To the only one who will accept my collapse for a time into total dependency.

To the one who sheds light on what is dark … little by little, or all at once … it isn’t up to me but up to him.

To the one who brings me into a partnership, not puppetry as I once imagined of him.

To the one who changes my expectations and beliefs  — about almost everything — who corrects wrong-teaching acquired from birth forward, the misinformation about people and God, earth and heaven, death and life, evil and good, darkness and light.

To the one who believes in me, and proves it by stepping back and expecting me to implement his private tutorials, making life a practice session, a lab class to follow the didactic portion of his lessons.

Even when I whine, “Me? I want you to do it! I know you can do anything! Why can’t I be a puppet instead?” and beg, “No, no, you do it for me; injustice and trouble and opposition scare me!”

To the one who doesn’t give in to my arguments, and responds with, “No, I know you can do it. That is my way, asking you to put my instructions into practice. Wanting you to take the mind of Christ forward, step by step, day by day. Helping you to walk out life overturning evil with my laws and precepts, my love, my justice, my mercy.

To the one who stands firm despite my fears, and helps me understand his will despite my finite mind.

To the one who explains when I don’t understand, “I don’t coerce, I ask to be in partnership; it’s always your choice to do so or not. What is a person if they are only puppets and pawns? I value you, each and every one of you, I welcome you to join me in partnership … by choice, never by force.”

To the one who declares, “For I know the plans I have for you, they are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

To the one who makes is possible, to together …

Overturn evil with good.

Take back life from the clutch of death.

Release captives of the prince of darkness.

Turn mourning into gladness.

Demand justice where there was none.

Bring mercy, hope and love to deprived people.

Shed light on what is dark.

All of this and more … little by little, or all at once …  it’s not by our might or by power, but by his Spirit. For he is light, and in him there is no darkness at all.

 

DSCN0261.jpg God is light, for blog

Those Who Wait

A year ago ago this decade-old geranium was near death. I didn’t have the heart to dispose of it, so I nursed it instead, giving it a new pot and fresh soil, proper watering, and the prime sunny spot in the garage for the winter.

It’s been on my porch all summer, but today I looked up from my reading and actually saw it. It has more blooms than ever before. Half facetiously, I anthropomorphized my geranium. I was happy for it in a way that a parent is glad to see their child who has struggled so terribly finally flourish.

But this isn’t about my awesome, resilient, over-achieving child geranium. Look closely at the picture above, and see what I finally noticed as I crouched with my camera, centering and getting the light just right. That’s my dog photo bombing my geranium’s fifteen seconds of fame.

She was waiting for me to throw a toy, as I frequently do from the advantaged, elevated level of the porch. She’s a border collie, a herding dog, bred to stay with livestock for hours and days on end. Patience is her virtue. Even her slinky posture as she waits is due to her breed: often cat-like, poised for speedy reaction.

I guess she was there in the yard, waiting in that position, for up to thirty minutes before I spotted her through my camera’s viewfinder. When I’d first noticed the geranium and stood to take its photo, at my feet was another of her Frisbees. She had obviously deposited it there before assuming her post in the yard.

She does this “waiting” both outdoors and in, anticipating my propulsion of any number of gnawed balls or discs. I oblige for awhile, then inevitably busy myself with chores or projects. An hour later when I finish my task, she is still there. Waiting. Focussed. Expectant.

Ponder this:  She’s waiting for me, not another person. So I respond to her. I throw the Frisbee, kick the ball, let her in, let her out, take her for a run when she’s fidgety from inactivity. If she took up her post at the periphery of our yard for passersby to notice, to come play, to engage with her, I would respond differently. I wouldn’t stop to attend to her, I’d keep on keeping on with my own thing.

If she put distance between us and had her back to me, searching for someone other than me to respond to her, it would be futile for me to attempt interaction. If she were oblivious to my existence, it would be pointless for me to attempt engagement; I would be throwing my efforts to the wind. She would be heedless to my affection, devotion, love, direction, caution, discipline, or teaching. If she was looking anywhere and to anyone besides me, I would have no reasonable choice but to continue my day independent of her.

But she doesn’t do that. She waits for me.

Because she waits for me, I take notice of her expectations. What does she want from me? What does she need? She’s looking to me to engage with her, meet her desires and needs … so it is I who responds.

It is I who studies her face and body language. It is I who learns her idiosyncrasies, her behaviors, the constants about who she is. It is I who steps in to keep her safe, to redirect her bad habits, to train her. It is I who has a plan in place to guide her to her potential.

It would be a shame for her, and a shame for those who will share her life with her, if I were to turn away when she looked to me.

I have “the sky’s the limit” in mind for her potential. She’s only a year old, so she’s far, far from that now, but I don’t expect her to be there yet. She can’t be there yet. She still has much developmental maturation ahead. I only expect her to progress, at the pace she can, toward her full potential.

I also don’t expect her to get there by herself. She can’t get there by herself. She needs my commitment to her, my patience, direction, repetition and consistent expectations. She needs me to provide opportunities to challenge her. She needs me to set her up for success. She needs me to understand that incremental successes rejuvenate, encourage, and motivate to take on the next challenge. She needs me to understand that too many failures will convince her “the ground is the limit” instead of “the sky is the limit”.

I am pleased to act on behalf of my dog who looks to me, who waits for me. I am committed to her for the long haul, for her lifetime.

How much more, then, would our Father commit to people? I include every person on Earth — we are all his if we look to him, if we turn from having our backs to him to having our faces to him.

If we have all our lives thought him “fictional”, but one day decide to consider him as “real”, and if we genuinely look to him to respond, he will. He may require us to wait a bit, to separate those who are sincere from those who are disingenuous, but he will respond at least in proportion to our degree of expectation.

Jeremiah 29:13 (NIV):  13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

If we give him more and more of our concerns and issues to address, he’ll respond even more — he is there to help as much as we expect him to.

If we give him all of ourselves to love, direct, caution, discipline, teach, transform, heal, rejuvenate, motivate, and fulfill, then he will respond beyond what we ask or imagine. With God, his hope and expectation for each of us is, “the sky’s the limit.” But we need him to get us there.

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV):  11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Isaiah 64:4 (NIV):  Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.

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