Thursday, January 28, 2016

When Life Puts You on Hold

     If I had a dime for every time I was put on hold, I would be very rich by now.  Working with insurance companies at my job,
this is a daily experience.  They tell you press a number which then leads to a second set of numbers when all you really want to do is talk to a live person.  Very frustrating isn't it?  No one wants to wait for anything very long because time is valuable.  However, in God's economy and timing, we may experience times when we are put on hold.
     As many of my readers know, my dear husband went through open heart surgery to repair a valve. We were told to expect 4-6 weeks of recuperation time if all went well.  Four days in the hospital and then, home to recuperate.  Nevertheless, there are some detours that come about because every person is different.  Neither my husband nor I expected to have two weeks in the hospital but we hit a bump in the road to recovery.  God put us on hold.
     When this happens in our life, what is our response?  Do we whine, complain or get upset?  None of this changes any of the circumstances and may only lead to greater stress.  After all Scripture teaches us in Proverbs 16:9:  "The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps."  Then, in Proverbs 20:24, we read:  "A person's steps are directed by the LORD. How then can anyone understand their own way?"  Finally in Jeremiah 10:23, we find:  "LORD, I know that people's lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps."  In all these passages, we see that a man can make his plans, but it is the Lord who will guide his steps.  He, alone, knows the purpose and plan for our lives.
     Certainly the Apostle Paul (then known as Saul) had other plans as he went to Damascus in search of Christians to persecute and arrest, but God interrupted those manmade plans for His glory and Paul's good.  Paul was put on hold that day.  Not being able to see, he was without sight for three days (Acts 9) until he was prayed for by Ananias.   Following his conversion, Paul spent about three years in the desert of Arabia (Galatians 1:16-24).  He did not go to the other Apostles right away.  When he did go to Jerusalem, Paul was not immediately accepted by the disciples when he arrived because of his reputation.   Eventually, Paul was received by the brothers and preached the Gospel boldly.  Throughout his ministry, Paul was put on hold as a captive in a prison cell, but he never wasted a moment sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with all who would hear him.  What was Paul's response to being put on hold?  Look at his letter to the Philippians 4:4-9:  "4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you."
     Beloved, this is how we are to respond to being put on hold by God.  Perhaps, He delayed us from an appointment to keep us from a traffic accident.  He may have put us in a bed so that we might look up and consider Him.  Maybe an answer was delayed to test our faith and trust in Him.  We may not know why we are "on hold", but we know who holds us.  Therefore, we need to rejoice in the Lord and seek ways to serve Him even where we are at this time.  The promise of Jeremiah 29:11 assures us that God's plans for us are good and not for evil.  So the next time we find ourselves in a holding pattern, we should look up to Him who keeps us in His care and wait for Him to direct our steps for His way is always good.  Selah!

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