What is God Doing When Our Plans Change?

In a matter of days, I’ll say goodbye to a dear friend and neighbor who I’ve grown close to since our move to Holyoke almost three years ago. Katie Wilson and her family have been a treasure to my family. She’s changed my youngest son’s diapers, we’ve celebrated our girls’ birthdays together, and she’s watched our kids any time we had a need.

When I needed encouragement, she’d bring me chocolate and coffee unannounced (yes, hold on to that friend!) I’ll always remember our shopping trips to Denver and Greeley and her wisdom and insight from sitting beside her in Bible study the last 2.5 years. I’ll always remember her girls raiding my pantry for food and how they loved playdates. Katie has been a true friend and a delight to know.

Katie’s husband, Dr. Wilson, has been a part of our family as well- he was always available to answer any of Jeremiah’s medical questions after the shooting accident in 2016. He never cared if it was after-work hours. He was a blessing to many people in our community as a wonderful doctor and a man of integrity who loved and deeply cared for others.

In these coming days, I’ll be preparing my heart and my kids’ hearts to “let go” of their playdates with the Wilson girls, hearing their girls’ voices echoing across the road while on the tire swing, and just knowing they were always there.

Change is never easy. Sometimes the very word causes us to cringe in our seat. In fact, our human nature is pretty resistant to it. But it’s a natural part of life that if we don’t embrace, we may become bitter at God for allowing something into our lives that we didn’t ask for.

Perhaps, in your own experience you’re having to let go too. Or maybe you’re bracing yourself in regards to a different situation – sending your child off to college, a career change, saying goodbye to a family member or someone you love, or trying to figure out the new normal in your present situation. I think of Abraham in Scripture who the Lord told to,

“Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:1-3)

Further on, we see that Abraham obeyed immediately and left idol worship in the wicked land of Ur to settle in the land of Canaan. He was seventy-five years old and I’m guessing he was quite comfy living right where he was. But God had called him to go. He had a plan that involved some pretty amazing things including that many nations will be blessed because of his obedience, his descendants will be more than all the stars in the sky, he will inherit the land, God will act for Abraham even though he is childless with Sarai, and that through his very lineage, Jesus Christ- the Savior of the world- would be born.

It’s important to note that God says to Abraham, “Go to the land I will show you.” This was not about Abraham’s plans and agenda, but about what God was doing through the people of Israel and the plan he had for the redemption and rescuing of mankind. He was going to use Abraham in a mighty way, even though Abraham had no idea how God’s promises would exactly unfold.

Sometimes in life we’re forced to move forward and it’s beyond our control. Or sometimes we’re quite comfortable living in a land of prosperity and would rather stay complacent. Or sometimes we just know it’s time to move on. Whatever the case, God works in all our circumstances – good and bad. He never changes who He is, but he’ll often call us to change for our own growth and to fulfill his plans in our life.

Saying goodbye is never easy on my end. I can be selfish and want things my way but God is helping me trust him through the different seasons. I can thank him for the precious memories I’ll always have with the Wilson’s in Holyoke. I can give him thanks for bringing them into our lives when we needed them most. I can thank him for giving me a sweet taste of real friendship. I can praise Him for using them in a great way to better the lives of so many people in our town.

There’s so much to be thankful for even when change is hard and there’s a temptation to doubt God’s goodness. Just as we see the flowers starting to bloom and the deadness from winter disappear, let’s watch together in anticipation with how the Lord longs to bring newness and life to our situation that we’ve never experienced before.

Samantha

Samantha Krieger is a pastor’s wife and mom to 4. Through personal stories and scripture, she is passionate about helping women live out their faith in real life. She is the author of  Quiet Time: A 30-day Devotional Retreat for Moms in the Trenches. 

 

 

 

 

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told to be… still

I come from a line of “doers” so when the nurse told me today that I need to stay off my feet, I thought it would be impossible- especially with a toddler.

For the past few days, I’ve had really strong and firm braxton hicks contractions when I stand up, walk, do chores, anything. They only subside when I sit or lie down. It’s crazy because right at the moment I stand up, my abdomen is as hard as a rock. I have six weeks left until baby girl Krieger’s due date and so far my husband and doula have a suspicion she could come early October.

Yesterday, I sat down for an hour while Jeremiah played with John and it was really, really hard. But I think I’m learning a lesson already.

I’m not still enough and I don’t listen to God nearly enough.

While sitting in our lazy boy with my chubby toes propped up, I was able to reflect more on life and what was really going on. Life can get so fuzzy when you’re so busy. I’m having a baby and my sweet little boy is nearing two. I have an incredible husband and God is building our little family the way He desires. What a gift. It was as if God whispered in my ear that everything was going to be fine and that He was in control. I didn’t need to worry about the logistics of the baby’s arrival, our time table, the lack of sleep coming up with a newborn, or anything. God was handling it. And He would handle it.

I sensed such peace covering my anxious heart.

God is absolutely sovereign. Yes, I will make plans as best I can, but he directs my steps. He knew that I would get to the point in my pregnancy that I would just have to get off my feet.

Who knows if our baby girl will come early, right on time, or late. I’d love to know. But right now what I need the most in my life is to be still and know that He is God, and I am not.

Do you find it hard to be still?

Whiter than Snow

Last week, while we were eating out I gazed out the window and snow started sprinkling out of the dark sky, covering the sheet of snow on the ground. It was heavenly. So clean. Fresh. Pure. I could almost taste it. I laughed and smiled like a little girl.

I was reminded of the verse in Isaiah that says: “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” – Isa. 1:18

Sin stains. It’s dirty. Evil. Wicked. It breaks the heart of God. It has separated all of us from His love. Its pathway leads to death.

Sin doesn’t deserve to be made whiter than snow.

But because of Jesus’ suffering on the cross, his resurrection, and our repentance and belief in Him, we’re made clean again. The crimson stain is blotted out because of his shed blood- as if we’ve never rebelled at all.

Today, even though there’s no blanket of snow keeping the ground warm here in Dallas, I feel like a little girl leaping for joy that my sins are forgiven, but also perplexed why God chooses to save us?


How Pride Kills Prayer

Untitled-1In thinking further on yesterday’s post If God is sovereign, why pray? I thought about a few more things when it comes to prayer inspired from Matt Chandler’s message The Art of Prayer.

I’ve heard lots of sermons preached that have given me a step by step outline on how to pray that include acronyms to follow and certain disciplines to have a better prayer life. I’m not saying they aren’t effective or that I haven’t used them- some of them have really helped me stay disciplined. But most of the time my prayer issues are not because of the how-to’s but deal more with the state of my heart.

Pride says, “I’ve got it figured out. I can handle it all on my own. When I really need God, that’s when I’ll start leaning on him…” These are the kind of control issues I have to battle.

And the reality is that pride kills prayer, making me useless in building God’s kingdom and being about his work. Pride is dealt with when I confess. Repent. Humble myself. Beg for a changed heart. Ask God to help me with any guilt or shame I might feel that would keep me from coming to him.

I love how Hebrews says to approach the throne of grace. It’s all about grace. Jesus gives us grace and mercy to help us in our time of need because he’s been there. He can sympathize with our struggles and pain because he was tempted in every way, but was without sin. He knows we need grace and mercy- we are just so weak without him. There is nothing that he doesn’t understand.

He wants to take my pride and replace it with something greater. He wants a heart that is humble. Humility is what breathes life back into prayer again. And I know it’s something I have to pray for every day.

Has pride ever effected your prayers? How so? Why do you think it’s so hard sometimes to have a humble heart?

If God is Sovereign, Why Pray?

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Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Lights.

Every night we put our son John down for bed, Jeremiah and I pray that he will come to know the Lord at an early age. We think about the responsibility that’s on our shoulders to raise him in a loving home, display a loving marriage, teach him God’s word, live a life that does not say “do as I say, not as I do…” And to do this by leaning on God’s grace and not our human effort.

A truth that we acknowledge is that we can’t force John to love God in the future. That’s a decision he must come to on his own. We also know that God is sovereign over his life. And sometimes it’s easy to say well, “Why pray for his salvation if God already knows?”

As you know, a question like this is a great debate in lots of hearts today. And it often keeps us from approaching God or even giving him the time of day.

I was encouraged to hear Matt Chandler hit on the topic of prayer yesterday. A few points he made out of Scripture have given me great hope today.

We know that God listens to his people and has changed his mind based on a request (Moses in Exodus). We know in Luke that we’re to ask, and it will be given to us. To seek and we will find.

But what we miss out on is the act of praying in faith.

Having the faith that he will do what we ask because we’re seeking him. Having faith to lean on his grace for every moment in our lives. We pray in faith because we’ve been commanded to and prayer is really for us, more than it is for God. It changes us and it’s about participating in what He is doing.

As Jeremiah and I continue to pray for John’s salvation, we’re praying in faith that God will answer our prayers. As imperfect parents, we’re trusting that God will use us as his  tool to help lead John to the cross.

When we believe that God will do something, I think that changes everything and gives us great hope in his future grace.

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Luke 11:9).

What are you praying for today, hoping that God will answer? Do you have the faith that He will do it?

life without fear?

29_NewsPGMPHovIn less than one month, my brother-in-law Paul who is a Navy Chaplain will get on a plane and head to Afghanistan to serve our country. He will say goodbye to my sister and four-year-old nephew for six whole months. Because of what’s going on over there, I have my share of worries and fears when it comes to Paul’s safety and God’s sovereignty.

But I’ve been encouraged today in reading Chapter 1 of Max Lucado’s new book Fearless. I downloaded the PDF off of The Fearless Times, a site that’s all about the book and is a great marketing tool for it.

In almost 25 years of writing, more than 65 million books filled with Max Lucado’s words have been sold. Max is so gifted when it comes to words that you’d think he was Jesus. But he’s not. He’s a human being with fears just like you and me.

Here are some of my favorite lines from Ch. 1 that I hope will tease you into heading over there and reading it for yourself:

“Fear herds us into a prison and slams the doors.”

“Christ-followers contract malaria, bury children, and battle addictions, and, as a result, face fears. It’s not the absence of storms that sets us apart. It’s whom we discover in the storm; an unstirred Christ.”

“Fear corrodes our confidence in God’s goodness. We begin to wonder if love lives in heaven. If God can sleep in our storms, if his eyes stay shut when our eyes grow wide, if he permits storms after we get on his boat, does he care? Fear unleashes a swarm of doubts, anger-stirring doubts.”

“And fear feels dreadful. It sucks the life out of the soul, curls us into an embryonic state, and drains us dry of contentment. We become abandoned barns, rickety and tilting from the winds, a place where humanity used to eat, thrive, and find warmth. No longer. When fear shapes our lives, safety becomes our god. When safety becomes our god, we worship the risk-free life.”

“If we medicate fear with angry outbursts, drinking binges, sullen withdrawals, self-starvation, or viselike control, we exclude God from the solution and exacerbate the problem. We subject ourselves to a position of fear, allowing anxiety to dominate and define our lives. Joy-sapping worries. Day-numbing dread. Repeated bouts of insecurity that petrify and paralyze us. Hysteria is not from God. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear” (2 Tim. 1:7).

I have always loved 2 Timothy 1:7 in that fear is not from God. Fear can make us do all kinds of crazy things.

As we get closer to Paul’s deployment, I know that God wants me to continue to trust that he’s in control and he’s directing Paul’s path no matter where he goes. The issue isn’t really about Paul going to a dangerous place, but whether I will trust and have faith in God that He is good and is sovereign over everything in life.

My Dad’s Surgery Approaching

In my first year of seminary, I was taking a break from classes to visit my parents at our lakehouse in VA. That weekend, my dad came down with an awful sickness. He was throwing up, felt dizzy, couldn’t see or barely walk. He was looked at by a doctor in the small town our lakehouse was in. The doctor didn’t have much to say. He and my mom decided to travel to Lynchburg where my school was for a second opinion. I was standing in our kitchen when I heard the news. My mom called me to say that dad either had an aneurysm or a brain tumor. They would know soon. She sounded anxious and a bit fearful. I knew it was serious especially in the way she relayed everything.

At that moment, I broke down into tears and was tempted to call all my friends and spill the news. Instead I set the phone down and headed over to our big comfy chair that overlooked the peaceful water. I grabbed a pen, my journal, and Bible and spilled all my fears and frustrations out on the pages. In that time, I felt God’s peace and presence like never before. Several hours later, I heard the news that thankfully dad had a brain tumor and not an aneurysm and would be operated on soon. I packed my bags for the hospital.

My family camped out in the hospital for several days praying for dad and awaiting his return out of surgery. I was joyfully overwhelmed by all the calls and emails we received from friends and the seminary faculty praying for my dad. Through it all, he made it out and recovered well- even though it was tough.

Fast-forward five years later and we are in the same place again. Dad’s tumor has returned and he’ll be operated on tomorrow at 11AM at Baylor University Medical Center here in Dallas.  Many thoughts and emotions run through my mind right now. Why must he do this all over again? Why the pain again? Will the doctor do his job correctly? How will his recovery be?

Yet through it all, like what I learned in the chair at our lakehouse– God is sovereign over everything and he cares deeply for me and my family. Despite everything, He’s in control. He is with my dad and knows all the circumstances. So the question remains: Will I trust him again?

May my dad rest in your care tonight as he prepares for this surgery tomorrow God. Comfort his heart and may your glory be made known all the more. Calm his spirit as I know he is nervous. In your awesome name. Amen.

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