Page 306 began with a pleasant surprise as it was much warmer outside than what I expected it to be when I left for work. It was raining lightly, but it was not the cold rain that we’ve been having. As I arrived at work, the background music in my mind for the morning prayer, cleaning, and building prep was already playing — “I need thee every hour.” It was a good reminder to start the day, and throughout the day, that God is who I need no matter what. It is so easy to go through life thinking we’re doing okay on our own, when really we’re not — the only resemblance our life will ever have to okay is when we realize our need for God that very moment. Sometimes we like to “save” our need of God for the big or difficult moments, but God wants us to know and embrace our need of Him in all things.
Once the building was ready for the day and the trash taken out, I turned my attention to the details of the Growing Strong retreat. My prayer focus today in regard to being strong in the Lord was wrapped around our need for a growing repentance. It is pretty easy to find people who are sorry — mostly sorry about getting caught doing something they shouldn’t have done. It is much more difficult to find people who desire to grow in the area of repentance where their godly sorrow leads to actual change to line up everything they say and do with what pleases God. A good part of the morning was spent finishing up some outlines and packing the resources and material that I would take with me for the retreat. In between all of that, I was in communication with individuals who were thinking strongly about attending the retreat, or were already planning on coming.
With the unknown of who, and how many, would actually make it to the retreat, I decided to take my father-in-law with me so that I wouldn’t end up being alone in a cabin with only one female participant if that is all that showed up. Shortly after noon I had finished up the work I needed to get done at the office and the building and headed home to pack and pick up Gene. We had lunch with my family and then hit the road for a rainy afternoon drive. By the time we got to the retreat cabin, I had messages waiting for me online that my “certain” participant was having second thoughts and that my “maybes” were no longer maybe. I knew all along that was a possible outcome, so I brought with me the outline for what I think is my next book — another 31-day devotional with a working title of “Here Am I: Pursuing a Sacred Calling in the Midst of Everyday Life”. The cabin we’re in has ended up being less roomy than I had pictured it based on the descriptions and I think it would have been difficult to do the retreat in the way I had planned. Whether that is the reason, or this book needs worked on for some reason, or God has something entirely unknown to me that He wants to do with this weekend, He knew when I booked the cabin and planned the retreat that the participants would not materialize. In the travel process, I had forgotten to take my afternoon meds and by evening my mind was buzzing and I was feeling very discouraged about the entire turn of events. Once I realized what was going on and brought the brain wiring back into a more proper balance, I feel better and again have a confidence that God will use this weekend for His glory.
After I had unloaded the truck and followed up with the messages I had, I headed out into the evening dusk to take a walk. The deer are plentiful in the park and often surround the cabins so I took a few photos of them while I was out. It was difficult to get many good photos as I walked through the wooded trail with the setting sun hidden by clouds. Today’s photo was taken at an overlook at the end of a trail spur that heads out to Lake Erie. As I stood on the platform and looked out over the lake, the merging of the wetland browns with the grays and blues of the sky and lake was a beautiful sight that called for me to record it in a photograph. Even in the dreariness of a damp, cloudy evening, there was plenty for me to see and notice God’s amazing handiwork.
As I reflect on the day, here are some thoughts/lessons that stand out to me:
- Sometimes I find that God has begun to play the day’s soundtrack in my mind even before the day begins.
- It is never a bad time for a reminder that I need God.
- My morning is much more enjoyable, no matter what I need to do, when I start by discovering the soundtrack that God wants me to include in my worship and prayer.
- When it comes to repentance, God wants us to be changed, not just sorry.
- Most of the time I am doing well if I recognize just one of the lessons God is currently teaching me. I know there are more, but I trust Him to reveal those when I’m ready.
- Sometimes living so there is not even the hint of wrongdoing takes extra effort, but it is an extra effort we must make.
- Submitting to God’s plans can be difficult, but not submitting to them can be catastrophic!
- When something in my head, or my life, is out of balance, it affects (negatively) the entire way I think.
- Where I’m at right now has not caught God by surprise. He knew how this weekend would turn out and He knows what He intends to to in my life through it — I pray that I am paying attention.
- When things are out of balance physiologically, we tend to do something about it to restore a proper balance as much as possible — how about when things in our life are out of balance spiritually?
- God paints amazing sunsets with every color imaginable and He also creates an equal beauty just using a few different shades.