When God Presses Pause and Mothers Ponder

In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps. ~Proverbs 16:9

This morning was a morning like any other as of late. Well, except that Thursdays are the day I head over to my daughter’s school. The rain coming down in a slow drizzle. The windshield wipers captivate me with their whip- hum-wap, whip-hum-wap, whip-hum-wap, as I ponder and drive the road that leads me there. Everything seems so slow. I mean, really s. l. o .w.  in my life, at this time. After all, I am captivated by windshield wipers, really, one has to wonder. Yet, as I turn the corner I am suddenly aware of my speed, and the four fragile silhouettes ahead of me, clearly children, I see as I close in on them. My foot has already automatically lifted off the gas pedal.
Pausing without a second thought. 
Slowing down, in recognition of the power and potential behind the wheel I hold.
Automatically, in light of the presence of smallness and vulnerability.
I didn’t need to think about it, it was a natural response to what was before me in light of who I am.
A mother. Mothers recognize the preciousness of children. Mothers proceed with caution and careful consideration, when approaching children. Mothers seek not to harm children. Within me beats the heart of a mother. A parent. I was not speeding, but still, I recognized within me the sense to proceed with caution. Aware that even in one child’s impulsiveness, they could be before me. Before me, behind the wheel. In a moment. Safe passing and stop lights away from the scene of the potential catastrophe, I wonder-
What happens in these moments 
when God seems to have pressed the pause button. 

I go through the days, and wonder what he is doing.
What is He working in me that I am unaware of at this time?
What is going on behind the scenes?
What potential problem is He keeping me from?
What blessing awaits me on the other side of this holding place?

I think of Joseph, and wonder if he thought God forgot Him.
If he grumbled and complained that he had been treated unfairly.
I wonder what he thought when God pressed pause in his life.

In the quiet moments, alone. Abandoned by all. Betrayed, by those who should have stood by him. Cast into a pit. In the dark. Sold off, written off, left behind. I wonder about those moments. I wonder, when he was falsely accused, and sat in a prison. In the hours. Minutes. Seconds. When time ticked on…slowly. Forgotten. Misunderstood. Waiting. Still. For justice and truth to be revealed. For God to work in His own time.

 Did he wonder what God was doing, then? Did he cry out in the darkness and wonder if God heard Him, or whether He really cared? Did he doubt?  Did He shake his fist at God in the dark?  Did he muffle his cries in the nook of his arm and yet still cry himself to sleep? Or- Did he count away the minutes awaiting justice in quiet trust? Did Joseph trust that God would work it all out in the end? For his good. For His purpose. It is in the seconds, minutes and hours I sense the Lord calling me closer. I sense Him in the pause. I am not sure what is coming.
 I am learning to trust that His pause is not without purpose. That even as I gave pause at the sight of strangers who were not my children out of reverence for the precious lives of all children, God himself is loving me, his own daughter well when he allows, ordains and chooses the specific circumstances of my life. I may not understand the why, but I can know, trust and believe in the One who in control. In the end, may we be able to say with Joseph toward any of our circumstances or perceived enemies:
 “You planned to harm me. But God planned it for good…”
Genesis 50:20
 However, as it is written:
   “What no eye has seen, 
   what no ear has heard, 
and what no human mind has conceived”— 
   the things God has prepared for those who love him—
1 Corinthians 2:9


Linking with Tracy @ My Daily Walk in His Grace

and Jen @ Finding Heaven

Transformed by Tough Times (Book Review & Giveaway)

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I jumped at the opportunity to read Transformed by Tough Times and join in with the book tour through Christian Speakers Services. Steve Reed has a message of encouragement that seeks to close the gap between suffering and the Christian experience in a way that has the power to transform lives, attitudes and beliefs for those experiencing difficult times. 
Initially Mr. Reed had released this book under a title aimed primarily at ministry leaders. After much feedback was received and considered, Steve realized that what was good for the leaders was also good for all Believers. The bottom line is we all will face adversity in our Christian walks. As Steve puts it it’s not optional, and he spends a good portion of this book addressing the reality of what he calls “The Suffering Clause”. It’s like the fine print in your Christian contract…the one we want to avoid, but ultimately cannot. Learning to live in it, and through it and ultimately with the same attitude as Paul when he penned these words: “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” is the prayer and goal. 
This book is one encouraging chapter after another. I was pleasantly surprised by the number of ways the subject was addressed. When one looks at a diamond, there are many facets, angles and layers to be seen and appreciated. I think Steve does this with the topics of suffering and adversity. He guides us into looking at the aspects from a variety of ways so that we may see more clearly how much we need what we want least of all. Through biblical and historical accounts, his own journey, and through the lessons of fellow “strugglers”, the point is driven home that God does not waste our pain. “The greater the depths of your pain, the greater your potential for encouraging others-even if you are not delivered or healed or fixed yet.” Wow. Isn’t that the message we all need to hear? 
In one of my favorite Chapters (Chapter 17: Sheep Among Wolves), Steve reminds the church of it’s primary purpose. But I don’t think many want to hear it! I so loved the analogy of believers being “wolf bait”. But you will have to read it for yourself as I don’t want to spoil it. Worth the read for sure. Steve does not mince words. He speaks accurately into some of the challenges facing the Body of Christ today. 
The book is broken up into two sections. Book 1 is called the Suffering Clause and has four parts, including Steve’s story, Jesus and the Suffering Clause, Further Implications of the Suffering Clause  and Heroes of the Suffering Clause. Book 2 is called Transformed by Tough Times and delivers a tool chest of helps for walking through adversity well. This section of the book is very practical, applicable and encouraging. 
I would recommend this book to those walking through difficult circumstances and anyone in ministry or leadership. Pretty much if you are a walking, breathing, being you will be uplifted by the straightforward approach. Steve coaches well and has honed this down to a timely message for God’s own people right now. 
I’ll leave you with one more quote, as I loved so much of what was communicated throughout the reading. 
“In God’s eyes, there is one thing that distinguishes a man or woman for His Hall of Fame. What is it? It’s faith. It’s not intelligence or beauty or social status or talents or abilities in certain areas. It is faith.”
(Chapter 19: The Suffering Clause Hall Of Fame).
Steve Reed has some specials going on during the book tour on his website at http://www.transformedbytoughtimes.com/store/
Christian Speakers Services and Steve Reed have provided me with a signed copy of this book to give away. Leave a comment to be included in this giveaway! 
If you need encouragement and hope to be transformed by tough times yourself, you will want to enter to win or go ahead and purchase this book. 
* I received a copy of this book through Christian Speaker Services in return for a review. All opinions expressed are my own. 
Join me for an Interview with Steve Reed!

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