The backup plan

I purchased a house this morning. I guess I should say, “a tropical dwelling,” in Playa La Barqueta Chiriqui, Panama. Fully furnished 3 bedrooms, 2 baths with an open floor plan. A spacious terrace overlooking a private beach and garden. There is an office, internet, and flowering vines growing wildly covering an arbor just outside the window. A perfect setting to continue my writing career. Less than a mile down the beach is a fish market, where fresh products are brought in daily. The blue skies, endless stretches of sandy white…

The Alarm

It was at this very moment that my alarm blared its 5:00 a.m. warning, and the sand between my toes disappeared to the reality of my bedroom. My feet are cold, the covers having been kicked off during the night. The temperature outside our Northeast Georgia home is 31 degrees, and the day ahead is going to be a tough one. A continuation of the season of life I am currently living.

We all have them. Dreams of a better, different life. No stress. Doing what we long to do. No issues. No heartaches. Somewhere in the mid-fifties, I think many people look at their lives and realize all the plans and thoughts from the 20s age group are not working out. At times it can be disheartening. We ask ourselves, “Is this what God intended for my life?” For some of us, the answer is yes and for others, the answer is no. So, how do we get from where we are to where we want to be?

Yellowstone National Park

One of my favorite vacations years ago was to Yellowstone National Park. The kids were young and fascinated with science and nature. Our guide was an extremely intelligent nuclear physicist who seemed to know a little bit about everything. He told me about the Lodgepole Pine Trees that grew throughout the forest. 70 feet in stature, these trees produce two types of cones (male and female). One spreads its seed regularly but the other, only in extreme temperatures. The hardness of its outer shell cannot be cracked open by animal teeth or hammers, only in temperatures of 113 to 140 degrees. “The backup plan,” he called it with a wink. After a fire, the cones burst open and the seeds rain down to replant for the future. I took one home as a reminder.

Bad things happen

In our lives, bad things happen – unexpected events – obstacles in our agendas – tragedies. Whether it is an illness, job loss, divorce, death of a family member, or a stupid decision on our part or someone else’s, we all have times when the jolt of what is before us is nothing like we dreamed it would be. But, God has a backup plan. Sometimes it isn’t easily seen and other times it rains down just like the seeds of the Lodgepole Pine.

So, what do we do to get where we need to be?

1. Determine what’s in your junk drawer. We all have them. That one drawer in the house where we cram things that we don’t know what to do with. The one place we look for those odd items in our lives. Your heart is no different, and there is some junk in it. Psalm 139:23, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts.” God knows what’s in your junk drawer. Pray diligently that He shows you what’s there and what you need to throw out, never to return.

2. Who is in your life? My grandmother always said if you are with someone that you wouldn’t want to be with when the skies part and Jesus comes back, you need to reevaluate your friendships. People influence our actions. If the person you are spending time with is not someone you want to stand beside on judgment day, cut them loose.  Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Always ask yourself, is this person worthy of the time I am giving?

3. Know what prize you are seeking. Some of us spend endless amounts of time looking for something better only to realize we had what we wanted the entire time. 1 Corinthians 9:24, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” What exactly is the prize you wish to obtain? Money? A new car? Big House? or time with your kids? Is your family together and intact? Is your life pleasing to God? What and why are you running this race and what prize do you want at the end of it all?

4. Never give up the passions of your heart. They are there for a reason. Determine if they are God’s passions for you or placed there by worldly desires. If they are of God, never quit. If you don’t give up, God certainly won’t. Ephesians 1:9, “And He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.” Understanding God’s word will help you to identify the plans and passions He has for your life.

5. Put away your stick. We’ve all made mistakes. We’ve all disappointed those we love and they have disappointed us. We are sinners – hypocrites, gossipers, judgers – we have our agendas, and we want what we want. True repentance comes in the request for forgiveness, not just to God, but to those you have harmed. The key is, however, “Go and sin no more.” Don’t play games with God. I assure you, you will not win. Stop beating yourself up. Stop feeling sorry for the way things are in your life. Talk to God. Straighten it out with those around you and move on. The greatest tragedy of any life is a person who does not realize the intense love God has for him or her and the mercy and grace that follows someone who truly repents of sins. Remember, it is a daily act. There isn’t a person alive who can say at the end of the day, “I didn’t sin today!” Hebrews 4:16, “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace in time of need. ”

God has a BACKUP plan for your life. So, no worries. Take on 2024 with everything you’ve got. Happy New Year!


The resolution list

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