The Road Less Traveled

Now that the school year is over, one of the things I’ve incorporated into my day is a regular exercise routine. I’ve found that the more I exercise, the better I feel–physically, mentally, and emotionally. The trifecta, so to speak. Anyway, when I walked my route this morning, I saw things that reminded me of a poem by Robert Frost and then gave me the words I wanted to write for this post when I came back. I took pictures and started mulling over the phrase “a road less traveled” as I walked. By the time I was done, I knew I was going to use the phrase in some form today.

When I first saw today’s devotion, I thought of a couple of different titles for this post than the one I ended up using. “Be Present Even When People Walk Away”  or “Be Present When You Feel Lonely.” The title of the actual devotion is “Be Present Where You Are,” and it’s talking about putting your phone down to be present in the moment. Now, I’m not saying I couldn’t stand to be less reliant on my devices, but those other words were the first that came to mind. I’ve had people walk away from me to talk to someone they considered more valuable. I’ve thought of something to say in a group of people, but by the time I said it, they had moved on to another topic. See what I mean? Lonely. Undesirable. Odd. Different.

But, there’s that word again. Different. It brought me back to Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken,” and it brought me back to what I wrote on Monday about being brave enough to be different. ( Then, I knew I had to change the title. My life has been a series of “taking the road less traveled” events. We’ve only owned a home once. We chose to have just one income so we could homeschool. We don’t have the latest gadgets or clothing. (Yay, Wal-Mart and thrift stores!) I’m different, and people don’t know how to react even when I’m trying to do the things God has asked me to do. I liked what the author had to say. “God loves us so much that He gave us His everything, and He asks us to love others the way He loved us. Loving others means being present with them in their pain, being present with them in their joy. It means being all there.” (100 Days to Brave, Annie F. Downs)

This also reflects today’s Bible verse. From John 15:12, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” I try to reflect this in my own life, but sometimes, my presence isn’t what’s wanted or needed. It’s a lonely feeling–not feeling like I’m part of a community.

Then, though, I think back to the poem and to Micah Tyler’s song “Different,” and I think, maybe, that’s the point God is trying to make to me. Maybe I’m not supposed to be invited to the parties or be a part of the conversations. Maybe right now, God wants me to be in the wilderness and not be a part of the community. I don’t know. I don’t know if withdrawing is the answer or continuing to struggle is. I feel so unsure of my value to my community. It’s deep-rooted and deep-seated inside my psyche. But, I know I am valuable to God, and I think that’s where my focus needs to be because it is what has made the difference in my recent struggles.

As I finish this post, I want to quote the poem and the song so you can see the words that started my thoughts rumbling. May God bless you all today!

“The Road Not Taken”

by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
by Micah Tyler
I don’t wanna hear anymore, teach me to listen
I don’t wanna see anymore, give me a vision
That you could move this heart, to be set apart
I don’t need to recognize, the man in the mirror
And I don’t wanna trade Your plan, for something familiar
I can’t waste a day, I can’t stay the same
I wanna be different
I wanna be changed
‘Til all of me is gone
And all that remains
Is a fire so bright
The whole world can see
That there’s something different
So come and be different
In me
And I don’t wanna spend my life, stuck in a pattern
And I don’t wanna gain this world but lose what matters
And so I’m giving up, everything because
I wanna be different
I wanna be changed
‘Til all of me is gone
And all that remains
Is a fire so bright
The whole world can see
That there’s something different
So come and be different; oh-oh
I know, that I am far, from perfect
But through You, the cross still says, I’m worth it
So take this beating in my heart and
Come and finish what You started
When they see me, let them see You
‘Cause I just wanna be different, ye-ey
I wanna be different
I wanna be changed
‘Til all of me is gone
And all that remains
Oh is a fire so bright
The whole world can see
That there’s something different
So come and be different
I just wanna be different
So could You be different
In me


Waiting–it is defined by as “a period of waiting; pause, interval, or delay.” Words such as inactive, repose, neglected, postponed, and halted were also used. All words which aren’t particularly welcome in Western culture especially among Western Christians. We want what we want when we want it, and no delay is permitted–Misbehaving child (Start behaving right now!); Doctor can’t see you until September (Can you make that any sooner?); You haven’t been healed yet? (You must not believe in God enough.); The piece of equipment can’t be here for three weeks. (Oh, I really need that here next week.).

We have dinners that can be fixed in five minutes (Yay, microwaves!) and texts which can be typed and sent in less than five minutes. I remember a line which was said in one of my favorite TV shows. One of the main characters was trying to send a text to a girl he liked, and the other character told him to just call her. He said in response, “No one calls anymore. Her and her friends. They only text.” Of course, the power going off forever less than five minutes later might have put a kink in that thought. 🙂

All laughing aside, we don’t like to wait. None of us do. God has plenty to say about waiting in Scripture though. I typed the words wait and waiting into You Version’s search engine, and many references come up. So many, in fact, that there is no way I could quote every one of them. I’ll quote just a few to make my point.

Psalm 27:14 says, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

Another one is from Psalm 130. Verse 5 says, “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.”

I like Lamentations 3:24. “I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.'”

Micah 7:7 says, “But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.”

There are many more where those came from. Why, then, do we have such a hard time with waiting? Why do we ask the question that the writer asked in Psalm 119:84? “How long must your servant wait? When will you punish my persecutors?” Why does Job wait for almost the entire book before God answers him? Why did the disciples have to wait three days before Jesus rose from the dead?

Let me bring the questions into the twenty-first century. Why has he/she been diagnosed with whatever fatal disease? How come it takes so long to get a diagnosis? Why does a little girl die from injuries sustained in a car accident? Why does it take so long to get a new job? Does God not know that it takes money to live down here? I laugh and then tell myself, ‘Of course He does. There are many people existing on far less than I have.’ That thought makes me feel bad, but then, I think of what my family and I are going through. It’s not that one piece of suffering is more worthy of God’s attention than another. All suffering is worthy in His eyes.

How can we enter into the life of someone who is waiting? First, we don’t castigate someone for being upset about waiting. Waiting is hard, harder than we can possible imagine. Second, we can be present and not say anything at all. Listening can be the most important thing to someone who is waiting. Another thing we can do is give input if it is asked for keeping in mind that all of us deal with situations differently. Finally, we can pray for the person and especially pray for strength and endurance. They might be waiting for a long time and knowing that someone is praying for them through this waiting season can mean everything to them.

Praying for all of us in waiting seasons right now.

God’s blessings on all of you today!

God's Presence

Some people think that God can only be present in a church, and others think the only place they can find Him is outside of the church. I’m here today to tell you that both of those are incorrect. God can be found anywhere–in the church and outside of the church. In fact, this past weekend I found him in many more places besides the church.

The action started Friday night when we traveled to our older son’s college to see the show he was going to be in. He had talked about this for months and had asked us to make a point of coming. So, my husband, younger son, and I piled into the car right before 4:00 to drive down to his college. It is usually a trip of under two hours, but it took two and a half because of all the traffic on the interstate. We were going so slowly at one point that I despaired of getting there on time. But, we passed the accident that was blocking traffic and were able to start driving at a more normal speed. We made it to the college shortly before the program started and found our seats. No time for dinner, of course, but I ate a candy bar and was fine. I was excited. I hadn’t been to a show like this in a long time. Before long, I was tapping my toes and having the time of my life. My husband had his arm around me, and we were enjoying our time as a family. The songs weren’t Christian; in fact, most of them were unfamiliar. That didn’t bother me though. We were spending time together as a family with none of us having any responsibilities, and I could feel God’s presence around us. It was fun. There were several solos, and there were three shows put on by the social clubs. Our son was in the last show, and the group did a wonderful job. In fact, all of the clubs did. After the show was over, we saw our son to congratulate him, ran an errand for him, and got some dinner before getting back on the road to our hometown. It was amazing! Even the journey back in pitch black darkness held God’s presence. I got to witness His amazing creation as we spoke of the show, and everything that had happened. A good time was had by all.

The next day consisted of sleeping in and then running errands. Just normal things. We had planned on sleeping in since we knew we wouldn’t get in until late the night before. As we rode to our first errand at a local store, I saw the blueness of the sky and the puffy white clouds. I felt a calmness of spirit I hadn’t had in a while. God was present in the normalcy of life. We finished our errands and went back home. I was able to get some lesson planning done and to take a nap that afternoon. A calm and relaxing day.

I didn’t feel calm and relaxing the following morning. Sundays are usually busy and frantic for us during baseball season. Couple that with feeling like I needed to put on my standard shields of pretending like everything was wonderful, and I was not in a good place. At least I wasn’t until I got a text from my husband who had left for church early to work on the sound board. He said that someone was waiting for me and was looking forward to seeing me. In fact, two people were–the young children of his colleague on the sound board and two of my favorite people. They always greet me with excited hugs and have the purest joy. That’s what I like about being around young children. There’s no pretense with them, and there’s no pretending. I played with them until Bible class and we all went our different ways. After class, I went to get them as their mom was working that day, and they sat with me during worship service. I saw God’s presence during the sweet time I spent with them even when I helped them with communion.

I took them to children’s worship shortly thereafter and went back to listen to the sermon. My attention drifted because I was still thinking about my time with the kids. The relationship I have with them contains an honesty that I think God wants to have with us. But we, being adults, think we have to be guarded around our Christian brothers and sisters. At least, I do. Not sure about you, but I’m betting nine times out of then, you probably think the same thing.

Anyway, after the service, I got to minister to a friend of my mine who has a family member with health problems. Two other friends came up, and we were all sitting and talking. The prognosis doesn’t look good, and she was struggling. I told her I would pray, and we all told her that God would meet her family member wherever she was, that it didn’t have to be in church. God is everywhere, not just in church! I could feel God’s presence in that situation too.

And finally, I went to my younger son’s baseball game. He plays in a high school rec league in our city, and yesterday, we had the opportunity to play in a historic ballpark. Every time we have been there, I feel like I have been transported back in time. I took pictures and had the chance to relax while I watched the game. I enjoyed getting to be outside in God’s creation. This was where I especially felt God’s presence. He ministered to me where I was, and it didn’t matter that I had not been in a church for most of the weekend. God is everywhere, not just in church, and I pray you feel His presence today.

God’s blessings on all of you!

Presence in the Midst of Life's Difficulties (Beyond Our Walls)

It hasn’t been that long since I’ve written about words ( which are the subject of today’s devotion. (Words that Give Comfort) I spoke of how we needed to be careful with our words, how we needed to not use words that were ugly and demeaning, and how we needed to remember Whose we were before we spoke. All important things to remember when we are also saying words that comfort.

I’m not going to speak directly of words that comfort today though. Instead, I’m going to speak of them in tandem with something else–presence in the midst of life’s difficulties. We are all used to saying or writing words when someone is sick, someone has died, or someone is just going through a bad time. Words such as ‘Call me if you need anything,’ ‘I’m so sorry for your loss,’ and an overwhelming favorite ‘I’ll be praying for you.’  I’m not saying these are bad words. They can be good words if you actually mean what you’re saying especially if you pray like you’ve promised.

But, there is something else that means a lot more if you couple it with words that comfort. Your presence can be just as important as your words, even more so if you are doing life impacting things. It can mean everything to the widow whose son has questions she can’t answer or to the widower who has no idea how to shop for a teenage girl’s dress for prom. It can mean everything to the divorced person who is feeling alone and rejected because their marriage has failed. It can mean everything to the sick person for someone to come and take care of yard work they can no longer do. It could mean everything to the depressed person who just needs someone to listen to them while they cry. I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

So, why are Christians not willing to be present in each other’s lives? I think there are a few reasons, none of which are right, but reasons nonetheless.

First, it takes time; it takes time to sit next to someone or do something for someone. In Western culture, especially, we are always running to do the next thing which means we don’t have the time to notice the hurting people in our presence.

Second, we think the staff and the elders of our churches are supposed to be the ones who are present. ‘Isn’t that what we pay them for?’ That would be the staff, but I think I’ve made my point. The leaders of the church certainly have their place in being present in people’s lives, but they are not the only Christians who need to be present.

Third, we are uncomfortable with the idea of being present. We don’t know what to say to someone who is enduring pain we haven’t endured. We don’t know what to do either which is why the phrase, ‘Call me if I can do anything,’ is offered so much. We decide it takes us off the hook if the person never calls. By the way, if you’re wondering if that’s true, it’s not.  🙂

And finally, fourth, we are focused on self and what’s important to us. We might throw in our families and work obligations, but that’s generally it except for maybe around the holidays when we feel guilty about not doing what we should have done over the rest of the year.

My family is fortunate that we are now in a church which does a pretty good job of being present in each other’s lives–through the good times and the bad. We are not perfect, and I am not perfect. I certainly can’t do this on my own. The only way I can do this is through the presence of God in my heart and my life and spending time in His presence each and every day. My prayer for me first and for all of us is that we can pray for the words we need to use and the courage to be present in the lives of the people of this hurting world.

God’s blessings on all of you today!