No Man Knows His Time

by Shirley Mozena

But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. Job 23:10 NIV

A tragedy happened this week. A work-related accident took a man’s life. It was totally unexpected, yet it was not a surprise to God.

I don’t know for sure, for I wasn’t there, but I imagine that morning was most likely was a normal morning. The family rose, all busy with their tasks. The father/husband off to work at his business. His older son, who also worked in the business, walked out the door with him.  Most likely he kissed his wife goodbye, with a reminder of something that needed to be done that day. She kissed him back, busily thinking about her tasks for the day. “Bye, Dad,” the younger kids said, having no idea this would be the last time they would talk to him this side of eternity.

That day, the husband, father, son, entered eternity. He had no idea this would be his last day. Neither did any of his family. But his God, in whom he believed, did know. He knew his days from start to finish: Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be (Psalm 139:16 NIV).

Of course, that wasn’t what this family wanted. No. They wanted more time. More of their husband, their father, their son. I’m sure his parents are lamenting that they were supposed to go first. Not this way.

I’m so glad every one of those family members knows their Maker. I have heard them speak of their faith in Jesus Christ. I know He will give them strength in the next period of their life which will be full of sorrow. Their lives have been changed forever.

For those of us, who stand on the sidelines, feeling great sorrow and pain for the people in their loss, ask ourselves, what can I do? We think, I cant take away their pain, all I can do is pray, I guess. But “all we can do” is the most important thing we can do. Those family members need prayer more than ever. One of the daughters said in a text regarding donation of meals to help the family, “no pressure, though, prayers are the best.” Even in great sorrow, this young woman recognized what was most important.

I can’t speak directly to this family’s needs, but I can tell you what was helpful for me when our family experienced loss. Here’s a few suggestions:

  • Do pray each time the family comes to mind. The Holy Spirit is reminding you to do this. They need your prayers.
  • Don’t be afraid to approach these people in their grief. You don’t have to say anything. Job’s friends were most helpful when they sat with him in his sorrow. It’s when they began to speak that they were the opposite of helpful and were chastised by God Himself. Your words aren’t what they need. They need you. A comforting hug. A silent presence. Just sit with them.
  • Don’t wait for them to ask for your helop. Just offer to: vacuum the rugs, wash dishes, clean the toilets, do the laundry, mow the lawn. All sorts of things that seem so difficult for the griever to do during this time.
  • Put the family on your prayer list and pray. 
  • If there are many plants and flowers donated to the family, after the memorial services, offer to take them to people who might enjoy them–a nursing home, retirement center, hospital, the church. It will help them with a task they really can’t do.
  • Offer to go shopping for them. They need coffee. Milk. Eggs. The basics.
  • Sometimes a cash offering for their use is very helpful. I remember one older gentlemen on a fixed income wrote a check to me and emphasized it was “for my use.” No strings attached.
  • Sometimes the food donated is mostly for main meals, but breakfast items are also helpful. I really liked the breakfast casseroles so family members could help themselves when hungry and heat it up. I loved the oatmeal casserole–all ready to go.

I hope these suggestions are helpful. There are many more things you can do later on.

Remember, when people lose a loved one whether it was an unexpected or expected death, they will be recovering for many months and even years to come. Pray for them. Not just now, but for months and years.

his article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Shirley Quiring Mozena is a writer, blogger, and national speaker for Stonecroft. She has written three books, Second Chances, Beyond Second Chances: Heartbreak to Joyand recently published, Second Chance at Love: Navigating the Path to RemarriageHer work has appeared in newspapers and magazines.

Join the conversation: When you were grieving, what was most helpful for you?

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God’s Training Ground

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

Two of my boys played Lacrosse in high school. I hated the days of training preceding the actual games. Standing in the parking lot watching them push their bodies to the limit over and over, seeing them limp to our car after practice, dirty and exhausted, was trying to this mother’s soul. My instinct was to nurture and comfort. But the coaches knew the harsh regiment was necessary to both the success and safety of the team.

Coach Tom Landry once remarked, “The job of a football coach is to make men do what they don’t want to do, in order to achieve what they’ve always wanted to be.”

Just as in athletics, God’s spiritual training can be tough. It frequently involves hardship and rouses us out of our comfort zone. Through the process we come to understand the reality how truly dependent we are on Him.

David knew the pain of God’s process. During his teen years, God led Samuel to anoint David to be the next king. But it would be quite some time before that promise would be fulfilled. At first, things looked promising. David faced Goliath and brought him down with a single slingshot blow as the entire army of Israel looked on. It would be the first of many other military successes. It wasn’t long before David was a household word. Women would dance in the streets at the army’s arrival, singing, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten-thousands.” It must have seemed to David that his installation as monarch was right around the corner.

Not so. Rather than becoming king, David found himself running for his life. Saul, feeling threatened by David, spent the next decade or so chasing David around the countryside. He was out to destroy him for good.

In the long wait, David hung on to God’s promise. Even when opportunities came to kill Saul, David resisted. It would be many years of sleeping in caves and living off the land before God did what He said He would.

Why? God had a purpose for those trying years. A group of 400 malcontents, frustrated with the political situation, rallied around David. He trained them into an impressive military corps. David also learned diplomacy skills while dealing with foreign leaders. Most importantly, as God proved His faithfulness time after time, David moved into a deeper relationship and level of trust in Him.

Should the Lord have begun David’s reign while in his youth, as he shepherded sheep for his father, no doubt his leadership would have been far less impressive. So God used David’s time in the desert as a kingship boot camp, providing the experiences and training to someday be a great king.

Those years in waiting were not a comfortable existence for David. But they were necessary. And God didn’t waste a single moment.

Has God called you to something (as He did David)? Maybe a major change or a new ministry? But then when you set out to do it, you found yourself banging your head against a wall? And you wondered: did I hear Him incorrectly?

There have been several times in my life that I have felt His leading. He impresses desires on my heart. But a calling is not necessarily a qualifying. The passion and vision for His plan is given in advance to keep us persevering through the training period.

Some years ago, a Maryland pastor wrote the following in the agonizing days preceding his young wife’s death: “We want things now. Father, microwave us into being like Jesus. But discipleship doesn’t happen overnight. Often God forges His children into His image through the long and dark nights of the soul. We must trust His plan and also His timing! When the time is right, He will bring us out of our trial and we will look more like Him when He does.”

Sanctification, God’s training ground, is a process: often a long and trying process. We yearn for it to end quickly and are unable to see past our immediate, painful circumstances to the wisdom of God.

Yet there is glory ahead. God has a plan and a purpose for the pain. Even when we can’t see the light from inside the tunnel, we can trust in His plan, as He relentlessly moves us toward becoming like Jesus Christ.

He knows the way that I take; When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.  Job 23:10 NASB

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God’s training ground is where we find purpose – @JulieZColeman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300About the authorJulie Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Her award-winning book, Unexpected Love: God’s Heart Revealed through Jesus’ Conversations with Womenwas published in 2013 by Thomas Nelson. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or walking her neurotic dog. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Are you in God’s training ground?

Inspiration to Wait

by Julie Zine Coleman

Redecorating and I have a love/hate relationship. Since moving in, I have been erasing the 80’s décor and bringing my home into this millenium. But renovation comes at a price. I’m not just talking price-tag, although that can be enough to discourage anyone. The price I mean is the inevitable mess and hard labor necessary to make changes happen. During the time I’m working on a room, the rest of the house falls apart. I hate that. Stripping wallpaper, scrubbing paste off the walls, and painting are all physically exhausting. I fall into bed with aching muscles and throbbing joints. I hate that even more.

So it takes me a while make myself start a new project. I might love the results, but I dread the process. How do I eventually overcome the procrastination? I go shopping.

While slowly purchasing accessories and paint, I begin to get excited about the new room. My enthusiasm grows as things begin to take shape. What I once dreaded becomes a temporary hurdle I am willing to endure, because I now have a vision for how the room will look.

Sometimes inspiration is key to making things happen.

One of the most desirable character traits in the Bible is patience. That Greek word is defined as the capacity to hold out or bear up in the face of difficulty, or also, endurance. When Paul commended the Thessalonians for this, he revealed their motivation: “We continually remember. . .your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:3 NASB, emphasis mine). The Thessalonians had patience. That patience was inspired by hope.

When we think of biblical characters exhibiting patience, Job often comes to mind. Here was a guy who lost everything. His children, livestock, house, barns, and good health were obliterated without warning. By the end of chapter 2, we find the man once called the “greatest man in the east” sitting by a fire, ashes on his head, clothes torn in mourning, pitifully scraping his sores with a piece of broken pottery. Yet throughout his agony, Job endured. He had the patience of. . . well, Job. And that patience was inspired by hope.

Job knew his God would show Himself triumphant in the end. “As for me,” Job said, “I know that my redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth. Even after my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh I shall see God.” (Job 19:26 NASB) Even while he felt that God was far from him, Job clung to what he knew to be true: “But He knows the way I take; When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10 NASB).

Job’s hope was not in his circumstances, for they were clearly awful. Job’s hope rested on the God he loved. He knew nothing was too big for God to handle. He trusted God to use this terrible tragedy as a refining fire in his life. Hope in the character of God gave Job what he needed to endure the crushing blows he had been dealt by Satan.

“Why so downcast, O my soul? Put your hope in God,” David wrote. Hope is an expectation that God will prove His faithfulness. It accepts God’s promise to never leave or forsake us. It is a conviction that even the worst of circumstances can be used by Him to conform us to the image of Christ.

We can wait on God, because He is who He is. When there is hope, we can endure.

The Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love. Psalm 147:11 NASB

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300About the author: Julie Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Her award-winning book, Unexpected Love: God’s Heart Revealed through Jesus’ Conversations with Womenwas published in 2013 by Thomas Nelson. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or walking her neurotic dog. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.

Join the conversation: What are the character traits of God that inspire your hope?

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