Sagging Middles

Once upon a time...Fairy tales often begin with once upon a time, but the tale doesn’t stop there. It can’t. A story ends well if we find the answer to one question…

And then what happened?

Without that question, we have no plot. And there must be a plot. The plot drives the story forward. Right?

But here’s where our story differs from the fiction we read and write. Our stories have sagging middles. And I don’t mean I-quit-doing-my-sit-ups sagging middles. The sagging I refer to is the endless waiting, circuitous wandering middle.

It’s during these middles we, as doers, feel helpless because the forward movement has stopped. There is no action. Or is there?

We fail to comprehend this new plot twist because we’re not the author of our stories. The Master storyteller holds the pen, and He knows the exact pace needed to accomplish the character arc He desires.

Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. James 1:3-4 KJV

Truth: Sometimes we need a sagging middle to move us forward.

The Lord alone knows how to structure our story to bring us to a delightful ending.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13 KJV

He has made the needed provisions for our salvation, and He’s making the necessary revision in our lives. Hence, the sagging middle. Hang in there. We can and will finish strong if we yield to His hand.

Another fact to rejoice over is our Lord never suffers from writer’s block! He has known the end of our stories from the beginning.

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2

As writers we understand, only the Author who knows the ending can finish the story. And He alone will finish the story. May we all allow Him to write His story upon our hearts.

Who’s writing your story?

Click to Tweet: Sometimes we need a sagging middle to move us forward.

 

Light, Salvation, and Strength

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1

During the past month, I’ve received prayer requests from family and friends. I’ve also read several prayer requests on social media. It seems we’re all experiencing one thing or another. This morning I wanted to take some time to encourage you. As I pondered on how to do that, my thoughts kept drifting to David’s words in Psalm 27.

Lighthouse matthaeus unsplash

Photo by matthaeus on Unsplash

When I read this scripture, I felt as if the Lord had spread a table before me. I love to feast on the Word. Don’t you? I hope the scriptures below are as sweet to you as they were to me.

In Strong’s Dictionary, we find several words for light, salvation, and strength.

Light

Words for light are illumination, luminary, and light

Illumination

For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light. Psalm 36:9

Salvation

He only is my rock and my salvation; he is my defence; I shall not be greatly moved. Psalm 62:2

Words for salvation include the following:

Liberty

Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 2 Corinthians 3:17

Deliverance

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. Luke 4:18-19

Prosperity

But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. James 1:25

Strength

Words for strength include fortified place, fortress, force, rock, strength, and stronghold.

Strength

The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. Psalm 18:2

Rock

Be thou my strong habitation, whereunto I may continually resort: thou hast given commandment to save me; for thou art my rock and my fortress. Psalm 71:3

Fortress

I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Psalm 91:2

Stronghold

The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him. Nahum 1:7

Though our circumstances may seem dark, we are called children of the day because He has called us into His marvelous light (1 Corinthians 3:17). We are not children of the night or the darkness. Yes. We may experience dark nights or even seasons of darkness, but we need not fear. God will deliver us from every situation.

He is Light, Salvation, and Strength.

He is my Light, my Salvation, and my Strength!

The Garden of Life

Spring has a way of turning my thoughts to the Creator. For instance, have you ever pondered the pollination process in light of our relationship with the Lord and with each other? No? Great! Allow me to share my thoughts with you this morning.

There are three types of pollination: self-pollination, cross-pollination, and artificial cross-pollination.

Self-Pollination

gailjohsonauthor.comSelf-pollination happens when an excess of pollen in a flower causes pollination to take place within that same flower.

Prayer turns my heart to the Lord and renews my mind. Fasting teaches me discipline and helps me to submit to His will and not my will. Biblical studies grow my faith and knowledge in Him. All of this, combined with the work of the Holy Spirit, helps me to produce that which God has planted in me.

Cross-Pollination

gailjohnsonauthor.comThe next technique is cross-pollination. This pollination takes place when small animals, rain, wind, and insects carry pollen from one plant to another.

I imagine the small animals as inconveniences that arise and hinder my plans, the rain as dark days that hide life’s sunshine, the wind as the storms that test my faith, and the insects as situations that irritate me.

Yet, I have a choice how I respond to the pollinators that God sends into my life. If I’m willing, each instance can produce fruit. The small inconveniences cultivate steadfastness and instruct me in diligence no matter the deterrent. The rain promotes contentment in every season of my life that I may know an unspeakable joy. The wind rocks me and loosens the earth around me allowing my roots to go deeper. And finally, those irritants urge me to have patience by teaching me self-control. All work to strengthen my faith in the Lord.

Artificial Cross-Pollination

Lastly, artificial cross-pollination occurs when a person gathers pollen from one flower, and then using a small brush or blower, applies it to another flower.

Gail Johnson © 2017Just like artificial cross-pollinators leave pollen, people leave a signature fragrance that remains long after they’ve gone. Some leave a sweet smell while others leave an unpleasant odor that may linger for years. Each produces its own kind of growth.

The “sweet” pollinate the Word along with encouragement into my life promoting deep thirsty roots of faith in Christ and juicy fruits of the Holy Spirit. On the other hand, the “odoriferous” flit about pollinating the latest gossip, strife, anger, and bitterness often disrupting my peace and stealing my joy.

Gail Johnson© 2017Unlike the flowers in nature, I have a choice to refuse or accept odorous pollen. The solution? Allow the Holy Spirit to blow upon me each day.

As a pollinator, I also have a choice. Brush people with the stench of this world or with the sweet fragrance of Heaven.

To become a stinky pollinator, I need not do anything; to become a heavenly pollinator, I must allow the Master Gardener to dead-head, fertilize, and water my spirit each day!

May we all be a sweet fragrance to those we meet along the way. 🙂

Click to Tweet: People leave a signature fragrance that remains long after they have gone. Some leave a sweet smell while others leave an unpleasant odor that may linger for years.