Tag Archives: love

What in the world do you want me to do, God!?

Europe-walkway-cobblestone-Direct-Thy-Paths-Prov3.6Stepping out is fun to do!

I was guest preacher at a very fine mission church near my apartment this past Sunday.  As always, it’s such a joy and privilege to share the Good News of God’s love for us in Christ!  I talked about the possibility that our purpose in God can become clearer as we age, even as our life options become more narrow (jobs, time, health, whatever these options may be).  I shared on the process of waiting, discerning, and reconciling with things, people, and places in our lives as steps toward fulfilling our callings.

As I continue in a time of discernment here in Southern California, I’m often reminded of this promise from the Book of Proverbs … it has been an encouragement to me all the way back to college days when I first memorized it:

“In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Prov. 3:6, KJV)

I use the King James because that’s how I first was introduced to scripture and I find it really does stick in my mind.

Do you ever find yourself feeling like you’re wandering – maybe, aimlessly – looking for a hint of what you’re supposed to do!?  I have often felt that way since arriving in Southern California four months ago.  It would be easy if God would just make it clear and loud – “THIS IS WHAT YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO DO!” – but, I find that God doesn’t speak to me that way.

I was thinking about it the other day:  As a parent would I want my children, at any age, to constantly be asking me, “WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO DO, DAD?!”  It would be sad to see a child grow up without the confidence to just BE and DO his or her best without fear or people-pleasing.  I would want my own children to be confident in who they are and from whence they come.  I would want them to know that their decisions and steps in this life will not be without risk and setbacks, but to know even more that they have all they need to move forward with boldness!

In my own walk with the Lord, I find that I need to claim more of who I am “in Christ”, a child of the King, beloved by God, infused with the strength and gifts of the Holy Spirit, equipped with the counsel of Scripture and upheld by so many good, faith-filled people!  How can I fail with such a strength beneath my feet?!

Wherever you may be today … with the decisions, even the dilemmas that face you … right there, I believe “God is”.  Right there, I know that if we “acknowledge Him”, giving honor, thanks, and praise, sharing our testimony, and receiving the promise of loving providence in our hearts, there will be nothing to separate us from that great Love that is guiding our steps – not dictating, but guiding.  Still, we must take the steps.  God will not do this for us.

I pray today for the confidence to act, the assurance to know and honor the image of God within my own life and person, to be free from people-pleasing or fear of failure, and to grow into the full stature of Christ, who loves me and gave himself for me.  Oh, Lord, I move forward in You, and I thank you for guiding my steps.  Amen.

Stuart Swann


Solitude, aloneness, and loneliness

island-lighthouseI need people.  No, I don’t need people!

You know, sometimes, I like to be lost in the fray of activity, the swirl of things-going-on, the hub of “what’s happening now” … people, busyness, events, and all the things we do to be connected in this social world.

Then, there is that time of retreat, of separateness from all that is “other”.  What about “ME”?  I just want my own thoughts, my own space and schedule, and no expectations to be anything other than just myself.  After awhile, that gets incredibly boring (being alone with myself), and the whole engagement/detachment cycle starts over again!

Do you ever think something like, “Where in the world am I in the midst of all this?” or “What is my place in the world?”

The ways I respond to solitude, aloneness, and loneliness make a great difference in my ability to re-engage with others.  It might be just an hour of down-time, or it might be the evening, or it could be a prolonged period.  Some busy parents never seem to have that moment!  Other people can have too much time on their hands (so, they become bloggers?!).  Sometimes in life, though, each of us has to face the feeling of being “alone”.

Is it good, or is it bad?  Well, I guess that has a lot to do with how we approach it.  These times remind me of priorities and focus; I have the chance through solitude to re-calibrate my purpose and direction.  Most of all, these times – be they brief or prolonged – allow me the opportunity to commune with God who loves me and calls me by name.  In these quiet and separate times I find myself both comforted and discomforted:  comforted to know that I am never really alone, discomforted to realize my existence is so interwoven with relationships – I’d better pay attention to them!

Where does detachment lead you in your thoughts and feelings?  Does it invite you into prayer, insight, and action, or does it head into a sense of lonely desperation?  Does being separate from the swirl of human activity make you pensive and creative, or do you become fidgety and anxious?  I’m familiar with these responses.  I try to let them remind me to draw renewal from the well of life.  There, at the well, is communion with my Creator, my Savior, and my Sustainer.  I unite again with the Lord of Life before returning to the interactions and tasks of being a social being – BEING FULLY HUMAN!

It really isn’t “Me, against the world!”  Instead, “What can ‘Me’ do … in … and for … and with ‘the world’?  What can ‘Me’ be in that place and with the people whom God invites me to share in this gift of existence?!”

I need people.  No, I don’t need people!  Who am I kidding? … I need people, and people need me!  You need people, and people need you!

Stuart Swann

Jesus taught …  And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.   And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.  (Mark 12:30-31, KJV)