BY JOYCE PELLETIER
Continuing with Psalm 139:17-18:
How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them!
Were, I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand – when I awake, I am still with you.
Have you ever considered counting the grains of sand on a beach? Or in a cup? You are probably thinking, “that is impossible.” You’d be correct on that assessment!
Does it mean we don’t comprehend it? No, if anything, the truth is we’d all be hard pressed to even consider doing that. Now, if it were cups of sand to fill a bucket, well, that is possible. However, this is not what this Psalm says. When we consider that God already knows the numbers, He doesn’t have to count them. What is being said, is that it is a countless number to state, but God’s thoughts are far greater than the grains of sand. The number guess would indicate endless thoughts. How awesome is that?
Recently, I had an issue with the control button for my implant for my pain management in my spinal cord. It prompted me to do an update on the control. Following it asked for a Passcode, which I didn’t have before. Thinking that they were indicating that it was required. I put a code in, then forgot to write it down. When I went to lower the number for the strength, well, I could not do it because of the missing Passcode. Another problem is that it was a Friday, and no one was available until Monday. Stressor #2
This put me in a medical dilemma. One I didn’t anticipate. Well, that morning anxiety and stress built up and the next day came to a head, because the pain was increasing. I contacted the company responsible for this lovely device and they couldn’t help me. I could not get into the program because they had my incorrect phone number on file to send a code. Stressor #3.
After speaking with the third technician, she suggested going to the Apple Store to have the control wiped out of its programs, so they could have me go through another encounter with the rep. It seemed like there was one thing after another.
I followed their recommendation and contacted the rep in charge of my case and he was busy all day so we never connected to get this resolved until the next afternoon. We worked on the phone to correct this and after putting the login info in a number too many to count, like the sand. So, we gave up. He was sending me a temporary control until we could get together to see what the problem is. The device never showed up. A week after his attempt to send me a temp controller, we talked. He decided to overnight another control and once I got it, we’d get it connected on the phone.
The next morning the control arrived 5 minutes after its designated time of arrival. After texting the rep, he called me to set it up for me to use. Eureka! I am now on track again and they will fix the original control, once they are in the area to get together. From the moment I was back on the program, I felt all the stress fall off me like a walk on a rainy day.
All through this ordeal I know God is walking with me. He had lessons to teach me. The day I had to drive to Williston, was sunny and the air was fresh, mild and the whole time coming home, I knew God used that little journey to show me that He was in control, not the little 2 X 4” iPod device to push the buttons.
Now that this pesky incident is behind me. I look at Psalm 139:18 read what it says that when I am awake, I am still with God. All these little things to remind me I do not walk alone. Also, that even though things don’t get done on “My Scheduling,” God’s schedule works better. This three week delay after delay, ordeal is all normal again. All these lessons that God allows seem pesky for the moment, but if I would consider the grains of sand, I am lifted out of yet another “pot-hole” on the Highway of life, knowing my GPS is controlled by our amazing Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Insight from a cup of countless grains of sand!
BY JOYCE PELLETIER
"If I say, surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me, even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful. I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depts of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."
It was in the early 70’s when God got a hold of me. I was married for less than 10 years. My life was going nowhere. Our children were six and eight. I was ‘much afraid’ of many things (from Hannah Hurnard’s book, Hinds Feet to High Places.) Death was my greatest roadblock. I thought I had the power to control that anyone I knew or loved would never die, because I could not face that reality.
We got a call that Maurice’s stepmother passed away. Maurice’s siblings from Connecticut offered to pick Maurice up for a trip to Canada for the funeral. Me being the strong mother, I told Maurice that I was not going to the funeral because we didn’t have anyone to care for the children. He was fine with my choice to stay home.
His brothers arrived and Maurice joined them for this trip to Canada. They weren’t close to their stepmother but went out of respect for their dad.
Not 10 minutes after they left, I found myself hit a huge wall of guilt for my selfish decision to not go. I hit rock bottom in my life and choice. I didn’t support the family. I went to see my oldest and dearest friend to pour out my guilt.
After sharing my heart with her. Instead of condemnation, I received was the truth of who God is. She witnessed to me that afternoon as our kids played unaware in the other room. She led me in the sinner’s prayer. And my life turned completely around. I felt the guilt leave me like a shower washing off my body filled with mud. My life changed that day forever.
The darkness tried to hide me in my sin, but when I opened the door, the ‘Light’ came in. That was all that I needed.
Darkness – what is the first word that comes to you? Mine is ‘sin’! Before I met Jesus, my life was filled with “ME” and what I wanted out of life. I didn’t know God then. I know when I got into a time of stress or difficulty, I was in the dark, because I was not with God. I didn’t know Him then. I would call out to God, but no answer came until this situation.
But you say, “dark is as light to you.” In my sin I tried to hide, but how can I hide when the light reveals what is sin and in darkness. It’s revelation! There was a day when His light showed me how selfish I was and that my life was going nowhere. His light didn’t condemn me! He didn’t take a weapon out to threaten me. He spoke in gentle, yet firm words to my heart. Jesus reached out to help me out of my pit.
On that day of my salvation, I faced the demons of selfishness and saw that it was not good. I surrendered my life to the one who could save me. I could not understand why a ‘Man’ had to die for me. Now, I know differently that His death gave me life. He does that for all of us who believe.
The day I became aware that God truly loved me, was one I will never forget. Since then, my life has not been the same. Sitting at my friend’s table and sharing my regrets, I was able to lay it all down and step onto a new journey for my life. My friend and I continue to be best friends for more than 50 years, for which I am eternally grateful for. We are always there for one another. More coming in the next segment.
BY JOYCE PELLETIER
"Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast."
This week I want to continue the reflection on Psalm 139:7-10.
As a child of God, I should know the Spirit is always with me, yet when things get challenging and things seem to go from one thing to another, you begin to question things. As time goes on and I keep my trust in the ever-present Holy Spirit, things work out as they should.
I’m a strong believer that God does great things in our lives. The answers may seem at times, to not be in sync with our understanding. However, when I learn to surrender and hold back my assumptions that I know the answer, I learn to step aside, take a breather, and then I can watch what God does. It’s a humbling thing to think we know the way to go, when in essence, we don’t have all the facts. That’s when we hang on to truth that the Holy Spirit of God lives in the hearts of the believers. I need to rely that maybe the Spirit hasn’t revealed himself in a given situation, I still believe He is wherever I am.
At Easter, Jesus rose from the grave. He returned a short while later to bring His Holy Spirit to live within us. There is a song I’ve heard recently, that has become one of my new favorite verses; “He will never stop fighting for me.”
Truth be told He’s always at bat for us. He’s got my back; He knows what is best for me. I don’t need to wonder where He is. We don’t have to seek where His presence is. He is deep in our hearts.
I struggled impatiently recently waiting for a decision for the eye surgeon to do the cataract in my left eye, which is giving me stress. When I read, I have double and triple vision. He wanted me to return to my Optometrist to see what is going on and if it can be fixed another way.
I am very impatient when I think I know the answer, but that does not necessarily mean I know what should happen. I want it over and done with. So, over and over again, God allows things that embed in my heart the right way to go. Even if I do know the answer, I need to go through the process, so that I can learn other things that I seem to push to the wayside. It’s the patience I learn when I have to ‘wait!’ What I probably don’t know is that there are things I don’t know, that need to happen before it’s my turn for the answer to happen.
It’s going through this process that I look at verses 9-10. 9 ‘If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, 10 Even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.’ I’ve not arrived, I know that God has me in His care and I have much to learn about His timing. As the words state, I will rise on the wings of the dawn and His hand is ever there to guide and protect me.
May His hand be on your heart every step of your journey in this life. Grab ahold of what He wants to teach you. May each new sunrise bring His truth in all things.
BY JOYCE PELLETIER
"You have searched me, LORD, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain."
I’ve been journaling since I came to know Jesus. He always knew me! He knew before I was even conceived and that his plan for my life is perfect. He will know me all the rest of my days on earth, then onto Heaven when we will meet face to face.
I love Psalm 139. I don’t reflect on it often enough, but God always calls me back from time to time to some important truths.
David admits in Psalm 139:1-6 “O Lord, you have searched me and you know me, and you know when I sit and when I rise. You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue, you know it completely, O Lord. You hem me in – behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.” David knew that God knew him. He continuously failed, but turned back to God.
Let’s just look at these words for now. If you are like me and journal, then these words give us great starting points for our writing. No matter what we are going through, God is clear, that He knows us completely and is always with us.
A good starting point is to write a reflection on this question. How do I know God knows my every thought, action, and troubling struggles that I face daily? Think about 10 years ago! Where were you then? You hopefully will be able to write a lot. If you don’t keep a journal, then tell God verbally what you have been through.
I recently came across a journal that my mom wrote. It was her very first and only journal she kept. At Christmas of 1988, I had a strong conviction that I should get her started with her journal. I suggested to her that this was for her, no one else. She should just write as if God is the only one interested in reading it. Don’t hold back anything. Let it out.
Mom did an amazing job in her journal. It was in transposing this journal for my children to read, as well as myself, that I saw a different person than the one I knew and loved. I used to pass onto her the devotionals that we were finished with, and she read every one of them.
Mom struggled with a number of insecurities in her life. She was an alcoholic. At the time of this journal, she was still drinking, but I believe she wrote before she had a beer in her hand. She mentioned numerous times that Bible reading was on the top of her daily to-do list. Each time she shared this, she mentions how faithful God was in seeing to her needs. Mom was raised in a church-going family; but when she married, she stopped going to church. In the time of this journal, she returned to the truth of the Word. This journal revealed her positive nature in accepting wherever she was in life.
In her original Bible from the 1930’s, the print was extremely tiny, and one that I could not read without a magnifier. I had purchased a Living Bible as it was much easier a read. In her old Bible, I found quotes that were from her original copy. How important those words hold true to her later years.
I was so encouraged by her writings. She stayed with it (not every day), but I have 5 years’ worth of sporadic writing and she wrote about all her physical problems and her positive nature was to remain to God. In 1993, she began the journey of Alzheimer's Disease and never wrote again. But in all that, God knew her and now has her with Him forever.
This journal healed any old disappointments I had with my relationship with Mom as I finally understand her. With the blessing of finally delving into her writings, God showed me that I finally know my “Mom” and what a healing blessing that was for me this past Christmas. I am forever grateful for this.
BY JOYCE PELLETIER
"Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."
These words tell me so much about the intimacy of God and the grace that He freely gives. I talk to God so much about those things that bother me. Once I unload the anxious thoughts, and share those uncertain things I do not know, dwelling on how it will all come out. I know He’s got a great plan for my life, yet, sometimes I wonder why it takes Him so long to answer my prayers.
There are times when I just need to vent and get the negative thoughts out of my head so I can clear out some space for Him so He can fill me with grace and wonder of the amazing things He’s done again.
I’ll admit, I am impatient. The waiting game is not when I put my best foot forward. However, I need I tell Him so. When I am in the middle of the venting, I can see what I need to confess. I realize that I’m the one who is demanding answers.
As I write these words, I am in the middle of a day that started at 4 am. We are currently fostering a dog, until we can make the decision to keep her or not. We had to be at the Rescue place by 7am, to where she will be taken to Waitsfield for a vet appointment. As we were leaving, they called to tell us to hold off until they can talk to the vet as there was a glitch. So, back in the house we go and finally get the call to go at 7:45. We got home to a busy morning of cleaning the house and sneaking things in that just popped up to be done. There was a barrage of places I had to be, like a Wake at 4, then called the rescue to find out Sasha still had not returned again, so I went back home and waited for the call. Finally, at 8pm we were back home with a traumatized dog under the influence of who knows what the vet gave her so she would not bite them.
You see, this whole day was about teaching me patience. I’ve learned to never pray for patience. You will be tested. The good part was the mountains of laundry was done, the house and car were cleaned after a winter of salt on the carpet. And my blog is written. The lessons of patience, yet again won out as well. In the middle of driving here and there, I shed some venting thoughts and conviction of where I needed to make room for repentance and then peace was restored.
There are times when I see things that are wrong that need to be repaired, yet, He tells me “Not yet my child.” So I ask Him to again be my patience. It’s when I turn it all over in the middle of a chaotic day that resolutions are aired out. It’s a cleansing time. The issues I was frustrated about were trivial, but also a time of cleansing and realization of God is with me wherever I go.
There is a gentle reminder from God in Ecclesiastes 3:3 where it says, “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build up… (I challenge you to read through the rest of the chapter.)
I have found that when a tough day comes up and you can’t find the answers or a stressful situation blocks the road to communication, a simple prayer, “Jesus, stand between us!” This is my favorite prayer. This simple prayer reminds me that the Lord is always listening, and asking Him to be in the middle of these kind of days, as a reminder for ‘ME’ to take heed, Jesus is in control. Take a breather, sit a spell, and watch in wonder what He works out in those difficult and sometimes impossible situations.
I’ve seen this happen time after time. What changes most is my need deep in my soul where God is free to do what He does best. He fixes me, puts me in a place where I can vent about the things that aren’t going quite as well as I thought. You see when venting happens, it clears out the trash so I can have room to receive His Grace and Blessings.
BY LARA GOVENDO
"How precious are your thoughts about me, O God! They are innumerable! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up in the morning, you are still with me!"
"Be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
As I type this, I’m questioning if I do actually believe that loneliness is a gift. How can something be a gift when it’s so… painful? Some of the most painful moments in my life have been when I was the loneliest. But there’s something magical that happens when we surrender EVERYTHING to God. Even the minuscule details of our lives, like our loneliness.
I’ve felt just about every loneliness there is to feel. Lonely in my illness. Lonely during the darkest seasons of depression. Lonely in romantic relationships, in friendships and family too. Lonely in not living a typical life. Lonely in being single and living alone. Lonely during the deepest heartaches and grieving seasons. Lonely in being misunderstood and left out. Lonely in the quiet battles I face that nobody knows about.
There is loneliness lurking around every corner we turn on the journey of our lives. Even though we’re in community, have wonderful family and friends, there are still lonely moments to be had. No human will ever truly understand the depths of our hearts. And that can feel pretty lonely when we’re going through trials and tribulations.
What matters, though, is what we do with our loneliness. We can choose to turn to distractions, addictions, busyness, the internet (social media, youtube, etc) – filling every waking moment with something. But none of these things take away the ache of loneliness.
BUT God does. Every time.
That still small voice spoke to me this week when I was feeling this and said: your lonely times are when you seek Me.
Ok God. I hear you – I whisper.
And He was right. When I’m lonely in whatever circumstance it is, I get alone with God and take my loneliness to Him. He’s the only One that can fill that space of loneliness with complete wholeness. I can’t find the answer in other people, books, music, tv… because God IS the answer. He’s always with us, and never forsakes us (paraphrased from Deuteronomy 31:6).
And loneliness IS a gift because I’m reminded to seek Him.
When I bring my loneliness to Him, He reveals the root of it. In this sacred space with God, I’m able to heal on a soul level from whatever is bringing this feeling of loneliness. When we fully surrender our loneliness over to God, He truly does give us the peace that surpasses all understanding.
The pandemic has brought its own level of loneliness to everyone’s life in some capacity. I’m not negating the magnitude of this heaviness. But I can encourage you that when God calls us into loneliness, we are given the space and opportunity to become all that God created us to be apart from human influence and everything that’s distracting us.
It’s hard to drown out the noise of the world and get alone with God. But when we do, there is beautiful re-creation within us. After all, we are new creations in Christ, called to die to ourselves (give Him our loneliness) on the daily and follow Him.
Thank you, God, for the gift of loneliness.
BY DONNA CHURCHHILL
“The Lord will go before you! The God of Israel will be your rear guard!”
“I am the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last.”
He who begins, finishes. He who leads us on, follows behind to deal in love with our poor attempts. He gathers up the things that we have dropped, our fallen resolutions, our mistakes. He makes His blessed pardon to flow over our sins till they are utterly washed away. And He turns to fight the enemy, who would pursue after us, to destroy us from behind. He is first, and He is last! We need never fear!
In all things, He goes before us.
He paves the way.
He even lights the way.
He whispers, “This is the way, walk ye in it.”
We never walk alone.
We are never left to stumble and falter.
He is first.
I have a long walkway from my garage to my house and at night, without proper lighting, it can be pretty daunting. Especially because I know we have bears and all assorted creatures in the woods behind our house. Yikes!! But on the side of my garage there is a sensor light, so when I walk out of the garage, the light comes on. As I walk down the walkway, there is another light on the house that comes on at dusk and stays on till dawn. This light guides me down the walkway, but once I get past that light to the foot of my stairs, it is dark again. I must continue to the first step and as soon as my foot hits the bottom step, another sensor light comes on to guide me up the stairs. BUT, I have to take that first step. This is such an object lesson for me.
We are to take one step at a time and as our foot lifts to take the next step, He lights the way. We just need to trust that He will. Every time I walk down my walkway at night, I am trusting that my next step will light the next one and so on.
God does go before us, but we have to follow and we have to trust.
But even as He goes before us, He is also our rear guard. What comfort there is in this truth. We are not left defenseless either way!
As we walk through this life, there are so many things that we shed as we go, some good, some not so good. But they are not left haphazardly on the path. He goes behind us and takes care of all those things. He gathers them up and deals with them as He chooses. He gathers our sins up into His bosom and He remembers them no more. His mercy and grace follow us.
He brings up the rear.
He watches from behind.
He fights the enemy on our behalf.
He protects us from a “sneak attack.”
He watches our back.
He is last.
He is the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end.
What a comfort and a blessing to know that I have a God who not only goes before me and paves the way, but I also have a God who walks behind me to protect me in every way. He fights the battle both ways. I can trust Him to order my steps and direct my path. I can trust Him to be “round about” me.
“They that trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever. As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about his people from henceforth even for ever.” Psalm 125:1, 2
“You hem me in – behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.” Psalm 139:5 (NIV)