As the New Year approaches we are often bombarded with the pressure to set goals. But when we live in the questions how do you set goals? Lynn Severance, author & devotional writer for Rest Ministries shares her story.
My Bible is a bit heavier than most. It contains the life giving words of God, but strewn among its many pages I have mementos: favorite photos of loved ones, a timely word of encouragement from a friend, a scrawled note from one of my third graders in 1988 that says, “Miss S you are nise,” & an inspirational card given to me in 1979 by an Arab tour guide in Israel.
Nearly twenty years ago, I cut out a piece in a church bulletin & added it to my collection! To the best of my recall, it was written by Chuck Swindoll. The paper upon which it is written is so small, there have been times I could not find it when purposefully looking for it.
- It is your future.
- Don’t back into it.
- Don’t grope into its mists blindfolded.
- Put the h& of your faith into the H& of God.
- Get used to His voice.
- He warns you of dangers & of strangers.
- He leads you to experience His prepared future.
- It does not disappoint.
- There is always more for those who walk with Him.
- He straightens question marks into exclamation points!
Many questions about my future were present when I first read these thoughts. More erupted over ensuing years. The daily challenges with vertigo, cancer, follow up treatment, & early retirement. Somewhere along the trials of my life I got to thinking more deeply about the message this bulletin excerpt presented & I came to a conclusion that brought me encouraging perspective.
What could it mean to really live within the questions in my life? A question marks the spot of a “seeking moment.” It stops me. I want the right answer & I want it now! Often I discover that the right answer requires a different timing than my insistent “now.” In such cases, all I can really do is wait.
I picture the literal configuration of a question mark with its curves & swirl. What if I were to crawl right into a question mark? This would curl me into the fetal position, quietly waiting upon the Lord. I would need to depend upon Him much as I had to during my own gestation time. When the answer is ready, the birthing takes place & reconfigures the question mark into an exclamation point. Right timing—God’s timing. Right answer—God’s answer.
I no longer search for that little scrap of paper with this big message on it. I decided to put it in my Bible page that marks a passage in the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy. Within this book, Moses exhorted the Israelites to step into the Promised L&, remembering God’s faithfulness to them in the years past & carrying with them hope for their future.
“But the l& you are crossing the Jordan to take possession of is a l& of mountains & valleys that drink rain from heaven. It is a l& the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end.” (Deut. 11: 11, 12)
I read this passage from Deuteronomy every January 1 . I want this reminder from God as I step into His promised New Year. The paper bits collection in my Bible serve to remind me that there will always be questions—but eventually there will be answers. If I choose to “live in the questions,” I cannot w&er too far. I¹ll be near enough to hear God’s voice exclaim the answers when His time is right. Lord, give me ears to hear!
Lynn Severance is a retired elementary classroom teacher. She is currently working on a book manuscript for women & is a devotional writer for Rest Ministries. Lynn is single & lives alone in Lynnwood, WA.