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Too Busy

It's been a while--I've been too busy. Ever said that to anyone? Ever thought that? You meant to call...you meant to write...you meant to twitter or email or stay in touch some way, but life has a way of getting away from us sometimes. We get too busy.

It happens when you're unemployed, too. You fully intended to follow up on that lead today, network with those folks, finish your "LinkedIn" page, send your resume to that friend, or whatever else it might be, but something else came up. Something else took the time, and now you're staring at the clock and another day has slipped by, and you've missed it again. All because you're too busy.

This tyranny of the urgent makes me grumpy on Mondays. So I'll challenge you to do something that I forget to do, but need to do, and that's begin each day aright. How?

The best way I've found to order my days is to start it with the Lord. Before my feet even hit the floor, when I hear the alarm or the snuffle of the dog asking to be let out, I'll let that be my reminder to pray. First thing. Before the covers are off my feet. I'm not coherent or profound. Just greeting my Creator with a hello and a request to help me through my "too busy" day. Why don't you do the same? You'll find it will make it a much easier way for you to trust Him for the rest of your day, too, if you make Him the start of each one.

Did you realize God's timing is perfect? Did you know He knows when it is best for us to go through a season of unemployment, underemployment, or a season of work at a job that doesn't quite stir your heart or pay all the bills? It's the truth. Why do I say that? Because God is sovereign and "my times are in [His] hands" Psalm 31:15.

Consider this. In our most recent season of unemployment several things happened in quick succession. First, our last child finished college and the last tuition payment was made in May before the layoff in June. Second, within weeks of our latest season of unemployment my husband was hospitalized with heart trouble and I was diagnosed with a chronic health problem of my own. Third, the taxes went up on the house and gasoline and grocery prices began to climb through the roof. There are more instances of major change, too, but these are enough to illustrate that even when our joblessness hit, both good and bad things still came into our life.

As the Bible says, God causes the sun to "rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust" (Matthew 5:45 NKJV). That means stuff happens--both good and bad--because that's how life is. But, when you realize God is sovereign, that your times are in His hands, you can look at the stuff that happens and see it with God's eyes, eyes that better glimpse His plan and purpose.

That means for the examples I've given here, the last tuition payment was paid in May, the layoff came in June, and the hospitalization bills, house taxes, and higher prices followed in quick succession. But, because God's timing had placed the joblessness in the middle of those things, the money that had gone to pay the tuition bills could now be set aside for doctor bills, taxes, and other higher expenses. Unemployment isn't something I'd wish on anyone, but when God is in the picture, He times things perfectly.

So today, as you look around you, ask God to open your eyes to His work in your life, to His hand in your times, to show you how He has taken the situations you've experienced and enfolded them into His plan. The imprint of His touch is there. Just keep trusting Him for the ride.

The unemployment roller coaster often leaves you with more time on your hands than you had before. When you're dealing with the emotions that come with the first blush of unemployment, you might not see your joblessness as a productive time. But, in reality, it is. Joblessness can work for you. What do I mean?

Joblessness offers some benefits. You find yourself with extra time. You're not as scheduled. You may also find yourself available for new opportunities. For example: have you always wanted to have an extended quiet time with the Lord? Let this period of unemployment work for you to grant you those hours to spend time with God. Or have you felt you could be the next great novelist, musician, or athlete if only you had the time to write, compose, or train? Well, unemployment grants you a large block of time every day. Let that work for you to help you achieve this latent goal.

Whenever you look for the opportunities for such creativity within the dark days of unemployment, you're making your time of no work work for you. And that's a good thing. Ecclesiastes 11:6 NIV reminds you to "sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let not your hands be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well."

It's quite possible that your time of no work might truly work well for you as it opens unopened doors of opportunity for God's glory and your ultimate success. As you look for those opportunities for "work" when there is no WORK, keep on trusting God for the ride. He is faithful--to find you work and WORK!

Mark This

I had intentionally decided to concentrate today's blog on a different unemployment thought...but then the Lord intervened because of two little bluebirds perched on the wires outside my office window. Two little bluebirds so bright, so bouncy, so...blue! And it dawned on me, I could see them, really see them. Not like the beggar in Mark 8.

The Bible says in the village of Bethsaida a group of people brought a blind beggar to Jesus. Jesus took the man outside of the village and then spit on the man's eyes, covered those blinded eyes with His hands, and prayed.

Then Jesus asked the man to describe what he saw. The beggar replied that he could see--but that people looked like trees walking.

Jesus gently repeated the process of touching the man's eyes and praying. And the second time when Jesus told the man to open his eyes, the beggar's eyesight was completely restored. He could see clearly.

And so it is for me, and for most of us, too. We sometimes don't see what the Lord is doing in our lives, don't understand why we're taking this path or having this problem. But then God graciously opens our eyes a little and we can see a bit--like seeing people that look like trees walking.

Yet if we continue to trust and lean on the Lord's guidance and continue to ask Him for His touch, He'll do just that. He'll open our eyes to show us His way more clearly, to see His hand in the midst of our situation, to see what He is trying to accomplish in our lives. Just ask Him, and then trust Him to show you the way. And He might throw in the sighting of a bluebird, too.

But, God...

In our nation's current economic crisis, dollars get stretched. Budgets get tightened. For my husband, a tightening of his employers' payroll necessitated a layoff, and, as is the case in many businesses, those with seniority are usually spared the axe and the newer hires, like my husband, are cut from the payroll. It was a true sucker punch. But, God...

Indeed, but God...God is faithful. He is never taken by surprise by the circumstances of life. God is never left wringing His hands wondering what to do next. Despite what life may throw at you at any given moment, if you are God's child and are committed to living for Him, there's nothing happening to you that He's unaware of.

How do I know? Mark 6 says after Jesus miraculously fed five thousand hungry folks with some bread and fish, Jesus dismissed the crowd and headed up onto the mountain to pray. As He did so, He sent His disciples back down the mountain to take their boat back home across the Sea of Galilee. While the disciples were rowing, the wind turned against them. They rowed for hours, making no headway. They were just about beaten, completely spent. And the Bible says that Jesus, alone on the hillside, saw them.

Did you catch that? I don't know about you, but there's no way I could see, with my naked eyes, 12 people in a yard of one of my neighbor's homes just 1/4 mile away. Yet the Bible says Jesus saw His disciples, in the dark, and probably 6 miles or more away from them.

Notice, too, the story of Hagar. According to Genesis 16 she and her son were about to die from dehydration in the desert. But God...that's right...but God. God sent His angel to direct Hagar to a real well, not some mirage. And Hagar's response? She praised God and called Him, El Roi, which means, "The God Who Sees."

So what does that mean to you, to me, to those of us without work, without income, without a clue of what to do next? Grab onto this: God sees you. He sees right where you are. He's aware of whether you've been rowing all night or about to die with dehydration. God sees you. You are never outside of His line of sight. And because of that, you are never outside of His reach.

How many breaths of hot, dry air did Hagar have to breath before the angel came? We're not told. How many hours did the disciples labor at the oars in a wind that was against them? Again, we're not sure. But what we do know for sure is that God saw them in the midst of their need. And God knew what they needed to deliver them FROM and THROUGH those situations. And God came--to deliver them before they lost their lives.

Carry that hope with you today, dear one. God sees you. God knows what's going on. And God cares enough about you to come--in His time and in His way. Hold onto that hope...

God's Time

Did I happen to mention that our roller coaster of unemployment began in God's time?

If we truly believe that everything is under God's control (and it IS, make no mistake about that!), then ultimately the timing of life's circumstances and situations is also under His control.

In our life this meant that God graciously did not bring this unemployment situation to pass until our last child's college tuition payments had been paid. What a blessing that is, and what a reminder, too, of God's overriding timing in our lives.

It has always been that way with God. Abraham's descendants were chosen to be God's children more than 400 years before they ever became a nation and had a land of their own. David was anointed as God's choice to be king while he was still a boy. Twenty some years later, when God's time was right, he wore the crown as Israel's king. And Jesus Himself came to the earth as a baby, a man, a resurrected Savior, when God's time was right.

If you're waiting for work, like we are, take heart from these stories in the Bible. Your times are in God's hands. The Bible says so (see Psalm 31:15). Just keep trusting Him for the ride--all the time!

The Saga Begins

So now you know us. Now you know our hearts. And now you know how we got here...how we got on this roller coaster of unemployment.

Maybe you're there with us. Unemployed or underemployed. It's a common occurrence these days. But did you ever think that unemployment, with all of its ups and downs, might have been God's plan all along?

Think about it. If we're truly committed to our Heavenly Father and truly believe that He is committed to our good, then the things that happen to us every day are just that...pathways to His good for our lives. Sometimes those pathways are easy...when all goes right, when everyone's healthy, when the sun shines and the bills are all paid. It's easy to see those paths as God's good for our lives.

But when the path turns a corner that leads into the darkness of job loss, health issues, financial reversals, interpersonal upheavals, what then? Is this also a path for God's good?

Both the psalmist and the Apostle Paul would say yes. Even the dark paths can bring about God's good for you, for "in everything God works for the good of those who love him" (Romans 8:28 NCV). The situation itself might not be a happy one, but God can make it okay. God can allow "goodness and mercy to follow [you] all the days of [your] life" (Psalm 23:6 NKJV). You need only to trust Him for the ride because God loves you, dear one. Don't forget that!

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