Planning for Paradise

We are moving.  Yep. I finally said it “out loud” on social media.  After almost 20 years away, we are moving back to South Florida.  Ahhhhhh… headed back to paradise!
I have been hired by Okeechobee Church of the Nazarene as Worship Pastor, and also by Okeechobee Christian Academy as a Middle/High School teacher.  I am looking forward to the transition and change in career, but it’s been hard to wrap up two jobs, pack a house of six people, and find the financial resources to make a unbudgeted move.  It has been just a tad bit stressful, but we are trusting that God knows what He is doing!
Yesterday, Tara and I felt the need to have special prayer together, so we did. I couldn’t sleep much today and awoke with the urge to pray and get into God’s Word again, to rest in Him because He truly does fight our battles when we put Him first.
As I read Psalm 43:3-4, it spoke to me today.  Later in the chapter, the writer talks about anxiety and even mentions the word depressed.  I wouldn’t classify myself as the latter, but I love his solution to the craziness and hardship that life brings:
Send your light and your truth;  let them lead me.  Let them bring me to Your holy mountain, to Your dwelling place.  Then I will come to the altar of God, to God, my greatest joy.  I will praise You …
This psalm gives three things we can do to defeat anxiety:
1. Place ourselves in close proximity to God and His Word.
2. Allow His light and truth to lead us to an altar of prayer and worship.
3. Praise Him until deliverance comes.
This encouraged me today, and I choose to praise God as He continues to work His will in the stressful shadows of my life.  Paradise is our destination, but we should be prepared to navigate some rough weather on the way.
The Christian’s journey is not much different from my family’s upcoming move.  Just like the GPS we will use to travel South,  the Christian is able to use God’s Word as a guide for following Jesus.  The Bible describes our destination and gives us ways we can handle the potholes and detours that will come.  That’s logical, right?
But sometimes I think we just wing it.  Sometimes we just find a road and drive, not really knowing if it will take us to where we want to go.  No road map.  No guidance system.
It’s like driving I-75 South to get to Canada.  You’re getting somewhere, but you’re closer to Paradise Lost than where you need to be!
The older I am, I see that the good life God offers us takes laser-like intentionality on our part to seek out the will of God and the guidance He gives.  It is taking huge amounts of energy and productivity for my family and I to prepare for this move to Florida.  We are spending every day talking, thinking, and working through each step we need to take to achieve the maximum efficiency and strength.  It’s an intelligent effort.  It has to be.
Serving Christ and following Jesus is an intelligent effort. It is not one where we wake up every morning and wonder through life.  Jesus calls us to stop and count the costs and rewards for the life of being His disciple.  Martin Luther once said, “Pray as if everything depends on God, then work as if everything depends on you.”
We must prepare for the journey.  Psalm 43 is a good start.
Stay close to God and His Word. Follow the light of Truth to an altar of prayer and worship. Praise Him at all times.
I’m planning for Paradise!

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