Another summer break is just around the corner, and we have not booked a holiday apartment yet. Again. (It is already really hot here, but the school year in Austria isn´t finished yet). This year we desperately want to finally spend some time at the sea! Beaches, waves, wide open spaces!
We have already spent a few hours searching the internet (such searches are really exhausting and time-consuming). For 5 adults it´s not that easy to find something cheap AND nice. We are just one person more than an average family, and nobody likes to sleep in a kitchen corner. Croatia and Italy are our possible destinations by car. Our country has no coast, and the pandemic has caused changing traveling conditions. Although we can´t find a house directly at the beach, there is still something. If only we knew for sure that in a month it would still be possible to travel and that restrictions would not suddenly be imposed again! We don´t want to pay for cancelling. So we are watching the development a little longer. And waiting.
In fact, it has never really been certain whether you can start a journey or not. There are a lot of things that can happen anytime. This pandemic has unsettled us and shaken our confidence in planning the future — although our future has never been in our hands. It is sobering, but good, to see that God alone knows the future and that all our planning depends on him. We can plan and move forward, even if we don’t see anything. And we can remain open to His intervention. Be attentive to His hints.
The Israelites followed the Pillar of Cloud. When the Cloud rose, they moved on. When it settled, they set up camp — and never knew for how long. God knew what they needed and what was good for them. Only with the Cloud was it safe to travel.
God stood in Balaam’s way when he rode to Balak to curse Israel. Balaam himself was not attentive enough to God’s will. Only his donkey saw the armed angel who blocked their way. It was good that at least the donkey listened to God. This saved Balaam’s life and opened his eyes. I wish that I could also have a God-fearing donkey nearby when I am on the wrong path. But it could also be a broken car, if necessary. In any case, I want to remain steerable! Jesus says that we must let him lead if we want to follow him. That means giving up control.
We love being in control of our lives. Making plans. We want to know what will happen next. But — God knows better what we need. We must fix our eyes on Him, and not on our plans. I want to remain steerable, not only with my holiday plans. Be open to His suggestions. Do I really think I know better? Do I still want to force my own plans and make my life more complicated and stressful than necessary? I could save a lot of energy by looking at Jesus, trusting and following His lead.
I’m stuck in a traffic jam and late for an appointment? What’s the point of pulling up my shoulders, gritting my teeth and nervously looking back and forth between the traffic light and the clock? I have to accept the circumstances and make the best of the situation. Let go. And this also applies to other areas of life. As in the wise prayer: “God give me the serenity to accept things that I cannot change. The courage to change things I can change. And the wisdom to distinguish one from the other.” Old, but still true and good. Something we have to practice again and again.
Sometimes God leads us down difficult paths that we do not want to go down. We dig our heels into the ground and refuse to go any further. But the good shepherd has a plan and knows what lies ahead. Perhaps there is a wonderful pasture just behind that dark, dangerous gorge! However, we do not want to go through the valley. We would rather stay and look for the last dried-up blades of grass. Will the sheep trust the shepherd enough to follow him anyway?
Do I trust God more than my own sense? More than my feelings? Even more than my experiences?
Is this Shepherd really wise, powerful, good and full of love? The expert for everything, including me?
Letting go and following is not easy for us. Children clearly have an advantage here! Peter and the other disciples were horrified when Jesus told them that he would suffer, and they protested. They wanted to protect him! They wouldn’t let that happen!
Here’s what Jesus says: “You have no idea how God works. Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You are not in the driver´s seat; I am. Don´t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you?” (Mark 8:34-37)
I know I can’t get everything I want.
But maybe it is still possible to spend some time at the sea this year?
How blessed all those in whom you live,
whose lives become roads you travel;
One day spent in your house beats thousands spent on Greek island beaches.
He leads through lonesome valleys but also to cool springs.
All sunshine and sovereign is God,
generous in gifts and glory.
He doesn´t skimp with his traveling companions.
It´s smooth sailing all the way with God-of-the-Angel-Armies.
I just made myself a cup of tea. It´s an Asian tea that happens to have proverbs on the tag.
God has a sense of humor: “Your true nature is trust” is written on it!
Hello, my name is Julia Kramer-Wiesgrill, and I am Austrian. I live in Hall in Tirol, in an ancient little town in the alps, but I was born near Vienna.
My husband and I came here to work at a small church and help in different tasks. We have three teenagers (15,17,19) and are very proud of them! I love reading and writing, going for a walk in the woods by my own, and I love water (creeks, lakes, the sea). I also love cats, Earl Grey tea and chocolate. I really like to learn and it´s the same with my spiritual journey, where I´m not even close to the finish line yet. God is so much bigger than I know and his love for me so much deeper and profound than I can imagine. He is the one who gave a new identity to me. I am his beloved child, no matter what! In knowing this I become free and courageous, because he is the one standing behind me, covering my back.
Elizabeth encouraged me to follow my dream of writing and gave me some really helpful tips to actually get started some years ago! Now my first book (a children´s novel about friendship) will be published next year (in German)! I´m very excited about it! Elizabeth pushed me to start my own blog, which I did during the pandemic. You are welcome to visit my blog! https://juliakramer-english.jimdofree.com/