Captured, Changed and Choreographed

Pumpkins and pansies freshly placed on my porch and in my flower bed transform my view of my house. The flaming orange and yellow dots of color falling from our maple tree are forming a patchwork quilt in my yard with contrasting scarlet leaves. I feel surprised each time I drive up and see the way my home has been transformed with the look of fall.

The season of fall in the South is really a time to just notice and note the world. Squirrels scurry through the yard gathering their final nuts for winter. The cooler breeze dances with the falling leaves. Sunshine illuminates the remaining green leaves on our pin oak tree in the backyard. Maple leaves stick to the driveway after a night of rain.

As if they are waving goodbye, the leaves cling to the tree limbs as they move to and fro. Their final moments of glory are happening. This is it. They have captured carbon dioxide, changed it into oxygen and now choreograph their final dance to the ground. This Autumn Change has begun and will continue until this fall season concludes when winter begins. My view in my yard will soon be a memory due to the change that will happen in the fall foliage; change comes, the leaves fall but not before their radiant red, orange and yellow hues fill the yard ushering in a new season.

While reading about the events that took place in the life of Paul in Acts, I’ve noticed that there are brilliant descriptions of change. The way that Jesus spoke to him on the road to Damascus has always startled me. Paul was persecuting those who followed Jesus. He thought he was right. He needed an awakening so Jesus sent a light from heaven which blinded Paul and allowed him to have an encounter like never before with the very one that he had despised. He changed and saw Jesus as The Way.

Later on in his life after his conversion, we read of how even the cloths that touched Paul were used to heal people. Over and over, I read about Paul sharing about The Way as he traveled and endured many false accusations. God changed Paul and Paul changed the world.

After his conversion, he left Jerusalem and visited many geographical locations. He later would travel back to Jerusalem then back to Cilicia and Rome. His location changed a lot during his life but at each city he visited, He had listened to the leading of God as to where to even go and when to move on. Change in location and life circumstance became Paul’s norm.

Like the leaves, Paul captured the waste in the air; the nasty accusations, the plotting against him and the news that even the leaders weren’t fully supportive. In every case, he accepted the change and planned his next move after praying about it.

I am amazed that Paul produced tremendous texts that to this day still contain truth even though he was under duress while undergoing continual change. God used him to write, to encourage, to correct, to clarify and to compel others to be a part of The Way. God choreographed the events in Paul’s life to rescue him from total destruction and revive him out of uncertain and unsettling moments.

We learn so much from our brother Paul: he didn’t fight the change but accepted it and kept becoming an even better version of himself. In the Spring, the leaves will bud again and come forth as new green life. It will take time for us to see seasons, but Paul just kept having new seasons and rolled with it. He, like the leaves on our trees, captured the poison from the mouths of his enemies, changed the atrocities directed at him like the leaves change the carbon dioxide into oxygen and choreographed new positions geographically, like the leaves travel to new locations, to handle the enemies.

Listen in below on just a few events from Acts 22 about how Paul handled change. These events play out like a motion picture full of intrigue and excitement which inspire me to capture the change moments in life and choreograph my next steps and words very carefully. The Holy Spirit provided the necessary wisdom to help Paul in his states of change. In our lives, the Holy Spirit will give us the wisdom to handle our change moments and to guide our next steps.

As you read this passage from the Bible describing Paul’s life, look for moments of change and how he handled each one with the help of the Holy Spirit. I pray that you will sense how God helped Paul and will also help us as we encounter change.

Acts 22 “Brothers and fathers, hear the defense that I now make before you.”

And when they heard that he was addressing them in the Hebrew language, they became even more quiet. And he said:

“I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated at the feet of Gamaliel according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God as all of you are this day. I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering to prison both men and women, as the high priest and the whole council of elders can bear me witness. From them I received letters to the brothers, and I journeyed toward Damascus to take those also who were there and bring them in bonds to Jerusalem to be punished.

“As I was on my way and drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone around me. And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ And I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’ Now those who were with me saw the light but did not understand the voice of the one who was speaking to me. 10 And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Rise, and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all that is appointed for you to do.’ 11 And since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me, and came into Damascus.

12 “And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, 13 came to me, and standing by me said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And at that very hour I received my sight and saw him. 14 And he said, ‘The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear a voice from his mouth; 15 for you will be a witness for him to everyone of what you have seen and heard. 16 And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’

17 “When I had returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, I fell into a trance 18 and saw him saying to me, ‘Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about me.’ 19 And I said, ‘Lord, they themselves know that in one synagogue after another I imprisoned and beat those who believed in you. 20 And when the blood of Stephen your witness was being shed, I myself was standing by and approving and watching over the garments of those who killed him.’ 21 And he said to me, ‘Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’”

22 Up to this word they listened to him. Then they raised their voices and said, “Away with such a fellow from the earth! For he should not be allowed to live.” 23 And as they were shouting and throwing off their cloaks and flinging dust into the air, 24 the tribune ordered him to be brought into the barracks, saying that he should be examined by flogging, to find out why they were shouting against him like this.

25 But when they had stretched him out for the whips, Paul said to the centurion who was standing by, “Is it lawful for you to flog a man who is a Roman citizen and uncondemned?” 26 When the centurion heard this, he went to the tribune and said to him, “What are you about to do? For this man is a Roman citizen.” 27 So the tribune came and said to him, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?” And he said, “Yes.” 28 The tribune answered, “I bought this citizenship for a large sum.” Paul said, “But I am a citizen by birth.” 29 So those who were about to examine him withdrew from him immediately, and the tribune also was afraid, for he realized that Paul was a Roman citizen and that he had bound him.

Photo by Lisa Fotios from Pexels

Bumpy, Broken Roads

In my WordPress Blogging 101 course, my assignment for today was to publish a post I’d like my ideal audience member to read, and include a new-to-me element in it like a picture or video. I needed to think about the readers who would read this post. I knew that I would like for other writers to see my posts so I thought that I would join them. In addition, I want to always connect to readers so I chose a topic that affects all of us: Change.

Today, I joined a special group of writers. They are gathered by Tara Lazar, children’s book author. Her website has daily tips in November from Picture Book authors to help inspire writers to jot down 30 ideas for a picture book during the month.

Here is her website:
http://taralazar.com/2015/11/05/piboidmo-day-5-david-michael-slater-listens-plus-a-prize/

In today’s guest author post, David Michael Slater, shared a poignant comment about stories:

“Stories that last are stories that move us.  Moving stories are about change.”

I look forward to collecting ideas for picture books this month, but for today, I’d like to just talk a bit about change.

When change occurs, it can be a big deal.  It can change plans.

Five days ago on a Saturday, the Department of Transportation, decided to dig up the asphalt that leads to my neighborhood.  The first time that I drove on this changed road was on Saturday afternoon and hoped, at the time, that they would resurface the road on Sunday.  Instead, the road sat with huge orange metal machines just waiting on the sides of the road.  They were waiting for workers to return and run them on Monday.  It turns out, though, that there has been rain all week, some of it heavy and some just steady light rain.  As people have driven on the road, their wheels combined with the condition of the road, have broken huge chunks out of the road and potholes have formed.  You can barely drive without dipping into a hole and feeling your car bump up and down.

The change in the road’s condition has been a nuisance, especially since the rain has prevented the workers from beginning the laying of new asphalt.  I have noticed, though, that a worker has outlined each manhole which juts out of the broken pavement with hot pink paint.  If you hit the manhole, you will experience a huge jerk and you may even be forced into oncoming traffic which is quite dangerous.  I realize that the manholes can’t be dug up because they serve a purpose, but boy, do they get your attention!

When the road gets repaved hopefully tomorrow, the drive will be smooth again.  The tops of the manholes will show but my car won’t run me off the road or into oncoming traffic when I drive over them.

It has been this time of experiencing the dug up road that has made me ponder change.  I do not look forward to driving on the road.  If I remember as I am driving from my house to the beginning of the neighborhood, sometimes, I have gone a different way to avoid most of the major potholes and ditches.  Usually, though, I forget and then it dawns on me when I see the intersection with the jagged road top.  My hope is that the road will be fixed at some point, but until then, I will drive slowly, carefully, prudently and methodically.  I will move forward to the things which are ahead like Paul told us to do in Philippians 3:13:


 
When life throws change at me, it is worth noticing that we should also slow down, proceed carefully, prudently and methodically.  Like David Michael Slater shared in today’s PiBoIdMo post above, “Stories that last are stories that move us.  Moving stories are about change.”  I think that my story of driving on the broken road has moved me to really consider the path of change that has happened in my life.  There are times when change has been a definite good thing, but during other times, I couldn’t wait for the road to smooth back over because the change was rough.  My life story has changes sprinkled throughout and it has been, typically, after the changes have occurred, that I have seen God’s purpose for the changes.

It is the methodical maneuvering of the cars on the road near my neighborhood that allows them to get to their destination.  In my life, the bumpy roads, the broken roads and the dead ends, have brought joy and pain.  In the end, I know that I will arrive to the next stop on my journey if I continue, persevere through it and not pull off to the side, at least not for long.  I am confident that there are moments in life when we need to give ourselves a break and space to deal with the jarring effects of the broken, bumpy roads and then allow ourselves the grace to forgive, to renew and move on. Just as the resurfacing of the road will take time, God will use time, circumstances, His Word and people to fill in the grooves and rebuild our path.

I was reminded today of a song that is called “Bless The Broken Road” by Selah.  I will end by sharing it here in hopes that my readers can consider that change causes us to slow down, proceed carefully and hopefully not make rash decisions.  As a follower of Christ, I can also say that without a doubt, He is with me and allowing the circumstances of the bumpy road.  His Word says that He is working all things for my good.  I am thankful and assured that with the help and strength of His Holy Spirit, I will be able to move on, not look back and set my sights on what is ahead.