Monday, August 29, 2011


Timing matters.

If you’ve learned about your dream job opening up at your dream company the day after the position closed, you know about timing.

Or imagine this. You’re prancing around your house, veering toward the door to go to work, and you trip over your affectionate calico and knock over a vase of flowers on your table. The mess takes six minutes to clean up.

Then you finally head out, drive several blocks to the main thoroughfare en route to your workplace, and come upon an accident where police cars and ambulances are just arriving.

You sense in your spirit that you’ve been spared. And you praise God. Or honestly, maybe you don’t make the connection. Sometimes we miss it, even seasoned believers can.

On Friday, I was zipping out of our little, quiet town to run some errands, and on the way met my oldest daughter driving home from class. She motioned to me, and we positioned our cars window-to-window on the quiet street, and agreed to go out and about together. God gave us a sweet afternoon together picking out a new dishwasher, selecting a wedding present, and buying groceries.

Neither she nor I planned it. God did, and we took Him up on His offer. Good timing, Lord.

We see God doing things with perfect timing a whole lot in Scripture.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.
Romans 5:6 NIV

Sometimes, though, I whine, or wonder if I’m experiencing God’s discipline. I wish for the outcomes I would orchestrate on the day and time I would see them through. Yet, I still know it’s best that I let God be God. Nice of me, huh?

So, here are a few areas where I need to trust God’s wisdom and timing.

  • In the passionate embrace of Jesus Christ for unsaved loved ones
  • With the permanent, complete healing of my knees
  • Over career paths as my life stage changes

Sometimes God gives us the grace and information that hindsight offers, and I testify today to some areas where He has blessed me and taught me about His timing.

  • First pregnancy timing
  • Vacation this year, with our departing D.C. a week prior to the earthquake and the hurricane
  • Christian growth deepened across years of seeking Him

For these, I praise my God and Savior. Emphasis on Savior, because I ask, ‘Lord, just what did You save me from because of Your perfect timing?’

Today, I may not know. Perhaps in Heaven, He will share that. For now, I thank Him.

 Text and photo © Helene Bergren 2011. All rights reserved.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Hall of Faith Worthy

The light in the sky is fading in this Midwestern lake scene. Like that, the whole picture of a life situation may be hidden from us. We must walk by faith, not by sight. Not an easy calling, but possible with God's help. Photo location: Saylorville Lake, Polk County, IA Photo by Helene Bergren

I am a sucker for a love story. But I confess to liking a good James Bond flick, too. I know some would say that’s an oxymoron. I can live with that. I also fall for stories of great tenacity in times of trial, and of people of great faith in the face of what would cause many to doubt.

So it is with Hebrews 11, in the Christian Bible. A man builds an ark on dry land. Ancient parents hide their son from an evil pharaoh’s murderous plot. A prostitute welcomes spies of God’s people. A man just blips from Earth to join God because he chose to walk so closely with his Lord that He took him.

Hebrews 11 – aka The Hall of Faith, Hebrews Hall of Faith or The Faith Hall of Fame.

Whatever you call it, I like it. What inspiration. Personally, Enoch wows me.

“By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
Heb. 11 5-6

Of course, Abraham’s realization that God could just bring Isaac back to life on the altar if he killed him shows a depth of wisdom and faith in God that I can’t match. And I love my faith in God! It’s such a gift that carries me through ups and downs. Still, Abraham reasons that God is God, so He’d just bring Isaac back. That took knowing God was good for His Word. And that took understanding God’s resurrection power – before He’d ever exercised it. Go, Father Abe!

So, how could I ever measure up to that? Goodness.

 I examine my faith, and ask myself if I really believe from time to time. I think it’s a good exercise for me. I find myself sticking with the Truth every time.

Creation? Yep. I believe God made the world. .
Jesus is God, and the Son of God? Absolutely.
God came to earth in the human form of Jesus? Most certainly.

Trinity? Check.
Bodily resurrection? Check.
Permanent salvation? Check.

Heaven? Yes
Hell? Yes (Um, pardon.)
The Second Coming of Christ.  Indeed.

I like to piddle in the Word, ping comments to God, sing in worship to Him. 

But I am not so constantly aware of His constant presence that He has snatched me up without dying, like Enoch. And that’s OK with me. God graces me with blessings each day. When I’m faithful enough to recognize they’re from Him, all the better. (Back to that faith thing, right?)

When I look closer at Hebrews 11, I notice entries that surprise me. Barak made Hebrews 11, but he served under the prophetess Deborah’s leadership in war – perhaps because he was afraid or doubted God’s plan. (See Judges 4.) Gideon respectfully asked God for signs and reassurances before he would lead an attack against the Midianites, and win, with God’s help. (See Judges 6-7.)

Fear, doubt, and resistance to His calling appear as qualities of the very people listed in Hebrews Hall of Faith. Yet, those spiritual problems, crises of belief, are opposites.   God still chose these people to be listed in His love letter to us.

Well, I face doubt. I wonder if I can possibly be used to reach a child at church with special needs. Some days I resist rolling out of bed (just ask my husband) to face early bird children God entrusted me to raise. Sometimes, I set His Book aside when I see a truth in it that I don’t know if I can fulfill. I don’t know what God will do in the lives of some of my neighbor children with tough home lives. I feel uncertainty about where His calling rests on my life in some ways right now.

Yet, I get up and go. Some days much slower than others. Some days happier than others, to be sure. (That may be related to caffeine intake, too.)

But it seems to me, He’s always there. I grouch at or to Him in prayer. I ask Him the tough questions.  Pray for strength as I watch parents age, and hope for the best college experience a year from now for our oldest daughter, guidance through our middle daughter’s teen years, and I long for more of a love of reading for our youngest. God knows.

I don’t know the outcome of these situations. Living life with faith means following Him without knowing the outcome, and without seeing why He’s right. Boy, do I ever love God! I must fully confess, I do not always follow His leading. I miss the bull’s eye sometimes — often. But Who He is, His love and grace, and what He has carried me through far outweigh my doubts. Now — to remember that the next time I don’t get my way.

The faith I live, He gave me. Sure, I choose to build it by seeking Him. So did Barak, Abraham, and Enoch. So did many others. So do many others today. God knows why He listed the people in His book of Hebrews. He knows their full stories, and wanted them. Same with you. It’s not too late. You there, choose the way of faith. 

 ©2011 Helene Bergren. Copy and photo. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

God's Wisdom Highest

Thinking about my ideas and God’s plans, the two stand in contrast in terms of goals, in more ways right now than I’ve really ever experienced.

That’s not to say my life has been trial-free in the past. And that’s certainly not to say I live a hard life.  I’m blessed.

Still, having plans change about weekend trips and home improvement projects fall into a different category than what I have been experiencing. Feeling God funnel me into the unknown specifics of what He wants through removing four major things; career change options, a favored sport, loved outreach methods, and specific lifelong hearth and home goals, at least seems like a different matter. Fitting through His funnel comes with some discomfort, and sacrifice.

But God’s smartest, His goals and motives are perfect, and — phew — He’s patient.

I’m glad His Spirit works within me, because no matter how hard I try, I can’t force, cajole or persuade myself to match everything I think, want and do up to His standards. That reminds me how high caliber His gift of grace is.

When I talk with my kids, I often need to help them see a situation from an adult perspective, whether the topic covers why even good church kids act like brats sometimes or prioritizing how to spend money when back-to-school shopping. But it’s my job to teach my daughters and son. It’s one way I prove my love for them. And it brings me joy.

When I think about it, the difference in wisdom between an adult and a child is far less than the difference between a follower of Christ and God. My children are much closer to being as wise as I am, than I am likely to be as wise as God. That’s why I worship Him. Everything about Him exceeds everything about me. I’m willing to let God be God — at least I want to be willing.

Wisdom Math
Take a look at this little basic subtraction illustration or example of what I mean.

Parent Wisdom – Child Wisdom = Human Maturity Wisdom Difference

God Wisdom – Follower of Christ Wisdom = Supernatural Wisdom vs. Created Human Wisdom Difference

Supernatural vs. Created Human Wisdom Difference > Human Maturity Wisdom Difference

8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
   neither are your ways my ways,”
            declares the LORD.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
   so are my ways higher than your ways
   and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow
   come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
   without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
   so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
   It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
   and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
12 You will go out in joy
   and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
   will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
   will clap their hands.
Isaiah 55:8-12

What a joy and comfort to me that God’s ways and thoughts are higher. And that His word accomplishes the plan He set in motion. I love verse 11, because we have access to that word. The Word of the Bible, the Word who came in human form, Jesus Christ.  So, I can learn. And so can you.

To those who aren’t Christians, those of us who are don’t necessarily make sense. The Bible doesn’t make sense. God doesn’t make sense. Shoot, I often don’t know what God is up to when He’s working in and around me until (if) I am given hindsight, so how could I expect someone who doesn’t have a relationship with Him to get it?

Without God, humans label many types of worldly thinking as wise or logical. But whether we acknowledge Him or not, we can’t exceed our Creator.

22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. 
1 Corinthians 1:22-25

Certainly, I may continue to struggle to determine what the difference is between His plans and mine. Perhaps temptation and the devil are working to damage my testimony and me. But I need to bear responsibility for my own attitudes, and priorities.

But, I know I delight in Him, so my desires are safe with Him. (See Psalm 37:4) As I continue to relax into whatever God’s plan is for me, to understand and step onto the solid places where He wants me to step, I believe I will see the Word of God, the love of God, unfold in a new and real way.

9 However, as it is written:
   “What no eye has seen,
   what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”[a]
   the things God has prepared for those who love him—
 10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.
   The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.[b] 14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. 15 The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, 16 for,
   “Who has known the mind of the Lord
   so as to instruct him?”[c]
   But we have the mind of Christ.
1 Corinthians 2:9-18

Because I have the mind of Christ, I know that even if I don’t achieve the goals I set, if I go where He leads, my life will testify to Him. My human side would prefer to accomplish what I intended, with God’s help, and glorify Him in that way.

But by His gentle hand, I pray to and know I will experience His peace and joy either way, shine out His light and bring Him, my Creator, great pleasure.

Bible passages copied from

Photo and copy, Copyright © 2011 Helene Bergren All rights reserved.