• Jan Walker

Early this morning, He woke me up to the fragrance of orange blossoms. Orange blossoms are traditionally the bridal flower. But they don't bloom in the middle of summer, and there's not an orange grove around for miles.

He wanted me to take a walk with Him. The thing is, He only wanted me to walk out to the street and back. I thought, "That's odd... not much of a walk." I wondered if it was even worth putting on sneakers for. But what began as just a short stroll actually turned into quite a spiritual trek. Simple obedience, the willingness to go, and a listening heart -- these were significant steps to arriving at what He wanted to teach me. A small beginning, full of promise.

A small start with Him is more fruitful than a huge effort in my own strength. With Him, I can do anything. No matter how large the mountain is, or how far away the goal appears to be, a step of faith is a step in the right direction. One small step of obedience will produce the fruit that will fuel the rest of the journey ahead.

The fact that He lured me with the fragrance of orange blossoms speaks of bridal identity and who I am in Him… who I am to Him. How could I resist that invitation?

So I combed my hair, put on my sneakers and walked out the front door, noticing the dew, expectant for anything He wanted to show me on my very short hike across the front yard.

When I got to the street, I stood for a moment looking around, wondering what to do next. Isn't it always our human default to wonder what we have to do? I looked down the street, and I wanted to at least walk down to the corner and back. But I felt Holy Spirit telling me that, for today, just doing the small thing He asked me to do was enough.

As I turned back toward the house, I was rewarded with the sight of a pair of graceful cranes flying over. A bridal covenant in the sky. They travel in pairs because they mate for life. Commitment is about choice. Covenant is, by nature, sacrificial.

Our life in Him should revolve around what He has done for us. But in our presumption, we always seem to make it more about what we "do" for Him. It's one of the ways we rob God… tagging our own "good ideas" onto what He has directed us to do.

What would I have proved if I had kept walking? That I was easily capable of doing so? What would I have gained by abandoning His original instruction and heading out on my own? Did I think He would love me more if I put forth more effort and went above and beyond? I really had to stop and think about that.

Walking even one step further than He asked me to walk would have been the same as saying what He asked me to do was too insignificant, or somehow inadequate. Not only is that questioning God, it's determining in our hearts that we know better than He does in a given situation. Let that sink in.

Simple obedience is pure obedience. I was immediately reminded of Psalm 19:9. "The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever."

When we surrender our heart to His wishes, and our mind to His plan, the rest of us will follow with a renewed awareness of purpose and communion.

My casual walk to the street and back this morning was the same as running a marathon in His eyes, because I simply did what He asked me to do. He required nothing more from me, and He allowed me to feel completely comfortable with that.

What is your mountain... what is your motivation? Ask Him to show you your small beginning; and stay true to what he tells you to do, even if you're tempted to run ahead. Let Him take the lead on your journey. I wish you orange blossoms and beautiful birds along the way.

Lord, You know the plans You have for us. They're good and they lead us in hope towards a promising outcome. But in our own pride we try to improve upon Your instructions to us; in our impatience, we try to run ahead of You. In our insecurity we try do more than You've asked us to do, and that leads only to confusion, anxiety, frustration, guilt and burnout. Teach us to truly take You at Your word. Only then can we walk in the Spirit and live in simplicity and freedom. Thank You for your great love and patience toward us as we learn to flow with You.

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  • Jan Walker

Updated: May 7

They can come at any time, those unplanned visitors. I'm not talking about people who show up at your house uninvited. I mean the little distractions that try to take your focus away from what you're doing in the moment. Or the major detours that stop you in your tracks and completely rearrange your day (or month, or year).

We've all experienced them, and for the most part, we consider them to be a negative or aggravating thing. I mean, after all, they get in the way of what we're doing; they push us off our course, they mess up our carefully crafted plans.

But what if these unexpected detours were actually divine interruptions? What if they are really God saying, "I know you want to do that, but let's do this instead."

It might be hard to recognize at first. Sometimes, it's not until you come out at the other end that you realize it was a God thing.

Not long ago, as I was leaving my house to go to a meeting I was leading, I couldn't find the notebook that contained my outline and scripture references for the evening. I looked everywhere. My purse, my tote bag, the bedroom, the kitchen, the office, the living room. I even looked in my car. A friend was with me. She helped me look again in all the places I had already checked. Time was running out, and we had to leave to get to the meeting.

Driving to the meeting, I began to question myself. Was there something wrong with the teaching I had planned to share? No, I don't think so. Was it biblically grounded? Yes. Had I heard from the Lord about the topic? I'm pretty sure I had. So what happened to the notebook?

When I arrived, I felt a little unprepared, to say the least. I don't like feeling like that. I'm one of those people who need to know. I like structure, hence the outline. I like knowing how things will start out, how they'll end up, and everything in between. I can see you chuckling right now. By the time the meeting started, I had figured out that the Lord had something different in mind for the evening.

Here's the thing. It wasn't so much that I forgot where I put the notebook... I forgot that it was God's meeting. We were all there to hear from Him. All I had to do was sit back and watch Him unfold His plan for the meeting. It was powerful. It was beautiful. And lives were touched in a way that can't be outlined, in advance, on paper.

Is it wrong to have a plan? No. Is it wrong to want to keep our focus and resist what, on the surface, would seem to be distractions and interruptions? Not necessarily. But when they do come, be prepared to yield. Take a minute to ask Holy Spirit if this is a God moment. Take a few steps down the alternate path and you'll soon know if He's the one leading you. If so, take His hand and enjoy the journey. If not, ask Him to get you back on track.

All I'm saying is be open to the possibility that the annoying detour before you could lead to a divine encounter, either for you or for others involved. Someone at that meeting needed something specific from the Lord right then, and He stepped in to provide it. If I had clung to my plan, I might have tried to reconstruct the teaching in my own head. And despite my own good intentions to deliver what He had given me earlier, I would have interfered with what He needed to do in that moment.

When I got home that evening, I was still marveling at what the Lord had done. I opened the front door, and walked across the room to put my purse down…on a table…where my notebook was sitting… in plain sight.

Lord, You are magnificent in all Your ways. They're higher than our ways, and Your thoughts are higher than our thoughts. Help us to abide in You so completely that we are ready and willing to yield to You at all times, in all things, knowing that the outcome will reveal You in a glorious way, every time. Thank You for allowing us to witness Your mighty and merciful hand at work.

  • Jan Walker

One of God's greatest guarantees is His constant flow of faithfulness toward those who put their hope in Him. We can fully relax and surrender ourselves to His supernatural keeping and care, regardless of how things look to our natural eyes.

"Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." - Lamentations 3:22-23 (NIV)

We cannot bankrupt His unending supply of mercy and compassion. No matter how many "withdrawals" we make through the course of the day, there's a fresh, new supply every morning. Just imagine what that would look like in our worldly bank accounts, to know that there would always be more than enough. How much more valuable is the currency of heaven – limitless mercy from our loving Father?

The verse continues:

"I say to myself, 'The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.' The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord."

All we have to do is quiet ourselves and believe. Trust, and wait with confidence.

To run ahead of Him, to try and "figure things out on our own" will only bring us fatigue and frustration. He is the true and only reliable source of all that we need, and our greatest need is already met – the need for His love, compassion and acceptance.

Father God, thank You that Your mercies are indeed new every morning. Cause me to awaken each day with fresh hope, eager anticipation, and the promise of Your abiding Presence. Fill me with Your perfect peace. I trust You, I believe You, I love You and I thank You. All I need, I have in You. You are faithful.