But God…

My Bible Reading Plan had me reading chapter 31 on Genesis yesterday. I noticed how many times the phrase “but God” appeared. Jacob was a deceiver, ran to escape his brother’s wrath, and ended up living with another deceiver! After 20 years, God told Jacob to go back to his father’s land, the land promised to Abraham and his descendants. Jacob thought he had been the one to deceive Laban with the flocks and thus acquired many as his “wages” per agreement with Laban. However, God is the One who saw what Laban had been doing and thus multiplied Jacob’s flocks. The outcome of Jacob’s flight from Laban could have been much worse, “but God” had a different plan.

I know there have been many, many times in my life where things could have gone so wrong if it hadn’t been for God. I smile whenever I see the words, “but God.” If I could write songs, I would write one about those two words!

When I see a homeless person, I know that could be me without God. There were times when I fretted over changes I didn’t forsee, but they always turned out to be so much better than what I had planned. Isn’t it wonderful to have God’s interference in our lives?

My Verse Map Journal

For Christmas, my oldest daughter gifted me a Verse Map Journal. I had heard about Bible verse mapping and even watched a few videos. There were various was to do this, but I didn’t feel motivated to try.

I knew I wanted to spend more time reading God’s word. This year I chose a 3-year Bible reading plan. I needed more than to just read the Bible through again. Along with reading in a different Bible (The Jeremiah Study Bible by David Jeremiah), I would read several commentaries and research any questions arising from my reading for the day.

The first thing I learned was the Bible didn’t allow enough room for me to write all the information uncovered. So I ordered an interleaved Bible, something I’d been thinking about for a long time. This will allow me to record everything I want to remember. In just the first five chapters, I’ve written and gleaned lots of new information. Even though I’ve read the entire Bible several times, each time I learn something new! This year I’m taking time to not just read, but to actually study every single verse. It is very eye opening.

The verse mapping journal my daughter gave me is beautiful. It was designed by Lauren James and is using “The James Method.” You can learn more by visiting her website. The way I am going to use this journal is to look more deeply into a scripture that I want to remember and/or study deeper. I began with a familiar verse hoping it wouldn’t be too difficult. I decided not to worry if it didn’t turn out perfect because that wasn’t the purpose. I didn’t care to make it a showpiece, but to be a record I could turn to in the future.

“A person’s heart plans his way, but the LORD determines his steps.” (CSB)

My word for this year is Prayer. I know I need to pray before making any decisions instead of acting on an idea without seeking God’s guidance. This verse goes hand in hand with my word (derived after praying until I felt God revealing what I needed to do to change myself).

We are all at different stages in our Christian walk. I believe all the years of raising children, being a wife, a grandmother, and a great grandmother have been spent learning about myself and about God. No matter how many times I strayed, He waited for me to return. No matter the wrong roads I chose, He led me into a better place. He has always been with me, even when I didn’t feel Him there.

Now in these “golden years,” I realize how much I need Him and have always needed Him. He has never failed me. Looking back I see very clearly when He has saved me, not just spiritually, but physically. I am enjoying spending more time with Him in my daily walk this year.

May God smile upon you today. Don’t forget to smile back. Until next time…