Sunday

Waiting for a Bus that Never Comes


My watch read 10:58 and the 11Y bus was nowhere in sight. According to the electronic sign that tracked the bus’ progress, it was due to arrive in three minutes. 


Two minutes. 

One minute. 

The flashing display announced: ARRIVED. 

Except it hadn’t. 

Five minutes ticked by. Then ten. 

Should we be worried that the 10:58 bus is twelve minutes late? I texted my son-in-law, an Alexandria local. 

No. Sometimes they get behind. I’ll check the transit schedule. . . Hm. That’s strange. It says it’s already come. 

Not good. Especially since my husband and I had tickets for a tour of Ford’s Theatre at noon. In the city. Thirty minutes away. 

I’ve never lived in a place where I had to depend on public transportation, so standing on a street corner waiting for a bus that never came was a new experience. As the minutes ticked by, we realized we had a choice to make—continue to stand on the corner, abandon our plans for the tour, or explore other options. 

I just checked with Uber, my son-in-law texted. They can have a car there in 5 minutes.

Let’s do it, I responded, and soon we were on our way. 

Thinking back on the experience, I realized it wasn’t the first time I’ve stood on that street corner. Figuratively at least. You’ve probably been there, too. 

You made your plans, and they were good ones. You prepared, worked hard, and did everything you could do to ensure their success. But the bus never came. 


The recruiter didn’t call you back. 



That first date didn’t lead to a second one. 

The email that should have said Yes said No. 

The promotion, project, or pregnancy never happened. 

You had a choice to make. Cling to your dream, give up, or explore other options. 

Unfortunately, exploring other options is a little more difficult than opening the Uber app and requesting a driver. It begins with knowing your dream.

• Is it from the Lord? 

• Does it agree with Scripture? 

• Is it a natural progression on the path God has been leading you? 

• Can you look back and see how past events and circumstances have brought you to this place? 

• Has your dream been confirmed by godly people? 

• Has your desire grown stronger as time has passed or wavered or waned? 

No one can answer all these questions for us, but I believe if we earnestly seek God’s will, he’ll reveal it to us. 

Two years ago, God planted the idea in my heart to write a devotional book. Knowing God can’t guide our steps unless we’re walking, I crafted a book proposal, sent it to my agent, and began to write. 

From time to time my agent would forward a rejection letter. Lord, I’d pray, am I supposed to keep writing this book? Every time I asked, in the deepest part of my heart, I’d sense God’s response: 

Write the book. 

So I kept writing. Before long, every publisher had rejected it. The bus didn’t come. 

But instead of shriveling up and dying, my desire to write the book grew stronger. And stronger. 

Lord? 

Write the book. 

I prayed. I read God’s Word. I brainstormed with other writers, consulted with my agent, and talked to professionals in the industry. 

Out of the ashes of my first proposal arose another one. A better one. Stronger and more true to the calling God had given me. My heart leapt with excitement, and my mind exploded with inspiration. 

Within two months, Discovery House had extended an offer to publish Refresh Your Faith – Uncommon Devotions from Every Book of the Bible

During the long wait, I continued to obey the voice that urged me to keep writing. Because I had, the manuscript was complete and ready to submit before I’d even signed the contract. Not the normal order of events for a non-fiction book, but right on schedule with God’s timeline. 

And while the first bus to publication didn’t arrive, an Uber driver waited in the wings, ready to take my new and improved book idea where it needed to go. 

If you’re standing on the street corner watching for a bus that hasn’t come, I urge you to sincerely and humbly examine your dream. Stop telling God what you want, and listen with an open heart to what he wants for you. Surrender your will to his, knowing you can trust him. 

Then ask yourself, is this dream from the Lord? You can never be completely sure, but if it satisfies the questions above, it probably is. 

"I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted" (Job 42:2).

Unless God closes the door and/or removes the desire from your heart, you have a choice to make. Are you going to continue to stand on the corner and wait, abandon your plans, or explore another option? 

Receiving 16 rejection letters could have been the end of my book dream, but God’s calling was clear to write the book. At the time, I didn’t know why. Maybe the process was for my own growth. Or to create material to share on my blog. Or maybe he called me to write the book because he intended for it to become a book. 

Regardless, God had given me a dream. My responsibility was to do everything within my power to make it happen. After that, the results were up to him. 

Now let’s talk about your dream. Are you standing on a corner waiting for a bus that hasn’t come? Is it time to give up on your plans? Or maybe it’s time to explore other options. Whatever the Lord tells you to do, do it. 

If you leave a comment below, I'd be honored to pray for you. 



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Wednesday

Trust God's Timing: Don't Put a Period Where God Has Put a Comma, and Likewise . . . A Guest Post by Jean Wilund

Today's it's my pleasure to welcome my dear friend, writing buddy, and resident theologian, Jean Wilund to Hungry for God. Read deeply, think carefully, and be encouraged. And follow the link at the end to subscribe to Jean's inspiring blog.



Punctuation Matters “Don’t eat, Gigi.” OR “Don’t eat Gigi.” 

Big difference. Punctuation matters. 

Punctuation also matters when it comes to trusting God’s timing.

Don’t put a period where God has put a comma. 

And likewise . . . 

Don't put a comma where God has put a period. 

Commas pause us and encourage us to wait. And rest. They mean God’s still working in the situation. Keep walking by faith. God has not given His final answer. 

Periods stop and turn us. It’s over. Move along. They mean God has spoken. We don't need more information. We need to obey. And rest. We Walk by Faith, Not by Sight. 

When we're in a waiting and wondering phase, figuring out God's timing can feel like navigating a fog-covered road. You have no idea if you're almost at your destination or still far from it. God sees what we can't -- He sees the end from the beginning. 

We, however, must walk by faith through the fog of our future. Our sight doesn’t go even a millisecond beyond the next step. 

But we don't walk in blind faith. God has given us 1,189 chapters of His wisdom and instruction within the pages of the Bible to guide us. And He's given Christians His Holy Spirit to help us understand God's Word and to lead us in all things -- including divine punctuation. 

How Can We Know if God Has Given Us a Period or a Comma? 

One of the surest ways to know if God has given you a period or a comma is to ask yourself if your situation/decision agrees with the Bible. 

If not, there’s your period. 

If it does, rest in the comma. 

Actually, rest in both. If that seems contradictory, let me explain. 

Don't Put a Comma in Marriage Where God has Placed a Period And Vice Versa 

Imagine someone who's not married meets a fascinating guy. They really like him, but he’s married. Period. Done. Move along. There’s no comma on that path. Only a period. 

God may be in the process of bringing them the perfect husband (comma), but it’s not going to be someone else’s (period). 

Embrace the period (it's a good thing) and rest in the comma (it's a good thing.) 

Likewise, don't assume if you're single that you'll never get married. Don't put a period where God has placed a comma. 

God created and blessed the wonderful institute of marriage. A single person has every right to assume they’re living in the comma. Some commas just have longer tails. 

BTW, singleness isn't a curse. It's as much a blessing as marriage. If God calls you to singleness, He will bless you in it. It's not a curse. 

Vice versa, marriage isn't a curse -- in case some of your experiences made you think it is. 

If You've Trusted in Jesus, Don't Put a Comma in Salvation Where God has Placed a Period 

If you've trusted in Jesus Christ for the payment of your sins, your eternal salvation is sealed. Period. It's done. Or as Jesus said, "It is finished." God will not remove the period. Rest in it. Don't put a comma where God has placed a period. 

A comma wrongly says I've trusted in Jesus, and now I must also be baptized or I won't be saved. Or something like I've trusted in Jesus, and now I must do good works or I won't be saved. Rest in the period of the assurance of your salvation, and enjoy the comma phase between when you received your salvation to when you'll see the Lord face-to-face. 

If You've Never Trusted In Jesus, Embrace the Comma of Grace, But Understand a Period is Coming 

If you've never trusted in Jesus for your salvation, you're in a comma. A comma of exceeding grace. But please understand: a period is coming. There's no second chance to trust Christ after we pass from this life. Period. 

Take advantage of the comma and trust in Jesus now before the time comes when the period will settle your destiny with an irrevocable and horrific period. Praise God for the comma He's given you now and turn to Christ. Embrace the period of salvation before the period of judgment makes you long for the comma again. Got it? 

For he [God] says, "In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you." I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation. ~ 2 Corinthians 6:2 

Listen, Obey, and Rest: God's Timing is Perfect Life happens every day. 

Profound, I know. But it does. And sometimes what happens jolts us and threatens to send us into a tailspin. But it doesn't have to. The truth sets us free when we:

Listen to what God has to say in His Word. 

Obey Him in whatever He's shown us to do. 

Rest in God's faithful timing. Period. 

(Oh, and don't eat Gigi. Ever.)

PS -- If you're living in an exclamation point -- and your shrieks aren't from delight -- seek help. God has commanded us to care for each other. Reach out to your family, friends, church, and even medical professionals if needed.


Jean Wilund is passionate about coffee, comedy, and chocolate, but mostly about sharing God’s life-changing truths through writing, speaking, and teaching. She lives in Lexington with her husband. Their children live scattered around the country. Visit Jean at www.JeanWilund.com.
 



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Sunday

One of the Sweetest Ways to Change the World

When you grow up in a small town in New England, you don’t have much to brag about. Nestled on the shores of Narragansett Bay, the sleepy little town where I was born is home to about 23,000 people. 



But once a year, it goes from obscure to ostentatious. 


On July 4th, Bristol, Rhode Island makes headlines by hosting the oldest continuously-running Fourth of July parade in the world. As a Girl Scout from troop #229, I proudly marched with my band of sisters in this parade on more than one occasion. 

Organized in 1785 by Henry Wright, a Congregational minister and veteran of the Revolutionary War, the celebration attracts more than 200,000 visitors from around the world. It’s not uncommon to see the Today Show broadcasting "The Military, Civic and Firemen's Parade" from a perch on Hope Street. 


In preparation for the celebration, the town paints the town red. And white. And blue. Literally. A tri-color stripe down the middle of Hope Street marks the parade route. Fire hydrants painted to look like minute men dot the main thoroughfare. Bunting, flags, and flowers adorn every home within ten miles of the town center. It’s no wonder Bristol has earned the nickname, “America’s Most Patriotic Town.” 

When my family moved from Rhode Island to South Carolina, I discovered that the biggest parade in Columbia took place in the winter. Smart. Very smart. In a land where July temperatures often reach 100 degrees or more, hosting a grand celebration in one of the cooler months of the year makes sense. 

The Columbia Christmas Parade has all the parade elements I grew up with and more. Because Columbia is home to Fort Jackson, the largest basic training facility in the country, we always see an impressive display of military power. Fly overs by jets from Shaw Air Force base, rolling tanks and Armored Personnel Carriers from the fort, and music by the Army band add a chest-swelling patriotic touch. 

I was half way through my senior year of dental hygiene school when parade organizers invited me to represent the Allied Health Department. Dressed in my white uniform and cap and accompanied by a five-foot wooden tooth, I waved and smiled until my face hurt. 

One of the funnest parts of the parade was throwing candy to the kids along the route. (Ironic in light of my life-long pledge to fight tooth decay, but hey, it was Christmas.) Before event organizers decided it was dangerous and banned the practice, we had the freedom to fling handfuls of candy into the crowds that lined the streets. 

Reveling in the memory of digging into that bucket of candy and scattering sweets far and wide, I realized something. Although safety concerns has ended the tradition of distributing candy at a parades, we as Christians can share a blessing that far surpasses Fireballs, Starburst, and Jolly Ranchers. 

We can scatter prayers. 

God showed me this early one morning as I walked the streets of my neighborhood. What if you scattered prayers the way you once scattered candy? The Holy Spirit whispered to my heart. Fling them far and wide. See how many people you can touch in my name today. 

So I did. 

I prayed for my closest neighbors as I walked past their houses.

Father, bless that hard-working university professor. Help her shine the light of Christ in her classroom. 

Heal that precious friend with cancer and keep her faith strong. Meet her every need according to your riches and glory. 

Protect that young couple as they travel. Give them a restful time away and bring them home safely. 

I also prayed for neighbors I haven’t yet met, flinging petitions their way with abandon. 

Lord, there’s that young girl I pass every morning jogging with her dog. Keep her safe. Keep her pure. If she doesn’t know you as Savior, help her find you. 

And the man who leaves for work every morning at 6 a.m. Bless his home and his family. Draw him close to you. 

And the grumpy lady who never smiles. Help her find joy

Unlike the big bucket of candy on the parade floats, these sweet offerings multiplied the more I scattered them. I prayed for the policeman who lives at the entrance to our neighborhood. For the contractor who parks his trailer in a cul de sac. For the couple whose toy poodle barks every time I walk by. 


The house with a fleet of bicycles reminded me to pray for the next generation that will one day lead our country. The home with a Navy flag prompted me to pray for our military and their families. The house with the handicap ramp led me to pray for the health and safety of all my neighbors. 

Everywhere I walked, I scattered prayers with abandon, knowing God hears every one of them and promises to fulfill his purpose in each person’s life. 

What a privilege to be part of his work in the world. 

Would you like to join me? What if, instead of mindlessly walking, driving, or moving through your day, you grabbed a bucket of sweet prayers and flung them wherever you went? Who knows how God might use your petitions to accomplish his work in the lives of those around you. 

One day we’ll be part of the parade to end all parades. Instead of a red, white, and blue stripe down the middle of the road, we’ll march on golden pavement. The King of kings and Lord of lords will lead the throng, and behind him will walk people from every tribe, tongue and nation. 

How many will be there because of your prayers? 

Now it’s your turn. How have you incorporated prayer into your daily routine? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.



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Wednesday

Are Your Words Grounded and Timed in Love? A Guest Post by Lori Roeleveld

It's my pleasure to welcome my friend, fellow-writer, and fellow-Rhode Islander (who just happens to share my name), Lori Roeleveld to Hungry for God ... Starving for Time today. I admire Lori for her courage to speak and write the truth, even when it's unpopular. Follow the link at the end of the blog to read more from her. But be warned, hanging around with her will make you do hard things, just like Jesus did.



Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8) 

I was surprised when Carly invited me to lunch. Our church had been experiencing a conflict that had divided many. Carly and I had had numerous hard conversations about her attitude. Our last conversation had been particularly adversarial, so I was nervous that our meeting might be a vengeful ambush. 

Carly arrived after I did, and once we ordered, she didn’t keep me in suspense. “I need your help and your prayers. My doctor called me to discuss my most recent test results, and I don’t want to face it alone. Can you come along?” 

I was taken aback. “Of course. Still, I’m surprised you’re asking me.” 

“Why?” she said, leaning back in the booth. “Well, our last few exchanges haven’t been the most comfortable,” I replied. 


She nodded. “In fact, I hated those conversations. But through everything, one thing that’s always been clear is that you love me. It takes a huge commitment to love to stick with someone through talks like that. Other people probably have thought those things and just given up on me or walked away. I’ll take the tough talks as long as there’s the love.” 

Love is a multidimensional quality. It’s both a noun, representing a feeling, and a verb, representing actions that put others first. In John 21, after Jesus has risen from the dead, He appears to some of the disciples on the shore of the Sea of Tiberias. 

In verses 15–19, over breakfast, Jesus asks Peter three times about his love for Him. Peter answers three times that He does, indeed, love Jesus. Jesus’s response to each affirmative answer is to call Peter to action—feeding Jesus’s sheep—in demonstration of this love. 

To say that we love others is to say we’re willing to risk our own discomfort to speak hard things to them. 

To say that we love Jesus is to say we are ready to obey Him by living and speaking the truth. 

To say that we love Jesus is to say we are willing to reflect Him by loving and serving others. 

To say that we love others is to say we’re willing to risk our own discomfort to speak hard things to them.

Love is a feeling that leads to action. When we prepare for any hard conversation, we must ask ourselves questions about love. Do I love this person, and if not, what am I going to do about that? Am I being loving to speak this truth in this way, at this time, to this person? 

Some believers falsely assume that to be loving means to stay silent about truth or to compromise it in some way. Others are so afraid that loving feelings will lead to a softening of truth, they harden their hearts toward others and eschew mercy. 

This is dangerous thinking—both for the church of Jesus Christ and ultimately for the world. The world (meaning people who don’t follow Jesus) has absconded with love, replacing God’s idea of love with a facsimile that many buy as the real thing. 

And not just the world. Some parts of the body of Christ believe that to be loving, biblical truth must be muted or modified. 

Not so. 

Jesus walked on Earth living out perfect love while delivering perfect truth. It is possible. It’s not possible without Jesus, but it’s possible. Love and truth can occupy the same space, just as surely as Christ was fully human and fully God.

I’m aware that these two words frustrate, frighten, or trigger a wound reflex in some people. We’ve heard this phrase before, perhaps tossed around the church like a beach ball (or a dodge ball). 

“I’m just speaking the truth in love, is all.” 

“Well, don’t you know you have to speak truth in love?” 

Intended for useful instruction, this power-filled phrase from Ephesians 4 is too often snapped from its context like a tree branch and used to club innocent passersby in Jesus’s name. The misguided speaker is often leaning heavily toward a personal interpretation of truth, while offering only a passing nod at anything others might recognize as love. 

Inhale. 

Exhale. 

It’s tempting to edit from Scripture any passage that’s been misused, but this would be detrimental (not to mention heretical). Agreed, there has been a shameful amount of bullying that’s occurred in Jesus’s name. This speaking the truth in love concept has too often been the last word spiritually bludgeoned victims hear just before they hit the mat. 

The worse thing we can do, though—worse than lancing the wounds—is to allow the bullies and abusers the last word on God’s Word. It will challenge some of us to revisit “speaking the truth in love,” but these are our Father’s Words. We must reclaim them from the bullies. 

Of course, we can fairly represent love and truth simultaneously. Parents do it with children every day. Spouses do it. Church leaders, doctors, friends, and others all speak truth and communicate love, sometimes in the same breath. 

Love is our high calling. The highest. We need to be trained and transformed by love, so that love is our first language, our initial reflex, and our emotional default setting. We need to foster loving hearts, if we want that love to influence our words. 

(Excerpted from The Art of Hard Conversations, Lori Stanley Roeleveld, February 2019 by permission Kregel Publications)



Lori Stanley Roeleveld is an author, speaker, and disturber of hobbits who enjoys making comfortable Christians late for dinner. She’s authored four encouraging, unsettling books. Her latest release is The Art of Hard Conversations: Biblical Tools for the Tough Talks that Matter. She speaks her mind at www.loriroeleveld.com.







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Sunday

Learning from the Wonder Boys

When you hear the words Wonder Boy, who comes to mind? 

The best modern example I can think of is Tim Tebow. Smart, handsome, athletic, and successful, he exemplifies everything a man should be. And when you add godliness to all his other characteristics, whoo boy, he’s a hero. 

In Old Testament days, King Uzziah was Tim Tebow’s equivalent. Crowned before the stubble had fully grown on his cheeks, Uzzy took his father’s seat on the throne at age 16. He was brave, strong, courageous, and creative. 

Second Chronicles 26 elaborates on his qualities, describing his military prowess, his ambitious building projects, and his “love for the soil.” But there’s more. 

If brave, strong, courageous, and creative weren’t solid enough adjectives for his college application, Uzzy was also an entrepreneur. He took other men’s clever designs and produced devices to launch arrows and stones at Judah’s enemies, giving them a serious technological advantage in battle (v. 15). 

Like Tim Tebow, Uzziah loved the Lord. “He sought God in the days of Zechariah.” And God blessed him. “As long as he sought the Lord, God made him prosper” (v. 5). Everyone knew God’s favor rested squarely on his broad shoulders—Wonder Boy Uzziah “had the hand of God on everything he did.” “So his fame spread far and wide, for he was marvelously helped till he became strong” (v. 15). 

But ...

Oh, don’t you hate those “buts” after a compliment? 

“But when he was strong his heart was lifted up, to his destruction” (v. 16). Taking his cue from the pagan cultures around him, Uzziah disregarded God’s clear instructions for temple worship. Although only Levitical priests were allowed to enter the house of God to offer incense on the altar, Uzziah barged into the temple, royal robes flapping, swinging his censer. Surely those laws don’t apply to me, he reasoned. I’m God’s favored son. He blesses everything I touch. 

Unless you touch something God has declared off limits. 

“Hold it right there, Wonder Boy,” Azariah, the high priest, flanked by 80 valiant men, rushed in after him. “It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the LORD, but for the priests, the sons of Aaron, who are consecrated to burn incense. Get out of the sanctuary, for you have trespassed! You shall have no honor from the Lord God” (v. 18). 

As I shake my head at Uzziah’s audacity, I also recognize that the dangerous ground he stood on rests firmly beneath my feet. And perhaps yours as well. 

Remember the days when you were young and inexperienced. Maybe you were tiptoeing into the college years, stepping into a new job or profession, or easing into the waters of parenting. You knew nothing and sought help from every credible source, especially God. You combed your Bible, highlighting every nugget of practical advice you could find, determined to apply them to your life. You prayed often, asking God to give you wisdom and direction. 

But then you found your professional sea legs. You grew in knowledge and confidence and enjoyed a measure of success. The anxiety eased and people began coming to you for input and advice. You matured spiritually. You could find the book of Amos without looking in the table of contents. During Bible study, you had insight to share. People sought your advice and asked you to pray for them. You grew casual in your faith. 

And herein lies the danger. 

When we grow comfortable and confident professionally, personally, and spiritually, we often forget Who is the ultimate source of our success. Pride appears at the door of our hearts. Sometimes it elbows its way in like King Uzziah did at the temple, shoving humility to the side and plopping itself on the throne only God has a right to occupy. Other times it slithers in, silent and subtle. We don’t realize it’s there until we step on its scaly tail, and it bites us. 

Sometimes we don’t recognize pride because it has as many masks as the Halloween aisle at Walmart. 

The most obvious mask is self-confident arrogance. There’s no need to listen to or consider anyone else’s opinion or perspective because, of course, I know best. 

A more subtle form of pride is independence. No need to stop and pray about a decision, because I already know what’s best. God gave me a brain, and he expects me to use it. Why bother him? 

Complaining is another form of pride. The antithesis of gratitude, complaining says to God, “I don’t like my circumstances. There’s no way you can use them for good in my life. You’re not serving me the way I want.” 

Direct disobedience to God’s Word is perhaps the most dangerous form of pride, as King Uzziah discovered. He was convinced his plan was best, even though it directly contradicted God’s Word. God will be moved by my great idea, he thought. 

And God was moved—so moved he struck Uzziah with leprosy until the day he died. Even the king had to learn to obey God’s law. 

What can we learn from Uzziah’s example? If we want to finish well, we must guard against pride.  

Here are a few ways to do so: 

1. Pray every morning and throughout the day, “Lord, what would you have me to do? How would you have me answer this person, accomplish this task, deal with this situation?” We are most successfully independent when we acknowledge and embrace our dependence on God. 

2. Be willing and eager to consider others’ opinions and insight. There’s wisdom in a multitude of counselors (Proverbs 15:22). 

3. Practice gratitude. True gratitude acknowledges every good and perfect gift comes from God (James 1:17). When we walk through each day looking for God’s blessings, we’re less likely to grumble about what we lack. 

4. Obey God’s Word. This seems like a no-brainer, but how many times do we directly disobey a principle or command in God’s Word? We worry when God tells us to pray. We vent our anger when he tells us to practice self-control. We compromise when he tells us to take a stand. Every time we do this, we declare that our way is better than God’s way. How prideful and presumptuous is this? 

King Uzziah’s story didn’t end well, but Tim Tebow’s and ours are still being written. King Uzziah spent the rest of his life in exile. We can spend the rest of our lives (and all eternity) in God’s presence. 

By praying daily, listening to others, practicing gratitude, and obeying God’s Word, we can resist pride and live humble, God-honoring lives. How’s that for a success story? 

Now it’s your turn. Which face of pride do you find most challenging? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts. If you’re reading by email, CLICK HERE to visit Hungry for God online and leave a comment.



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