pencil and ink
A new year. In fact, a new decade! I was so eager to fill in the blank pages of my new calendar, coloring each month of 2020 with new goals and dreams.
As I sat with pen in hand, I quietly laid it down and collected my emotions as I recalled what had been filled in by God’s hand through 2019. Things I didn’t anticipate—and frankly, didn’t want or like. Many plans that I had inked in with a Sharpie were either crossed out or circled with a question mark next to them.
It was a very difficult year with the deepest of sorrow in the death of two family members. My beautiful and healthy sister suddenly stepped into eternity without warning. My dear brother-in-law, by God’s grace was released from pain and suffering in his homegoing. Then there was my knee replacement. (I’m still waiting to be able to say I’m glad I had it done!)
As I recall God’s grace through those difficult times, I’m reminded that 2019 also brought precious blessings as well. Healthy pregnancies and delivery of two more grandchildren!
I loved how the Holy Spirit changed my perspective.
Sorrow to joy. Pity to praise. Death to life!
This battle over joy, sorrow, and even complaining is not new to me—or to you either. In our Virtue study on the life of Moses, we see the children of Israel swayed by both.
When God delivered them through the Red Sea, they gave glory to God and lifted each other up with a song of praise (Exodus 15). They recognized His power, they sang He is worthy, He has triumphed gloriously!
The Lord is my strength, they sang—the Lord is my song. He is my salvation! Who is like You, Lord? You are awesome in glorious deeds! Sing to the Lord! The Lord will reign forever and ever!
Three days later, their song was gone. They were disappointed with where God brought them and what He allowed. They encountered difficulties they didn’t expect. Plans they didn’t make. Life happened in ways they didn’t foresee.
Instead of building each other up, they started complaining to each other, tearing strength, morale, and hope down. They grumbled about leadership. They romanticized their past life in Egypt. They complained that death would be better than what they were dealing with!
But God knew. The same God who had listened to their praise heard their protest. By grace, He made provision. He is faithful and good.
Our journey in life is like a wilderness. There will be enormous blessings. Stories of miraculous provision and divine deliverance. But also, encounters with sorrow. Hardships. Difficulties.
When it comes, will we maintain a song of praise? Can we resist the temptation to grumble or question why when life happens? The day and years are unknown to us—but they are known, planned, and led by God Himself.
We walk by faith, not by sight.
Looking back on 2019, the plans I put down in ink were changed, eliminated, or postponed all for reasons God allowed—beyond my control. He is sovereign. He can do that!
The Lord has sweetly shown me how to step into this new year with Him, hand in hand, as I look ahead and prepare.
This year, I will write my plans in pencil. For Him to direct, keep or take, according to His will. Making plans is good. As they say, if you fail to plan, plan to fail. It’s good for us to make and keep commitments. Be reliable. A woman of her word. But my desire is to fully yield to Jesus as Lord of all this wilderness journey. So I will gladly pencil in my plans. I will be intentional . . . but yielded to the Spirit’s leading.
Only a few things will be in ink on my calendar.
God’s Word. Daily reading through the Word of God. I will put down in ink what He shows me each day, to record the living Word of God on paper and in my heart.
Spiritual growth and ministry. Commitment to church and weekly Bible study. For me, that is Virtue study. I will be intentional to finish my lesson and encourage the women God has put around me to do life with.
Remember God’s faithfulness. Keep a journal of His provision and answers to prayers. To remember He is faithful, to be surprised by His grace even in the difficulties. To see His supernatural provision, even when I don’t see a way.
“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps” (Proverbs 16:9).
That is the beautiful difference between pencil and ink.
So go ahead . . . pencil in your plans, but with joyful anticipation of what God wants to do, unknown to us but known and planned by God.
At the close of the day, the week, the month, the year, I want to trust God with what He keeps on the calendar, and what He moved, added, or changed.
Oh, to have a calendar that records a song of praise each day. The beautiful intermingling of my pencil marks and His ink! His love towards me.