” I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.”
— Isaiah 42:16

Winters are rough for my brother who manages his own  seasonal landscaping business.  His workers can claim Unemployment in the slow months but as an owner,  that option is out for him. One year he took on a pizza delivery job to provide for his family. Another, he tried snowplowing–but it turned unseasonably warm that year.

I’m sure you can relate. If it’s not financial challenges, it’s social. Or marital. We’ve all faced major setbacks at one time or another.

This year, after a month or two of frustration, my brother prayed hard about his choices and asked God to guide him.

He sensed the answer was at hand.  What resources did he have and what did he enjoy doing?

First, he analyzed his resources. He inherited several stacks of well-seasoned lumber from the business when my father passed away.  Next he looked at his experience. In high school, he took some classes in re-doing furniture. He had some basic skills. Then he looked for people more experienced to work with and learn more from.

This year, he took advantage of the time off and learned how to make rustic furniture. He used the lumber and other pieces of wood with beautiful grains. His dissatisfaction turned to excitement. He collected the tools he needed and threw himself into various projects. He called one day. “Amy, go to Craigslist. Look at local furniture. What do you think of it?” He had photographs of his work. I could hear the pride and dreams surface as he pointed out the craftsmanship and its worth. He’s testing the waters now.

I could hardly get over the change in my brother. His excitement was contagious.

When I first examined this scripture, I applied it to my physical mobility needs, and how He’d provided my cane to make my movement smooth, light the way  and therefore, provide freedom. But when I saw my brother’s way smooth out and his spirit lift, I realized God created that outlet. He gave us the Holy Spirit to navigate us through periods of struggle.

This scripture also confirmed that God could direct my resources and my latent, or refining talent to provide for me and showcase His care.

I remember way back in high school how I started writing prose and God used my exploration of words to teach me spiritual  truths. I continued on for years. When I went faced the lowest valleys of my life in the Middle East, I often wrote long (probably rambling) emails to friends, which God also used to teach me more spiritual truths – and grow my faith.

This kind of writing always left me astounded at His care when He revealed how He brought me through trials or gave me joy–from the enormous to the tiniest detail.

These realizations deepened my faith. God  always ended our conversations by showing me my blessings.

It’s only been in the past few years that I’ve sought out more experienced writers to teach me how to hone these skills and write short, succinct devotionals.

God encouraged me bit by bit. I contributed to a few anthologies; they got accepted.  But several more devotionals waited for a forum.  The question came to me: what should I do with all the devotionals? I prayed about it.

I felt like God was saying,  Put them in a book. I’ll show you how.  I’ll give you light. I’ll open the doors.

Then God placed the seed  to invite two sweet Christian sisters  who I met in the United Arab Emirates to pool their experiences with mine and write the book together.  I thought the book would be stronger written from from the combined perspective of three American teachers, each living in different cross-cultural situations in a common foreign land would reach out to others. We live in an increasingly diverse, cultural world that seems to shrink more all the time and more and more people go through similar challenges.

God brought  each of  my friends through unique experiences but we shared the same cultural framework. It was in our shared faiths that we encouraged each other.  If we tell our stories and show how God met our needs, others who marry into cross-cultural or interfaith relationships will gain courage and strength. Maybe they won’t feel as isolated. Seeds. That’s what God asks of us.

We are in the early  stages of discussing the  book. My prayer is very focused. “Show me how. Light our way.” I’m testing the waters. If God opens the doors, this book will become reality. It will serve as a testament to His promises.

Like my brother, I’m so excited I can hardly contain myself!

God only reveals His will a step at a time.   I’ve learned to take steps in the dark with my cane. But using it, things fall into place and I can “see.” This is what God does with the light of His Holy Spirit. He lights up plans He has devised for seasons in our life.

Be encouraged! If you’re in a dark place, seek out His light. Let Him smooth the rough places where you walk. Whatever your difficulty is, He will show you the resources you have inherited, the skills and talents inborn in you to overcome, to create something beautiful.

He will not forsake a single one of us.

Get excited.

Get ready.

The hard, slow, draggy season is about to change.

He’ll transform your darkness.

Into Light.

Stay tuned for more on the devotional book in future posts!

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God Smooths the Rough Places
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