Welcome to “It’s Never Too Late: Uncovering the Magic of Writing After Sixty,” I’m Dr. Jimmie Aaron Kepler, Christian nonfiction author and poet. This is my writer’s log for Monday, July 10, 2023. Today, I’m writing about embracing life’s challenges as I look at how problems shape your life journey.
Maybe, like me, you’re facing challenges in various aspects of your life. I’m dealing with health issues like trigger finger (see photo), irritable bowel syndrome, and pancreatitis. Plus, I’m sixty-nine years and nine months old. Father Time has found me and is working me over.
Some of these issues are my excuses for being slow in getting edits/rewrites completed.
Be it personal, professional, or spiritual, it’s important to recognize that life presents us with many opportunities for problem-solving.
How we respond to these obstacles determines whether they will defeat us or contribute to our personal growth.
In this article, we’ll explore how God uses problems to guide, examine, correct, protect, and perfect us, as supported by powerful verses from the Bible.
1. God Uses Problems to Direct You (Proverbs 20:30)
Sometimes we need to experience painful situations to prompt us to change our ways. The blows that wound us can cleanse away the evil within us.
“Blows that wound cleanse away evil; strokes make clean the innermost parts.” These challenges can act as guiding forces, redirecting us towards a better path.
2. God Uses Problems to Inspect You (James 1:2-3)
Faced with various troubles, we are called to embrace joy, knowing that these challenges test our faith and build patience within us.
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”
However, it’s important to exercise caution and avoid excessive self-analysis, which can lead to a detrimental “why me Lord syndrome.”
3. God Uses Problems to Correct You (Psalm 119:71-72)
Difficulties can often be the catalysts for necessary corrections in our lives.
“It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes. The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces.”
These afflictions, in hindsight, may be the best things that could have happened to us, guiding us to pay attention to God’s teachings and guiding principles.
4. God Uses Problems to Protect You (Genesis 50:20)
When others intend to harm us, God can transform those negative intentions into something good. Joseph acknowledges this truth in Genesis 50:20.
“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”
God’s divine intervention can protect us from harm and transform our trials into blessings.
5. God Uses Problems to Perfect You (Romans 5:3-4)
Rather than discouraging us, problems can serve as opportunities for growth and character development.
Romans 5:3-4 teaches us to rejoice in our sufferings because they produce endurance, character, and hope.
“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.”
Romans 5:3-4 ESV
These challenges strengthen our faith, enabling us to trust God more deeply.
Problems, when approached with the right perspective, have the potential to shape our character. While comfort may be appealing, God is more interested in our character development.
Our relationship with God and our character are the only things we will carry into eternity. Therefore, let us embrace the challenges we face, knowing that God desires to bring about positive changes in our lives, allowing us to make a difference in this world.
Remember, problems are not roadblocks, but stepping stones on our journey towards personal growth and spiritual maturity.
Welcome to “It’s Never Too Late: Uncovering the Magic of Writing After Sixty,” I’m Dr. Jimmie Aaron Kepler, Christian nonfiction author and poet. This is my writer’s log for June 30, 2023, the last day of June! Today, I’m writing about my writing life as a sixty-nine-year-old writer.
This week has been challenging for me.
Challenge One – Travel
I’m getting back into my routine after traveling last Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. I made a six hundred miles round trip to meet my brother. It was our first face-to-face visit with each other since November 2019. We both stayed in the same hotel.
The trip allowed us to check on our parents’ graves and to visit the graves of our maternal grandparents and many maternal aunts and uncles.
They’re buried in a family cemetery in the country. The cemetery does not offer perpetual care. If we need more dirt added to a grave, you have to request it from the cemetery association.
Fortunately, my brother does the heavy lifting and works with the proper authorities to get things fixed. Family is special, and I am blessed that he and I get along and converse regularly.
Challenge Two – A New Daily Task
The Monday before making the three-day trip, I joined a fitness center. No, my goal isn’t to pump iron.
Instead, I joined to have an indoor location to walk on a treadmill. The fitness center location is about five minutes from where I stay.
My routing is to go twice a day at least five days a week. The plan is to go for a morning walking session and an afternoon walking session.
Each session on the treadmill is 30 minutes of waking. I found I take an hour from leaving the house to returning. The travel time is about minutes each way. Five minutes plus five minutes equals ten minutes. It takes about five minutes to get out of the car, go through check in and to do a few words of small talk with the staff. That has me to fifteen minutes. I next stretch my legs and hip muscles. This adds five more minutes and we’re now up to twenty minutes.
It’s on to the treadmill. Five minutes are used to set down my water bottle, keys, glasses, and iPhone and select a podcast to listen to on the iPhone or have my Kindle with a book. I get those staged for listening or reading.
It’s time to start and I’m now up to twenty-five minutes since leaving the house. Pushing the green start button, I set the incline at 0.5% and walk at a two miles per hour pace for thirty minutes.
Walk my mile passes fast and then the treadmill transitions to a five minutes cool down time and I’m at fifty-five minutes. I pick up up stuff, get in the car and return to the house. One hour has been used … and that’s if I don’t run into someone I know and I almost run into some I know.
My friend Morris who used to own JGs Old Fashioned Hamburgers is always there in the afternoon. He reminds me of my late father. He’s in his eighties, lonesome for conversation, and a great guy. We chit chat at least ten or fifteen minutes. I’ve known him long time and remember him telling me of his girls graduating from high school, college, marrying, etc. The older of the daughters is now fifty. Friends are special and I appreciate his friendship.
I have two young women baristas and one of the young men baristas from my favorite Starbucks also works out there. They are in their early twenties. Surprise describes their reaction to my age, that I have long hair with a ponytail, and I still have dark hair. It also amazes them I’m a writer. They’ve found my books online in a local bookstore didn’t have them, but said they could get them a copy. It seems to encourage them to engage in their creative pursuits.
Challenge Three – Hot Weather
The hot weather has been rough. I’m not as young as I once was, and the heat has slowed me down. I do everything slower.
Challenge Four – Trans-Pacific Cruise Planning
Getting the arrangements completed for the trip’s week stay in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia took several hours this week. The cruise is about 100 days away.
Challenge Five – Not Neglecting Friends and Family
Human beings need other people and friends.
I’m blessed with several friends.
I find my life enriched when I have lunch and go for a walk with my friend Les..
We help each other out with life challenges. Our wives both passed away in a two-year time frame..
My local writing group is important. Doing something with people in person is critical in my thinking. I’m still learning the group but it takes time as Covid has made the meetings remote until a few months ago.
I’m blessed to have “she who can’t be named on the Internet” in my life. She’s a beautiful, intelligent woman who knows how to balance life where I don’t feel second fiddle to her family (sister, adult children, and grandchildren).
My adults children and grandchildren are important to me. I strive to have life balance where I’m there for them, but not intrusive into their lives.
Church and Bible study with Christian writing friends are also important. I still make church and Bible fellowship class 48 out of 52 weeks a year. It’s foundational to my life.
Balancing the demands of life with the writing life is tough.
Getting up and go to Starbucks twenty-eight out of thirty days a month to write, rewrite, and edit is my routine. I sometimes wish “life” didn’t impede my writing.
Knowing I must maintain my physical health to be a healthy writer, that I need the relationships to not be a lonely writer and to maintain my mental health motivates me.
I remember from my seminary days the need for a balanced life.
Using the biblical description of Jesus’ childhood given in Luke 2:41-52, we can better understand growing up in terms of four overlapping categories: mental (wisdom), physical (stature), social (favor with men) and spiritual (favor with God). That’s the balance I strive for in my life.
“Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business? And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.”
Growing up, I never knew what my father’s next assignment would bring. One morning he’d be gone and a few months later we’d be in a new home across the country, or overseas. Uniforms hung in the closet like artwork in a gallery, from camouflage fatigues to flight suits to full-dress blues. His military career was a part of my upbringing, defining who we were as family.
One of the most terrifying experiences I had as a military brat involved my bicycle, an ice cream truck, and a nickel.
My story would make a wonderful object lesson for your children or grandchildren. I guarantee if you hold up a nickel between your thumb and pointer finger, make sure the children can see it, and look at it from time to time while reading my below story, you’ll have them washing their hands and not putting coins in their mouth. You’ll even wash your hands more often after handling change.
Go ahead, have your children and grandchildren gather around and tell them my story —
The seductive serenade of the ice cream man’s music blasted over a public address system mounted on his truck’s roof. One large speaker pointed forward with the music temptingly calling, “Here I come. Get your parents to give you some money.” The second positioned to trumpet to the homes and people he had just driven past letting them know, “Hurry, it’s not too late. You know you want it!”
Like the moth drawn to the flame, I started dancing and crying out, “Oh please, mother. It’s the ice cream man. Can I have a nickel? Please, please, pretty please?”
Ice cream bars on a stick cost only five cents back in 1960.
“Jim, a nickel’s a lot of money,” mother said.
“He’s passing our house! I’ll take out the trash,” I pleaded, and bargained at the same time. “Can I? Please?”
She pulled a quarter from her purse. “Get four of the fudge ones,” mom said as she tossed me a quarter. “Bring me back the nickel he will give you as change for giving him the quarter.”
I raced out the front door, jumped on my bicycle and pedaled fast to catch up with the pink truck carrying the sweet treats.
I made the purchase.
Grasping four ice cream bars in one hand and my nickel change in the other, I knew I had a problem.
I was two blocks from home with my ice cream in one hand, a coin in the other and a bicycle to ride back home.
I had to get back fast as the temperature was 115 degrees at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, where I lived. It was over 120 degrees when on the concrete or asphalt. My seven years old mind churned out what I believed was a solution.
Putting the nickel in my mouth, I climbed on the bicycle, and clutched two ice creams in each hand, gripping their wooden stick and the handle bar. Somehow, I made it home okay.
I tossed down the bike, ran into the house carrying my four prizes.
Then it happened. As I spoke, I gagged on the nickel. Well, I started choking on it before I swallowed it.
Mother yelled for dad and my little brother.
She grabbed me and next thing I knew, I was in the emergency room at the Luke Air Force Base Dispensary. As we entered the building, she begins explaining what happened.
They took me for x-rays. I still vividly remember the picture where it looked like the nickel was sitting on my rib.
The doctor explained the nickel may pass through my digestive system during routine bowel movements in the next one to three days. He told how I would need to squat over a newspaper when I had a bowel movement. That way I could use a stick (he handed me a handful of tongue depressors) to check the feces for the nickel.
If I didn’t pass the nickel in four days, they would do surgery! Yikes. They would cut me open to remove the nickel.
For the next three days, every time I went to the bathroom, my then five-year-old little brother would come with me, looking at my bottom as I did my deed. On the third day, he started screaming, “There it is, there it is!” as he could see the nickel.
I was relieved, as were my parents, that I wouldn’t face surgery.
What about the ice cream bars?
They melted on the kitchen counter. In my parents’ haste to get me to the emergency room, no one thought of putting them in the freezer.
Whenever I see an ice cream bar, I often remember the ice cream man, my bicycle, and a nickel.
Since then, I never put coins in my mouth, and I always wash my hands after touching coins. I know where the coins have been!
And what happened to the nickel?
I washed it soapy hot water. Mother made me scrub it.
The next Sunday I placed it in the offering plate at Sunday school.
All the children knew about that nickel’s traveling adventure.
One girl said that the soapy hot water only was the first washing of the nickel. Giving it to Jesus it now would be super clean.
“Why?” asked my friend Doug.
“It’s going to Jesus for the cleansing power. It’ll be washed in the blood of the Lamb,” she beamed.
“What?” ask Doug.
“Oh, silly,” she said, “Don’t you remember the song we sing in big-church? ‘Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?’ That nickel’s going to be spotless, as clean and shiny white as snow.”
“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”
Isaiah 1:18 ESV
Note: For several years I’ve been writing short vignettes about growing up as a military brat. I plan a memoir about growing up as a military brat during the cold war threat of the 1950s and 1960s.
“The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.”
Psalm 121:7-8 (KJV)
This verse speaks of the assurance and protection that God provides to those who trust in Him.
This truth was evident in the life of my mother, who had to wait for a kidney transplant.
My mother had been living with a kidney disease for several years, and her condition was worsening by the day. She needed a kidney transplant to survive, but the wait list for a donor was long, and the process was tiring.
As her son, I was worried and scared for her, and I did not know what the future held. However, my mother’s faith in God remained steadfast. She believed that He would provide for her.
During this waiting period, my mother experienced the reality of Psalm 121:7-8. The Lord kept her from harm, even in her fragile state. God watched over her life. Some how she kept on trusting the Lord would provide. She knew that God was in control, and she found peace in that.
Despite the uncertainty of when a donor would become available, my mother continued to trust God’s timing. She believed that He was watching over her coming and going. This included the timing of her transplant.
She knew that God had a plan for her life. That gave her hope. She also prayed for the future donor and the donor’s family realizing that most likely for her to live someone would die gifting her a chance at additional life.
Finally, the day came when my mother received the call that a kidney was available for her transplant. It was a joyous moment for our family.
We knew that it was a result of God’s provision. The surgery was successful.
My mother’s health improved significantly. She was grateful to God for keeping her safe during the waiting period and for providing her with a new kidney.
My mother’s experience taught me the importance of trusting in God in every aspect of life. When we face challenges and uncertainties, we can take comfort in knowing that God is watching over us.
He knows our needs, and He will provide for us in His timing. As Psalm 121:7-8 says, He will keep us from harm and watch over our lives, both now and forevermore.
My mother’s journey towards receiving a kidney transplant was a powerful reminder of God’s love and provision. She trusted in Him throughout the waiting period. He kept her safe and provided for her needs.
As we face our own challenges in life, let us remember the truth of Psalm 121:7-8 and trust in God’s plan for our lives.
Who wrote Psalm 121:7-8 and when was it written?
Psalm 121:7-8 is a part of Psalm 121. The author of Psalm 121 is unknown, and the date of its composition is also uncertain, though it is generally believed to have been written during the post-exilic period of Israel’s history (after the Babylonian exile).
These verses express confidence in God’s protection and care for His people. They are a reminder that the Lord is a constant and faithful guardian, who is always present to guide and protect us.
What is the context of Psalm 121:7-8?
Psalm 121:7-8 is part of a larger psalm known as the “Song of Ascents” (Psalms 120-134) which was likely sung by Jewish pilgrims as they ascended to Jerusalem for the annual feasts.
The Psalm is a song of trust and confidence in God’s protection and care.
Here are the verses in context:
In verses 7-8, the psalmist declares that the Lord will protect the pilgrims from all harm, both now and forevermore.
This includes protection from physical harm (“the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night”) as well as spiritual harm. The psalmist is expressing confidence that God is always watching over his people and will keep them safe.
What is the meaning of Psalm 121:7-8?
This passage is often interpreted as a message of comfort and assurance for believers. It emphasizes that God is a faithful protector who watches over his people and keeps them safe from harm.
The psalmist declares that God’s protection extends to all areas of life, including our “coming and going” or all of our daily activities. This verse offers a message of hope and encouragement for those who may be facing difficult circumstances or uncertainties in life.
It reminds us that we can trust in God’s constant care and protection, not just in this life but for all eternity.
What does “The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul” mean?
Psalm 121:7 is a verse from a collection of Psalms known as the Songs of Ascent, which were sung by Jewish pilgrims as they journeyed to Jerusalem for worship. The verse reads, “The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.”
In this verse, the Psalmist is expressing his trust in God’s protection and care. He is confident that God will protect him from all kinds of evil, both physical and spiritual, and that his soul will be preserved by God.
The phrase “preserve thy soul” suggests that the Psalmist is not only concerned with his physical safety but also with his spiritual well-being. He is confident that God will guard and protect his innermost being, his soul, from harm.
The verse is a declaration of faith in God’s power to protect and preserve us from all harm, both in this life and in the afterlife.
What does “The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore”mean?
Psalm 121 is a psalm of assurance and trust in God’s protection. The specific verses you mentioned, 7 and 8, say:
“The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.”
In these verses, the psalmist is expressing confidence that God will protect and preserve them in all aspects of their life. “Going out and coming in” refer to all the activities of life, such as leaving and returning home, going to work, traveling, and so on. The psalmist is saying that God will watch over them and keep them safe in all these activities.
The phrase “from this time forth, and even for evermore” emphasizes the eternal nature of God’s protection. The psalmist believes that God’s care and guidance will never end, and will be with them always.
Overall, these verses express a deep trust in God’s ability to keep us safe and protect us from harm, both in our everyday lives and for all time.
What is the difference in biblical translations of Psalm 121:7-8 (KJV, NIV & ESV)
Psalm 121:7-8 KJV biblical translation says:
The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.
Psalm 121:7-8 KJV
Psalm 121:7-8 NIV biblical translation says:
The Lord will keep you from all harm — he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.
Psalm 121:7-8 NIV
Psalm 121:7-8 ESV biblical translation says:
The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.
Psalm 121:7-8 ESV
How does Psalm 121:7-8 give encouragement?
Psalm 121:7-8 reads, “The Lord will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” This passage can give encouragement in several ways:
Assurance of God’s protection: The verse states that God will keep us from all harm, which means that we can have confidence that He is looking out for us and protecting us from anything that could cause us harm. This can be a source of comfort and encouragement, especially during times of trouble or uncertainty.
Constant vigilance: The verse says that God will watch over our lives and our coming and going, both now and forevermore. This means that God is always with us, and we are never alone. We can take comfort in the fact that God is always watching over us and guiding us, no matter where we go or what we do.
Hope for the future: The verse implies that God’s protection is not just for the present, but also for the future. Knowing that God will continue to watch over us and protect us in the future can give us hope and encouragement, even in difficult times.
Overall, Psalm 121:7-8 gives us the assurance that God is watching over us and protecting us, both now and forevermore. This can provide great encouragement and comfort, especially during times of difficulty and uncertainty.
How can I apply Psalm 121:7-8 to my life?
As a general principle, this verse reminds us that God is our protector and that we can trust Him to watch over us and keep us safe from harm. This can provide comfort and assurance in difficult or uncertain times.
Here are a few ways you can apply this verse to your life:
Trust in God’s protection: When you face challenges or difficulties, remind yourself that God is with you and will keep you from harm. Trust in His promises and know that He is always watching over you.
Seek God’s guidance: If you’re unsure about a decision or direction in your life, seek God’s guidance and ask Him to watch over your coming and going. Trust that He will lead you in the right direction and keep you safe.
Find peace in uncertain times: In times of uncertainty or fear, remember that God is in control and will watch over you. Allow His peace to fill your heart and mind, and trust that He will guide you through whatever challenges you may face.
Thank God for His protection: Take time to thank God for His protection in your life. Recognize the times He has kept you safe and remember His faithfulness. This can help build your trust in Him and increase your confidence in His protection.
A model or example prayer using Psalm 121:7-8:
Here is an example prayer using Psalm 121:7-8:
As I come before you today, I am reminded of your promise in Psalm 121:7-8 that you will keep me from all harm and watch over my life. I am so grateful for your faithfulness and love.
Lord, I ask that you continue to protect me from any danger or harm that may come my way. Help me to trust in you fully and know that you are always with me, even in the darkest moments of my life.
I pray that you will guide my steps and direct my path. Show me the way I should go, and give me the strength and courage to follow you wherever you lead.
Thank you for your constant care and protection, and for your unfailing love that never fades. I give you all the praise and honor, now and forever.
In Jesus’ name I pray,
Psalm 121:7-8 teaches us to trust in God’s protection, seek God’s guidance, to find peace in uncertain times, to thank God for His protection, to take time to thank God for His protection in our life, and to recognize the times He has kept you safe and remember His faithfulness.
Today’s article is from the forthcoming book: “Hope: How to Have Hope During Times of Hardship | The Bible Speaks to Life Issues, Book Three” by Jimmie Aaron Kepler, Ed.D. from Poetry and Prayer Press (c) 2023
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