“I want my house back. I know we have a contract and if I have to, I’ll finish it out but I’m just letting you know, I want my house back and the earlier the better. You’ve done a beautiful job with the house, but I’ve moved back here now and I want my house back.”
Not a shred of apology or concern for them. Just a very nasty tone of voice and a spoiled child, adamant attitude.
It seems she left her husband in Denver and moved back to Alabama. He is due to be deployed to Afghanistan in March, but apparently that doesn’t matter to her. Just three months after they told Julie and David they were looking for renters that would be willing to stay for at least four or five years, she was telling them that she wants her house back now.
Of course, their first response would naturally be to say, “We have a lease that is good until the end of May 2010. We’re not going to uproot our family after just putting so much time and effort, not to mention money, into settling in this house. The costs of moving again, in every sense of the word, are just too great.” They love that house. It is so perfect for their family and they felt at home immediately, making the move from their beloved home in Shreveport almost painless.
So why are they even considering conceding to her demands? Well, they have a problem. The very next day they were to go in for an interview for their adoption and set up a time for the caseworker to come out and do another home study. Being transferred from Louisiana to Alabama threw a kink into their adoption, causing more delays and costing a lot more money in an already extremely slow and expensive process. They must do another home study right now because of the transfer. If they move again in nine months it would mean yet another home study, which means more red tape, delays and money (about $1500 – $2000 for each home study.)
They are caught in a dilemma. Do they bite the bullet now and try to find another house quickly so they can proceed with this home study and be done with it, or do they ride out the lease and go through their fourth home study in nine months?
At this point they are out house hunting once again and asking God to give them wisdom and guidance in what to do. They have dealt gently with the landlady, not because she deserves it, but because they have tried to be a witness to her and all her relatives who live around them. They have some firm conditions that they will insist she accept if they let her out of the lease, but they refuse to respond to her ugliness in like manner.
I couldn’t believe it when Julie called me that morning and told me what had happened. As you may recall, Laurie and Fernando are going through almost the same scenario. After they put forth a huge amount of effort and expense to fix up and settle into a house that is perfect for their family, their landlord, who lives in the States, decided he’s going to sell it out from under them, despite the fact that they had only gone through eight months of their two year lease. Because they had been trying to witness to the landlord’s father, with whom they deal, they did not want to fight it out in court. They have been house-hunting now for a couple months and still have not found a place that will meet their family and ministry needs.
I guess our first question in both cases is, “Why is God allowing this?” Laurie and Fernando are heavily involved in doing the Lord’s work there in Cuenca. The Lord is blessing their labor in giving much fruit for the harvest. To draw away their time and resources into making another move seems like such a waste and a detriment to the ministry. David and Julie live their lives whole-heartedly for the Lord, and are raising their children to do the same. Their desire to adopt two or three more children stems from loving, generous hearts that want to rescue little ones in obedience to Jesus’ command to care for “the least of these.” Yet another obstacle in the arduous journey to adoption is difficult, to say the least. For both families, it is tempting to question God when we see the homes that they love and that seem so perfect for them taken away.
To question God. Is it ever okay to question God? I think it depends upon the question. First of all, the question should never be “Why me?” As our Creator and Heavenly Father, He has every right to work however He wills in our lives. The question, rather, should be simply, “Why?” Even then, if we are questioning God’s love for us, then we are off base. He has said, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love.” (Jeremiah 31:3) If we are questioning His wisdom, then we are mistaken. “For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.” (Proverbs 2:6) If we doubt His motives are anything but pure, we do not know Him. He is not “tormenting” us, as if we were little bugs at His mercy, just for the fun of it. “As for God, his way is perfect.” (Psalm 18:30) When we ask “Why?” we should be asking, “What is God’s good and pure and loving and wise purpose in this? What is God telling me? What am I to learn from this?”
There are many reasons why God allows us to go through testing and trials. I believe they boil down to seven basic purposes, but today I only want to look at three of them as they seem to apply here.
The first is that He tests our faith—not for His benefit, but for our own. He already knows our hearts. Laurie and Fernando had to fight off weariness and discouragement when they heard the news that they were going to have to start all over again in moving for the third time in a year. Julie and her family were heartbroken at being asked to give up the home that they had come to love so quickly and rejoiced in every day. In each case they had to make the decision to set aside those very human feelings and choose to trust that the Lord had allowed this to happen for His very good purposes in their lives. They may not ever know the exact reasons, but they know that in His wisdom and love He will lead them when they trust Him enough to follow. In His omniscience He sees the beginning from the end; in His tender lovingkindness He has only their best in His will for them. Abraham trusted God when the Lord asked the ultimate sacrifice from him—the life of his only son, Isaac. “By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead…” (Hebrews 11:17, 19) Job said, when God allowed Satan to afflict him, “Though He [God] slay me, yet will I trust in him.” (Job 13:15) It is when we cannot see the reasons for the hard things of life, and when we do not know what to do next that we need to put aside the discouragement and fear and make the choice to take the blind step of faith and simply trust in the Lord. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” We grow in our spiritual maturity and strength as we grow in our faith.
The Lord’s purposes in allowing testing in our lives may not be for us at all, but for the sake of others. How God works in our lives and how we respond is a witness to those around us. Fernando and Laurie had developed a relationship with the landlord’s father and tried to be a witness to him of true believers. Julie and David had been praying since they first met the landlords that God would show them how they could witness to them and their family who lived in the houses around them. In both cases they could have chosen to assert their rights and put up a fuss, but they decided even losing their homes was not worth marring their Christian testimony. I Thessalonians 5:15 says, “See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.” I Peter 3:11 tells us to seek peace by turning away from the evil others do to us, and do good, while Romans 12:21 says that the good we do will overcome their evil. Then, “Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.” (I Peter 2:12) Our good response to testing is a witness to unbelievers and an example to other Christians.
The third purpose I see in God allowing testing and trials to enter our lives is that it gives Him the opportunity to show us and all those around us His mighty power at work. We do not know yet where the Lord will lead my children and grandchildren to live, but I know He has a place for them and when He reveals it, I am sure we will be praising Him for His great provision and love. Psalm 34:8 says, “O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.” It is exciting and a blessing to us when we see Him at work in our own lives. “And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power.” (Ephesians 1:19) and when the Lord leads us through the fires and the floods, others are watching. Psalm 106:8 says, “Nevertheless he saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make his mighty power to be known.”
We do not always understand why the Lord allows some things to happen in our lives, but it is comforting to know that they are there for a purpose and that He is in control. Psalm 92:5 says, “O LORD, how great are thy works! and thy thoughts are very deep” and Psalm 139:17 adds, “How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!” It gives me peace to know that He is always thinking of me. It gives me joy and an eager anticipation to know that my future is in His hands. And it fills my heart with hope to know that He sees the end, and is leading me and my family to His best for us.
“It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.” (Lamentations 3:22-26)
Farms dot the rolling hills—some of them large and well-kept, and others old and ramshackle with rusted out cars and broken-down equipment scattered across their yards. We see horses and cattle here and there, and have even viewed a few buffalo. We cross an occasional creek with tree-lined banks and drive over wide rolling rivers on great steel spans. It’s Sunday and as the morning has progressed, we see the parking lots of the churches we pass beginning to fill. Most are little country churches, but a few are large multi-million dollar edifices.
It’s a bit overcast at the moment, and a haze blurs the views in the distance. The sun was beating down a while ago when we stopped for a quick break, though, and burned the back of my neck as I stood outside the car for a few minutes. Dozens of songbirds filled the air with their calls in that particular place, and the insects in the field next to the car were almost as loud.
We’ve passed some unusual sights—four or five buzzards feasting on roadkill by the side of the highway; a huge missile on display at a rest area near Huntsville, AL; a burned out patch about a half-mile long where last weekend when we were headed in the other direction, we saw the grass and trees along the road fully ablaze.
I’m noticing the scenery, and Bob is, too, but he’s also paying attention to the vehicles around him (good thing!) and every once and a while he’ll say things like, “There’s a car from Ontario, Canada” or “Look at the cathedral-style windows on that RV!” More often than not, though, he’s commenting on the reckless driving of someone around us, or a speeder or someone tailgating us. He gets aggravated, and I can’t say that I blame him.
I always think of the pioneers who traveled across our country in wagons or on horseback when we make a trip like this. We resign ourselves to a long day in the car, or two if it is a longer journey, and like the little kids we used to be, can’t help wondering, Are we there yet? as we squirm in our air-conditioned seats and nibble our way across country to pass the time. Seventy miles an hour? Seven hundred and fifty miles or even a thousand, in a day? Leaving Montgomery before breakfast and arriving back in Hammond in time for supper? Could those pioneers have imagined such things in their wildest dreams?
What boggles my mind is the fact that I can write this on my laptop as we speed down the highway, or I could watch a movie if I’d like. I can talk on the phone as we travel. Julie called a little while ago from her car as they were on their way to church, to my car as we were just about to cross the state line. Amazing! Why, I can even call Laurie in Ecuador if I want to from anywhere along the highway! Others who travel in grander scale than we do may even have all the comforts of home in their big RV’s—refrigerators, microwaves, TV’s, bathrooms, etc. We’ve come a long way since the pioneer days, but we’ve even come a long way in the last ten or fifteen years.
The highway stretches like a smooth gray ribbon before us. No rutted trail through tall prairie grass for us to follow on this journey. If we want to stop for a quick bite to eat we pull off and go through a drive-thru, or if time were not a consideration, we could even go in to a nice soft booth and have someone wait on us and bring us a full, piping hot meal. No need to hunt for a rabbit and build a campfire to cook it. A cool drink is at our finger tips in the cooler beside me. Air conditioning, reclining seats, and stereo make the trip comfortable and pleasant. And if our trip is not over at the end of the day, we can find a clean bed and a shower at the next exit.
Would you say we’re a little spoiled? Compared to how those pioneers traveled, I’d say we certainly have it easier, but I’m not sure if I would say that we’re spoiled. All this modern technology is available to us and a result of man using the intellect and resources that God gave us. When used properly it is fine. There’s nothing wrong with having a pleasant and comfortable trip; with being able to get from Point A to Point B rapidly; with being able to talk with our loved ones on the other side of the country or the world instantly.
We are spoiled, however, when we cannot leave that comfort zone, or give up our little luxuries and technologies when asked to do so, or for the benefit of someone else. Laurie and Fernando live in a somewhat modern city in Ecuador and, although standards are not up to what you would expect here in the USA, they enjoy many of the conveniences we have here. I often think, though, of missionaries who have to travel by boat down the Amazon River, or fly into remote areas, or who live much like the people they are ministering to in some jungle or desert location. They have sacrificed much to serve the Lord where He led them.
We’re not all called to be missionaries in remote areas, however. We live in a land of plenty—plenty of the necessities and plenty of the luxuries, as well. We’ve come to expect those things; in fact, we take them for granted. I sometimes feel guilty about how much we have and how easy our lives are, compared to what most of the rest of the world experiences.
We don’t need to feel guilty about the life God has given us, though. It is by His grace that He has put us in the time and place we are in. It is by His grace that we have the homes and food and water, technologies and medical care, lifestyle and freedom that we have. It is by His grace that we have heard the Good News of the Gospel and that it is freely available here to anyone who will listen. For some reason the Lord has given us more, but we must remember that He tells us in His Word “…For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required…” (Luke 12:48)
Compared to those who have gone before us, compared to billions around the world today, our journey through life here on earth is smooth and comfortable. Oh, sure, there are bumps and ruts and roadblocks, twists and turns and detours for all of us along the way, but we have it a lot easier than most. We need to pray that God will open our eyes to how we can use what He has given us for His glory. We should not feel guilty, but grateful to Him, and be willing to share His love and the things He has given us with others. Let us not be so spoiled by what we have that we cannot sacrifice if we are called upon to do so. Our destination is just up the road. Enjoy the journey along the way, but make it count for eternity, too!
This week we’re going to Alabama to visit Julie, David and the kids! Bob has a three day weekend so he’s going to take Robbie and me down there on Friday, and come back home Sunday night to work. Then, the following weekend he’ll make another trip down there to get us. Pretty sweet, huh? As I write this, it is only 4 days, 21 hours, 26 minutes, and 15 seconds…no, 14…13…12…11 (well you get the picture!) until we leave! I know, because I have a countdown clock on my computer that takes it right down to the second as to when we are supposed to leave. (That is “supposed,” because we seldom get out on the road on time!) I’m looking forward to a wonderful time with the Sanchezes in their new home. Julie tells me the kids are counting down the days with excitement, too!
I have a second countdown clock on my computer, as well. This one says 145 days, 23 hours, and 16 minutes… It also says Countdown to Ecuador! That’s right—in only 145 days I am going to Ecuador! Bob surprised me with the big announcement last week. He had arranged to take some time off in November to stay home with Robbie so that I could have a break and go to visit the Naranjos in Cuenca, Ecuador! Between his remaining vacation days, the Thanksgiving holiday and the weekends I will have two full weeks! I’m leaving on November 21st and will return on December 5th so I will be celebrating my birthday, Thanksgiving and an early Christmas with the family down there. The kids are already planning all the activities we will do, getting the games we’ll play lined up and deciding between themselves with whom Grandma is sleeping each night! I get an e-mail every day from Gabi asking, “What’s the countdown now, Grandma?”
I have a pretty good hubby, wouldn’t you say? ☺
It is wonderful to have something to look forward to! We all eagerly anticipate that upcoming vacation…a wedding…the birth of a new baby…the arrival of a loved one…Christmas! Sometime in the fall we begin to be reminded “Only ___ Shopping Days until Christmas!” Hopefully, we are not so materially-minded that that is our sole focus where Christmas is concerned. (I have to admit, though, when my Countdown to Alabama! clock runs out I am going to replace it with a Countdown to Christmas clock because Julie’s family is planning to come here for Christmas this year! Whoo-Hoo! So many fun things to look forward to this year!)
Bob told me about my trip to Ecuador five months early, and left the planning and ticket-buying, etc up to me because he knew that was a big part of the fun for me. I bought the tickets the other day, and let me tell you—I was a nervous wreck buying them! I kept thinking, “What if Bob loses his job? What if Robbie gets sick? What if I get sick?” I called Bob at work several times while I was in the process because I was so nervous about it and having a hard time actually going through with it. Finally he said, to all my what-ifs, “Cindy, that’s life! Just order the tickets! If something happens, and we lose the money—well, God is in control!” So, I finally clicked that mouse, and voilá! I had my tickets, and at a very good price, too!
That is the thing with countdowns—all the best-laid plans of mice and men mean very little if the Lord has other plans for our lives. I had hoped to go to the Moon Pie and RC Festival in Bell Buckle, TN this month with my mom and sister, but Bob could not take a day off at that time to stay home with Robbie so I had to miss out. It was disappointing, of course, but I know the Lord had a reason for keeping me home that weekend.
This point was brought home to us this week once again in a very real way. The morning news on the television the other day told the tragic story of a family of five being killed out on I-65. They showed video of a burned out car and semi-truck. The report said a dad, mom, and their three children ranging in age from 13 months to 11 years old had perished in the accident. The pictures and story were horrifying and I remember shaking my head and thinking, “You never know what a day will bring forth…” Where was that family going that day? What were their plans? They had no idea when they got in the car that morning that it was to be their last minutes on earth.
A few hours later Bob called and asked if I had seen the story on TV. He then told me they had just received word that the family involved was the son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren of one of his co-workers. What had been terrible enough to begin with, now became personal and even more tragic because we could put a name and attach deep feelings to what had before been just another anonymous news story. (If you think of it, please pray for the Workman family as they deal with this terrible grief.)
God has His countdown clocks running, too! There is a countdown clock for each of our lives. Job 14:5 says, Seeing his [man’s] days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass. I do not dread God’s countdown clock for my life. When the sand runs through the hourglass He will take me home to a Heaven that is beyond my wildest imaginations, to a beauty and peace and joy beyond compare. My days are numbered here on this earth, as are each of ours, and only He knows where the countdown began and when it will finally read 00:00:00:00.
The Lord has another countdown clock running, as well, and that is the countdown until He comes again, first for His Church in the Rapture, and then His Second Coming to rule here on earth. The Bible tells us that no one but the Father knows the day or the hour when He will turn to His Son and say, “It’s time to go!” Man cannot predict that time. The angels don’t know when it will be. Even Christ Himself waits for His Father’s signal! But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. (Mark 13:32)
If we are children of God we do not have to fear that day and hour, but can look forward to it with eager anticipation. I can hardly wait for my trips to Alabama and Ecuador! I can hardly wait for Christmas! How much more should I be dancing up and down in joyful expectation at the thought of an all-expense paid trip to Paradise! If remembering His first coming brings such excitement, how much more should the countdown to His Return bring?
I’m not just counting the days, I am also planning and preparing for my trips, and soon I will be packing. That is part of the fun of it! How much more should we be preparing for the end of our countdown here on earth? The Bible tells us to look for Him! Matthew 25:13 says, Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh. It should not just be a head-knowledge that He is coming again, but a true, eager expectation! When my kids are coming for a visit I am pacing the floor and looking out the window for sight of their car coming down the street. Look for Him for He is coming!
We should also be living for Him as we wait! Oh, sure I could pack my bags and sit out at the airport for the next 145 days as I wait for my flight, but that would be foolish, wouldn’t it? The Lord tells us over and over in His Word to be busy for Him, using our time wisely, reaching out to others, sharing the Gospel until He comes. If we could know that today was the last day of our lives, that we had only twenty-four hours left here on earth, I am sure we would spend those hours far differently than we normally do, wouldn’t we?
We won’t know when that final day has come, when God’s countdown clock has finally reached 00:00:00:00. Let us live as if it were today! Love your family as if it were the last time. Tell someone about Jesus before it is too late. Make sure that you are prepared for eternity—that you have accepted Jesus as your Savior and are trusting in Him alone for your salvation. And if you are His child, don’t be caught by surprise when He comes for you doing or thinking or saying something for which you would be embarrassed and ashamed. Live each day as if the countdown is nearing zero! It is not something to fear, but something to embrace with joy, peace and eager expectation!
We considered moving a couple years ago. We were afraid home values were going down, but more than that, I began to feel unsafe when I was home alone. We had been having trouble with our new next-door neighbors and they had actually shot out our satellite dish just to be ornery. There were several incidents that made me nervous, including finding an eyeball in a plastic baggie in our mail slot. We had never had trouble with any of our neighbors in the forty-four years (at that time) our family had lived in this house, and now suddenly I was afraid and eager to leave. Just about the time we were going to put our house up for sale, though, a half-dozen other For Sale signs went up in yards on the block and the bottom dropped out of the housing market. We decided to wait.
Here we are, still, two years later. Many of the big old trees that used to grace the neighborhood were taken out by a tornado years ago, or had fallen to disease or old age. The city put in new trees a few years ago. I noticed just the other day how those young trees, and ours in particular, are maturing and casting a lot more shade on the lawns than they did just last year. Time passes; trees grow; neighborhoods change.
The problem we were having with our combative new neighbors disappeared when we returned good for evil. They needed a favor from us right after treating us so badly, and when we graciously (and prayerfully) helped them, they changed their tune, and it wasn’t long until they fully apologized and began to turn to us for advice or help. Many of the neighbors know that Bob is always there to loan tools or give a helping hand, show them how to fix something or give them a ride somewhere. They know our testimony, too. In a time of trouble, we pray they will come to us and we will be able to point them to the Lord.
Some of those little ones are growing up now and we are seeing a little group of kids playing outside together every day. They range in age from four or five to maybe nine or ten and among them are blonde-headed white children, Mexican kids and black-as-can-be children. They seem to be a tight little group and enjoy each other without noticing the differences in the color of their skin. Bob’s a friendly guy and when he comes and goes, if the kids are around, he greets them and stops to talk for a minute.
Last week he had to take Robbie to the lab at the hospital for some tests. As he lowered Robbie on the wheelchair lift and started to load him into the car, here came the kids. Robbie doesn’t get out much, so although these children may have seen him from a distance, they didn’t really know anything about him and they were curious. Oh, they were full of questions! Bob stood out there for twenty minutes answering their questions about Robbie and telling them some of the wonderful things about our special guy. Robbie was thrilled with their attention and grinned from ear to ear.
When they got home from the hospital the kids came a-runnin’ again. Robbie was pretty doped up by then, so couldn’t quite respond the way he had before, but again Bob talked with them for another twenty minutes before bringing Robbie in. Now he can’t step outside or work in the yard without the kids gathering around. The other day he handed them a couple buckets and put them all to work picking up trash in the neighborhood! They loved it—and so did he!
Friday night the door bell rang. You guessed it. It was our mini-neighbors. They wanted to see Robbie—and they had a present for him. Robbie was asleep, but Bob told them they could come in and take a peek. One of the little girls ran home to ask permission, and when she came back they all trooped in. Robbie woke up as they came in and struggled to sit up with a big grin. They had an old Etch-A-Sketch for him. They had taped a scrap of paper to it on which they had written “For Robby” and each scrawled their names. We took some pictures of the kids with Robbie and plan to print them and put them in little frames for the kids.
When I was growing up I always wanted to go to the foreign mission field. God’s plan for my life was on a different path, though. Nevertheless, I have always had a love for missions and believe that God calls all of us to be missionaries in our own Jerusalem and Judea if He does not send us out into the uttermost parts of the earth. Acts 1:8b says, “ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” We have our own mission field right here at home, in our neighborhoods, on the job and at school.
I don’t get out of the house much, even in my own neighborhood, but I am asking myself now what I can do to reach these little kids for the Lord if they are going to continue coming around to my door. The relationships we’ve been building with our neighbors are for a purpose. I may not be able to reach Spanish-speaking people in Ecuador like Laurie and Fernando do, but I have plenty of Spanish-speaking people here on my own block to whom I can be friendly, and in my limited Spanish let them know that Jesus loves them, as the Lord gives me opportunity. I will most likely never go to Africa’s shores to reach children there, but the little black kids here on my street are just as precious to Him and just as lost. The white kids on my street need Jesus just as much as any child on a foreign mission field. I have always prayed for our missionaries and had a heart for their ministries, but am I just as concerned for the mission field right outside my own front door?
I don’t know if we’ll ever move. The Lord may keep us here on Madison Avenue for the rest of our lives, or maybe someday He will lead us elsewhere. I pray that the Lord will help me to be content wherever He wants us, and that He will open my eyes and especially my heart to the mission field all around me. I’ve been pretty complacent sitting in my house, insulated from my changing neighborhood, wrapped up in my family and small circle of friends, and all but ignoring the white fields of the harvest in my neighborhood. We all ought to be convicted about that. The Bible tells us in Matthew 9:36-38 that “when He [Jesus] saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith He unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth labourers into His harvest.”
I am praying now that the Lord will show me how I can reach out to these children for Him. May He give me a love for them and a burden for their souls, and perhaps through them someday I might even be able to reach out to their parents, as well. I am ashamed that it has taken me so long to open my eyes to the harvest fields all around me. Jesus loves them, and so must I.
Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world.
Red, brown, yellow, black and white,
They are precious in His sight.
Jesus loves the little children of the world.
I’ve been feeling rather down all week. That’s a little unusual for me. I may have a few “down” moments now and then, but to feel that way all week long is not the norm. I’m usually pretty cheerful and content, and when I do have those occasional blue times I try to count my blessings and be thankful for all the good things in my life. It’s been different this week. I’ve kind of moped around. I was cranky with Bob. I had headaches a couple days. I didn’t feel inspired to write at all. At least I didn’t cry—although I wanted to.
I’m not sure what my problem was. It could have simply been hormones (if you know what I mean) or more likely, the fact that Bob went to Louisiana again this week to help Julie and David with their move. Don’t get me wrong—I’m not jealous that he got to go (for the second time this month!) although I would have loved to have gone, too. I’m actually very happy he could go and help them in areas where they really needed the kind of help he could give. And I don’t feel bad about having to stay home with Robbie. It would be nice if Robbie could travel more easily, but since he can’t it is just something we gladly accept as part of the privilege of having Robbie. I don’t usually get lonely when I am home alone because I have plenty of interests to keep me busy, but this week I couldn’t really get interested in anything, so I was lonely. It bugged me that I didn’t really know why I was down.
We all have mood swings and our ups and downs. I’m glad, though, that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. God’s love is constant. His kindness is everlasting. Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee. (Jeremiah 31:3) My salvation is secure in the work Christ did on the cross for me and I can know for sure that I will spend eternity with Him. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life. (I John 513) His promises are true. His mercy and grace are eternal and great is His faithfulness! It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22, 23) We can be certain of God with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. (James 1:17b)
One of my very favorite hymns is Great is Thy Faithfulness. Let’s all praise the Lord right now and sing it together!
We don’t always get to hear about the answers to our prayers, especially when we are praying for strangers. Julie heard about the answer to one of her prayers like that the other day. When they put their house up for sale in March she had started praying for the people who would buy their house. Several times over the next two months she told me that she was praying that whoever bought their house, whether they were saved or unsaved, would feel the presence and peace of God when they came into their home.
They did not get to meet the buyers, and in fact, even their realtor did not meet or speak to the buyers. She was out of town when the sale went down, and a fellow agent handled the whole thing, dealing only with the buyers’ agent. The other day their realtor Patti was going through old e-mails and came upon one she had tried to respond to several times a few weeks before. The e-mail expressed an interest in buying a house in David and Julie’s neighborhood, but when Patti had tried to get in touch with the people to tell them about Julie and David’s house she never received a reply. She decided to give it one more shot the other day since she had other houses she could show them..
A woman answered the phone and Patti told her she was calling in response to her e-mail. “You’re too late!” the lady replied. “We just bought a house on Amblewood Lane—9750 Amblewood Lane.”
“Why that’s my listing!” Patti exclaimed. “The one I’ve been trying to call you about!”
The lady went on to tell her that they had tried to buy two other houses previously and both sales had fallen through unexpectedly. Just when they were feeling confused and upset and wondering what the Lord was doing, they had stumbled upon David and Julie’s house by accident while looking for a different address and had called their agent to request a showing. “We are so thrilled! We really love that house!” she told Patti. “From the very moment we walked in the front door we truly felt the peace of God in that house!”
When Patti told Julie about those words, Julie said she got goose bumps! She was so excited and rejoiced, not only that her prayer had been answered, but that the Lord let her know that it had been answered.
This little incident had me thinking about a couple things this week. First of all, about answered prayer: We don’t always get to hear about the answers to our prayers. Many times we think that perhaps we’ll find out those things when we get to Heaven, and perhaps we will. What a special blessing, though, when the Lord does allow us to see how He’s worked and how perfect His timing is and how it’s affected the lives of others!
The other thought I had was really more a question: When others walk into my house, do they feel the presence and peace of God within these walls? We are so concerned that the house be neat and clean when company comes, that we have nice refreshments to serve, that the air smells fresh, and sometimes even that the atmosphere is welcoming with candles lit and background music! Those things are all well and good in themselves, but I wonder if I take as much care in making our home a place of refuge and rest, peace and love? Do others sense His Spirit when they walk in my front door, or do they feel tension and discord instead? Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. (Psalm 127:1) A clean house and Glade airspray can only cover up so much, but when Christ is the center of our home it shows.
The book of Ephesians speaks a great deal about how we ought to live with one another, especially in chapters four, five and six. Ephesians 4:2-3, 31-32 kind of sums it up, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. May our homes bring glory to God and peace to all who enter!
A few months ago my pastor asked me to take on some of the projects neither he nor his staff ever seem to have the time to do—things like doing Powerpoint presentations for his messages each week, researching things on the internet for him, acting as a liaison between him and certain businesses, etc. I was happy to agree. I had asked the Lord to show me how I could serve Him more, since being home with Robbie means I can no longer teach or do other things at the church building. This was a perfect opportunity to serve within my church—from home!
One of the projects Pastor Phil recently asked me to take on was to help him put together some boxed sets of CD’s from two series of messages he had preached in our church the last couple years. What the pastor asked me to do was to listen to all thirty messages from Galatians and the twenty-six messages from Philippians and choose out the dozen or so from each series that I liked best and that I thought gave the best overview of the book. From those he would choose eight that would go into the boxed set. He also wanted me to design the covers for the boxes.
Do you know how long it takes to listen to more than a year’s worth of messages??? I’ve been trying to listen to three a day, although I’ve missed a few days here and there. I finished Galatians this week, and I have to say, it really was a blessing. When I mentioned to Pastor that this project would be good for me since I am only able to go to church on Sunday nights, he laughed and said, “Maybe it’s an overdose!”
Trying to listen to fifty-six messages in only three or four weeks is a lot, but it’s been good medicine for my soul! Getting an overdose like that has just made me appreciate all over again the preciousness of God’s Word and how much we need it for our spiritual growth and health. Proverbs 19:7-11 says, The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.
We could all use an overdose of God’s Word from time to time!
Not only is rest essential to our physical health, but we also need it for our mental and emotional health, as well. In the book of I Kings we see the prophet Elijah serving the one true and living God in a land of idolatry, even when he felt he was all alone. He faced the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal, he challenged the king, he fled the wrath of Jezebel until finally he sat down under a juniper tree in the wilderness and said, “Lord, why don’t You just kill me now?” Elijah was just plain weary. He had worn himself out and now he was drained. He needed a time of rest and refreshment.
Jesus Himself needed rest from His labors. He encouraged his disciples to rest, also. Mark 6:31 says, “And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.” Rest is necessary for our physical, mental and emotional health, but there are other things that will help to refresh us, as well.