Life really is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re gonna get. I started writing this post two days ago and as of about an hour ago, I thought I knew the ending.
I was wrong.
Over the weekend, I realized my need for acceptance. Not acceptance as in approval from others, acceptance of the things I cannot change; acceptance when things that I thought would never change, DO change. I’m surrounded by family, friends, loved ones, all struggling with this same concept. We’re all facing something: shrinking bank accounts, rising costs and expanding bills; relentless debt; health issues (and insurance) we have zero control over; loss of jobs, dreams, hopes.
I want to get over the things I cannot change. I want to graciously decline my invitation to The Pity Party. I want fortitude. I want to be like Paul, who asked the Lord three times to remove the “thorn” in his flesh, yet accepted the final answer given him. “My grace is sufficient for you,“ 2 Cor. 12:8-9. Paul got his answer and moved on. He didn’t continue to wallow in it or throw a hissy fit or beg God to change His eternal mind. He accepted the reality of the answer and moved on with his life, in the grace and strength of the Holy Spirit—and He was GREATLY used by God because of it.
I want to patiently accept the reality of what is before me.
“We PATIENTLY endure suffering and hardship and trouble of every kind…We live close to death, but here we are, still very much alive. We have been injured but kept from death.
Our hearts ache, but at the same time we have the JOY of the Lord. We are poor but we give rich spiritual gifts to others. We own nothing and yet we enjoy everything.”
~ 2 Corinthians 6:9-10
The Lord led me to that passage and I instantly identified with it. Many of you reading this, myself included, are suffering, facing hardships and trouble of some kind. Some of us are, in fact, living very close to death, be it physical death, relational death, financial death, whatever. But read this part again, friend—“BUT HERE WE ARE, STILL VERY MUCH ALIVE.” Yes!!!
It is in the storms of life and tests of faith that I find I am very much alive, and for that I am thankful. I’m painfully aware of what’s going on, not just numbly going through the motions, coasting through the haze of the mundane. I am alive, feeling everything, truly believing that what doesn’t kill me will make me stronger. Yes, “our hearts ache, but at the same time [I want to] have the JOY of the Lord”! Yes, “we are poor,” but I want to be used by God to “give rich spiritual gifts to others.” Though I may lose everything I own, I want to “enjoy everything”!
I so desperately want to be content. Not just happy—content with where God has me at this point in life, joyful in the struggle and hopeful of the outcome.
“…For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.”
~ Philippians 4:11-13
Many believers know Philippians 4:13 and rattle it off whenever extra energy or effort is needed to accomplish a task. But look at that verse in the context of what Paul was saying. He was sharing his testimony of how he could get through not having food or a place to live.
We basically want life to be perfect, don’t we? To have all our needs met before they have a chance to be felt; to have our wants lavishly surrounding us on every side. We desire the house, the car, the fluffy savings account, but these things are not life. More or bigger things won’t bring an end to our problems or keep us happy. How do I know? Because even when life was truly perfect, we still wanted more. The Garden of Eden was the perfect home. Everything was free—free. Needs were met and probably, so were the wants. Questions had answers. God walked and talked with us, for cryin’ out loud! But that still wasn’t enough to satisfy our sinful human hearts.
Y’all, I’m tired of wanting. Are you? I’m tired of wanting anything more than Jesus, trying to be satisfied by anything but Him. What I truly want and need is to be so consumed by Him and His love and His plans that mine pale in comparison, because that’s when life is simple and manageable. That’s when life is good—abundant. That’s when joy is high and frustrations are low. I’m tired of saying, “Life will be better when _________.” You fill in the blank. Life will be better when I get that promotion. It will be better when the doctors get my meds right. Life will be better when we get a few more bills paid off or we save a little more… I don’t want to “when” my life away; I want to enjoy every moment. I want to “learn to love these days” because these are the only days I’m gonna get! (Great song, by the way. Thanks, Mandisa.)
Only God knows if or when my circumstances will change. He pierced my heart with this verse a few years ago…
“…And do you think that the knowledge of God’s will begins and ends
Corinthians? Jessie Prestridge? [insert Your Name here]?
Well, you are mistaken!”
~ 1 Corinthians 14:36
I’ve learned that I don’t know how or when God will choose to come through for me, I just have faith that He will.
Recently, Dr. Tony Evans preached a sermon on idols. I’ve never thought of myself as one to have trouble with idols, but then he said something that shook me; “An idol is any person, place or thing we turn to as the source for addressing life’s issues or to get our needs met.”
Who do you go to first? Got your answer?
That’s your source.
Is it the loan officer? Your parents? Your savings account? The truth is, we usually go to God last, after all our other sources have failed us.
“Know that the Lord is God. It is He who made us, and we are His…For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.”
~ Psalm 100:3,5
Momma and I are going through similar valleys right now. We both desperately want to reach the mountain top, but we are also learning how to keep on truckin’ through the valley. No stopping to wallow in the mud of our dilemmas, just puttin’ our big girl britches and boots on and trusting God to walk us through it.
She recently wrote this poem and I asked if I could share it…
How can I not trust You?
Question if You’re real?
In every passing storm,
It’s You I see revealed.
What I thought would break me
Has made me love You more;
My Rock, my Strong Tower,
My Anchor in life’s storm.
~Written by Debra Cole
Friend, I don’t know what situation you’re facing today, but know this: God is bigger. He’s got this. He has to, or else, who does? If He can see to it that the earth continuously spins in orbit at just the right angle so we don’t all go flying into the great unknown, shouldn’t we believe He is able to keep our personal “world” together, too? If Jesus has the power to live a perfect life for 33 years, then defeat death through His resurrection, can we not trust Him to conquer our issues as well? He can and He will, we just have to let Him. Stop trying to fix it yourself by going to other sources. Be alive in the moment, feeling the simultaneous excitement and terror of not knowing what you’re next move will be or where your next solution will come from. As Jen Hatmaker said, “Obedience isn’t a lack of fear; it’s just doing it scared.” Let Him be your Source, because He knows what you need, better than you do. He knows how to fix it and has resources far beyond what you or I will ever even come close to.
So, this is where I thought it ended, but here’s the rest of the story…
Part of what I’ve had to come to terms with over the past few days is that the savings we thought we had for a new washing machine was in fact NOT going to buy a new washing machine after all. I’ve needed a new washer for about two years now, but since ending my career to become the full-time COO of this household, the funds just haven’t been there. Some greater need always wins out. So Monday, I accepted the fact that, once again, I’m not getting a new washer. But this time, I truly accepted it and moved on.
If you’re a mom, you totally get the importance of a reliable washing machine. I don’t have to justify my sorrow to you.
Then, about an hour ago, the dogs began to bark. I heard a truck. I was putting my son down for a nap, so I couldn’t get to the door quick enough. But when I did, I looked out the window to see an unfamiliar truck pulling away, having been backed up to our carport. This startled me. I rushed to the door, flung it open and found—have you guessed it?—a new washing machine sitting under the porch.
I was speechless for about 10 minutes. (If you know me, you know that in itself is a miracle.) All I could do was cry and praise. Forrest Gump was right; life really is like a box of chocolates…
Regardless of who physically purchased and put that washer there, God just provided what we needed. Steve and I have no idea who or how or when; all we know is we have been blessed. We’ve not gone and told people of our need; we weren’t seeking help from others. We accepted the fact that the Lord would either make our current washer last or He would provide us with a new one in His time.
And He just did. He’ll do the same for you, I KNOW it. As of a few minutes ago, I have living proof that He will! Maybe you just need to accept some things and move on, like I had to. Press ahead with life as it currently stands; then, expect Him to come through for you, not your other sources. Don’t give Him your timetable or three-point plan. Just accept His authority and seek Him as your first and only Source.
Maybe you’ll find a washing machine on your porch, too.