“The car can fail today and the kids and the dog and the fire detector and the dishwasher and the doctor and the whole free democratic world and it’s entire economic system but the mercies of God cannot and will not fail and His faithfulness is not merely great– it is unwavering.” ~Ann Voskamp
I am not always a big fan of Ann Voskamp’s writing style. BUT I follow her blog, and I’m fascinated by her One Thousand Gifts book. I’ve picked it up & put it down at the bookstore several times … Mary & Martha (the home business I am a consultant for) has offered it at half off … I’ve perused it on Amazon. But I haven’t bought it YET. Ann sometimes writes in these short bursts of thoughts that aren’t quite my style – and yet the fact that she writes things that seem REAL and relative to every day life and hurts draw me to her writing over and over.
Yesterday the article on her blog HIT HOME … hard. Was she interviewing ME?! The woman who has hung on for year after year … reminding herself that GOD LOVES ME … clinging to the promises I’ve heard all my life that GOD provides needs, is with us always, knows best, works things for our good and HE IS GOOD … alternating between these bold statements of my faith to times when I wonder if I really do believe all of it? OF COURSE, I DO! But some dark moments, I’ve wavered.
Trite formulas have never worked well for me – following the rules wasn’t enough. I needed a deeper knowledge that what the Bible says WORKS … that it is TRUE not just when you are dressed up nice for church on a Sunday morning. I need the Bible to be true when I’ve done everything I know to do that is right – and things/circumstances still don’t work out well and people misjudge you. When there is injustice and loss – not just once but twice and three times and four times. When the consequences of choices – mine or other’s – go on and on and on. When you just can’t seem to “catch a break.” WHEN like the blog article said, “everybody else has found their niche and their address and their way and you’re wondering if Someone has lost your number because you keep waiting and your’s never gets called and why does it feel like everyone else is moving ahead and everything in your world is falling behind and apart?”
But the story – my story – doesn’t end in the despair. It doesn’t end defeated! It doesn’t stop cold and lonely. Our trust is in GOD … not the things we think we need or want or even already have, like a lovely home or money in the bank!! As a sweet friend who reads my blog reminded me just very recently: “Trust in the PROVIDER, not just the provision.” (<<I’m clinging to this, Angie!)
Even though this week – so far – has been so swirly busy – and I haven’t had much time to stop and think, God has worked on my heart more intensely despite my job, the activities and the non-ending list of things I need to get done. I haven’t slept well this week, and in the earliest morning hours, the words I read and heard recently have ministered to my heart. Ultimately, I feel it is GOD’S WORD that is working.
I am attending a Beth Moore Bible Study with a friend on Tuesday evenings now. I have never known much about Beth Moore – she wasn’t much valued in the circles I used to worship in … nor was Ann Voskamp for that matter – but these women are SAVED, redeemed, and have something that I found lacking in the circles I used to worship in: they are REAL. They talk about things I was told to never talk about … they discuss what hurts and what is hard – they go beyond housekeeping tips and “how-to-serve-your-family-with-a-happy-heart” advice. There are no trite and simple answers for some situations. HOW MANY times – when I was a church secretary – did I talk to someone who asked me where or how to get answers when the church or pastor didn’t seem to be answering them? YES, OF COURSE, there are principles in the *Bible* that apply to EVERYTHING – those verses a pastor might take you to over and over again … but when you take a hard, modern-world situation and attempt to reconcile it with pat Christian answers, and then throw in a lot of modern-day sin, it does appear a little hard to reconcile. The basic answers ARE TRUE: Trust God. Pray. Wait on the Lord. But when emotions don’t cooperate, and others continue down abusive paths, and nothing seems to STOP or change, then what?? How does one apply those answers of “Trust God … Pray … Wait on the Lord” in a PRACTICAL way?? I’m not downplaying simple “trust-God” answers – because they ARE simple to understand, but they are hard to apply sometimes in a complicated world!! Does that make sense – or am I just a stubborn, stupid person who lacks the “child-like faith” to completely let go and let God??!
Anyway … back to Beth Moore. My study in on the book of Daniel. Comparing today’s culture, today’s BABYLON, with the Babylon that had captured Daniel and many young boys of his time. In the world … but NOT OF IT. And here is what I’m talking about practical: comparing the Bible to TODAY. Relevant. I need RELEVANCE. HOW DOES THIS APPLY TO ME?
So, as I wrap this up, I wanted to share what Beth Moore taught me this week. Remember Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego being thrown in the firey furnace?? Remember that they TOOK A STAND; they didn’t bow to King Nebuchadnezzar’s 90 foot idol – and they trusted God to deliver them … AND had enough faith to say “EVEN IF HE DOESN’T” they would continue to believe and trust. THAT is what I needed to hear … because sometimes God DOESN’T deliver you. Sometimes someone is NOT healed or there will NEVER be a big bonus of cash to add security to the bank account or an addict DOES NOT stop using or abusing. SOMETIMES, God wants a person to walk THROUGH a trial -not just be delivered from it. And that doesn’t mean He is any less good or less powerful. And besides that, what I learned the most is this: our life here on earth is NOTHING compared to eternity!! If I die of cancer tomorrow, I am in Heaven that much longer!! If I get misused and misunderstood or never fall into the great American dream … HEAVEN is fair and beautiful and abundant for far longer than I am on earth! The stuff I long for and worry about NOW – on this earth – is but a vapor. Heaven is NOT a mist that passes – it is ETERNITY.
We still have to live today – be RELEVANT today … but eternity is the goal! What we do for eternity LASTS. That is where the focus will be. The car that broke down – well, yeh, it is draining our bank account, but we have yet to have to walk 20 miles to get anywhere. The bills and debt aren’t going anywhere fast … but each month, we send a payment that keeps us out of the poor house. And on I could go.
These are the things I want to remember today. Especially today.
We all have needs … but having a perspective of the eternal vs. the immediate sure helps when the focus is where it is supposed to be. So, yes, we are still in the midst of indecision of finding a reliable car for Drew – and I just wrote out the budget for the revised “debt snowball” and that means we’re looking at 75 more months of debt (if nothing else goes wrong!!) … but those things will take care of themselves. Seeking God’s kingdom is much more important. I’m still exploring the ways God wants me to seek Him exactly – but it’s daily bread. It’s “doing the next thing.” And for now, that is enough.