_Daughter like Esther.
4 days from now is Thanksgiving.
3 days from now is also the official closing date of my Dad’s house.
3 days from now his life will be permanently changed.
3 days from now I can breathe.
For those of you that have been following along in my journey, next to my Dad’s ongoing sobriety (this will always take first place), the sale of the house is the next largest milestone.
I can't tell you how many hours, phone calls, text messages, and tears have taken place regarding the sale of this house. And to think that the day is finally drawing near.
Even as I sit and write this...the anticipation of the last minute items falling in (or out of place) worries me. I’ve always been a worrier. In fact, I promised someone that I would do a post on worry. Perhaps this will be it. I am long overdue to fulfill that promise. (I usually just start typing and see where the spirit leads...hence the uncertainty in what this post will contain!)
I have read many words written by Stuart and Jill Briscoe. One thing that they discuss openly is their differences in “worries”. Jill is a self-proclaimed worrier. Listen now to an excerpt from the book titled “Married for Life: Growing Together through the Differences and Surprises of Life”.
"Now that all the children were off to school, I began to accept more of the opportunities I had taken in small measure while the children had been in their teens. Stuart was the one who encouraged me. Now I began to travel and Stuart stayed behind to keep the home fires burning. I began to find out a tiny part of the other side of the picture: It was lonely out there. And scary. I had more problems with inadequacy than I thought possible. And the biggest fear of all was the way I had to get where I was going. Hardly ever flown at all before coming to the States, I now faced that challenge nearly every week.
If you, like me, are afraid of flying, I won't need to describe my antics-- sitting in the aisle seat if the plane looked as though it needed balancing up a bit, refusing to sit by the wings because they flapped so much, going into a tailspin when the noises changed in the cabin. I literally felt sick every time I got on board and had to clutch onto Stuart's arm. On a particular flight over Vancouver one day, he said, "Jill, you won't go to heaven one day before you're meant to. And it's no good clutching onto me-- I'm going up and down as well!"
His logic didn't help at the time. I knew I wouldn't go to heaven one moment before I was meant to, but my problem was each time I flew I was convinced that was when I was meant to! And even though I felt rather guilty with the thought, I didn't want to go to heaven just yet...
...I wanted to write and dream and dare and do together, and I didn't want it all to end just yet. It didn't-- as you see-- but it took a real leap of faith for me to let God deal with my fear. He did it as he's always done it-- through the Word and by his Spirit. Is there any other way? I don't know any!"
As a habitual worrier, although obvious, that statement that I wouldn't go to heaven one moment before I was meant to comforted me. We all worry about different things. Perhaps some seem trivial, some not. But carrying this little conversation between Stuart and Jill in my head over the last year has brought me comfort multiple times. While we certainly have choices to make, there really is so much more that does not depend on us.
I like control. I like order. I like predictability. I show up to work early just because I think if I am there early enough I can answer all of my own questions ahead of time so that I don’t get behind in the day once it actually starts. Flexibility can be really hard in certain settings...or in most settings actually...unless someone can desensitize their (realistic or unrealistic) expectations which in turn would allow that person to be more flexible to the unexpected and unanticipated.
And now is about the time I need to insert a Bible verse. Enough of my own ideas and words.
Jeremiah 32:27 says “I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?
Now I should have prefaced- I have been in the book of Jeremiah for what seems like an eternity. I always thought Leviticus was my least favorite but maybe it is just this season of life that I am in but Jeremiah is the never ending story of how Israel always makes the wrong choices and God is very clear that if they do not repent and start making right choices that they will be in real bad shape. This narrative continues throughout a large portion of the book.
Today I opened up my Bible and the inaccurate date of the place I last left off in my devotional. And after 2 really impossible-to-explain days of helping my Dad’s scenario, God had that verse just for me. While I still try to figure out the balance of what am I responsible for resolving and what to I release into the very capable hands of God, this verse lifted me up. Even if 3 days from now this house does not close as anticipated for whichever reason- God is still the God of ALL mankind and of EVERYTHING. NOTHING is too hard for him.
My situation is not too hard for him.
My Dad’s situation is not too hard for him.
Your situation is not too hard for him.
And I think we often read this and think- “Yeah, Yeah, of course I believe this. I know that he is capable so I wish he would show me that my situation is not too difficult for him by “handling” my problem.
Oh friends, the next time we find ourselves going down this path...let us remind ourselves that it is in the path of the problem that we are refined the most.
In the midst of working on this issue the past 2 days I experienced a moral dilemma. Not a black and white issue. More of a “gainsboro” gray kind of issue. (This is a light gray on the gray color spectrum...yes, I googled it). And I fully intended to move forward with the gray plan until the moment I had to submit it to be executed.
And I froze.
Aaaand then I called my Mom. She’s my moral compass. Thank God she answers my calls! I knew if she saw a problem, then there was a problem. So- I agreed that my “I just need this done gray” glasses had to be removed and my regular “Even at the expense of causing more frustration and exhaustion or a delayed closing” black and white glasses had to be put on.
My Mom prayed constantly during the next few hours while I scrambled to find a solution. And when the solution came in a way neither of us anticipated; we both cried.
Time and time again, he proves to me that if he eliminates the hardships, then I can’t see his miracles. And if he is not part of the equation, then he can’t issue the rewards he has promised us.
Jeremiah 32:19 says “Lord Almighty, great are your purposes and mighty are your deeds. Your eyes are open to the ways of all mankind; you reward each person according to their conduct and as their deeds deserve”.
Once I determined to do the right (black and white) thing; God did the coolest thing. Not only did he come through in a way that was financially better, he also made the solution be the very same thing that he made us out of - dirt.
I know this is hard to grasp without knowing all of the details, but I don’t want to get too focused on my situation because I want you to consider your own more than mine.
God promises us (now I see that there are lots of promises in Jeremiah) that we are his people and he is our God. vs 41 is even more beautiful. “I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul”. I cried a few tears when I read that line. And then I cried even more when I read the one right below it vs. 42: “This is what the Lord says: As I have brought all this great calamity on this people, so I will give them all the prosperity I have promised them.”
Merriam-Webster defines calamity as “a disastrous event marked by great loss and lasting distress and suffering”. I felt lasting distress. Much of the last year and a half has been covered with this type of suffering and “dying to myself”. So how much hope it gave me to read and remind myself that God has also promised me prosperity. Merriam-Webster defines prosperity as “the condition of being successful or thriving”.
This is a direct connection to the reason this blog started! I wanted this blog to be an encouragement for learning how to thrive in a season you weren’t expecting or ready for. God promises me prosperity after enduring suffering. God promises you prosperity after enduring hardships.
So let me link this to the beginning where I talked about worry.
If I consciously spend my time worrying, wouldn’t it be better to consciously spend my time praying? And if God uses calamity as a way to bring about prosperity, why do I rush the process? God draws others to himself through our messes. Perhaps your story is touching someone else in a way that wouldn’t be seen if you were not put in distress?
The morning of this particular miracle that I mentioned above, I met with my spiritual mentor. She reminded me that 1 person praying can change history. I’d like to equally say that 1 person praying can change the future. All it takes is 1.
One of my favorite quotes about worrying is this: “Worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do but gets you nowhere.” Funny, but true.
So friends, let’s start praying instead of rocking.