Yesterday was that last “normal” day for us in our sweet little Gulf Coast town. Today the packers are here, boxing up so much of our life. How appropriate that we ended our time here on a Sunday – the LORD’s Day.
For the last year we have been living in a modern Mayberry RFD – didn’t you just love the Andy Griffith Show (amazon.com link) when you were a kid? I still do.
This is the front of the church we have loved so dearly this year. The Lord and the United States Air Force sent us to a quiet, balmy, sunny town. For one year.
What can you do in a year? It seems to take a year to get your boxes unpacked and put down some roots.
We arrived just before VBS last year and got invited to our first bday party within a month. We were off to a great start. Not long after that, we hit a wall.
Overall our year was punctuated by some real difficulties – periodic flare ups of my husband’s chronic GI problems, two months of horrible asthma for my sweet boy in the fall and once we got past that, the majority of the rest of our time has been overshadowed by my mom’s ovarian cancer diagnosis and treatments.
We retreated a bit into ourselves, and by we, I mean me. As I hunkered down emotionally, I contemplated our situation. I couldn’t see what we were supposed to do here, but gut it out. We’ve been down that road before…I knew how to do that.
The Lord though, He whispered hope. He whispered correction. We are not supposed to gut it out…we are supposed to lean hard into Him and accept what is given to us, one day at a time.
We can’t race past the hard days. We have to be there, in them, and live, and wherever we find ourselves, do good. “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Gal 6:9). As always, He is teaching me, molding me.
Yes, I have been down this road before. As a military brat, I learned early to cut my losses and move on to the next thing. As a military wife, I have found myself in that same place – the fitting in, the leaving, the packing and unpacking of my heart.
At first, I just fell back on the familiar – the cutting and running. I even applied this to other difficult areas of my life. I see now this was just a shielding of my self. You don’t have to be in a military family to do this… How many of you have cut off friendships when they got hard? Shut out loved ones when differences became too painful to bear? Left a good job because of personal conflicts?
He brought me along slowly. He added the weight a little at a time. Meanwhile, He was always showing me this: Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matt 11:28-29).
But at first, I missed it. I just kept carrying around all the pain and the worry and the trouble, clinging to it really. So He allowed more and more to come my way. Always allowing me to turn it over to Him, if I was willing: Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me (Rev 3:20). I knew Him. I loved Him. I see now that I just didn’t trust Him, not with everything.
The Lord taught me to trust Him by taking me to my most painful places. He brought me face to face with personal rejection in almost every area of my life, and all at once. He brought me to vulnerable places and told me I could not move away. Have you ever looked your worst fear in the face?
Funny, my worst fear was not death, or sickness…my worst fear was being unloved, being despised, being cast aside. “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God” (Psalm 20:7). I didn’t feel His mercy when He told me I had to stay in that hard place, but it was there.
As my personal strength faded, I no other choice but to lean on Him…”He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust'” (Psalm 91:1-2). Over time, I traded quiet desperation for quiet determination.
This year we have come full circle. We have put into practice the lessons we have learned. Despite pulling back a bit to shore ourselves up during the hard times, despite our short time here, despite our being one of a handful of homeschool families – we have been accepted and celebrated for whatever we had to offer.
The Lord has shown us that He has a purpose in each day, each gift, and each trial. Because He is good, His plan is good and He calls us to do good. Everything, “good” or “bad” is an opportunity to glorify Him – to accurately reflect His image.
What can you do in a year? You can join a church and Sunday school class , you can speak encouraging words, you can give to worthy causes, you can help a neighbor, you can pray for others, you can forgive, you can be a blessing, you can lead a bible study, you can write a book, you can love well…you can give thanks.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17).