Sunday, February 9, 2014

I heard somewhere this week that when God says “no” to something, sometimes it isn’t a “never” but a “not yet.” I’ve experienced plenty of those, and they can be difficult to deal with.

There are times, however, when His “yes” is almost as difficult. Especially if the “yes” doesn’t come in the way we expected.

And what happens then? What do we do when we feel caught between gratitude for His being with us in the first place, for the fact that He’s made it clear that He loves us and is working in our lives, and our disappointment for certain expectations not being met?

In those moments, we have a choice to make. Will we look at the disappointment, dwell on what we wanted that it seems God has delayed or even shut the door on? Or will we turn, take a long look at all that God is doing, and let ourselves marvel over it?

That choice makes all the difference.

My family made the move I talked about a couple of months ago. It’s my first major one in more than twenty years, more than halfway across country, from a busy city on the South Carolina coast to a small town on the North Dakota plains. Twelve miles north of said town, in fact. The long separations from my husband are over, but we left behind half of our children. (All 18 and older, in case anyone’s wondering.) I’ve had all sorts of questions about the whole thing ... why was this God’s answer for an alternative to my husband’s working overseas? Wasn’t there even one good prospect in the city we’d made our home for so long? Couldn’t we have found something a little closer to our older kids? And why were we moving in the middle of the coldest winter our new friends and neighbors say they’ve had in a while?

To all things, I have to fall back on what I know of God—He loves us, He’s completely good, He’s all wise—and trust Him in it. I’ve not refused the journey, and for the first time in my memory, I’ve tried to remain attuned to His silent promptings to savor each step, to practice gratitude for every sight, every  new experience, to breathe in wonder at each moment. And I’ve found that in so doing, the fears have fallen away. There’s been strength for the rigors of the move, both physical and emotional. People have been unbelievably welcoming to this bunch of weirdos from the South. Our new home in the country, both the land and the house itself, are every bit as wonderful to live in as we hoped. We're even adjusting to the climate more quickly than I expected.

As icing on the cake, an area of ministry I thought long dead has suddenly been revived, and the old anxieties I used to feel in conjunction with it are simply gone. I thought at first that it was because this phase of my life just doesn’t quite feel real yet, but—it’s more than that.

It has to be God’s grace extending in a new, fresh way to cover this part of the journey ... even for the things I still ache over. Because oh yes, the struggle is still there, but I can’t account for the difference any other way. Whether it's because of the multitude of prayers that went behind and before us, I don't know, but I am very grateful.

And by His grace, may I stay that way.

Blessed is the man whose strength is in You,
Whose heart is set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baca [Weeping!],
They make it a spring;
The rain also covers it with pools.
They go from strength to strength;
Each one appears before God in Zion. (Psalm 84, NKJV)


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