Waiting Game

According to WordPress, I started this blog entry 10 months ago. As you can see, the title is most appropriate. The next full paragraph is as far as I got with it before, so I’m starting again. There’s lots to say. We’ll see where it goes…

“I’ve been waiting to write this one for a lot of reasons. I wanted some distance from our beyond-my-wildest-dreams participation in observing our first ever No Complain November. I wanted to get through the holidays and I wanted to see what God was going to do. I’ve managed to do the first two things just fine. I’m still waiting on God…”

Just yesterday, my husband and I were talking in the kitchen about how time has just flown by this year. (I know. It is the conversation of all of us who are past the age of college…and then some. grin) As I looked at the calendar, I said, “Can you believe it’s been almost a year since your last day with ___ (former employer)___? It’s almost time for NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER again, and that means in 3 days it will be the anniversary of when you lost your job! That just doesn’t seem right, does it?!”

He shook his head and then said with a small grin, “Ummm…maybe we need to skip NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER this year…?”

“Absolutely NOT!”, I replied.

“Well, ok then, but…get ready!”  And then we chuckled…with the full awareness of all that really meant for us this past year.

Yes, you read that right. My husband suddenly lost his job on Day 2 of our first NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER last year. It was completely unexpected, totally blindsided us, and was one of those life events that just take your breath away for awhile. It just didn’t make sense…at first. But God. Oh, how I love those two words!

BUT GOD…

  • was still entirely in control.
  • had a plan that was not only for our good, but also for many others, as well.
  • descended with His unexplainable, but oh-so-needed peace and rest.
  • gave provision–on every front!–throughout the whole process.
  • gave us time to catch our collective breath and then relax in Him…for the next SEVEN months.
  • gave us a marvelously unplanned, but welcomed and much-enjoyed time together to laugh and reconnect in ways that just aren’t possible when your schedules are so tight that you rarely see each other or are too tired to do much when you do.
  • gave my husband time to recover spiritually, emotionally, and physically from the incredible stress he had been under before starting the next challenge.
  • surrounded us with encouragement from our friends and family every step of the way.
  • gave us a new appreciation for our time together and allowed us to be reminded of just how much we actually LIKE each other in addition to the great love between us.
  • gave us a heart for those whose lives have been like that for much longer than ours.
  • at the appointed time, provided a new opportunity for him that allows him to function within his area of expertise, meets his need to learn new things, and allows him to function within his spiritual gift of teaching–and all with people who are ready to learn, ready to work together, and supportive for the whole team.
  • used this as an opportunity to both grow and show our faith to those who were watching.
  • gave us an opportunity to extend NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER into the rest of our year!

What looked like a disaster on that second day, has turned into one of our greatest blessings! Only God can do something like that! The waiting was absolutely worth it!–and so was the choice for us not to complain about it!

Throughout this past year we, along with our friends and families have faced many challenges–job loss, death, large-scale moves across country, health concerns, surgeries and hospital stays for loved ones. These things and many other life-events (large and small!)  have provided us the choice about whether or not to complain…or simply  plough forward and praise God anyway. I’m thankful to say that, most of the time, we’ve chosen the latter response…and so have our loved ones. In fact, this may have just been the most God-honoring year that I’ve ever lived through and I owe a lot of that to the deliberate choice to focus on the many reasons I have to be grateful instead of complaining about the circumstances I wish were different.

And so it is, with the knowledge that we have made it through this year with all of the hurdles we’ve cleared and those we know are yet to come, that I invite you to join us once again as we deliberately choose to celebrate–yes, CELEBRATE!–NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER 2016.

Feel free to comment below if you want to “join in officially” or simply remain silent, but please know that you and your stories of how God uses this in your life are always welcomed here.

Tomorrow is our official kick-off day for NCC 2016, so…get it all out of your system today…or, better yet, start practicing for the the rest of the challenge! (big grin, REALLY big grin!)

Grace & Peace! (and no complaints!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What’s your story?

*Author’s note: this was written and shared as part of an outreach effort intended to help women in crisis earlier this year.

Have you ever asked God for something…and then weren’t sure you really liked it? Maybe it didn’t come packaged quite like you thought it would. Yeah, me, too. It’s part of who we are as humans.

Many years ago, I noticed that quite a few of the people around me were talking about their “life verse.” They all seemed to have really “great” ones like Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Or like my husband’s life verse, 2 Timothy 1:7, which says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” I didn’t have one, so I asked God to give me one. I read and read. I searched and searched—because, of course, it’s always up to me to fulfill my own prayer requests, right?! (HA!)

Funny thing, though?  I naturally assumed that it would God would give me something really great and important sounding that everyone else would recognize and be familiar with, as well, but He didn’t. He kept bringing me back to a verse that even I hadn’t paid attention to before. I kept coming back to the tiny book of Titus. I was drawn to it over and over…and I kept coming back to this one tiny little verse…

Titus 1:2 “…in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began…”

Did you notice anything strange about that? It’s not even a complete sentence. God gave me something my English teachers had always stressed I was to avoid: a sentence fragment. Really, God? I don’t even get a complete sentence?! And then I began to study on it, and I noticed something special about it…this verse is my life in a sentence fragment. This is the capsule version of what God wants for each of us—this piece of knowledge that can get us through life. Everyone has one. This is mine…and God’s …and it can be yours, as well. Let me explain…

I live “in hope.” Some days that’s a lot easier than others. We all have good days and bad days. On the good ones I celebrate hope and on the bad days, I cling to it.

  • When we were told that my husband had cancer, with little chance of survival,
  • when they said he lost the job and we had to leave the place we loved,
  • when we God sent us to live somewhere I didn’t want to be…and kept us there for over 15 years,
  • when they said we couldn’t have children,
  • when they said we couldn’t even adopt
  • when people acted in hurtful ways
  • when they told us about his heart issues (and we ALL have one of those!)
  • when they said, “we’ve decided to go a different direction” after almost 17 years with a company and our way of life was threatened again–and it took almost 7 months before God provided a new one…

Hope was what we held on to; it was what kept us going through all of this and a million other things that didn’t turn out exactly like I would have planned.

Hope is only as strong or as fragile as the object of that hope. My hope is strong because it is in HIM. To get to know Him, I have to know HIS story.

This small sentence fragment tells me quite a bit of it. This verse tells me that there is hope of eternal LIFE. We are human and our lives have to start somewhere/sometime. God is eternal and He starts His written story (the Bible) by telling us just that: Genesis 1:1 says “In the beginning, God…” He was there before our beginning and He created us on purpose. He thought this through. He made decisions—and He knew all the consequences of them—and He STILL CHOSE to make us anyway. He chose to make us knowing that we could—and WOULD—reject Him and He chose to give us a way NOT to do that, too.

John 3:16 says, “For God SO LOVED the world that He sent His only Son, that whosoever (that’s US!) believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”

God values our choices. He made HIS choice in spite of all He knew would happen and He gives us that same option! Why would he do that? Hebrews 12:1 tells us the reason—“for the joy that was set before Him.” God wants us to choose Him for the joy to come and so we can spend our eternal lives with him!

We can choose to have a life here in this world with Him or without Him. Either way, we are made in His image (Genesis 1:26-27), so we were created to be eternal beings. Our choices here in this fragment of our eternal lives have consequences in the next portion of it.

Here’s my favorite part of this sentence fragment:  “…God, who cannot lie,” Oh, I love this part!! It has become my absolute favorite thing about God!! If God can’t lie, then all He says is true! It means that He really was there at our beginning, and that He made us in His image, and that we will now have no end. It means that hope and joy are really possible. It means that he really does love us. It means that He is good. It means that ALL of the other things He has promised to us and said He will be for us will come true! It means that He is our Protector and our Provider. It means that He has provided a way to spend our eternity with Him—it means HE is our hope. It means that HIS story can become OUR story and that can’t be changed by where we live or whatever else happens to us in THIS portion of our eternal lives because the One who cannot lie promised before time began.

Now that we know a little of God’s story, I have to ask:  how will that affect YOUR story?

Will you choose hope when it looks hopeless?

Will you choose God when the world feels and acts God-less?

Will you choose eternal life over eternal death?

Tonight as you leave here, know this: no matter what fragment of your eternity you find yourself in right now (good, bad, easy, hard, painful or comfortable), God loves you. He created you with great care and for a great purpose. He wants to spend the rest of your eternity with us so much that He’s done all He can to take care of our most important need–He sent His Son. Will we choose eternal life or eternal death? The choice is ours to make…and that choice will determine the REST of our story…and it just might make the difference in someone else’s eternity, as well.

No matter what fragment of your eternity you find yourself in right now (good, bad, easy, hard, painful or comfortable), God has a purpose for you in it and people are watching you. They need to know He loves them, too. Will you tell them? Will you show them? They might never hear or see it if you aren’t there to do just that.

Will you share His story? Will you make it your story, too? This fragment has meaning. It has hope. It has life.

Titus 1:2 “…in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began…”