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12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:12-13
Can I tell you a story? Will you grab your coffee, your hot tea, or just a cozy blanket and sit with me for a minute?
I love stories, don't you? I remember being very little and would love to listen to anyone telling a story. The way their words would slow down and speed up. The way they paused before continuing on to the suspenseful part...
I still love a good story teller.
God speaks to us through stories. Just read His Word and you will see. He knew we could relate through words. We communicate this way because we are relational.
The story begins last year about this very time.
My family and I packed up our home and we moved into a rental house right in downtown Madison, Georgia.
As we packed, I could hardly contain my excitement. We had prayed about this move and God had aligned all of it so seamlessly.
I wasn't prepared for the huge lump in my throat when I walked out the door of that house we had raised our babies in for the last 10 years. My heart wasn't ready to say goodbye to their little rooms that once held cribs.
But, I managed to close the door behind me and let it go. Just barely.
My excitement soon returned as I thought about our new house and the renovations we were doing. It was fun getting to pick out paint colors and appliances.
However, I wasn't prepared for the reality of what was to come.
We would spend our Christmas season and the next two months in a very unfamiliar rental house. No memories attached. No cozy feel.
It hit me like a thud.
Joy escaped me.
It seemed so dark and dreary. I had a hard time finding the energy to get out of bed.
[side note: You can read exactly where I was at that time in this post [12/19] I wrote last year. If I ever need to reflect on a certain season of my life, I go back to a SHINE post written during that time.Writing really is therapy, people.]
Decorating for Christmas in this unfamiliar house was so very weird. Nothing was joyful for me during this time. It was like I was in a big pile of quicksand slowly losing the life we once had.
All, well most anyway, of our stuff was packed up in a storage building. I could not find anything.
My life felt so out of control. So different.
During this season, I didn't speak to God a whole lot. I felt like He was distant and I was not in the mood for rejoicing or being thankful. My life felt like it had turned over and all of it was spilled out into a dark and cold storage building.
God soon sent an angel that rescued me that Christmas. Her name I will not share. We live in a small town. [a very small town]
As I was drearily waiting in line at the grocery story, this lady walked up to me and we started chatting. I had known her for a while, but had not seen her in a long time. We talked and talked and talked.
She shared with me some hardships that she and her family were facing. Big, big, big heavy hardships.
I told her I would pray for her and that I hoped she and her family would be okay for Christmas.
When I finally got to my car I broke down crying. Sobbing my eyeballs out.
I had a major heart to heart with God. I spilled it all out right there in the Ingles parking lot.
Suddenly, life in the little rental house with hardly any furniture or familiar items seemed not so bad.
In fact, it seemed downright joyful compared to what my friend was facing.
I asked God to forgive me for my crappy attitude the last few weeks, and I begged Him to bless this friend and her family in a HUGE way.
The next few days, I could not stop thinking and praying for her. I wanted to help her so badly but I had no idea how to help.
We didn't have much to spare, especially at Christmas.
On December 7th, I sent out an email to some dear friends about helping this family. The main thing I needed help with was prayer. I knew that God would provide their needs, but I needed an army of prayer warriors to pray on their behalf.
Soon after the email was sent, I was bombarded with people wanting to help. It was like the gray clouds immediately parted and I could see the light of day again.
A couple of days after I sent the email, I was contacted by a man that I did not even know. He said he and his wife wanted to help this family with all of their needs. ALL of them. I almost dropped the phone.
What?? But, you don't even know me, or her, or this family...and you want to help? How do you even know this is legit??
This man asked for a list of the things they needed and for bills that needed to be paid.
He and several other dear friends filled EVERY need and MUCH MORE.
These people will never know how God was able to use this lady's need to fill a big hole in my own heart. How could God kill two birds with one stone like that? Isn't He amazing?
Needless to say, my faith was restored.
My discontent was quickly turned into a big ol' heap of JOY.
The friend that I saw at the grocery story is doing so very well. Her family is thriving. They are in a much better place and she gives all the glory to God.
God knew that I didn't need a house filled with Christmas cheer. Or familiar traditions and surroundings.
God knew I needed perspective. He knew I needed my thankfulness restored in a big way.
Do you remember the story of Jesus healing the paralytic man? Jesus told this man, "your sins are forgiven."
The religious leaders thought Jesus was out of His mind to say such a thing. Who on earth had the power to forgive sins, but God?
Little did they know that Jesus did. He was, in fact, the Son of God.
Here is Jesus' reply in Mark 2:1-12:
8 Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? 9 Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? 10 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, 11 “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 12 He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”
Friends, God always knows the things we so desperately need the most. He knows us inside-out and outside-in.
When we are tempted to think that He has abandoned us, or forgotten us....
Look for Him. Look for His people.
What you think you need...is probably not what you really need.
God often shows us the real truth of our soul hunger in ways that we never could have seen through our human eyes.
He shows us through His eyes...through His people.
And just like the paralytic man...
We are healed.
When our eyes are on Jesus and not on our circumstances, things become crystal clear.
Life suddenly is focused.
Look for Him today as you go about your business. Ask Him to meet you and to put His people in your path.
We absolutely cannot be miserable when we take our eyes off of self, and give thanks despite our circumstances.
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
This weekend, my daughter and I begin to unpack our Christmas decorations. A flood of memories washed over me. These decorations had the perfect spot at our old house. Where would I put this stuff now? My joy was slowly fading.
Then, I immediately thanked the Lord for what His Hands have provided. I listed everything I could think of to be thankful for, and like cool water being poured over my spirit, I felt the joy rush in.
1 Thessalonians 5:18:
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
That is the secret to our healing.