I know I should never ever ever drink coffee after 4 PM. But did I listen to myself? No, not at all. And so now, here it is well past my bedtime, and I can’t sleep a wink. Serves me right. But anyways, I’ve had some things on my mind I’ve wanted to put down, so I guess this is a good time.
This whole week I’ve been dumbstruck with thankfulness. It’s a pity that being thankful comes so easy and heartfelt when everything in the world seems right. But it does, doesn’t it? And as the year wraps up, I can’t help thinking over the contrast between 08 and 07. And I cannot help reflecting on the gifts (of all sorts) that have rained down on us this year. There are too many to list. But I want to talk about one. I’ll save it for last.
A while back one of my friends ended her email by commenting that God seems to be pouring out His overwhelming blessings on us the same way He did for Job. While I’m no Job (except the parts where he whines and stuff) there are some similarities.
In 07 my family suffered devastating losses and experienced other heinous trials. That is not an overstatement. I aged considerably in 07. And yet, thru out the hellish circumstances that piled up month after month, I knew God was ever present. At least in my head I knew that. I couldn’t count on my feelings worth a hoot, tho, on a lot of those days.
And yet it wasn’t all bad. Most notably, I had a major life-changing reconciliation with my sister. This was no small thing. I also had a major reconciliation and began a new relationship with my dad. This was a balm to my soul during that awful year. I don’t really like that overworked phrase, but it actually sums it up pretty well. Soul Balm. Anyways, it was nothing short of miraculous.
We also saw friendships develop and deepen. Our faith was constantly renewed as we saw God working thru His people. I found friends that I didn’t realize I had, and they upheld us while we went thru some life changing events.
So where am I going with this? There are a couple things, I guess, that have really been on my mind.
God is able to use very bad things to make our lives better. It almost sounds callous to say such a thing, don’t you think? When I’ve read Job in the past I’ve thought, “Sure, maybe God ended up giving him lots of stuff and blessed him tons afterwards, but that doesn’t erase the agonizing pain when he lost everything to begin with”. Does it make any sense if I say that agonizing pain creates a stark contrast which enables one to feel the real indescribable joy on a deeper level when it comes later? It makes sense to me now.
If I paint a white cloud on a white piece of paper, it pretty much looks blasé and unimpressive. But if I paint a white cloud on a black piece of paper… striking. Pain and suffering is the background that makes true joy pop off the page.
And if we are able to measure this joy in a human, temporary way, how will it be possible to contain the living joy that will explode like a nuclear blast when our Hope is finally realized when we see Him face to face? That is awesome in the literal sense.
Yes, God has poured out His love, mercy and grace in my life in 08. But He laid the groundwork for it in 07. And even if we didn’t have a spectacular 08 – the truth is, joy comes from the living hope in His promises. It is about what He has done, and is doing now, and will do later on. It’s not about what God is doing for me now. There’s a much bigger picture than that! And that is where the joy is.
Wow, this is getting long. I will try and wrap things up. So that has been on my mind, but here’s the other thing I’ve been thinking about…
When Jess was a little kid and lived with me and Geoff (after our mom died when she was 11) she used to drive me utterly mad. Good heavens she made me crazy. And that made me feel guilty. And it should have made me guilty, because even way back then I knew she got the message, loud and clear, that she irritated me.
I knew she was going to grow up. I knew she would. And I had enough insight to realize that someday she’d turn into a human. And I would lay in bed at night and stress about the fact she might grow up and I’d want to be her friend, but by then she would not want to have anything to do with me because I wasn’t as kind, or patient, or loving as I should have been.
I could only assume I would want a relationship some day because, after all, I didn’t act *anything* like I did when I was eleven, so logic dictated she probably wouldn’t either. And there was a good possibility I was blowing my chances for that future friendship.
And sure enough, I was right.
I had no idea how amazing she would turn out. It’s shocking, really. She is so funny, and so loving, and generous, kind hearted, cheerful, truly caring, fun, interesting, and so very very godly. In short, she is the absolute best choice for a best friend I’ve ever met.
And this is where the real miracle is. Despite me being “me” for so many years, instead of being bitter or resentful, she has eagerly jumped forward with no holds barred. I knew someday I would probably want to be friends, but I had no idea she would (or could) become my best friend. That’s a major thing to think about. It makes my head swim.
My kids will become adults someday, too. Am I investing enough now so they will want to be around when I want them as ‘grown up’ friends? Or will they say, “No. You had no time for me when I was little and boring and now I have no time for you when you are old and boring.” I hope I am investing wisely; and I think I am. I will continue to try harder, that’s for sure. But anyways, my main point is that I am so grateful for grace. And so thankful for Jess. What an unbelievably undeserved gift.
I am thankful.