Finding God In: Broken Hoses

I do not rest well, but I am learning. At some point in my life I will learn the lesson that there is nowhere else that I can be but exactly where I am. The point was made most clearly when I traveled to Nicaragua in 2009 and had a layover overnight in Atlanta. Everything was out of my hands. All that I could do was receive the warm hospitality that was offered and just be where I was. Yet, much like Geometry, this is a lesson that needs repeating.
The other day I had a fairly light agenda. I had no work obligations, so I was going to run a few errands before picking up my sons from school. My plan was then to take them to see the movie “42” about Jackie Robinson, come home, make pizza, and relax. God had a different design.
After filling up the car with gas, I had noticed a particular scent. Being that it was at a gas station, I just shrugged it off as a “gas station smell.” At the next stop light, I picked it up again. “Hope that’s not me,” I thought. I made a stop to pick up razors and toothpaste (two of the more vital needs in a home), and I noticed the scent again. By now I was pretty sure it was me, and that wasn’t a great feeling. As I pulled into my next stop, the steam rolling out of the hood left me no doubt – it was definitely me. I opened the hood and gazed at a change of plans, for the steam was prominent and the leak was flowing. Awesome.
At this point I was forced to change plans. I called my sons mother and she was able to do the school pick-up. I called the repair shop, but they were unable to fit me in until the next day. With the equivalent of a tail between my legs, I headed home with my eye on the temperature gauge. Every stop light became more irritating because it was a delay and a threat to the overall well-being of my car. “Please just let me get home,” I prayed more than a few times. And that is what happened.
With nothing to do but wait for my sons, I sat on the couch with a long list of unvoiced complaints. I had already struggled with the adjustment to Michigan after a week in Honduras. It had been raining every day. The sun had not come out – at all – and I was physically feeling pretty rotten.
God picked up the conversation from there with the equivalent of, “You got something to say? Well, let me have it.” Feeling as though I had been given permission, I whined like an Israelite sick of manna every day. “Why can’t I do this?…Why not that?…Why can’t I talk to?…Why did this have to happen?” At the end of my rant, God responded with, “That’s it?” And it became very clear to me that my complaint boiled down to this: “I’m sick of being given what I need, why can’t I get what I want?” Hopefully God shows mercy to me and doesn’t promise me quail until it comes out of my nose as he did for the Israelites.
You see, God had all of it worked out. He always does. I just didn’t especially like it. But, with hindsight, I began to see. Once again, the breakdown had come at a time when I could rest. My sons were picked up from school. There was no pressing need for the evening, nor on the next day. And church is only a mile away, so I can easily walk there and back. But what really convicted me in my complaint was when I began to share with someone about Edith, the woman who runs an orphanage in Honduras.
Edith stepped into her calling with nothing. She could not work because she was the only one who could care for the children. When she had an apartment full of ten children, the mayor kicked her out and gave her an abandoned high school. No running water, no consistent food nor income, just faith and love. And God has provided for her every step of the way. She now has some help and more people are aware of her ministry. And, not far down the road, a beautiful, brand-new building is being constructed for her. God is rewarding her faithfulness and obedience. As I shared about her, the insignificance of my complaints was driven home. Did I really have room to complain? Of course not.
In fact, my daily list of gratitude, my “10,000 Reasons,” has grown shorter once again as I am surrounded by all that I have. My list was long and easy to come by when I did not have my “wants,” because then it became so clear that God was giving me what I needed – and more. No, surrounding myself with comforts is not the answer. Having what I want is definitely not the answer. I must trust God to supply all of my needs.
I was recently asked to pray for someone who was feeling physically awful. Not only was he feeling awful, but he had a rather significant obligation to meet. So I prayed for him. Not more than ten minutes after I finished, I realized that I had never prayed for his physical healing. I had simply asked God to give him what he needed. God did, in fact, give him physical healing, but not in the manner we might have hoped. This brother became more sick, threw it all up, and then felt better.
We sometimes think that the blessing that we need is to experience the removal of those things that ail us, bother us, and become a thorn in our flesh. But God knows better. Shall we accept good from him, and not the bad? Of course not, because a sovereign God sees far beyond our human eye.
A couple of weeks ago I was invited to share at my sons’ school about my Honduras experience. I was given two dates to choose from – last Friday or today. For no particular reason, I chose today. That’s not entirely true, I felt prompted to choose today. At the very time that I would have been at the school on Friday, I was instead looking at an engine full of steam. And, Lord willing, that same engine will be repaired shortly and I will be able to drive to my sons’ school to share. We think that certain details are insignificant, that God does not care, but clearly, God cares even about broken hoses.
One final thought: this experience was yet another reminder to me of the life of words. Time and time again I have been given real-life challenges of words I have spoken as truth or encouragement. I recently said of someone recovering from hip surgery, “God has a way of making us be still.” Less than 48 hours later, I was living my words. We should not take our words lightly because God clearly does not treat them lightly. When I have shared words of truth or encouragement, they have all been coming back to me to live out. It’s as if God tells me, “If you are going to say that, you are going to live that so that you can know that to be true.” So my words coming away from this, what I know to be true: “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

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One comment on “Finding God In: Broken Hoses

  1. Amber says:

    Thank you for writing this. Truly inspirational.

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