Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9
God never promised us a peaceful and comfortable life. He promised that He’d be with us in the hard times, and that His ultimate plan for us is a good one…by His definition of good, not ours.
Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Proverbs 19:21
In fact, His promises to be with us in the hard times are all through Scripture. Old and New Testaments, all over the place. The Word is slam full of them. You’d almost think one of the purposes of The Bible is to reinforce the promise that He’s with us all the time, good times and bad, when we’re in the midst or prosperity or persecution.
I’ve been thinking back over the last few years. I say few, let’s make that, say, 15 years. They haven’t been easy. Himself worked so much I often felt like a single mother with 3 teenaged sons, and I didn’t do a very good job of it. It was as hard on the boys as it was on me. Probably harder. There are things that happened about which I have to try hard not to be bitter. There was hope on the horizon that his work would settle down and become more…I don’t know…humane. Reasonable. Before that happened, however, he had that heart attack and died. That…sucked.
I was left to deal with our sons (I almost said “the boys” but they aren’t boys anymore) and didn’t do a very good job of it. I’ve never been a boy so I don’t know how they think. I did what I thought was right but often it wasn’t because I was operating on feelings instead of logic. Now they are grown men and I have let them go…sort of. I have to allow them to do their own things and make their own ways, just as I am doing new and different things I never thought I’d be doing. That’s really hard. My impulse is to make everything easy and cushy for them but no one grows during the easy times, and I want them grown and independent.
I met The Fella, and we’re making plans for a brand new life together. New House, New Plans, New Ideas, all things I’d actually kind of dreamed about and thought “wouldn’t it be fun if” and “wouldn’t it be a great idea to” but I’d kind of settled into the notion that I’d get my community college associate’s degree (which I did, Magna Cum Laude, y’all) (not to brag…ok totally to brag.), find a job as someone’s administrative assistant working Mon-Fri 8-5, and do that for the next 15 years. Did I WANT to do that? No, not really. What I WANT to do is grow things, make things, sell things, travel, cook meals for people, and take a day off when I want to or maybe decide on a Thursday to go to the beach on Friday. I worked 5am-10pm 7 days a week for 28 years, with maybe a weekend off once or twice a year. I’d take Thursdays “off” by not scheduling any sort of appointments that day, not doing laundry or cleaning, and fixing something lazy for supper. (but…you took vacations with your family! Right…vacations are more like double the work when you’re the mom.) But now, I want to do things that aren’t so….scheduled. Good thing is, The Fella thinks the same way I do.
Every now and then, he and I look at each other and are amazed that we each found someone who’s desires and wishful thinking for the future matches our own. The only thing that is different is the way each of us makes chili. He’s also a bit more fastidious than I am. His skills (metalworking, gardening, fixing things that don’t work right) are ones that overlap mine to a degree that working together is a pleasure. His desires for travel and making use of time are almost exactly the same as mine, and his ability to motivate my lazy self is unparalled. He is almost as fond of my sons as I am. We are both completely convinced that our meeting wasn’t accidental and even though we are both dealing with stuff that is difficult in our own lives, having each other to lean on, and both of us keenly aware of God’s hand in our lives and how He does His work in sometimes peculiar ways, means we have this sort of lifeboat to rest in while the waves toss us around.
Life isn’t easy. No one ever said it would be. Sometimes it really stinks, hurts, and overwhelms. Some people go through more than others, and no one can really answer why that is. I don’t know why I’ve been put in a country where I can freely talk about God, and Jesus Christ without any fear of persecution. I don’t know why my children are going through such difficulties (and they all are, each of their own types, not just #3), why Himself died, and why God saw fit to drop The Fella in my lap. There are myriad “I don’t know whys” and likely I’ll never, on this Earth, know the answers to them all. But I do know that Life isn’t promised to be clean and tidy. What is promised is that we are never alone in it, no matter how much it feels like we are.
A Psalm of David. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. …Psalm 23:1-6