It’s good to be back with you after several weeks of nonstop activity. Life has been forging full-speed ahead, with or without me, and it’s been a fun and eventful ride.
With the onset of summer, I entered a new season of life that has brought many changes – some physical, some psychological, some a medley through whose ingredients I've yet to sort. It started with the birth of our first grandchild in early May, phased immediately to the 18th birthday and graduation of the youngest of our three children, and then transitioned to a milestone birthday just last week. (I’ll let you entertain your own theories on that one.) In the midst of all this, some new challenges have presented themselves, and some priorities have been realigned. My life has become a game of 52 pickup, except that it’s taking a while to get the cards off the floor.
Just the other day, I was sharing all this and more with one of my dearest friends in the world, who immediately responded, “Oh my! Are you stressed? I would be so stressed!” And I was glad to be able to respond, in all honesty, that no, I wasn’t stressed. In such a time as this, it’s clear that the Lord, and not I, is in charge. And to be honest, experience has given me a certain giddiness in times of great upheaval. The pressure is off me; I can just sit back and watch Jesus work it all out.
I don’t think that’s the case with Martin. Martin lives on one of my walking routes, and he and his wife – like so many others – latched onto me because they loved my dog. But last night Martin was outside alone. Not only that, he looked alone – sad, dejected, broken. I stopped to talk with him, only to find out his wife abandoned her business and then abandoned him. His wife is gone, his dogs are gone; his house is empty, and his world is shattered.
Martin and his wife had shared with me a long time ago that they no longer had time (or made time, perhaps?) to attend church. I haven’t scratched deeply enough yet to find out if that’s only a symptom of a larger problem, the larger problem being a weak or even nonexistent relationship with Christ. Regardless, Martin is now falling without a net. My goal is to help Martin commit his life to Christ and find a Bible-believing church family to carry him through his pain.
Over the years, as I’ve watched people cycle through the stresses of change – because, let’s face it, all change equals stress – I’ve observed that their responses often come down to one thing: who they think Jesus is. I’ve said that a lot, and some of you may accuse me of being simplistic, but I can live with that. I cling to it.
It’s like this: If you think Jesus is faithful and you trust in His goodness and grace, chances are life may occasionally throw you for a loop, but it won’t make you loopy. However, it can make you seem loopy to unknowing onlookers.
Take the time my childhood friend Barbara was visiting from across the country, and we went grocery shopping with a toddler and a preemie on a heart and lung monitor right before lunchtime. (That act alone exhibits lunacy.) And when we pulled into the garage, we couldn’t help but notice the 2 inches of water gushing from under the kitchen door. The little ones were hungry, tired and screaming, and I started screaming too – but not in the way Barbara expected.
“Praise Jesus, I’m getting new flooring!” I shouted as I swam upstream into my living room.
“Are you crazy?” Barbara shouted incredulously, trying to find the water shutoff valve while I’m having my one-woman pool party.
Actually, I’m sure I did seem crazy. That week, on top of having company plus two children underfoot and one surgically attached to my hip, I was already planning and catering my husband’s 50-person surprise party. Add to that a steady stream of contractors, and I guess I qualified for a psych ward. But I would have gone praising Jesus.
My point is that we can handle the changes that come our way – good and bad (and I tend to see all things as good in the light of Romans 8:28) – in the light of our unchanging God. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever,” Hebrews 13:8 tells us. Today, in the midst of your hardship, He is equally loving, equally gracious, equally faithful, equally wise, equally sovereign, equally merciful, equally patient, equally strong and equally compassionate as He was on the very greatest day of your life. And whatever changes you’re going through will work for your good if you love Him and are called according to His purpose. He said it. It’s true.
So I would encourage you, as you tremble against the chilling winds of change, to dare to set your feet on the edge of life’s cliff and enjoy the rush. I know I am. I’m not certain how all the changes in my life will shake out, but – in the words of one of my favorite bluegrass classics – I know who holds tomorrow, and I know who holds my hand. And as long as He’s holding on, I’m not going to fall, no matter how fierce the wind.