Sometimes I’m afraid to be happy, truly thankful, when something good happens. I’m painfully aware that I haven’t been joyful through the storm and I’m ashamed of the contrast.
I have often feared that God toys with me, uses me as His plaything, or if nothing else uses me as an example of what happens to disobedient children. I cringe as I say this, knowing how silly it sounds; I know it’s not true, but there are times when I feel it.
When it felt like my marriage was falling apart shortly after Phil and I got married, when we couldn’t get pregnant year after year, dealing with a constant thorn in my side and pleading with God to remove the painful splinters I could feel all over. There are endless reasons to feel that God doesn’t hear, doesn’t listen, doesn’t care. He never promised that we would be free from hardship, and while He can see the Big Picture and knows what’s best for us, it’s easy to try and take control of the reigns and tell Him what He needs to do for me.
There are things I’m constantly struggling with, trying to improve upon. I feel guilty for not taking the time every morning to spend time in the Bible, pray and talk to God. My mommy check-list takes priority. When things happen that make me question whether or not God’s really in control, I falter in my praise, my heart and hands are heavy and I don’t lift them in worship at church. I know all about being refined by fire, but I balk at the process, not wanting to face one more thing that needs improvement. I fail to keep it all in perspective. As David Burchett puts it in his article on refinement, “There is no joy in the trial but there is joy in the knowledge of how God uses such events in our lives.”
When God “comes through” for us, I feel like, finally! But then comes the fear, feeling that He will take His blessing away because I’ve handled the tough times so poorly. I lost my one-day-a-week job at the end of December, and although Phil had been encouraging me to quit for a long time, I felt a little lost for not having made the decision when I was ready. And really, I don’t know if I ever would have been ready to give up the security of providing financially for the family, even in the smallest measure.
Phil had been struggling with a bitter work situation, waiting patiently for God to open another door for him, give him a way out. For a while now he has been trying to get on a paid fire department, taking courses, getting his EMT license, keeping his files up-to-date so he could apply when there was an opening. Each time we got our hopes up, thinking this is it! But each time the answer was no. The last time the door was slammed shut in our faces, I took it hard. My heart hurt deeply for my husband, knowing what a wonderful person he is and how hard he was trying to take care of his family. I would get teary-eyed as Phil would pray at the dinner table, thanking God for his blessings and continued provision; he has always had big faith despite our situation, while I waver in the winds of doubt. Even though my heart wasn’t always in it, I would insist God has something better, God has something better around the next corner – we just don’t know what or when it is.
Much of life is spent waiting. Waiting in line, waiting for dinner to cook, waiting for naptime and a much-needed break, waiting for a phone call or e-mail, waiting for an anticipated movie, waiting for love, waiting for more. We were waiting on God, like we’ve done so many times. He has proved time and time again that His timing is perfect (my children are perfect examples), and this was no exception.
Yesterday, Phil had his background check and physical for a fire department job he had applied for at the end of last year. He had been “formally recommended” for the job last week, but was told it didn’t mean an offer for employment. He found out the chief of the department had been trying to contact him to get his size for a new uniform even before all the paperwork was done, and I thought, doesn’t the chief have better things to do? HE GOT THE JOB!!!
Phil has an official start date at the end of March. He has been enjoying the downtime between jobs to focus on his own business as self-employed contractor and drum up side jobs, and this will afford him some time to tie up loose ends with current contracts. He was also able to stay home and watch the kids a couple days while I was sick a couple weeks ago, something that wouldn’t have been a possibility were he working for someone else. He’ll be on a paid fire department, we’ll have healthcare and dental! (we’ve never had dental), and he will have more time off to devote to his side jobs and spending time with the family.
We celebrated last night by going out to eat at a local pizza dive, and Phil was almost giddy. He said he was most happy about being able to take care of his family in the long run. Today, the kiddos are at Meme and Pepe’s for the day, and I’m in the unusual position of being by myself. I made breakfast late, and I haven’t had to utter a single word since Daddy left with the kiddos left this morning. Peace! I wondered what to do today with all this free time, and decided to start with a couple devotional books. I dusted them off the shelves, and read a few pages as I ate breakfast.
Phil gave me Hearing from God Each Morning last year, knowing how much I struggle with devotionals. Gram gave me Fear Not Promise Book, and there were some verses about fear. I like Phillipians 4:6-7:
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
When fear rules our lives we worry and yearn for safety in things. Max Lucado expounds:
“The fear-filled cannot love deeply. Love is risky.
They cannot give to the poor. Benevolence has no guarantee of return.
The fear-filled cannot dream wildly. What if their dreams sputter and fall from the sky?
The worship of safety emasculates greatness. No wonder Jesus wages such a war against fear.”
God is good. His timing is perfect, and we are taken care of. Today I am thankful and unafraid.