Yesterday 2nd man was at the helm while Pastor was speaking in Tulsa. So, today, I decided to give a synopsis of the message that he preached. For those who were there, well, here’s “the rest of the story” as Andy Rooney used to say. For starters I’ll go ahead and let you know he could have entitled the message “My Wife Needed This.” However, being the sensitive man that he is, he entitled it instead, “Blessings in Disguise.” You can hear the entire sermon from our church website www.cbcponca.org
The gist of the sermon was to take notice that the blessings in our lives don’t always come in material, family, financial, or even enjoyable form (i.e. in obvious ways). Sometimes it is the working through the tough times that can bring the greatest blessings in our Christian lives. It is during those times that we grow the most and are tested and tried by the fire of the world to prove that wonderful Lord that reigns within us.
2nd man used Psalm 66, which is a Psalm of praise for the great works of God. It starts like many Psalms and praises in the Old Testament with listing the great and mighty demonstrations of the power of God. Yet, in verse 10 it takes an unexpected turn. Praising God for trying them (the Israelites) as silver and laying affliction upon them. 2nd man also used Hebrews 11 as an example of this same kind of working of God. Most of us are familiar with Hebrews 11 as the “Hall of Faith” listing some very popular and famous people from the Old Testament and how God worked mightily through them. However, in verses 33-40 there are some pretty horrible things that happened to some who are unnamed to us, but blessed and honored by God nevertheless.
He even used some examples of famous people from American history as a great illustration (I think). For instance, why do we know George Washington or Abraham Lincoln? Well, of course, because they were presidents of our United States. However, there are many presidents that I know nothing about except for maybe their name. Yet, these two men were propelled to greatness because of the challenges they had to overcome during their presidencies.
With this concept I am in total agreement theoretically, theologically, and philosophically. I mean we’ve had hard times before. Looking back over our nearly fifteen years of marriage, I can see how God has used some pretty hard times to strengthen both 2nd man and I in our Christianity and in our marriage. The loss of three babies all at different stages and ages was pretty tough. I remember crying out to God knowing full well that he had the power to save those babies, but he didn’t. I remember walking down some dark paths after some of those experiences only to learn so much about how our God works. I still don’t have a corner on Him, but I know He’s been so merciful to me. I saw how God could use my husband as a source of encouragement and grow him by leaps and bounds as well, as he dealt with a difficult wife and sorrowful loss. I also grew in compassion for those who are hurting around me in similar ways. So much good came out of those losses that now, years later, I can say I wouldn’t trade them at all.
2nd man mentioned at one point that we had experienced a bit of an overwhelming 2011. I’ve listed a few of the items in previous blog posts but here are our unexpected financial woes of 2011 in list form (so you don’t really have to pay attention…just look at the length of the list)
- Feb.- Medical test for 2nd man – $1200.00
- March – dental work for myself $1,600.00
Dental work for daughter #1 $350.00
Broken finger for daughter #2 $200.00+ (required a specialist because of the growth plate)
- April – Dishwasher broken –no fix = no $, but No fix = dishwashing by hand L
- May –family in town J replacement of broken borrowed boat motor – $250.00 L
- June – broken water pump or something like that on the “good car” $120.00
Car broken again L fixed by friend $28.00 J
- July – orthodontics started for daughter #2 $1200.00
Gauges are out on “good car”
My car –well the fact that it still exists is really a miracle, no left turn signal, crack in windshield, leaky radiator, homeless man broke seat when he slept in it. Funky smell emanating from the carpet (I think)…Cost = 0 we just live with it.
- August – glasses needed for daughter #1 $200.00+
- Nov. Quakenado damage! Front tree had to be chopped (huge tree) – $400.00
- Nov. washing machine broken
Replacement of washing machine and dishwasher $780.00
- Then the Piece de resistance (said with French accent), a bizarre, unexpected charge of $35,000.00! I’m not able to give details on this one right now as we’re trying to appeal it.
So when the year of the worm (aka 2011) was upon us, I wasn’t scared. I mean, we were just dealing with money right? This wasn’t moral ruin or a tragedy of some sort. After a while it even became comical. My post from June 2, 2011 entitled “Best of Times Worst of Times” kind of shows you where I was in my mindset. Of course, keep in mind that the year wasn’t quite over yet when that was written. However, with each financial blow, 2nd man and I tried to respond with our heads bowed down and our confidence pointed up. It meant we couldn’t have a vacation to Ohio that year. A heartbreak for me, as I miss my family and enjoy those trips to see them. I had to miss the adoption day of my new nephew and the funeral of my grandmother. We even had to cancel a family trip to Disney World for which we had been saving for two years and planning on taking in 2012. That money had to be broken into to pay for the ever – multiplying crises that kept popping up.
We’ve spent most of this past year encouraging each other in the Lord and trying to praise Him in these storms. I can honestly say we’ve had confidence in his ever- present care and sovereign power. But, (you knew this was coming didn’t you?) I finally had a little bit of a meltdown last week. Yes, I know I’m not required to post these confessions, but I want to log it for myself to look back on when things have calmed. Last week 2nd man and I went on a little date. After dinner, with no money to spend, I suggested we just take a dream trip to Lowe’s. I may be weird here, but my family knows that Lowe’s is my favorite store in town. I enjoy just looking and dreaming. Usually 2nd man is good at entering into this with me. That night he wasn’t. It all came to a sudden end while looking at the countertops. You see, the wonderful new dishwasher he bought me in November can’t be installed because the countertops in my house are ¾ inch shorter than normal. That means we need to raise the countertops, which means we have to do something with the backsplash as well. Mind you I wasn’t thinking granite…just the prefabricated granite looking laminate ones. (We don’t live in a granite neighborhoodJ). I’m not sure what spurred it but at some point 2nd man gave me a reality check of the fact that these dreams aren’t even on our radar right now. To which I responded in full Proverbs 31 graciousness…NOT! No, I regretfully bristled. We got in the car and I let it all out. The tears and fears that I had been letting creep into my thoughts came to full blows. Oh, I wasn’t questioning God. But I sure was on a slippery slope of wavering in my trust. I lamented over all things money related down to why I ever even went to college since I’m now staying home but still paying for it. When I was all done there was some silence. I’m pretty sure 2nd man was considering which path to take; talk her off the ledge or just go hock the farm and buy those countertops. As usual he was loving, responsive, and encouraging helping me rebuild my trust in the Lord and realize that we’re not through this storm yet. We don’t know how it’s going to end, but whatever God asks of us we’re willing to do it for him. He is right. I mean there are some people who live their life on this earth with no countertop at all. I’m stressing over the little junk that I usually don’t stress over.
So as he left us in the sermon yesterday with a challenging question, I leave my blog today. Am I willing for God to skip these blessings and forfeit any growth he has for me? Or am I willing to go through it with Him and For His glory. Honestly, the question did cause me some pause at first. But truly, I don’t want to forfeit the growth and blessing He has in store for my family or for me…how about you?