I wonder if others are getting as weary of being "stuck at home," waiting for "life" to begin again. When the government first told us to shelter in place, it was to be for two weeks and I thought, "Piece of cake, we can do this." But now it seems like there is no end in sight for my state. After listening to one of our pastor's sermons this week, I realized that I need to reframe my thinking so I don't become completely discouraged and overly frustrated.
When the shelter-in-place order was given, I had to shut down our support group ministry and have often thought about how much I hate having the important work we do with our ladies interrupted at such a crucial time in the group process. But this pandemic and this sheltering in place orders was not a surprise to our God. I know there are valuable lessons for each of us to learn about our God, about ourselves, and about life in general, if we are willing to learn. I have been thinking about different people in the Bible who went through things that may have been perceived as interruptions to what God was going to bring about in their lives and will share about two of them.
First, we have Joseph. He was highly favored by his father, who gave him a beautiful coat of many colors, designed to signify his favor towards him. Young Joseph then had two dreams, both of which indicated his brothers would bow down to him. He made the mistake of telling his brothers about his dreams and they were jealous and despised him and sold him into slavery. Joseph, the man who believed he would rule over his brothers landed in Egypt, living the life of a slave.
Pharaoh noticed that everything Joseph did was blessed by God and he gave him an important position in his home. Pharaoh's wife started making advances towards Joseph and he refused her advances. She then accused him of rape and he was thrown into person. Joseph's life as a slave--seems to have been interrupted once again.
There Joseph sat, until the chief butler had a dream Joseph was able to interpret. Joseph asked the butler to remember him when he got out of prison, but the butler didn't. It wasn't until Pharaoh had a dream that needed to be interpreted that the butler remembered Joseph. When Joseph interpreted the dream, it became clear there would be a great famine and they had seven years to fill storehouses. Pharaoh was thankful and put Joseph in charge over the land, knowing he would have the wisdom needed to store things for the future.
It was because of Joseph and his work in Egypt that his brothers came to Egypt, seeking food during the drought. There they ended up being under Joseph's leadership and had to rest in his mercy. It was because of the interruption in Joseph's life that the nation of Israel was preserved through the famine. I also believe Joseph learned all sorts of things about God and His grace as he navigated and prepared for the hard, grieved the betrayal of his brothers, and worked through the important issues of forgiveness.
Second, we have King David, who was anointed by the prophet Samuel to be king after Saul. This was awkward as Saul was still alive, but David served Saul with integrity waiting for God to fully elevate him to his kingship. After a great military victory, the Israelites praised David so much Saul was consumed by jealousy. Even though David was a faithful servant, who performed music that soothed Saul's tortured soul, Saul turned on him and tried to murder him. David, the anointed king, ended up hiding in a cave. His brothers and father, who were now at risk joined him there. They were soon followed by everyone who was in distress, who was struggling with debt, and who was discontented and David became captain over all 400 men. I bet David had assumed when he became king, he would be in Jerusalem living the good life, not in a cave training a much of malcontents to be soldiers. Yet, in that cave he remained faithful to what God gave him, showed great restraint when he refused to kill Saul as he trusted God bring about his kingship.
I can relate to these men and the interruptions they faced in what they had thought their lives would be like. I thought this year would be different than it is. I hoped we would work with our ladies in our ministry and give them a celebratory sendoff at the end. I thought we would continue attending church every week. I had realized I needed to socialize more and had committed to have more sweet fellowship over coffee or lunches with friends and here I sit. I thought my husband and I would get travel and may be go camping with grandkids. I thought I would get another book done. Right now, maybe that last one has potential if I can keep my focus during this crazy time.
Sometimes, I wish I could talk to Joseph and David, whose lives seem to have been interrupted like mine. I can't, but I can read their thoughts during their struggles in the Word. Joseph who wept so loudly that the whole palace heard him was able to extend grace to his brothers, saying, "You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good." God used that interruption to grow him enough to forgive the impossible and to save Israel. And the Psalms...they are so full of David's thoughts, questions, and painful emotions being countered beautifully by his knowledge of His God and His trust in His sovereignty, power, love, and goodness. With out reading the Psalms we might not know how personable and safe God is to run to. Their words are more powerful when I remember they were not omniscient, they were everyday people like me. I know that Greg Laurie announced that 50,000 people have accepted Christ during this pandemic. On line church during this hard has opened the flood gates, removed blinders, and turned people's hearts to God. In light of these stories I can reframe my thinking from being stuck at home waiting for life to begin again to being in the middle of something great God is doing in and through his Church.
I don't know what all God is doing through this pandemic and sheltering order, but I do know that He is good and that He is the embodiment of perfect love. I am also confident that nothing can stop the work He is doing in and through each of us. So, I daily choose to trust Him as my husband and I seek His wisdom in how to live out these days of life seemingly interrupted. I am thankful that I am a follower of Jesus and that I have prayed more faithfully for those who are sick, those who are struggling with addictions, and for those who are grieving unexpected changes and big losses. I have also taken time to notice and celebrate births, marriages, graduations, and other milestones from afar. I have taken advantage of this time to enjoy sermons from all sorts of speakers and have gained some good perspective of God through this. And I am confident that our God--He is perfectly good even when life is interrupted.
Several years ago I realized that I often sped through my Scripture reading and gave it little thought. Yet, when I had meaningful conversations with friends or family members I replayed them over and over in my head. One day it occurred to me, that if I thought more about what God says in his word that I would not only know more about Him, but I would come to know Him in a personal way. I would know more about His thoughts, His character, His intentions, His passions, and His actions. So, I began to take one verse at a time and think on it and then journal about it. At the time I was served as a volunteer in youth ministry and shared my “Thoughts on God” with those girls. For a while I have been rewriting and posting them on this blog. I have realized when I am in the Word or move through my day focusing on God's presence that I have wonderful opportunities to Meet God in the Everyday. The Everyday can include storms, blessings, hard things, scary things, exciting things...just any where, anyplace, any time. I hope that you will be able to engage with what I write with both your head and your heart. I also hope you will be challenged to love, trust, and know the God of the Scriptures. It is my prayer that as you read you will experience Him at a deeper level and share pieces of your journey in the comments. It is my desire that we form a safe community of believers who pursue the God who loves us radically, eternally, and without reserve. As a precious pastor once told me, "Don't forget, Wendy, God is Good!" I find myself compelled by His Goodness and His Love to share so others can know Him through all the ups and downs of life. Please feel free to dialogue back and to share how each passage impacts you. If if there is a passage you would like me to write on or if you would like to be a guest blogger, please let me know. I am just learning to navigate this blog and appreciate the kind comments you have made in the past...I promise I will even try to respond if you leave a note. If you are blessed please share the blog with friends!