BEYOND UNDERSTANDING

 

The e-mail said, “How are you doing?  I know your wedding anniversary is coming up, and I’m just wondering if you are all right.”

I was surprised by the message.  No one else remembered, and I guess that is to be understood.  It was only my eighth anniversary, and the fact that my husband had lived only five months after we married, caused it to seem, to some, like it had never happened.

I didn’t spend the day crying.  I taught my Bible study, and went to the cemetery.  Later I went to Olive Garden for soup and salad.  Cecil’s and my first date was at the Olive Garden.  I don’t think I Knew it was a date.  After seventy-six years I had given up any such idea.  I just thought we were two old, and I do mean old, friends getting together for dinner.

Much to my great surprise, and not a little terror, I began to understand that, after all these years, God had sent this precious man, a man who loved me, into my life.  I was no longer alone.  Tamping down my fear, and giving up to love, we married.

Those five months were oh, so sweet for the two of us.  Five Months! Then Cecil was gone.  WHY?  I don’t know why.  Having walked with God all these years, I could say, “It was God’s will,” and I’m sure it was, but then there’s another, “WHY?”  After I had waited so long, after we had been married such a short time, why did God WILL to take Cecil away? 

It was beyond my understanding.  To this day I don’t understand it.  In the beginning, in the midst of my grief, I vowed that I would one day question God, and demand an answer for my loss.  However, I realize that, when I stand before Him, it won’t matter anymore.  My loss will have been forgotten.

In this life, we all face many things that are beyond our understanding—both the good and the bad.  As human beings, we like to think that we are able to understand everything, but that is not the case.  There are just some things beyond our comprehension.

I just read about Stephen M. Barr, who is a theoretical physicist.  He is researching Grand Unified Theories and Baryogenesis and the Flipped Scheme of Unification. I don’t have any idea what any of that means, and—(Just so you know, I read about Stephen Barr because, as a scientist, He believes that science and faith can coexist, and that modern scientific discoveries are compatible with religion.) there’s so much more that is beyond my understanding.

I don’t understand this computer that I sit before at the moment, and I have used it for years.  I am always amazed that somewhere inside this thing are the answers to any kind of question I wish to ask.  Oh, I know it was programmed that way, but how in the world did the guys that programmed it know what I need to know?

It is not, however, my lack of knowledge and understanding of this technological age that bothers me.  In fact, recently a youngster offered to help me navigate some new computer program, but I said, “No, I don’t want to learn anything else,” and I didn’t at that moment.  At the age of 85, that’s my prerogative.

It is the unsolvable problems that occur and the unexpected situations that arise in my  everyday life that stymies us.  This pandemic that, in one year, has changed every area of our lives is surely beyond understanding.  BUT!  God is in control, and I know that He knows what is going on.  He sees and understands the whole sorry mess.  That is what keeps me going.

Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.  “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Job was a man who suffered many unexpected things losing everything even his health.    He knew that troubles come to men, but he certainly did not understand why he suffered this trial, and he told God so.  But he determined early on in his trials that he would seek God, and commit all to Him.  Why?  Because he knew God did great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number.

The Message says it this way.  Job 5:8-9, “If I were in your shoes, I’d go straight to God.  I’d throw myself on the mercy of God.  After all, he’s famous for great and unexpected acts, there’s no end to his surprises.”

Seem to me that is great advice.  I don’t know what incomprehensible trial you are facing today.  It’s all right to be honest with God.  Like Job, tell him how you feel.  Then, knowing He is in control, cast all your care on Him, for it is He who does great, unexpected, marvelous things.  

Just as our trials are beyond understanding, so also are the wondrous things He does for those who love Him.  Not because we deserve it, but because He is a God of mercy.

I am determined to depend upon Him even in the darkest of times.

 

REMEMBER, THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!

 

BY DIVINE DESIGN

In a 1956 “I LOVE LUCY” episode, after going to a fashion show of all chic Parisian styles, Lucy decided she must have a Jacque Marcel dress.  Ricky refused and Lucy went on a hunger strike.  After three days Ricky gave in and bought the dress, but when he found that the hunger strike was a hoax, he took the dress back and had another made of burlap potato sacks with a phony Jacque Marcel label.  Lucy, believing it to be authentic, wore it out in public, and of course with T.V. magic the burlap dress became the rage.

It is amazing how the label of a particular designer can bring hundreds if not thousands of dollars for one simple dress, while an identical “knockoff” costs only $79.00.

It is estimated that the global luxury goods market will reach $445 Billion by 2025.  Too rich for me and most others!

My mother did most of the designing when I was growing up.  She saw a little dress at J.C. Penney’s, but it wasn’t just right, and she couldn’t afford it anyway, so she came home and made the desired changes.  Then she stood me in the middle of the floor, and with a newspaper, she cut a pattern to fit me.  She always created a sweet little dress with lace, rickrack or some other embellishment—a dress I adored.  Me?  What did I know at the age of five, or seven, or ten?  I didn’t know the difference between Mama’s design and that of Gucci, Chanel, or Dior.

Actually, I’m kind of like my Mama.  I do some designing of my own.  Invariably, when I buy clothing at the department store, I bring it home and remake it.  The sleeves are not right, I don’t like the collar, it needs to be nipped in at the waist, and so on. 

People ooh and aw over the wonderful creations of Balenciago, Armani, and Prada labeling them as “Divine.”   We use the word divine like an ordinary adjective.  We speak of a divine piece of clothing, or furniture or even a piece of pie.  Yes, the dictionary also defines the word divine as “supremely good, superb, or heavenly—God like.”  To me, the word “Divine” relates only to God.  I have never designed or created anything in my life that was divine.

I do, however, remember trying to design my own life.  From childhood I knew God had a plan for me, but I didn’t know what He wanted, nor did I know how to find out.  So, I made my own plans—according to my own design.  I decided to become a teacher, and I did.  I was good at it, but all the time I was training and teaching, I felt a deep down sadness.  My design was flawed in some way.  At least that’s what I thought.

When God showed me that He wanted me in full time ministry, I was willing, but with a broken heart, I cried buckets full of tears apologizing to God over and over for the time I had wasted just messing with kids.

Guess what!  No time was wasted.  All along, God had been at work directing my life even when I was unaware.  He was the one who prompted me to become a teacher.  He was the one who kept me faithful through those disappointing years for He knew I needed that training and experience in order to accomplish what He had determined I should do.  It was all part of His “DIVINE DESIGN.” 

When I boarded the plan for Brussels, Belgium, on August 25, 1975, all the puzzle pieces slid effortlessly into place.  I was going to Europe, at God’s bidding, to minister the gospel to children in many places and in many ways.  All those years I had been preparing for this without even knowing, but God knew for He had looked deep into my heart and saw the yearning to serve Him.  I would never have accomplished anything without those years of training and experience.  For the next forty years God added pieces to the puzzle and details to His design.  There was never a boring moment following God’s “DIVINE DESIGN,” nor was there ever any regret.

God is the master designer of all ages.  Look around you at His creation.  From nothing God designed and spoke into existence the wonders of this world.  Think what He can make of your life.  You may never be able to afford one of the “Divine” creations of Yves Saint Laurent, but you can enjoy a life designed by God Himself.

In Matthew 4:19, Jesus speaking to His disciples, many of whom were fishermen, said, “…Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 

Jesus echos that invitation to you today.  “Follow me,” He says, “And I will make you…”  He will make you according to His “DIVINE DESIGN.”  It is unique—made just for you.  There is no other like it.  Oh, the roads you will travel, the unexpected experiences that will come your way, and the accomplishments you will realize as you submit to His “DEVINE DESIGN.”  

THINK OF IT!  YOU CAN HAVE THE MASTER DESIGNER’S LABEL ON YOUR LIFE.

TRY IT.  YOU WILL NEVER BE SORRY.

 

REMEMBER, THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!

 

FEARING TOMORROW

My Mom was a worrier.  Worry was as much a part of her as breathing.  Her worry lost her many hours of needed sleep.

Mama worried most about her kids.  I was a little girl during the Second World War, but I had three big Sailor brothers who were in the thick of the conflict.  No one will ever know the agony mama suffered.  She was a Godly woman, who prayed diligently for her boys, but still she worried.

I’ve never thought of myself as a worrier.  That’s the reason I adopted the title “Optimistic Octogenarian.”  To my understanding, age is supposed to bring greater wisdom and needed strength to stand in fearsome times, and I believe it does.  I am wiser.  I am stronger, I think, but like my Mother, I have become more of a worrier.  If I go to the grocery store, will I inadvertently contact the virus?  Will I get sick before I can get the vaccine?  Being older and alone, what will I do when I can no longer care for myself?  Actually, I am wasting precious mental energy on things that will probably never happen.

Remember Y2K, the terrible doom that hovered over us in 1999?  It all had something to do with computers.  We were told that, at midnight on December 31, the whole world, everything necessary for life, would come to a screeching halt.  It all seems silly now because nothing catastrophic happened, and we greeted a new millennium without a hitch.

Now over twenty years later we’re facing a time of crisis such as I have never known. Last winter we all thought this pandemic would be over in a couple of months.  Now we are entering a second year of uncertainty.  

During the fearful days of World War II, America banded together, as one, to fight the enemy.  Now we are fighting each other tooth and toenail.  We are in a new and unexplored territory.  We can’t pretend that life is normal, and none of us knows what is ahead.

Anxiety and fear of tomorrow are inevitable in times like these. When we consider the billions in this world who have no fixed axis, no hope to cling to, and knowing that anxiety is irrational and nothing can banish unnecessary worry, still we are anxious and afraid.

Charles Spurgeon is quoted as saying, “Our anxieties do not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, it only empties today of its strength and joy.”

During the great depression in 1933, in his inaugural address, President Franklin Roosevelt said, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”   That’s the sadness of it all.  Fear begets fear, and fear never changes tomorrow or anything else.

We don’t know what tomorrow holds, but God does, and He cares for each of one of us with a personal and individualizing love.  When our panic wants to rise, and fear threatens to consume us, we tend to forget what God has done for us in the past, how He has met our needs, sent messengers of hope, intervened in alarming impossible situations, and brought peace to our troubled soul.  Looking back, we can trace God’s providential hand.  Remembering God’s goodness, peace and calmness is possible even in the midst of Covid’s reign of fear, because He is in control!  

In Isaiah 51:12-13, God says to us, “…I am He who comforts you, so why are you afraid of men who are made like grass and have forgotten your maker who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundation of the earth…”

In essence He says, “Who do you think you are worrying like that?

In Matthew 6:34 (The Message) we read, “Give your entire attention to What God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow.  God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”

God is not speaking of what we call the simple accidents or misfortunes of life, but of the troubling things with which we have to contend daily.  He is saying that the present day has enough trouble already without conjuring up a further problem.

Isaiah 43:1-3, a marvelous promise, “…Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name. You are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.  When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned.  For I am the Lord your God…”  He has all the bases covered.

Stop thinking you know what the future holds and trust God to take care of tomorrow.              He is already there!

 

REMEMBER, THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!