Floyd has had a good week. He has been giving huge smiles! He looks so good! He has been very alert and responsive. The only time he cried was when I shared about gifts we have received from friends to help pay for his hospital care. I actually tell him about that often, but this time it really seemed to touch his heart and he cried.
Several of the staff told me this week, how they are continually amazed that he is doing so well. The fact that he has no bedsores is "miraculous." And even with some congestion, his chest and breathing are in good shape. I thanked them for their good care that helps Floyd - and also told them I thought his condition is an answer to prayer. They agreed!
My mom and Floyd's parents always prayed for our family to "go to the nations." In recent days our family has been scattered in 5 countries for a variety of reasons. I was thinking of how pleased they would be. Those prayers are invested in our lives. So precious! I was telling Floyd about it this week, and spent time praying with him and thanking the Lord.
Some years ago Floyd bought me a cute, rustic wheelbarrow to put in our garden. We had flowers planted in it. I loved the wheelbarrow, and got lots of compliments on it.
Because it's out in the wind and weather, it was starting to fall apart. I hated to lose it. I've never seen another one like it in all our years here. I don't think it would have survived this winter in the condition it was in.
I talked with a handyman friend, and he said he could build me another one. He took the old one so he could use pieces of it. There were parts that were salvageable. A couple weeks later, he showed up with my new "rustic" wheelbarrow. It's lovely, stronger, and will now last for many more years. I love it!
Often as I do my prayer walking on our deck, I look at that wheelbarrow. I think I'm a lot like it. With all that I've "weathered" I have days when I feel like I'm falling apart. I wonder if I'll survive another storm, another winter. God, the wonderful "handyman," in His goodness and faithfulness, takes the "pieces" of my heart and life and rebuilds them. He patches, repairs, and adds new things. He strengthens what's weak, and supports where I'm coming apart.
That little wheelbarrow has been a good visual reminder of what God does in our lives. He doesn't throw us out when we're falling apart. He doesn't throw up His hands and say it's hopeless. No, He takes us by the hand and says "let's do some repair work here." And He rebuilds us. How wonderful He is. I'm hoping I'll last for many more years too. :)
"And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished." Philippians 1:6
"We are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works." Ephesians 2:10
"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made." Psalm 139:14
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here!" 2 Corinthians 5:17
"I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart." Ezekiel 36:26
"He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." Psalm 147:3
I'm so grateful He can take our brokenness, and restore it - make it new. He is constantly at work within us to make us more like Him. How faithful He is.
Over the years we've lived in various places where there's lots of traffic - especially at certain times of the day. One of the things I enjoyed doing was finding shortcuts to get where I was going. It was a fun adventure - often taking me along streets I'd never driven before or into neighborhoods where I'd never been. I loved exploring and finding the shortcuts.
I've also liked to find shortcuts to household chores too. Anything that could help me save time and energy was great. I would look for articles that gave me tips, and find products that allowed me to work more quickly and efficiently.
And I've always been a bargain hunter. I love finding ways to save money - sales, coupons, 2 for 1 offers, etc. One year I even kept track of all the money I was able to save. Floyd was quite surprised! "Shortcuts" to spending was a challenging adventure for me.
But when it comes to the trials of life, the sufferings that God allows to come our way - there are no shortcuts! God doesn't take us on an easy path. He takes us on the best, most effective path! He'll often take us on a circuitous journey to get us to our destination in order to prepare us for what we'll face when we get there. He doesn't waste one second of the journey!
Lessons that take months in my life I would love to learn in days or weeks. I often wish I could speed up the process. I don't want to go through the wilderness! I want to hurry up. But God's view of time and our view is so different. He looks at it from the view of eternity - preparing us to spend forever with Him.
We live in a culture of instant gratification. We want painless, short, easy lessons to the goals we're reaching for. God's ways are different. He wants to see us develop spiritual maturity along the way - not just succeed at our dreams and goals. The Bible is filled with examples of men and women who had to be patient to see things fulfilled in their lives.
If we ignore what He's teaching us or move on too quickly - in His goodness and faithfulness He'll bring the lesson back around. He doesn't allow us to ignore or escape from what He's teaching us. He wants to produce character in our lives. He wants us to become more like Him. So He'll keep working in our lives until we learn what He's saying to us. I am grateful for His persistence. He's never given up on me. He's always been patient with me when I struggle to learn a lesson He has for me.
So when I'm wishing there was a shortcut to trials, to the lessons He is allowing me to walk through - I remember that I need to just keep going one-day-at-a-time. I need to not worry about the future. I need to keep holding His hand, and keep my eyes on Him. I need to receive His grace to persevere. I need to keep my heart trusting Him, even speaking out that trust. I need to worship Him for His love and mercy to me.
"Don't look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don't fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life - to God! - is vigorous and requires total attention." Matthew 7:13,14 The Message
"Who is the man who fears the Lord? He will instruct him in the way he should choose." Psalm 25:12
"O God, You have taught me from my earliest childhood." Psalm 71:17
"Joyful are those you discipline, Lord, those You teach with Your instructions." Psalm 94:12
"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you." Psalm 32:8
"Show me Your ways, Lord, and teach me Your paths. Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long." Psalm 25:4,5
I have wished many, many times for a shortcut on this long, unexpected journey we're on. I have no idea how much longer it will be. I don't know what "bumps" are on the road in front of me. Yes, I'd love some shortcuts. But my heart wants to learn whatever He has for me on this journey. He is completely trustworthy, so I know He has good lessons in store for me.