If you’re anything like me, you may start thinking about a grocery list for Easter dinner on Maundy Thursday, get in your car to brave the shopping crowds Friday, and possibly finish putting your menu together, setting out the ham Saturday night. (Since I think about coffee almost every waking minute, it completely amazes me that I often have to run out to buy something coffee-related the night before a holiday.)
Suffice it to say: I’m not always prepared. For a Sunday School lesson? Yes. The black suit and shirt that needs laundering for a high school band concert in three hours? No.
But, what if, just what if, I’m the one being prepared for something? Am I always aware of a loving God setting my footsteps?
Proverbs 16:9, ESV, King Solomon speaking
The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.
Although we spent several years living on a peaceful lagoon in the Marshall Islands where my children became strong swimmers, in 2009, we found ourselves returning to the Boston area with a three year old, and I was adamant that we would not buy a house with a pool. (I have some safety paranoia.) But as it turned out, my husband had nine days to find a house while I was still in the South Pacific, and so, yup! We bought a house with a small, very old, aboveground pool.
What I didn’t know in all my grumbling about pools and safety was that God knew many things about this pool before I did. Along the way, I have discovered two of them:
- The pool was an amazing ice breaker and social connection for three kids adjusting from around-the-world culture shock and to new friends and schools.
- One of my children would be diagnosed with sensory integration issues, and the pool would become his built-in therapy, where jumps and splashes would regulate and give his body the feedback it so desperately craved.
It’s very humbling to think that God was preparing this pool for us for reasons we couldn’t fathom at the time of sale.
Okay, that’s just a pool. So what? What about the hard stuff of life? What about this never-ending struggle I have in my life right now? How about that?
Yes, yes! Those are questions in my head and heart too! And as I was thinking about what God has been preparing me for, and where I already am, a few things came to mind, not the least of which is the little sidewalk I’m walking on called mental health advocacy. Yeah, that’s not really pavement I would have tread willingly on my own, but here I am, after recovering from depression myself, now helping a family member through depression/anxiety/OCD. While strolling down this significant and unwanted detour, I’ve connected with many people who have gone ahead of me. They offer wonderful resources, tips, and strategies as well as compassionate hearts.
Maybe for you it’s that unexpected and frightening cancer diagnosis, caring for an ill parent, special education (that’s me too!), a hold-your-breath moment in your marriage, a child in full rebellion, a loss, an abandonment, a new chapter of life. Whatever it is, we are often in the middle of it and can’t see out the sides.
I have several friends and family walking through personal cancer wars. What amazes me is that even though they may be praying for the strength just to get through each day, the hope they walk in is apparent. The husband of one of these brave warriors regularly posts encouraging Bible verses and updates. Did this couple know, pre-diagnosis, that they would have a “new platform” for sharing their faith and lives, becoming a source of strength for others in their own journey through disease?
After you walk through cancer treatment/recovery, getting a child the help they need, family counseling, figuring out the right day program for an aging parent, etc., what is next?
Psalm 37:23-24, ESV, King David speaking
The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD upholds his hand.
I believe what we walk through prepares us to help someone on the other side. It’s often the next step toward taking a bigger role in our personal cause: starting a focus/advocacy group, raising funds, joining a greater support network, writing a book or column, becoming a speaker.
We may not have necessarily signed ourselves up for these detours, but there is One who knows the steps we will take. The Bible says that if our trust is in God, we “shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD upholds his hand.”
This Easter, when you think of the cross, will you reflect on what He has prepared for us there? How two simple boards were nailed together in the shape of a “t” to hang a Savior on them:
- To offer us forgiveness of sins and eternal life with Him
- To bring us into direct relationship with God
- To show us how deep the Father loves us and the great lengths He went to make us righteous and clean through His Son’s shed blood
Jesus said He has prepared a beautiful place for us. I want in. How about you?
John 14:1-7, ESV, Apostle John narrating
[Jesus speaking] “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.”
Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
More on how struggles can turn into blessings and what God is often preparing us for can be found in Not Just on Sundays.
*This blog is a featured column at Your Tewksbury Today.
**It has also been shared at Mom 2 Mom Monday Link-Up, Make a Difference Mondays, Simply Inspired Wednesday’s Link-Up, Grace & Truth, A Little R & R, Saturday Soirée Blog Party, and Christian Mommy Blogger.