Hangin’ Tight With All My Might

Life.

Difficult. Scary. Unsure.

Those were some of my definitions of life over the past year and a half. Doesn’t seem very positive, does it? Well…for the past several months I was feeling more like Job of the Bible, I thought God had confused Job and me. The last week of January of 2009, my husband found out that he was being let go from his job of nearly 23 years. He and thousands of others. It was no fault of his own…the economy just was going south. Yeah, well I understood all that but, it didn’t help any. At all. It seemed like the beginning of the end. The end of life as we knew it. And that stunk. Big time.

So, here is a snap shot of that time of my life and how it all turned out. A chapter of my life story, so to speak. What I learned about life on the road. Not the fast lane. Not the slow lane. Life from the median……somewhere in the middle.

Job loss for my husband. The sole provider for our family. He had been making a very good salary, and now we knew that was coming to an end. Just like that. Within one week everything changed. So fast. I wasn’t prepared.

I cried. Frustration. Aggravation. Fear of the unknown. All this happening right smack dab in the middle of building a new house in another state. Things seemed dark. I was scared. Change is not something I love. Security is something I crave……and I felt that I was about to drown.

In the midst of all this I totaled my car in a scary accident. (hydroplaning in a down pour) So no wheels for me. Why? Why now? I’d never had so much as a speeding ticket, much less an accident. NOT NOW.

The money that I got from insurance, that would have paid for a new car, had to be used to pay the IRS. That lovely organization had found a mistake that we had made on our taxes 2 years before. We owed them. Good bye car. My resentment grew.

Because things weren’t bad enough, the economy got worse….the housing market froze and we were left with my house in Tennessee that we needed to sell….and fast. We couldn’t afford one mortgage, much less two. At this point how were we going to afford the cosmetic changes the house needed in order to sell?

Our other vehicle broke down on the interstate in December and we were stranded somewhere in Kentucky. A lot of money for repairs. Either we paid or we sat on the side of the road. In the freezing cold. UGH.

We gave up perks. Anything that we didn’t absolutely need we did away with. I was sad. I resented it. I’m ashamed to admit that I had a poor attitude on many occasions. This is not how life was supposed to be when we decided to build a house and move to another state. It was supposed to be an exciting adventure. It was an adventure alright….just not the kind that I had asked for or wanted.

I went through a bout of depression. Not clinical…but, close enough. I wanted to cry all the time and get out of this situation. I felt trapped in a dark place. I wanted to be upbeat. I wanted to say, “this will all work out in the end”. I longed to be “the glass is half full” kind of a gal. I failed. Miserably.

I ended up substitute teaching for a teacher out on maternity leave. 7 weeks. It was okay…but, my heart wasn’t in it. This was not the plan. I still clung to my old life. The one that was supposed to be different from where I currently found myself.

I wish I could say that I had a positive attitude, that I knew God would see us through these trials, that it would all work out in the end. I wish I could….but, I didn’t have it in me. My attitude was in a heap on the ground, I was seriously wondering if God cared about my pain, and I really thought we might lose everything— the end seemed imminent.

Sometime in March things changed for me. Really changed. Most of the circumstances were the same. Regardless of all that, something changed in me. God spoke to my heart, through His Word, through friends, through my church, through my family. It was as if a blindfold had been taken off of my eyes. I began to see how things had worked together… How God’s hand had been on my family’s situation all along. Even after I came to this realization and really took it to heart, it was still difficult. I still had doubt on occasion, but my attitude had changed. Instead of throwing a daily pity party for myself, I began to understand that maybe the reason that God had allowed this situation to continue was to teach me, and my family, a lesson in God’s provision.

Life lessons aren’t always easy. In most cases, if you are anything like me, it is the most difficult lessons that we learn the most from. I for one learned that my security in life doesn’t come from a nice car, a new house, or a fancy job. It comes from the Lord. He alone is where my true security lies. Amen.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”   Matthew 6: 19-21

Addendum:

1. We sold my house in Tennessee, at a loss, but still we sold it so we didn’t have to worry about two mortgages. The lady that bought it wanted to move  in by the end of the year. Our church in Tennessee pitched in and helped get all the cosmetic things done around the house so we would be ready by closing. They were Jesus’ hands and feet to us. They were part of God’s provision.

2. My husband got a new job, just a few weeks ago. This after a year and a half of looking.  Totally unexpected. A job he enjoys. One that provides medical insurance. Again, God’s provision.

3. Family and friends that helped us along the way, both financially and with words of encouragement. They were part of God’s provision.

4. I still don’t have a car….maybe, one day. I’m okay with that. At least we could pay off the IRS and not have to deal THEM. God took an accident and a totaled car and turned it into His provision.

God is good all the time.

Saved By His Amazing Grace

“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me.

I once was lost, but now am found

Was blind, but now I see……..”

Webster’s tells us that grace is an act of favor, kindness, or mercy. Grace is given to those that deserve it the least. It is given to those that could never pay the price for it…because it costs too much. More than I could ever afford or even begin to be able to pay back. Grace is a gift.

Years ago, when my story first began……I was spiritually dead. My heart was as dark as the sin that it held. My desire to please myself was great. It was all about me. If I had not met Jesus along the way, the road that I was on, most certainly would have  taken me to Hell. Yes, Hell. I thank God for His amazing grace. A grace that I did not deserve. A grace that I did not earn. A gift that He offered me. Thank God, I accepted the gift.

Some people don’t believe in Hell. They think it is just a metaphor for badness, or sadness. A philosophical place, so to speak. Not a real place. Other’s think that Hell is a place that is going to be one raucous party and that all their friends will be there, participating in all the other worldly vices. Sadly, that is what Lucifer would have them believe–that it isn’t all that bad, come join the party. Who needs the Lord? Who needs self sacrifice? Who needs the Bible? That isn’t any fun. It is too constricting. Do what you want, when you want, how you want.  After all this life is all about you!! Satan’s lies echo in the ears of those that live for their own self gratification.  Empty lies that claim to offer the world…but, instead lead to death.

Hell is real. It is a place.  I believe the saddest and most painful part of it, for those who find themselves there, is the isolation. What makes Hell, hell is that God is not there. There is no love, no compassion, no forgiveness, no hope, no joy, no friendship, no fairness, no understanding…..no more grace. These things are not there…because the God who possesses these qualities is not there. That is what Hell will be. I think there will be people in Hell that will have a deep and profound sadness because they will know that their eternity didn’t have to end up this way. It was their choice. They chose this for themselves. When people tried to tell them about God, they scoffed at them…calling them crazy, or weird, or other harsh names. When they were invited to attend church, they laughed that a church is the last place they’d ever go! When God quietly knocked at the door of their heart, they slammed it in His face. Denying their need for Him. Apathy sets in. Hearts harden. Minds are set. And days slip by.

I was a sinner in need of a Savior.  I’m grateful I realized this at a fairly young age. It saved me a lot of grief. Don’t misunderstand me. I am not claiming perfection. Lord knows, and so do a lot of other people, that I went through some bad times in my life. Sometimes I’d wonder to myself how I allowed this to happen? What was I thinking? This stuff hurts! What a mess I made. Stupid decisions. The pain at times, was great. In the midst of all this I knew that Christ was still there. He never left me. I was His child. I had accepted His gift of grace and salvation years earlier….and I was His. Much like a parent looks at his/her wayward child and their heart breaks, God looked at me. He didn’t leave me there in the slime and dirt of my own life….bogged down in the morass of my own decisions. He brought me out of that. He set me on a rock. Sturdy. Secure. Strong.

My story is not one of all rainbows and roses. Life is gritty…..and we are all human. We make mistakes. We makes reckless decisions. We have regret. In the midst of all this, Jesus is there. Regardless of what you’ve done, or not done in your own life, He loves you.  He wants to give you the gift of His amazing grace. Will you accept it?