"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." Psalm 51:10

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Just a Little Bit of Magic, Please?

When my sister and I were in elementary school, we believed we had magical powers. One day while plodding down our street during a drizzly Oregon rain, we chanted the words, “Rain, rain, go away; come again some other day. We want to play.” Magically, the rain stopped, and we knew we had power. Desiring to use our newfound magic to good use, we ran upstairs to our shared bedroom and began pillaging through Barbie dresses. We each chose a beautiful dress, placed them on our bed and cast a spell to enlarge them to our sizes. Nothing happened, so we determined we must have to leave the room and reappear at a later time. Sadly, when we reentered the room, those Barbie-size dresses had not grown one inch. Our hopes were dashed.
Haven’t we all wished for wonder working power at some point? Hoping for life size Barbie dresses pales in comparison to being rescued from a crisis or a stinky season in my life. Wouldn’t it be nice if stores carried a magic potion that transported us to life without heartache and trouble? Life rarely happens exactly as we’ve planned it. Even our days are often replete with unplanned events. Just this morning lunch with a friend was moved back an hour and another appointment was cancelled. While this isn’t a catastrophe, many times life’s occurrences are. Tragedies can sideswipe us in the blink of an eye, a moment’s notice.
                These Plan B’s as Pete Wilson calls them in his book titled Plan B, can either happen to us because of someone else’s choices or occur because of our own poor choices. Regardless of the reason, we must decide how we are going to react. Are we going to allow this situation to make us bitter or better? Most likely, these crises have the potential to bring us closer to Jesus, if we allow Him to transform us. The question is, will we let Him have access to our hearts?
                Thinking we’ll travel through life with smooth sailing, following our to-do lists, is as likely as a year without rain in Seattle. I graduated with an English degree, planning to teach secondary students for the rest of my life. I taught for a few years and have been swabbing kitchen floors and doing laundry ever since. I never imagined I’d live anywhere else but the northwest side of the country. What am I doing in Indiana, where Hoosier Hysteria reigns, in a town I never even knew existed before 10 years ago? My plan also didn’t include getting divorced and being a single parent to two small children.
                Many of us dream about a life of ease, with financial comforts, happy marriages and well-behaved kids.  We work hard to fulfill our dreams, our plans, our desires, yet oftentimes neglect to commit those plans to God. Proverbs 16:9 says, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.” I like to plan my course; I just occasionally forget about God in doing so. I assume that God wants what I want for me. Yet, over the years, I’ve learned that He cares more about my character than my comfort.
                It seems like God has allowed me to experience a lot of those character-building field trips. Going through a heart-wrenching divorce was the biggest by a mile. My plan was to stay married forever; divorce was never an option. But, unexpected circumstances caused such calamity that what I thought I’d never consider became a topic of conversation and then a reality. My dream shattered, my heart broken, tears flowing, I clung with dear life to my Savior, my Rescuer, my Protector. Psalm 126:5-6 says, “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.” I sowed a lot of seed during that period of time that reaped a harvest of joy years later.
                Satan sought to destroy, derail and distract me with this tragedy, but God planned beauty, blessing and a bright future. I chose to believe in His goodness for me. There isn’t anything that happens to me that He doesn’t know about. A friend of mine once said, “It’s comforting to know that God knows my story. And, whether He allows something to happen or causes it, He will be with me. He must know I can handle it.”
                 Eventually, God restored my dreams of marriage to a godly man who had also been broken by divorce.  How grateful I am that my God can take our plan B’s and bring beauty from the ashes, healing from the heartache, deliverance from destruction.
                “Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23           

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