Turning Pages


image courtesy of nuttapong/freedigitalphotos.net
(image courtesy of nuttapong/freedigitalphotos.net)

Why Turning Pages?

I have always been a big believer that everyone has a story. I truly believe that God is writing a beautiful, messy, adventurous story for each of us. One that’s full of trials and celebrations, mountains and valleys, grace and mercy.

Hebrews 12:2 says we should “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…”

I love this because my faith? It wasn’t always an easy thing for me. Yes, I had faith that Jesus was my savior and God was sovereign.

But faith is like a muscle. The more it’s exercised and worked, the bigger it grows. Those times in your life when your story is most exciting? Those are usually the times that are growing your faith.

If the last decade or so of my life were a novel, it would be interesting to note the foreshadowing that started with our wedding. Our first dance was to the song, “Come What May,” from Moulin Rouge. (Yes. We’re those artsy fartsy people who weren’t ready to let go of our theatrical streaks.) But honestly, I think God was prepping us for the story he was writing.

In the fall of 2005, we were new at our church and I wanted to get more involved. The ladies Bible study seemed like perfect timing so I jumped into Beth Moore’s Believing God. If you’ve never done it, I strongly recommend it.

Early on in the study, maybe even the very first week, Beth pretty much tells you to put your money where your mouth is. If you truly want your faith to be increased, she dares you to pray for that.

Let it be said: God always answers your prayers. The answer may not come in the form you were expecting (or hoping), but he answers. And he answers perfectly. Every. Single. Time. But we can’t always see it when we’re in the middle of our story.

We just have to keep turning the pages.

For the next decade, God was like a personal trainer totally devoted to working out my faith muscle. And he started just two days after I wrote that simple little prayer in my Believing God booklet.

My job fell through due to a paperwork issue between counties (and took our healthcare coverage with it), we had just closed on our first house, and two little pink lines popped up on a pregnancy test I wasn’t expecting to need for a year or so.

That was the beginning of a thrilling, terrifying, exciting, frustrating rollercoaster ride. God would allow us to get to the very brink of hopelessness and then bless our socks off with a huge reminder that he had us.

He was always there.

With each job loss, each setback, each sleepless night while Jake was in nursing school, each diagnosis that came for me and my children, through four years of deciding if we could pay for electricity or diapers, he was there.

Just when we were convinced that this would be our story forever, God would turn the page.

I remember one time when I was at the very edge of sanity. This time, instead of crying out to the Lord, I mostly screamed. I was in the middle of trying to get dinner ready for when my mom dropped the kids off. Something snapped. I was completely broken. I was sobbing on my kitchen floor.

In all honesty? I was mad. I felt so abandoned and betrayed by God. I had been faithful to him. Where was he in all of this?

After I cried it out and I mean, cried. Every. Tear. Out. Until I was dry. I was lying there on the cold tile and a song came on the radio. It was a Barlow Girl song that says, “I cried out with no reply and I can’t feel you by my side. So I’ll hold tight to what I know: You’re here and I’m never alone.”

God used that to teach me a huge truth. Sometimes, faith means choosing to believe. Sometimes, it requires real work. It’s when everything is stripped away. When you are broken down to your core and there is nothing left. Then, what are you going to do? What are you going to say? What are you going to believe?

In that moment, I stood up and I chose to believe that he was there. Even when I didn’t feel the warm fuzzies. Even when I didn’t hear a reply. I held tight to what I knew – I’m never alone.

There wasn’t immediate sunshine and rainbows like in the movies when the hero finally makes the smart move. It was more subtle than that. It would be a scripture brought to mind just when I needed it. A new song on the radio to encourage my heart. A MOPS speaker who seemed to be there just for me.

Hindsight is always 20/20. Now I have the privilege of looking back over the years and seeing how God was weaving our stories together. Stories that built my faith so strong.

Since those kitchen floor days, I’ve realized that every hard time I’ve been through was God choosing to mold and shape me. He considered me worthy of his time and attention. He was (and is) writing my story. Finally James 1:2-3 made real life sense to me. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”

Our stories are given to us so that we can share them with others. You never know who needs to hear your story. God brings people across our paths every day. People who are going through things that we might never even know about. You could have just the story they need to hear. God is giving you your story so that you can give it to others.

We just need to keep turning the page.

Advertisements

Flight Lessons

The unmistakable smell of jet fuel hit my nose and I immediately felt the cold sweat break out across my forehead.  There was something stuck to the wheel of my suitcase that created a rhythmic whirring as I rolled across the dark parking lot.  I tried to match my breathing to the sound, but my pulse wasn’t as cooperative.  It seemed to speed up with each step.  Despite the predawn hour, our little regional airport was already bustling with activity.  By the time I made it through the sliding doors, my head was spinning.

This was happening.

I waited in the security line, trying to keep up the appearance of being an active listener to my new friend.  What was actually going on in my mind – about a thousand and one things that could go wrong in the next 20 minutes.  What if my bag was too big?  What if I was wrong about the allowed liquids?  What if I didn’t make it through security?  What if I didn’t have a seat?  What if had a complete and total breakdown in front of all these strangers?

There was no backing out.  I was getting on this plane and I was flying to Kansas City for the weekend of a lifetime.  And I was going to do it no matter how terrified I was to fly.

From my seat near Gate B7, I stared at this seemingly tiny jet and watched the pilot through the window as he checked gauges and turned dials and did whatever pilots do before they take off.  He gulped some coffee from a cup.  “Yes sir,” I thought.  “Drink up!”

As we began to board the plane, I walked down the tunnel with all the enthusiasm of a death march.  Just before I walked through the little door, I placed my right hand on the cold surface of the plane and whispered a desperate prayer.

In the blink of an eye, the flight attendants were in their seats and we were zooming down the runway.  I felt my body sink into my seat as we defied gravity and left the ground.  My eyes shut tight as my lips moved over the words of Romans 15:13.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

When my ears popped for the last time and the plane leveled out, I managed to squint my left eye open a tiny bit.  And this is what I saw…

flightlessonsadp

Seeing the sunrise from 30,000 feet just took my breath away.  For the rest of the flight, I was completely fascinated by my view from the tiny window.  When I had my moments of wishing my husband was there with me to hold my hand, I felt God whisper to my spirit, “Not this time.  This time is just for you and me.  We’re going to do this together.”

I had no choice but to rely on God.  I went to him with my fear.  I went to him for comfort.  His words calmed my spirit.

How many times in my life have I seen this?  When all is stripped away, when there are no other options offered by this world, when I just can’t do it on my own.  Those are the times when I am closest to him.  When I’m desperate to grab hold of him.

And he is always there.  Again.  And again.  And again.

He is faithful.

When the jobs are lost.  When the bank account is in the red.  When the diagnoses come.  When I am feeling lost and alone.

He is with me.

Now.  Did I still jump two feet when the landing gear popped open?  Of course, I did.  Much to the amusement of my neighbors.  But I am holding tight to those lessons I learned and I’m taking them with me.  Now when I see that streak of white against the blue sky, I smile and remember that sweet time I was able to spend one-on-one with my Father.

Glory.
Glory.