Fresh Start? Well, maybe.
For my friends, my family and me, some of our plans are not going so well. Health problems, inexplicable injuries, cancer diagnoses, and monetary setbacks have already occurred!
So much for the resolutions… they were flushed.
But please don’t think I want to bum you out, especially if your year is on track to be stellar!
Good for you. God is good. All the time.
At least that’s what we say to each other. Have you heard it lately?
The truth is, God IS good, all the time, but sometimes the goodness is not about me or you, but about someone else.
Now, here’s a twist for you to think about: what if God inexplicably gave you the opposite of your requests?
How would you react?
What would you think and feel?
To illustrate, last week a friend and I got a direct object lesson on this very topic.
I am still shaking my head over the events.
Mary, my friend, and I had tried several times over several months – without success – to attend a mid-week Bible class at my church. Finally, mid-January, it happened! We joyfully studied the Word of God and commented on how much we had needed the message.
Afterward, the plan was to go out for coffee and catch up. It was bitterly cold and icy, but I hardly noticed as we parted ways in the parking lot for our respective cars, mine to the right and hers to the left. Soon we would be sharing a deep conversation over a warm, favorite brew.
My back to Mary, I had not taken more than three steps when I heard a scream.
“HELP ME! O LORD! MY HEAD!”
As I looked back, the scene was unbelievable. Mary lay still on the ground. She had hit a patch of black ice in the parking lot and landed hard, smacking the back of her head. Not able to move, she lay with her hand clutching her cranium on the frigid pavement. O Lord, help, indeed!
Quickly we got her covered, as she calmed her breath. In time, she determined this was not severe enough to call 911, but it did warrant a trip to the emergency room. Ice pack in place, we got there in a few minutes.
Little did we know this very hospital employed someone who was wounded as much, if not more, than Mary.
Not on the outside, of course, but in her soul.
You see, as Mary was being attended for her aching head, her nurse had an aching heart. Nurse “Heather” (not her real name) noted that we were friends and asked how we knew each other. We shared how we were on our way to coffee after Bible class. We laughed about meeting fortuitously in another Bible class years ago. We talked about our common interest in sharing Jesus in mom’s groups. She seemed wistful about our easy banter, the evidence of a ten-year-plus friendship.
“You don’t need a therapist when you have a friend like that,” she mused.
Routine checks showed a gouged head and a big bump. Thankfully, Mary’s cat scan showed no internal damage – praise the Lord! – and we started getting ready to leave.
But just as we were heading out, Heather stopped me. “Just a minute.”
“Can I have your name and email? My sister had a near death experience and I’m not ready to go. I need to learn what you know. I am so interested in your Bible class and ministry to moms.”
(A quick aside: here is where it dawned on me that I need some business cards made just for such occasions… Question: have you got yours made yet? Name, number, email, church website, organization Facebook page, intriguing Bible verse, etc.) Just sayin’…
Anyway, I quickly wrote out my information on a scrap of paper and thrust it toward her.
“We would love to have you join us at our mom’s Bible class. My girls will welcome you and help you.”
Mind you, I’ve given out my personal info many times before, but very few people follow through with any interest. Can you imagine my delight and surprise as I opened my email that night?
I never expected to receive a request and an urgent plea from Heather including a date and time when she would attend our class!
This encounter got me thinking.
Who was this about, Mary or Heather?
So often when our plans for something good or pleasant do not turn out the way we think, we get discouraged and start to question our amazing God.
This could have been one of those times.
Neither Mary or I would ever ask for a head-throbbing wound to happen. And yet, when I texted Mary about this outcome, she burst into literal and virtual tears.
Next she whooped and hollered about the goodness of the Lord!
It’s a thrill to have someone ask for the hope you have in Christ after they observe you sharing it.
Can you pray for Heather, and for all those hurting souls in your daily life that need to see Jesus in you?
Our good Father in heaven is all about protecting you, as well as using whatever he brings into your life, perceived as good or bad, to witness to others and draw them to him.
Because of life at this moment, I could say, “Happy Boo Year,” but I just cannot.
No matter what happens next, good or not so good, God’s got this.
For me. For you. For the lost around us.
And this truth gives my soul a fresh start!
Lord, your purpose is to save all, so open our eyes to see the lost wherever we go. Give us faith that feels as natural as breathing. When we are asked to give an answer for our hope in you, let it stream from us as living water. Wash away our doubt and help us to know that you do all things well.
And thank you Lord for healing Mary and for the hope of a fresh start for Heather!