Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A Lot Can Happen in 5 Years....

I guess I am resurrecting this journal again, at least temporarily. My heart is overflowing with emotion and I just want to get some of that out in a place that I can be clear and concise...and that is in writing. I am terrible at verbalizing what I think and feel, but give me a pen to write with or a keyboard to type on and it just rolls out. I don't know why it's so different from speaking, but it is for me. Maybe I'm less afraid of how it sounds when I write it, i don't know. Anyway.

5 years. It can be a long time, or a very short time. I guess if you had to wait 5 years for something, it would seem like forever! But in hindsight, looking back on all that God has done, 5 years has been like the blink of an eye. My entire life has, more than that, it has begun. And what a beginning it has been!

5 years ago today, my husband's first wife passed away. She was a wonderful woman and one that I had the opportunity to get to know many years ago when we were suite mates in college. We were in different circles of friends and didn't spend tons of time together, but I do remember that she was a likeable person who I enjoyed chatting with--and that at the end of the year, I left for the summer wishing that I had gotten to know her better.

After learning the news of her death, my world began to crumble. At the time I was walking down a dangerous path that was far from God. It was completely self-serving and self-destructive, all wrapped up into one ugly mess. Here was someone who was younger than me, who was living for God and serving Him, who was just abruptly taken from this world....and I was smacked in the face with the realization that if that had been me, my life thus far would have been completely wasted on my own desires. I wanted desperately to change, and 5 years ago, the greatest loss Derrick has ever faced became the event that jump-started my journey back home to my Savior.

And fast-forward 5 years. I'm sitting here tonight reflecting on all that has happened. All that God has done. How He compelled Derrick and I to find each other--both completely broken before Him--and showed us beyond any doubt that He had a plan for us, and that included sharing life together. I remember praying again and again that if we could bring more glory to Him together than we could apart, that He would show us. And every time, He would clearly answer, "YES!" It was an amazing experience as I witnessed His incredible grace and perfect timing throughout our relationship. I still get weepy when I think about all He has done in us, through us, and for us. He is just a great and loving God. I no longer question why tragedy happens...I have watched first hand as God has taken something so painful and turned it into absolute beauty. I still fear loss, just as anyone does, but not without hope and confidence that He works out every circumstance for His good and His glory.

There is this urgency I have about life now that I never had before. It used to feel like I had all the time in the world, and now I am fully aware that this is just not true. We have this focus and drive to serve in any way we can to bring glory to the One who has loved us and saved us so perfectly and completely. I just love my Father in heaven so much....He laid down everything for me, for all of us, and all He wants is our hearts. It is such a small thing to give in comparison to the great and wondrous love He has shown us. People think it's so hard to give up everything and follow Him....but when we fully realize what He has done, and what we truly deserve, making our entire lives a sacrifice just doesn't seem like nearly enough. Because it isn't. That's the beauty of grace...we don't die to ourselves in order to earn His favor....we become living sacrifices because we are just falling over ourselves in gratitude to the One who loves us more than we will ever comprehend. What else matters in life but this? What possible reason could we have to be on this earth but to bring Him more and more glory? When you really start to see the big picture, it's just too incredible to ignore and go back to "regular" life. Comfort is not an option....and if we do choose it, it's only fleeting anyway.

I've been doing a lot of reflecting lately since a dear friend of mine lost her husband to cancer this summer. I am reminded of all that God has done in Derrick's life and all the growing that has taken place. He no longer sees life the same way...and that has motivated and compelled me to let go of this world and all of its temporary pleasure and cling to Christ. It is not easy. People don't always understand. A lot of times they think we're nuts, and sometimes they even say it to our faces. But it's ok. Because we know what He has brought us through, and we know that following Him is the only option worth having. Everything else leads to a dead end--but Jesus...well anywhere He's going, we want to go, too. He's the way, the truth, and the life. THE life. That settles it for me. The way I look at it, it would have been so easy and understandable to most people if Derrick had just said, "Forget this!" and walked away from following God. Most people would have thought it made perfect sense. After all, who wants to trust in a God who lets the love of your life die? But God led him to the book of Job....and he was reminded of His sovereignty and that it is impossible for a mere man to ever comprehend the vastness of God's "big picture" plan. He orchestrates every detail of our lives. And we can trust Him completely. Not too long ago, I was really struggling with anxiety and fear, and Derrick encouraged me to study Job with him. We did, and it changed my perspective in so many ways. I am willing to rest and trust in God's plan now. That is something I could not say 5 years ago. I'm not even sure I could say that 2 years ago! But I can say it right now. At this very moment, I know without a doubt that He can be trusted. He is good, He is so much greater than I could ever imagine, and I am resting in that.

I pray this is encouraging to someone who reads it. Maybe you are struggling with fear of the unknown and of what you cannot control. Look to Jesus, who loves you and will never leave you! Maybe you are choosing to walk down your own path, and it's leading nowhere but to your own destruction. Look to Jesus, who is a loving Father, waiting to welcome home His prodigal son. Maybe you are facing the greatest loss of your life, and the grief is so great that you feel you cannot go on. Look to Jesus, who knows your pain better than you do and cares more deeply about you than you can imagine.

"And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him,  who have been called according to His purpose." ~Romans 8:28

I have no idea what the next 5 years will bring, but I do know that HE is fully aware of every moment, and that is more than enough for me!