I want to apologize for not getting something written for a while. I want you to know I haven’t forgotten about you and honestly, I miss writing when life pulls me away from it. It is therapeutic for me to write and it stirs in me something I never can quite put my finger on but I just know that when I pour out, somehow I am filled up. How about you? Do you have something that makes you feel that way? Can you pour out something to others and then feel so filled up? I hope so! It will be something that will bring such meaning to your life.
This past week has been a tough one for my family. On Friday last week, just as my son Ethan put his last bag in the car so my husband Dave could drive him back to college after spring break, he got a call from his roommate who told him their house was on fire. Everyone was safe, so we praised God in that moment but we had no idea what was left, what could be restored, if he had a house or when the house would be livable again. We were out of control about everything. Our first thought was to take control. We decided to drive down on Saturday and try to figure things out but Ethan said he would rather just wait and go on Sunday and then stay down at school. We trusted and waited.
With hope in our hearts that there would be plenty left to salvage from the house, we put empty bins and trash bags in the truck. But when we stepped into the house we knew that those bins would remain empty on the way home. Sure, it was a college house so nothing in there was of great value but does that matter? It was still important to the boys and their lives. Nothing but a couple jackets, a blanket Grandma made for him (which still smells like smoke after being washed three times) and a heart full of empty was taken from the house.
It is in the midst of trouble that you find out who truly loves you and Ethan got a valuable lesson that day about a long term relationship he was in. Without going into too much detail, I will just say that, that relationship ended that day. It was as burned up as that house. It was a painful day. Dreams shattered. Hopes diverted. Plans rearranged. Lives changed. It is beyond painful to watch your son be hurt so badly. Not only was his physical home in ashes but his heart. But as I thought about ashes I remembered God’s words from Isaiah 61:3
and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.
God tells us that He can take the ashes of our life and make it something beautiful. The question is;
Do you believe that?
Have you ever gotten a gift that was wrapped terribly? I have. I remember looking at those terribly wrapped gifts and thinking that nothing good could come out of that package. But sometimes even the most terribly wrapped gift has a jewel inside. In fact, sometimes the most beautifully wrapped gifts are nothing but a bunch of junk.
This is true with some of the circumstances of our lives. Sometimes we are dealt some pretty tough stuff but many times those circumstances are just the terrible wrapping to the beautiful gift underneath. The same is true with beautifully wrapped circumstances. Sometimes that can just be a pile of junk.
Ever had something look so good and then find out in the end it was nothing but a curse? Maybe a job that seemed like your dream job, lots of money, lots of prestige but then you found out it also took you away from everything else you loved and so in the end it was a curse not a blessing? How about a relationship? Or a trip you planned? How about a decision that looked like it would give you the moon but as you unwrapped the plan you saw that it was everything but the moon and nothing good. I know I can think of quite a few of those in my life.
Now can you think about something that looked like a disaster that really turned out to be a huge blessing? Well, that is what we are seeing with this and we haven’t even completely unwrapped it yet!
Through this we have seen friends pull into help us and even just acquaintances reach out a hand to us. Someone did a random act of kindness by dropping off a bag of new shirts and some candy for Ethan. My sweet son looked at me with tear filled eyes and said; “It is so much more than shirts mom.” Of course it is Ethan, it always is. When we pour out to others it is always more than just what is seen. We both sat in the car stunned at the generosity of a friend who piled our truck full of furniture, pillows, kitchen stuff and dishes while saying we were helping her by letting her get rid of stuff. It was way more than just the stuff we could see, you know why, because it was love and we can’t see love…or can we?
God doesn’t always bring blessings to us in the wrapping we would like. I have decided that Jesus would not work at the Macy’s gift wrap counter. He sometimes wraps gifts about as well as my husband Dave, which is to say, not well at all! But just like Dave seems to surprise me with such thoughtful and wonderful gifts even though they are poorly wrapped, Jesus does the same. But we have to be willing to still unwrap those gifts and not be in a hurry to discount them as something unworthy of unwrapping.
What about you? Have you ever gotten a horrible blessing? When you unwrapped the tragedy or got past the burned paper of the gift wrap, did you find something of value? Or did you forget to unwrap it and only see it as junk? You know what, I hope that if that is the case you go back and try to open that gift and see what is really inside.
Does looking at it this way mean we don’t feel the pain? I can give you a resounding NO! Of course, we are still feeling the pain of this life in ashes but I can tell you from the very depths of my heart that I believe God is on His way to making it something beautiful! In fact, I am counting on it!
This is a picture of one of the boy’s shoes from the fire. As I snapped the picture one of the boys said; “The sole always remains.”
Oh how profound!
The SOUL always remains.
Even the worst wrapped present could have a small jewel in it. Unwrap it today and be blessed. Love really can be seen.
With love, Sue
Romans 8:28 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.
1 Timothy 1:14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
2 Timothy 4:5-7 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
Jesus Christ is my biggest passion. It is one of my greatest joys to share that passion with others through teaching, bible study, speaking and writing. It is my hope that others will know the love of God in Christ Jesus. On the Ottoman is my way of saying that I am sitting on the footstool of Jesus. These are the lessons I am learning as I come to His Word and live my life. I have worked as a nurse for 27 years and I believe I am still nursing people when I share Jesus. I am, in a sense, pointing them to the Great Physician of their soul. All healing comes from the inside out. The health of our Spirits is vital to the health of our mind and body. My hope is that through this blog my "nursing skills" will be expanded to reach out to a larger group of people. Maybe this is just the prescription you needed! http://www.ontheottoman.com/