Trio of Trouble

DEJA VU: I didn’t take a picture of DH changing the most recent flat tire, so here’s a couple of pictures of the flat tire we had on I-80 E coming back from our trip to the Pacific Northwest two years ago. The tire went flat just past Chicago on a section of road reputed to be the worst.

Oh, give thanks to the LORD for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. – Psalm 107:1 NKJV

I got up early one Sunday morning three weeks ago to work on my sermon, but the bottom two rows of my computer keyboard didn’t work. I couldn’t even use the spacebar.

Then, on the way to church, we had a flat tire on the camper. We’d planned to leave for the Allegheny National Forest for a camping trip right after church.

On Monday morning, I put in my hearing aids, but one didn’t work. After I changed the battery, it still didn’t work.

“It’s dead,” I told DH. “Kaput.”

I couldn’t get an appointment with my hearing aid guy until August 6. So I went two weeks feeling off-balance, out of sync. And asking “What?” a lot.

I lamented on Facebook, listing my trio of woes.

“Trouble comes in threes,” one friend commented. “I’m so happy all your troubles are over!”

If only.

“God is good,” people say when their prayers are answered in the manner they want. When unexpected blessings come their way. When life is smooth sailing.

But how many say “God is good” when their prayers aren’t answered the way they want, and heaven’s blessing doors seem shut tight? Do they say “God is good” when trouble comes and moves in for an extended stay?

We sing, “God is good all the time,” but do we live the lyrics?

We should. Because the God we believe in on the mountain is still God in the valleys of our lives. “The God of the good times is still God in the bad times. The God of the day is still God in the night.”*

I’m learning firsthand the truth of the words Paul wrote to the Philippian believers: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6–7 NLT).

Over and over these words have come to mind this year. This Scripture has become my theme verse for the year—not one I chose at the beginning of January, but one that chose me through life experiences.

And so I’ve refused to fret over the broken keyboard, the flat tire, and the dead hearing aid. Although money is tight with DH being retired now.

I ordered a new keyboard, which I’m still getting used to. (I miss my old one.) At a little over $30, it didn’t break the bank.

We went camping on the spare tire. And had one of the most wonderfully relaxing, refreshing, and rejuvenating trips in a long time.

DH determined we needed to replace all four tires on the camper, since they were on when it bought it last year and we didn’t know how many miles they’d traveled. Gulp! But he did his research, and the final bill totaled a couple hundred less than what we first figured. (Is anyone out there in the market for some good but used camper tires?)

And finally, the dead hearing aid. When I visited my hearing aid guy this week, he discovered the problem wasn’t in the aid itself but in a replaceable filter. Instead of over a grand or more for a new hearing aid, I paid the usual $25 for a clean and check.

“God has a reason for allowing things to happen,” I read online today. “We may never understand His wisdom, but we simply have to trust His will.”

All in all, it could have been worse. I am blessed. God is good. Even when trouble comes in threes.

Those who are wise will take all this to heart; they will see in our history the faithful love of the Lord. –Psalm 107:43 NLT

Remind me, Lord, when troubles come, that You are still in control and I am still blessed. Amen.

Read and reflect on Psalm 37.

*From Tracy Dartt’s “God on the Mountain

© 2019 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

Unforced Rhythms of Grace

Image by Gary Cunliffe from Pixabay

“Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.” – Jesus, as quoted in Matthew 11:29 (The Message)

This month marks the sixteenth anniversary of my sister’s death.

She was only 55. It was totally unexpected.

These things change you. Change the way you think about things. Change the way you live.

At the time I was teaching full time and writing part time for a local newspaper. With the youngest in college and the older two on their own, it was time to pursue those dreams I’d put on the back burner to raise a family.

While teaching was my passion, I wasn’t finding fulfillment in covering school board and county commissioners meetings and election results. And while I loved the camaraderie of the newsroom staff, getting up early Saturday mornings to drive 45 minutes in all kinds of weather to type obituaries wasn’t getting me any closer to my writing goals.

Of course I ignored the signs of dissatisfaction and pushed on. Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do?

Then a post-operative blood clot took the life of my only sister just when we were getting close again. I didn’t even have a chance to say goodbye.

I shivered on the love seat for days, in shock.

Change. It’s foisted on all of us. Whether we welcome it or not.

The key to surviving it is to look to God, knowing He has a plan and purpose for us (Jeremiah 29:11, Psalm 139:16), knowing He takes the rough draft of the chapters of our lives and revises them so they shine (Romans 8:28) and lead to the ending He has planned. And knowing that if we follow our Shepherd, we will arrive at that ending without burning ourselves out.

But I hadn’t been stopping long enough to listen to God.

My sister’s death was a wakeup call—to pause in my headlong rush to fulfill my dreams and be all things to all people, and determine where I was truly headed.

Davis Bunn, in his 40-day devotional “The Turning,” writes, “When we read, we give no notice to the spaces between the words. And yet those pauses are vital. Without them, there is nothing but a senseless jumble. With them, thoughts are unique, words are clear, ideas fashioned, lives transformed. So it is with the brief pauses we make to stop and listen. Our thoughts and actions take on new clarity.”

And so it was for me. If I were to die suddenly in my mid-fifties, I thought, would I have realized my dreams? Within a week, I resigned from the newspaper job.

I still get too busy, lose focus, and drift away from God’s path for me. It’s refreshing to pause, still the clamor of life, rest and recharge spent batteries.

“Are you tired? Worn out?” Jesus says. “Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace” (Matthew 11:28–29, The Message).

I’m a slow learner, Lord. I have to force myself to slow down. Sometimes my body, mind, and spirit are just too exhausted to push on. Remind me often to pause to reflect, rest, and recharge. Amen.

Read and reflect on Psalm 23

From God, Me & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God. © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Used with permission.