Only Temporary

 

Todd, age 4, playing in the snow outside our basement home, winter 1980-81

I have learned to get along happily whether I have much or little. – Philippians 4:11 NLT

Thirty-nine years ago, we moved into an unfinished basement fifteen miles from town, hoping to save rent money as we built our house ourselves. I was a stay-at-home mom, so money was scarce with just my husband’s income—and even that was sometimes only a hundred dollars a week.

The children were still toddlers—Todd was four, and Jaime was 11 months—and boxes, clothes and toys cluttered every square foot as I struggled to make that concrete cubicle a home. The furnace, on loan from my husband’s boss until we could afford a new one (which ended up being 25 years later), needed repair. It was already mid-November, and winter was closing in fast. A constant fire in the woodstove did little to warm up the concrete surrounding us. Insulating the place was still on our to-do list. I wore long underwear, a toboggan hat and layers of clothing indoors.

The plumbing was unfinished, so we hooked up a garden hose to the water tank and fed it through the hole in the wall above the tub meant for the fixtures. Lugging pots of hot water from the kitchen, I’d flooded the floor twice getting the kids’ bath ready.

My back ached from sleeping on an old, lump sofa bed mattress so thin I could feel the support bars. Our comfortable queen-size bed was still in the wagon shed, where we temporarily stored items while we unpacked and organized.

Three days or disorganization, interruptions and things gone wrong left perfectionist me struggling with my emotions. Why can’t I have nice things, the easy way, like everyone else? I wondered. Why am I always a “have not” and never a “have”?

Although I tried not to complain (too much), my husband knew I was struggling and tried to cheer me up. “It’s only temporary,” he’d say when my impatience oozed through the growing cracks in my composure.

“Yeah, right,” I’d answer.

Then an early snowstorm dumped six inches on the countryside overnight. Every two hours I bundled up even more and shoveled swirling drifts away from the only door. Flinging heavy, wet snow over my shoulder, I finally gave in to self-pity.

“Temporary, temporary!” I fumed. “Is everything temporary?”

The answer came immediately. Even if you had everything exactly the way you wanted, it would still be temporary.

I couldn’t argue with that.

Lord, help me to remember that my earthly condition, whether rich, poor, or in-between, is only temporary. Remind me daily what’s really important. Amen.

Read and reflect on 1 Timothy 6:6–8.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea for the Seasons, © 2018 by Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

Our house now (summer 2019)

Sifting Season

Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers. – Luke 22:31­–32 NIV

When I first started baking—back in the dark ages of kitchen technology—almost every recipe that called for flour required that it be sifted. So when I furnished my first apartment, I bought a neat little avocado green sifter. And I used it, too.

Nowadays I don’t even own a sifter. Not because I don’t bake—well, I bake sometimes—flour just doesn’t need to be sifted anymore. It’s missing the lumps and the extra protein, a.k.a. bugs, that were once reasons for sifting. Plus the compacting that occurs when flour is handled and stored (in my case, for long periods of time) isn’t the problem it used to be.

Our modern flour caters to our hurry-up lifestyle. Anything that eliminates a step or two and shortens the process is the way to go.

But even with modern flour, sifting can still be beneficial. It separates and aerates the flour particles so they absorb better the liquids called for in the recipe. And sifting gives the flour a silky texture, fluffy and light.

Like flour, we, too, need to be sifted. Modern times have increased, rather than decreased, the need to separate the good stuff from the bad. Life’s rough handling leaves us with lumps of pain and confusion, and the bugs of an increasingly godless culture infect our minds, hearts, and spirits without us being aware of it or wanting it to. Overcrowded schedules press us down, leaving us helplessly wedged under the weight of too many commitments and too little time.

So every now and then we enter what I call the “sifting season”—a season of trouble, of heartache and pain, of problems with no answers and seemingly hopeless situations over which we have no control and which don’t make any sense to us.

Discouragement and doubt settle in for a long, unwelcome stay. We pray, but the ears of Heaven seem closed. We ask, but don’t receive. We seek, but can’t find. We knock, but the door remains shut tight.

Like the psalmist, we weep in despair, “Why have you forgotten me?” (Psalm 42:9).

But God has not forgotten us. He has allowed this season for a purpose: to sift us like flour, so that our lumps of stubbornness and selfishness are broken up, the bugs that have contaminated our very souls are removed, and we absorb better the truth and wisdom of God’s Word. It is during these times that the wheat is separated from the chaff as we learn what’s really important and what we can do without.

The sifting takes time, for the life of faith is not a hurry-up lifestyle. There are no shortcuts to holiness.

But, like all seasons, the sifting season will come to an end, and we’ll have the texture of a more mature Christian—silky, fluffy, light and free, and much better able to be used in the recipes of God.

Why are you downcast, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God. (Psalm 42:5).

Read and reflect on 1 Peter 1:3–9; Psalm 42

© 2019 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.