Hangeth Thou in There

 

The fruit of the Spirit is . . . patience. –Galatians 5:22 NIV

Do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord, no matter what happens. … Patient endurance is what you need now, so you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. –Hebrews 10:35–36 NLT

“Any time a man takes a stand, there will come a time when he’ll be tested to see how firmly his feet are planted.” –Author unknown

It all began with an email—one of those forwards I usually delete without opening. All my bad luck I can blame on deleting them, because most come with a curse or a guilt trip if I don’t forward it to seven or ten or a hundred friends within seven minutes.

But this one I opened and scanned the contents. Then my eyes stopped. “God, deliver the person reading this right now from debt and debt burdens.”

With a son in college and the escalating cost of living, it was getting harder and harder to keep our heads above water.

The following Sunday (Okay, I forwarded it to seven people, including the person who sent it to me—may the gods of cyberspace be appeased), I noticed in the church bulletin an announcement about a workshop for managing finances. “Get control of your finances. Get out of debt.” I read.

“We’re going,” I told my husband.

After the workshop, we resolved to commit ourselves to getting our finances under control. And we started praying together every morning at 5:30 a.m. before Dean left for work.

At first things seemed to be going smoothly. Two unexpected checks came in that month to help the income meet the outgo. We came up with numerous, creative ways to tighten our belts, streamline and simplify.

Then our son’s car—the one Dean worked on all summer and into which we’d poured hundreds of dollars—broke down. It was like a giant hand was pushing us back under water. For two weeks, Dean tinkered with it, trying to figure out what the problem was. Then he turned it over to an engine repair shop that still couldn’t find the problem after two weeks.

We asked ourselves, “What’s this going to cost?”

My freelance income had all but dried up.

The more I prayed, the more I heard God telling me, over and over and over: Be still. Wait. Be patient.

Waiting is not one of my strong points, and patience is not a virtue I possess in abundance.

But everywhere I turned there it was: on the screen at church as we sang worship songs, on a bowl on a friend’s coffee table, in my devotional readings—Be still. Wait. Be patient.

My journal pages filled up with Scripture that jumped out at me and insights that pierced my mind like a well-aimed arrow. One morning I wrote: “I want this time to be over quickly, learn the lesson, and move on to better things, out of the hole of debt. But God is doing a greater work in us.

“Our marriage relationship is becoming stronger. We’ve become closer as we discuss things and as we pray together every morning. We try to help each other out of the funk we get in when we focus on the mountain and not on the God who’s bigger than the mountain. We’re seeing more of what we have and less of what we don’t have, what we truly need and what we could do without. And God is strengthening the ‘do-without’ so we don’t miss what we’ve eliminated. He’s showing us where we’re weak and helping us to overcome those weaknesses.

“We’re on the road to a better, stronger, more satisfying marriage; a simple, more satisfying lifestyle, and a closer walk with God as we learn to depend on Him and trust Him more and more.

“This process takes time. I should not rush it. God knows what He’s doing.”

Dear God, help me to hang in there. Remind me that what You have in store for us will be worth the wait. Amen.

Read and reflect on James 1:2–4; 5:7–11.

PLEASE NOTE: This was written in 2008 and included in my latest devotional book, God, Me, & a Cup of Tea, Vol. 3. Our son has since been weaned from the wallet, and DH is retired.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea, Vol. 3 © 2019 Michele Huey. All right reserved. Used with permission.

Moonflower Faith

Image by Francesco Pitarresi from Pixabay

I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith. – 1 Timothy 4:7 NIV

 I’d never heard of moonflowers until a friend posted a picture of hers on Facebook. “The blossoms bloom only at night,” she wrote.

Flowers that bloom only in the dark? Intrigued, I did some online research.

Moonflower vines, I learned, can grow up to 20 feet, with 4-to-6-inch white, fragrant blossoms opening in the evening until the following morning.

How like faith—genuine, real, rubber-meets-the-road faith. Faith, I’ve learned, is only faith when you can’t see. When you’re in the dark, not knowing, not in control. When you have no one else to turn to but God.

Have you ever known anyone who possesses such a faith? I did.

To say that Louise was a joyful person was an understatement. Joy bubbled out of her. I rarely saw her without her bright smile and sparkling eyes—and sense of humor. Situations that would give me permission to wallow in self-pity, she managed to find the light side. Like the time she came to church sporting a black eye, caused by the recoil from her hunting rifle. The church pianist, she sat at the keyboard on the platform, laughing as she told us the story.

Louise and her husband, Carl, once led an active, busy life, led by their love for their family, their church, and their Lord. Blessed with musical talent, they often sang together, visiting numerous churches in the area. They produced cassette tapes, offering them for a donation to cover the cost of production.

When Louise was diagnosed with cancer, Carl was chronically ill himself. Since she could no longer take care of him, he went to live in a local nursing home.

Wanting to offer back some of the comfort she’d always given me, I made a batch of chicken soup and took it to her. But she was the one who ministered to me.

“When I woke up this morning,” she said as we sat at her kitchen table, “before I even got out of bed, I lay there, just praising God.”

Photo courtesy of Louise Tucker Jones

Louise lived the words she once sang: “You talk of faith when you’re up on the mountain. Talk comes easy when life’s at its best. But it’s down in the valley of trials and temptations, that’s when faith is really put to the test. The God on the mountain is still God in the valley. When things go wrong, He’ll make it right. And the God of the good times is still God in the bad times. The God of the day is still God in the night.”*

Shortly before she passed away, a month before Carl, I saw some pictures of Louise on Facebook. Her thin frame and head turban told of the battle she waged. But her bright eyes and smile that lit up her whole face told another story—a story of a moonflower faith, its beauty opening to the dark, exuding an unforgettable fragrance into the world around it.

O God, may my faith, too, be a moonflower faith. Amen.

Read and reflect on Hebrews 11.

*From the song, “God on the Mountain” by Tracy Dartt.

© 2019 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.