Tuesday, January 8, 2008

THE SILVER LINING

I remember years ago working on a construction site with my uncle who is a follower of Jesus. He hurt his arm, and the first words out of his mouth were "Praise the Lord!" One of the fellow workers said, "You just hurt your arm, why are you praising the Lord?" His reply was, "I could have broken it." How often in our unpleasant situations do we fail to give thanks that the Lord did not lay on us more than we could bear? If we look closely at the storms we face, we will see the silver lining traced by the hand of God and which represents a small glimpse of the greater glory of His presence and working that is hidden in and behind the apparent darkness. The sparrows do fall, but Jesus said that not one of them is forgotten before God, and not one of them falls apart from His knowledge. Jesus is reassuring us that the Father, who loves us with a stedfast and everlasting love, is aware of where we are and what we face. Like the sparrow we may face unpleasant situations, but not without our Father’s love and care.

In my travels I have experienced what on the surface appeared to be unfortunate incidents, but which were permeated with obvious signs of God's providential care and protection. Here a few examples:

I had transmission work done on my van and then made a round-trip drive to Raleigh, NC from my home near Myrtle Beach, SC. Upon returning home, as I was driving on the gravel lane leading to my house, a front tire and wheel detached and came off. I lost control of the van but I was only driving 15 mph on the dirt road and so there was no accident. The transmission shop had failed to set a pin in place, and the whole left front axle and tire had detached. I had driven to Raleigh and back at 70 mph speed on the interstate. But the tire waited until I turned onto the gravel road at home to actually fall off. I hate to think what could have happened had this occurred on the interstate.

On another occasion I was traveling to Florida on a job project. I stopped off to spend the night with friends in Bluffton, SC near Hilton Head. As I was leaving their home the next morning to resume my trip down I-95 one of my front tires blew-out and went flat in their drive-way. It turns out that a sharp piece of metal had been scraping the inside of the tire for a while and had been cutting into the tire each time I made a sharp turn. It was very inconvenient having a delay and having to get a new tire, but I was so thankful to the Lord that the tire went flat in my friends’ yard instead of somewhere on I-95 on my drive to Florida.


Once I was driving on a Sunday afternoon to be at a work project the next morning in Goldsboro, NC, about 3 hours from my home. The alternator on my van died in Whiteville, NC about 2 hours from where I needed to be. It was a helpless feeling. Sunday evening, everything closed, and my needing to be at work early the next morning. I called a good friend who lived in that town. It turned out that I was stranded across the street from his brother’s auto shop. He came and picked me up, and we left my van at his brothers shop. He loaned me a vehicle to use that week while his brother fixed the van. Here was another situation that on the surface was inconvenient and something for an ungrateful heart to complain about. But yet, there were the clear and unmistakable signs of God’s providential care and provision.


Last week I drove to Atlanta for a class that the company requires of its employees at the beginning of each year. I made the 7 hr return trip from Atlanta to Myrtle Beach, and parked the van in my yard at home. It sat there for the last few days except for one trip to the grocery store. Yesterday when was I started to leave my house, I smelled gas, and the engine shut off. It appears a fuel line has broken. Gas was draining underneath the van. I am now waiting for a tow truck to pick it up to take it to the shop for repair. Again, an inconvenience as well as a cost, and on the surface something to complain about. But yet, I am so thankful that this happened in the yard at home instead of in the middle of nowhere on the Interstate between Atlanta and home.

One interesting point of note in the experiences listed above is that while God allows problems, He will never forsake us in them or to them. In each situation above I was protected from undue complications and distress. Each incident occurred at home, at a friend’s, or close to available help. I was not stranded in dire and helpless situations. The tire fell off, but on the gravel road near my home rather than on the freeway at 70 mph. The gas line broke but not on the Atlanta rush hour freeway or in the middle of nowhere. It seems that in every difficult experience, there is something to be thankful for. We should especially be thankful that God our Father sees and knows. The sparrow may fall, but not without his knowledge. The hairs of our head may fall, but nevertheless, He has them numbered. Psalm 121 encourages us to know that our help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth. “The Lord shall preserve your going out and coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore.” Ps 121: 8

3 comments:

what's the deal with that said...

Dear Dad,

i really love this entry. it's the story of my life. It seems that everything challenge i go through always leads back to the same place...lessons and gratitude. And of course, that one little fact that we're never given more than we can handle. i got a lot out of this blog entry, because it reminds of many things that i have to carry with me every day that i often forget.

the first thing is that we are always provided for and watched over. even when things don't seem to have a solution or an end. your stories show some very immediate and satisfying resolutions to what could have been very disastrous situations. how wonderful that you have that gift in your life. it's a huge one...to be given the immediate chance to see the provision and care that in in each of our lives. to me, those are just little reminders about the big things and the overall pictures of our lives. those little incidents show us that if He takes the time to care for us in those small things, how much does He care about those big huge, seemingly impossible-to-fix things in our lives? i'd say a lot. it's like a little love note reminding us that even in the smallest challenges, He's there.

Also, i think about the big challenges in my life as a single mom. i think about all those days when i wonder how i'm going to feed and clothe us and pay the bills and something comes through...a new project or a small financial gift...and it's always just the right amount to get us through. there's that reminder again. there's the struggle and the surrender always present in life. the challenge that is placed before us, almost like a homework assignment...how are we going to handle this new challenge in our life? are we going to believe and trust that we are provided for? that we have everything we need? do we think we can do it all on our own? sometimes the test is just whether or not we can surrender to God the circumstances and the impossibility of where we are...let Him take over for us and have no attachment to the outcome...remove our own agenda from a situation.

and can we always have gratitude in our hearts, even when we don't get that immediate answer or solution or things turn our very differently than what we wanted to happen?

i guess my prayer for my own life is that i can always show up in the face of every challenge with trust...not faith, because faith is believing without proof and trust is believing with absolute proof..that God has orchestrated every last minute of my life and that i can rest squarely in His hands, my life handed over to the great and miraculous plan.

i love you, dad!
mary

Billy Long said...

Mary,
What a great entry into the comments. I am proud of you.
Love,
Dad

josenmiami said...

I bet you are proud, Billy... Mary reminds me of one of my daughters ... we are blessed as fathers!