Resting in the Favor of God

Lately I feel like my life has been reading like a soap opera. What happened this week? Oh, you know, death, violence, tragedy, mental health emergencies, major appliances broken…

Yesterday my 2nd grader was playing on the playground at school. Two cars drove past the school, shooting guns at each other. The kids heard the gunshots and ran inside, school went on a soft lockdown, lots of police were present as the kids were dismissed from school. You know. Just another day. 

On the same day, we had a child with a mental health crisis, and it came home to me again, that our health system is letting the kids down. Our school has a program where a therapist comes to the school from one of the big providers in our area, and meets with the kids at school and does home visits during the summer. Awesome program. Except the therapist quit her job in November, and they still haven’t replaced her. And my child is falling through the cracks. Our own doctor’s office only does mental health visits over the phone or zoom, which doesn’t work well for small children. After a flurry of phone calls, we have found a new place we are going to try that does in person visits. Thank goodness. 

And this just seems to be our everyday life now. 

This year I have felt an urgency and conviction to actively work at keeping myself in a good place mentally. I am prone to depression and anxiety and have learned that these are things I have to constantly be working on to keep them at bay. With a lot of pushing and shoving from the Holy Spirit, I started a new exercise and diet program in January that is giving me good results. I started taking high school Algebra 1 online, just for the challenge, and I have enjoyed the sense of accomplishment, every time I pass another exercise or another quiz. God has been convicting me of my choices in entertainment, and I have been working on a big shift in what I read, which is a whole story in itself, but I have been working on filling my mind with more wholesome things. (Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8)

This is my testimony, despite all the craziness, I have not been shaken. I know when I was younger, things would happen, and I would wonder if I was being punished for some wrongdoing. I would wonder if all these troubles were a sign that I was not walking in the right direction. I believed that if I was a Christian, then my life should be mostly blessed, simple. And if it wasn’t, then I must be doing something wrong. 

I don’t believe that anymore. God is good but his goodness doesn’t always look like the Perfect American Dream. The bible is pretty clear that we are going to have trials and hardship and persecution. 

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Right now I feel like I am in a place of faith building. Each day I feel almost bewildered at how normal I feel. Things happen, and I step back and shake my head, when is all the crazy going to stop? But, then I keep moving and keep tackling whatever is in front of me. And I marvel that God is still keeping me in a place of peace. Yes, I am worried about what is happening in our nieghborhood with gun violence. Yes, I am concerned over many things, but my head is still above water and I’m still swimming.  And that is all God. 

My daughter has been playing a song recently and the refrain is stuck in my head. It’s from the Psalm 30:5, the first half of the verse:

For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime;

Funny as it sounds, I feel very much like I am resting in the favor of God. Despite the soap opera thing going on. 

Running on Empty

You know that phrase, “God never gives you more than you can handle” ? I am going to go on record and say, Bullcrap. That is not true. 

Looking back at my life I can see times when all of my reserves have been full. I have had a lot of margin in my life: lots of stored up energy, an overabundance of grace and peace. And then there have been times when I have been completely drained dry, nothing left to give. I would compare those times to kind of like putting $5 of gas in your tank every day and then having to commute to work and run to the store, and every night, the tank is empty and you wonder if you can make it to the gas station with what you’ve got left the next morning. And you hope you can dig up another $5 for the next day. 

Sometimes God throws jobs and challenges at us that are more than we can handle. 

Giving birth to ten children within a sixteen year stretch of time, was more than I could handle. Raising ten kids was more than I could handle. Having various homeless families and couples live with us over the years was more than I could handle. Taking in foster kids was more than I could handle. 

I find myself in a place now, where the phrase, “Give us this day, our daily bread.” really means something to me. I am in daily need of sustenance. Daily. Yesterday’s bread is gone and used up. I need more today. The phrase “My grace is sufficient for you..” has heavy meaning. Sufficient means enough, adequate. Note, it does not mean overflowing abundance. It’s just the right amount, none left over. Each day I need a new dose of that grace. 

I have learned what living on empty means. It’s kind of like doing math all day. Here, you get 10 units this morning. Dealing with that conflict subtracts 3 units, running errands subtracts 2 units, stressing about bills? Minus 2. If we run out of units, then we shut down the day. Turn on the tv, take a short nap, go get pizza for supper…There’s some addition going on as well. Read your Bible in the morning? Add on 3 units. Shut the door to my room and do something peaceful and solitary for fifteen minutes, Plus 2. 

And each night, I collapse into bed. Not dead. Haven’t completely failed at life yet. We’re still taking steps forward. The daily bread was provided. The grace proved to be sufficient. 

God is still on his throne, and his hand is still upon me. And I will sleep and do it all again tomorrow, leaning  heavily on my God. 

And I pray that somehow my life will bring glory to God. That somehow this season of desperation is also a season of great fruit, a season of big growth, a season of close intimacy with God. 

And I realize that despite the fact that I am living on the edge, it can still be a place of peace. Today my bible reading was in John 16. Verse 33 stood out to me,

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”

This old hymn comes to mind…

Leaning on the Everlasting Arms

Alan Jackson

What a fellowship, what a joy divine

Leaning on the everlasting arms

What a blessedness, what a peace is mine

Leaning on the everlasting arms

Leaning, leaning

Safe and secure from all alarms

Leaning, leaning

Leaning on the everlasting arms

What have I to dread, what have I to fear

Leaning on the everlasting arms?

I have blessed peace with my Lord so near

Leaning on the everlasting arms

Leaning, leaning

Safe and secure from all alarms

Leaning, leaning

Leaning on the everlasting arms