My last blog was about time and God’s ultimate control of it.(It’s About Time ) God is also in control of the seasons in our lives. A year ago I was in a very dark season. I couldn’t sit for more than 30 minutes at a time, spent most of my day in bed and walked around on crutches. This past week I spent at Camp Allendale in Trafalgar, IN with an amazing group of people and my daughter, Lucy. I walked 5 plus miles a day, (something I had not been able to do since my back injury) Sang and danced during worship and attempted the “Blob” at the lake.
I remember the first week of July last year taking Lucy to camp. I was miserable. I insisted on going because I didn’t have faith anyone else could get her checked in ( not true). I hobbled around on my crutch in tremendous pain and know I said some unkind words as a result. I am very sorry for them. Had I known the next year I would be blessed with a chance go to and serve I wouldn’t have believed you, I was at my lowest point.
It is amazing when God meets you in a valley. Sometimes you have to look really, really hard to find him there, other times he sweeps in so unexpectedly it wrecks you. Last year when I was in these dark points I did all I could to cling what I believed. I read and watched anything that gave me a breath of God and his promises. At this time there were some free workshops available through Mark Virkler of CWG Ministries. One of them was a video series on how to hear God’s voice and I watched the series on my phone. It was mainly on prayer and christian meditation. Towards the end of each video Mark would lead the group in a christian meditation that was just imagining spending time with Jesus by the sea of Galilee. One of the days I was watching the video had been especially hard and I was in a lot of pain. As I was led in the meditation I saw myself as a little girl walking with Jesus on the sea shore. Jesus stopped, lifted me up and held me on his chest the way I hold my three-year-old when he’s crying, the way I held all my kids. That wrecked me. I don’t know how long I cried but I did a long time. I never would have imagined that Jesus would love me enough to do that, that he saw my pain the way I see my kids pain. It was one of the strongest gifts he could have given me as from that point on I tell myself that’s what he’s doing whenever things get hard.
It was unexpected, but not as unexpected as what happened this year. A few weeks ago We were in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. We stumbled on this small art store that featured paintings by Mark Kealthery. My girls and I love art. So we were walking thru the store oohing and awing at the paintings. They were beautiful and many depicted Jesus, always smiling. There was an upstairs. My girls wanted to go look up there but I stayed below, not wanting to over do any walking. However, My oldest, Zoë, hollered down, “Mom you have to come up and look at this!” Grumbling, “Don’t make me climb the stairs,” I climbed them and was greeted with a beautiful picture I can’t even remember, I can’t remember because of what I saw next. A painting of Jesus holding a brown headed child, just like I held my kids, just like he held me, and I started crying like a baby. How good is a God who loved me so much, knew me so well that he gave the same picture to a man I didn’t know who could paint it and place it in a gallery I would just happen to walk in. It was a divine appointment. Knowing that these paintings were more money than I could spend at the time I composed myself, snapped a quick picture told my husband and the shop keeper, a very sweet lady, my story ( I had never told anyone before,) and we were on our way.
God is a God of redemption, not only in us but in our lives as well. Going to Allendale this year was a true act of redemption and trust. I did more physically last week than I thought possible and was constantly being put out of my comfort zone. I fell in love with the kids and the adults I worked beside and was challenged to show compassion, strength and to answer some tough questions about my faith. I came home on Friday with my tank full and thankful. But God wasn’t done blessing me yet. You see after we traveled to Gatlinburg we went on our vacation to Myrtle Beach, which was a wonderful restful time. There was another store that featured Mark Kealthery paintings that I did not see. My husband and daughter Zoë snuck in there during a bathroom break and purchased the painting and had it mailed to our house. When I returned home from Allendale, Dave had unpacked the picture and set it in our room where I would not miss it. His generous gift was not only unexpected and beautiful but told me how much my husband loves me. Now that I wasn’t so emotional I got a good look at the painting. Jesus is actually holding a little brown haired boy and there are two blonde girls in the background. For me it was all three of my children playing protected by the Sea. I had prayed for there protection every day for almost three weeks as we traveled and I went to camp, The painting that will hang in my living room is now God’s promise that He loves them just as much as He loves me, as much as He loves you.
He is a God of redemption. In Psalm 103 it says, “Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not his benefits, who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion…”
Last summer I was very broken and felt very alone. My girls struggled with new responsibilities and coping with a mom who couldn’t mother very well at the time. This year God is healing those broken places left by the last year. I am so thankful and grateful for His redemption.
Have your own amazing God story of redemption? Feel free to share in the comments below!