Expect Miracles

ccvresources.comSomething about finances tends to bring the hopelessness out of my husband. It’s hard when gas, groceries, the economy, and other concerns draw in the shadows and tug us down into despair. How did we get here?

We didn’t spend our money irresponsibly, like trying to make ourselves seem well off or important or spending our money on things that weren’t in budget. Prices rise and our jobs stay the same. Arizona makes less than the other 49 states. Like others who bought houses before the bubble, we have lost value in our home. The house needs repairs. The lawnmower broke. My husband and I don’t go clothes shopping, don’t very often go out to eat, and work at controlling our debit spending.

Last night, he showed me on paper. “We need to control our debits. If we forget something at the market, we do without.”

I nod.

He takes a deep breath, his shoulders slump. “Was God telling me we shouldn’t have gotten this house years ago? Are we going to work even past the time when working is physically hard for us, never taking trips?”

“We can’t even qualify for welfare because we don’t have kids.” Not that we’ve tried, I amended. We’d have to be pretty bad before we opt to go to the government for help.

All the questions pelt our faith, like how can people get large refunds when we have tried everything to not owe?

“Last year we broke even.” I encourage. “That is we would have had I not made a mistake on our taxes two years prior.”

Other doubts creep into the conversation like the dust that builds in the corners of the house and on the shelves. We wipe away the dust, but dust always returns to coat things in light gray. Our doubt creeps into our words.

“God is going to provide.” And I remind him of how the Israelites and the Apostles were provided for by God. I talked about how God sometimes allows things to go too far so that when He rescues it’s Him that gets the credit, and in that waiting we learn His lessons. Our faith grows faster than the weeds in our yard. I also remind him of the miracle of how we got our car; how we prayed for a $200 payment if we were meant to turn in a Jeep that was on its last legs, and how we found our new car at $206 a month; and how the Jeep could have broken down at any time, but chose that moment before used car prices went up again.

“Do you want to watch our show?” My husband switches topics.

I shake my head. “No. Let’s hash this out.” There’s a lot of doubt to work through before we rest tonight and start a new day tomorrow.

“But distractions are good.” He smiles at me.

I see the spark returning to his eyes and a smile tugs at the corners of his mouth. “Distractions are distractions. Let’s work this through. I can’t focus anyway.”

Last Thursdays, Person of Interest has to wait, because the person of interest right now is my husband and his faith and my faith. We discuss this a few more minutes before things feel righted again. Where there’s discouragement, hope has no chance to grow.

The next morning, my husband sends me a love note via text. I send him one, too, with the addition of, “Expect miracles.” I bow my head before work and whisper a prayer. It’s tough everywhere. Disheartening, too. Morale is low in America. You can feel it. I wonder if that’s how the Israelites felt in Egypt before Moses led them out of slavery?

Are you expecting miracles? Or have you given up hope? What burdens can I pray over for you today?

Joy in Jasmine

Jasmine Bud in Chennai (Perumalpattu, Tiruvall...

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Jasmine.

It transports me back to a small house on Bailey. The Jasmine crawls over the planter in full bloom in the spring and its heavy scent acts like an intoxicant. I am drunk on its beauty at age 14. I slow my fast walk today and drink it again as it grows next to a building. The white buds open to the sunlight; opening to the light; and I open like those buds to God again.

Lord, why must we go through these times?

My eyes once opened gather in the wild flowers waving in the warmth, reaching to the sun. Did you know that most plants will grow in the direction of the sun? They reach for it. Why aren’t we reaching for Him? Why aren’t we straining our necks to hold our face to His light? Why aren’t we getting intoxicated on His Word?

Lord, why must we go through these times?

Once my eyes open I see the flowers of every color springing from the dry, plain dirt. In this dry spring/summer God still provides color and life. In this dry time, God still provides for His people, including manna from His Word.

I may wander this desert for a time, but I will not stay. For now, I am meant to linger here, and maybe this is where I am meant to be and grow, springing forth color where dry parched ground remains. Maybe God is pruning me and others around me and maybe I’ve relied upon myself too long and need to learn the lessons in longsuffering. Comfort does not always equal growth. In discomfort, I smell Jasmine.

Jasmine brings back nicer memories and opens my eyes to the colors around me, the people who count, and the broken whose hearts beat outside their ribcages for all to wound. My heart beats outside, too, and the wounds have left scars, but those aren’t permanent. Those feelings will fade replaced by the new things God brings into my life, and I will cling to the memories of jasmine and drink in its perfume with joy. Joy is not hard to find even during these hard times.

What hard times are you enduring? How can you see color in your desert?

Book Excerpt: The Final Summit by Andy Andrews

From Pg. 211-213

Stepping forward a bit, Chamberlain began. “Gabriel, I believe that when one doesn’t know what to do, he should do something. At that moment of panic or discouragement, one cannot do everything, but he can do something. Will doing something change the world? I believe that this is what you meant when you said, ‘It is the only thing that ever has.” Chamberlain stepped back.

Lincoln raised his hand and spoke. “After the war, our nations economy was in a shambles. It seemed that a full quarter of the population was out of work. No one, Gabriel, knew what to do. Most, of course, complained about the situation, about the war, and about me. In effect, I saw that they were complaining about the present, the past, and a person they did not know, who presumably held their job prospects in his hands.

“One afternoon, I was walking around Washington…” Lincoln turned to one of the more recent U.S. Presidents who was standing nearby and added, “Some of us used to do that, you know.” There were several chuckles from the audience. Seeing no response from Gabriel, Lincoln continued. “So there I was, walking with Mary, and a group of men approached us.

“These men were, they said, desperate for work. No jobs, they said. They told me they had tried everything. I asked what they did when they weren’t looking for work. one man told me he stayed at home when he wasn’t looking for work. Several men said they built a fire on a vacant lot and sat beside it. Two of them confessed they were so depressed that they had stopped seeking jobs at all.”

Lincoln frowned for a moment, then opened his eyes widely, he said, “I didn’t know what to tell them, ‘you simply cannot sit around wasting your unused time. Continue to look for work, but in the time you have left, do something. Anything.’

“I said to them, ‘The challenge I see in your eyes is that you have forgotten the value you possess as a human being. You have forgotten the value with which the Almighty created you. So what value do you have?” I pointed to one of them. ‘You there,’ I said. ‘Can you read?’ and he indicated that he could. ‘Then find someone who can’t, and read to them.  Read to the blind, the elderly, the illiterate. Do something!’

“To another I said, ‘You look very strong. Can you carry things?’ ‘Yes,’ he replied. ‘Then find people who need things carried, and do it! Men, listen carefully,’ I said. ‘I am not suggesting you find someone who needs weeds pulled and ask if you can pull them for a dollar. No! I am saying go out into your communities, find weeds that need pulling…and pull them!

“‘I believe that you men will see amazing things happen in your lives. As you do something, you will renew your belief in yourselves. You will remember again the value that you really have as human beings. And another, perhaps more important thing will occur. Others will begin to see value in you. No longer will you be the desperate person, the sad person, the out-of-work person.

“As people watch you–and they always do–they will begin to say, “have you noticed that fellow who is always reading for people? have you seen that man who is always carrying things for others? Have you spotted the boy who is always fixing things for folks, who is always helping?” Men, I say to you now that as others watch, they will begin to place a value on you they never had before.’

“I winked at them and said, ‘And you know what happens to people of value, don’t you? They gain opportunities; they get help; they receive job offers. Why? Because they did something when they didn’t know what to do.”

To read more, you’ll need to buy the book. I encourage everyone in this economy to buy this book. It gives hope in a vacant and dark time of our country.