Monday, October 20, 2008

FROM SEASON TO SEASON



At the ripe old age of 54, almost 55, I have been through a lot of different stages of life. Many "seasons" have come and gone.

Through my childhood, my teen years, young-adulthood during which I married and had my children, their childhoods, the "ups and downs" of their teen years, through my middle age, and on until today, God has given me a beautiful life...of happy memories, some sad memories, incidences in which I can rejoice, and instances that I truly regret.

Over the years, I have discovered that the scripture in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 is a very accurate description of the "cycles" of life:

**** "To everything there is a season. A time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die. A time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; A time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; A time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to gain, and a time to lose; A time to keep, and a time to throw away; A time to tear, and a time to sew; A time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; A time of war, and a time of peace." **

Through the good times and the bad times, just as winter follows fall and spring follows winter, we go through one season, and then the next one begins.

In the midst of each season of trial or testing, it can seem like it will last forever but, praise God, "this too will pass"! The Lord gives us new hope for a better tomorrow while we faithfully walk through the "classroom" of today.

My husband and I have been married for 31 years. As we approached our first anniversary, we felt like we had reached a real milestone since neither of my two previous failed marriages had lasted for a year.

Our children were born, grew up, two of three married, and now have families of their own which brings us to one of the JOYS of my life... my "GRANDCHILDREN"! I used to think people were a little "looney" when they went on and on about their grandchildren. It wasn't until I had my own that I understood the "special-ness" of grandbabies.

Over the last 30 years I have been a nurses aid and laundry worker at a nursing home, a store manager, a cook at a restaurant, and finally a bookkeeper which I have now been for the past 16 years.

As happens with all families, my family has faced various and assorted illnesses, diseases, surgeries, and medical conditions. My father, his parents, and my mother all died of heart disease at an early age. My grandmother died of a stroke in her early fifties.

During the last 20 years, I have been diagnosed with depression and anxiety attacks, social anxiety disorder, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and advanced osteoporosis with deterioration of my spine.

Pain has been a constant companion for longer than I can remember. Some days, it is manageable... and some days it isn't. There are periods of time... sometimes weeks... that I can function normally and keep up to date with all my responsibilites... and then there are days that I spend in bed, waiting for the pain medication to "kick in" and relieve the discomfort.

Without a moment's hesitation, I can say that God has been with me every step of the way... when I thought I couldn't go on, He was always there to encourage me, sometimes walking beside me, sometimes carrying me, and always ministering to my needs as only He can.

When I was in my very early thirties, I went in as an outpatient to have a laproscopic test run. As I was waited for the tests to begin, I was looking out the second story window of my room when I saw a red sportscar drive up to the building and park. A black haired, dark complected man got out of the car, and went inside the hospital.

Expecting to wake up back in my room, I woke up in intensive care (where I remained for nine days). The physician had pierced my intestines twice as he tried to insert the scope into my abdomen. Consequently, an oncologist who "just happened" to be at the hospital, and "just happened" to be unoccupied at the precise time he was desperately needed, had been called in to perform a "bowel-resection" on me, cutting me from top to bottom, to repair my "punctured interior".

When I woke up, the oncologist who had made such a timely appearance was standing by my side. Imagine my surprise when I realized he was the gentleman in the red sportscar that I had observed from the window earlier. The Lord had sent him to the hospital at the exact time he was needed. Our God is always "on time".

A little over eight years ago, as I was preparing to accompany my daughter to the hospital to give birth to her first child, I fell down her front doorsteps, breaking my ankle into many little pieces. Surgery was required to insert the eight screws, metal plate, and various wires that put my ankle back together.

My bosses loaded up my file cabinets and my computer, and set them up in my home so I could work from the wheelchair in which I sat for the next three months.

It is a humbling experience to have to ask someone to help you get out of bed because you can't get up on your own. During that time, the scripture that often came to mind was Psalm 23:2 which says, "He maketh me to lie down....(in green pastures)." The Lord had my attention!

The donation of my husband's kidney to his pre-teen niece twenty years ago was a unique experience for our family. We just weren't sure what to expect. It was a very stressful time as he was tested to see if he was a matching donor.

Having this very large man as a patient at a children's hospital where everything is designed for a "child-size" patient was a hoot! He seemed more than a little "out of place" in this building usually inhabited by infants and children instead of adults.

Diagnosed with diabetes in his late fifties, he was injured in a fall a few years ago , and is now disabled. He doesn't go out to work each day as he did for so many years. He has become my "number one cook and bottle washer" for whom I am very thankful! He does so much of the cooking that I wonder sometimes if I've forgotten how! And his menu of items he can prepare is ever growing!

During all of these different scenarios of life, God has shown Himself to be faithful, time and time again. He has been our Comforter and our Peace when life seemed hurtful and unsure. He has been our Great Physician through all the medical, physical, and emotional issues. He has been our Provider when we were off work without pay for each accident or surgery.

The Lord used all of these different "episodes" of life to teach me "life-lessons" that I might not have learned otherwise. He taught me patience... so that even though I live in this "instant world", I don't have to have everything I want the moment I want it. He taught me contentment... so I'm not constantly searching for "bigger and better and more". He taught me commitment... to know that the bond I have with my husband isn't controlled by my feelings, but by a decision I made, once and for all, "til death do us part".

The Lord showed me that I could trust in Him to provide whatever we needed... in every area of our lives. He demonstrated a better way to live, a love for us that is almost too much to comprehend, and many ways to simplify our lives. He has proved Himself to be the Source of every good thing that we have.

On my way to where I am now, I have been "pursued and overcome" by blessings... and I have faced a lot of hard decisions. I have made some good choices, and I have also made some bad ones. Life would probably have been much more simple if I had learned all my lessons the "first time around"... ... but, sadly, some of them I have had to repeat... more than once...(or twice).

Often I have used my life as an example to warn my children about the mistakes I had made. I wanted so much for them to learn their lessons from my mistakes instead of having to make their own... but it seems to me that there are some things we only learn from making our own mistakes, and feeling the pain of failure. Experience is a memorable teacher.

We may wonder why we face difficulties and trials in our lives. Why do we ever have to do without something we are convinced we need? Why would someone we love choose to walk out of our life? Why does a child develop cancer and die? Isn't the parent supposed to die before their child? Why can one couple have more children than they can care for, and another couple who desire to be parents more than anything else in the world be childless?

These are questions I can't answer... but I know someone Who can. The odd thing is that because I have learned how faithful and how trustworthy the Lord is, and how much He loves me, I don't feel the old urgency for ready answers. It is enough for me to know that HE is in control, that He loves me beyond anything I can comprehend, and that HE ALWAYS has my best interest at heart.

God has a plan for every life. Each and every detail of each life is planned... with some variation because He gives us freedom of choice. He wants us to serve Him because we love Him... not because we are a "puppet on a string" that He can cause to dance over here and dance over there. He has planned the length of each person's life. We all come to this world with a task to perform that was designed only for us. No one else who has ever lived will be able to complete the task HE has assigned to me.

There will always be parts of our lives that we won't fully understand. If we could see "the big picture" from God's perspective, life might make much more sense to us... but, with our "finite" little minds, we would be overwhelmed. If we saw the "end of our story" from the beginning, iIt would be more than we could take.

God's ideal for us is for us to live one day at a time. Why? Think about the feeling that comes when God reveals to us one of our faults. The conviction, sadness, and remorse that comes when we realize we have "missed the mark" is to give us incentive to overcome this fault. But what if God showed us all our faults at one time... like in "the big picture"? Would that overwhelm us to the point of despair? In my life, God usually deals with one area of my life at a time. When I gain understanding about that area, He moves on to the next. It's all part of His "Master-plan".

I personally don't believe that God brings bad things on His children. I believe that we bring a lot of things on ourselves by our poor choices. The Word assures us that what we plant determines the kind of crop we will harvest. If I plant good seed, I'll reap a good harvest... but if I sow bad seed... I will have to pay the price.

I believe that the "father of all liars" satan wants to wound us and kill us, physically and spiritually. His plan is to prevent us from making Jesus our Savior... and Heaven our eternal home. To this end, he devises wicked plans and schemes to cause us to doubt God, and to cause us to try to live this life in our own strength, instead of living it through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us.

The Lord uses the hard things that come in life to purify us, to cleanse us of our old carnal ways, to expose our wrong-thinking, and to teach us to be more like Jesus.

When people let us down... when plans go out of control... when we meet adversity, we have a choice. We can either let the situation make us "bitter"... or we can let it make us "better". We can allow the difficulties to be a productive thing in our life and help us become stronger. Or we can throw up our hands, throw a little fit, and sit down and pout. It's our choice.

We've all heard the saying, "that which does not kill us makes us stronger"... and I believe that's true. Realizing we are not all that God wants us to be can be a painful realization, but a necessary one for us to get on the path we need to follow.

Another reason our life is filled with "hills and valleys" is so we can take the lessons we have learned, and use them to minister to others who are going through similar situations. Through sharing our experience with them, they may be "comforted with the same comfort" with which the Lord comforted us.

Because we have walked where they are walking now, we can remind them to "hang on"... not to give up, but to remember that "to everything there is a season", and that "this too shall pass". And as their season passes, someone will come along who needs to hear what they learned from this trial in their life.

I have shared some of the "seasons" of my life with you so that I could say to you, "Maybe I have been where you are right now. I understand what you are facing. I have walked this same road on which you are traveling. Take my hand and let me walk with you. Let my hurts and disappointments, my joys and my victories bring hope and comfort to you. Turn to the Lord for all of your answers. He will always answer your every prayer. And HE will never.... ever.... let you down."

And so around and around goes the cycle of life. From season to season, we are experiencing... understanding... learning... changing... growing... sharing... and ministering the love and hope of God to a lost and dying world.

Our God is a great God... a God of mercy, willing to give us everything we need to serve Him effectively in this life.

We need only recognize that His Word is truth, apply it to our hearts and minds, and walk it out... day by day... in the presence of this "great cloud of witnesses that surrounds us". (Heb. 12:1)

Glory to His Name!!!!!


mlc

4 comments:

Pine Pod Farm said...

I have always enjoyed your blogs!

samantha said...

Just reminds me that God is good all the time and all the time, God is good! Praise His holy name!

Nancy said...

Thankyou!

Special K said...

once again...this blog is timely and a blessing to me...thank you Ms Mary! I am learning some of the same lessons...and I too have had to learn them over and over and over again!