Welcome to my blog...

Green trees, cool water, a gentle breeze...the perfect place to sit at the feet of the Master and learn. Jesus taught so often on the shoreline, and He's still speaking today.

This is where I share the lessons He teaches me, often during the time I spend on the shores of a local lake. I don't have all the answers...and some days I don't have any. But I go here when I need to draw near to Him in a tangible way. Come with me...

Monday, March 28, 2016

A Smile In Her Heart

She's struggled a lot...four kids, health issues, and no real income to speak of. She was on the wait list for a car, but after a year or so, she somehow scraped together a few dollars to buy a van that was better left in the junk yard. After months of trying to help her fix it each time it left her stranded on the side of the road, I told her no more good money after bad. She needed to junk it. We put her back on the wait list.

It was a long wait. Neighbors took advantage of Mary's need (I've changed her name) and charged her daughter outrageous amounts for rides to work. Often, promises of rides fell through and Mary would miss doctor appointments and trips to the food pantry.

Even after I matched her up with a vehicle, she had hurdles to overcome. Her purse had been stolen weeks before, and with it, her license and social security card. So in anticipation of getting the keys, she needed to get duplicates. She waited two weeks for a ride to the county court house to replace the social security card.

Last Friday, after having her picture taken and waiting in line for her finalized paperwork, the Division of Motor Vehicles' computer system for licenses went down - statewide. It looked like she would have to wait longer still to get behind the wheel.

Mary pleaded her case to the person behind the counter. Amazingly, they relented, handing over her ID and making her promise to return when the computers came back up to handle the final step.

She was the last person that day to get a license.

But the fight wasn't over. Back in my office all she had was a policy number for her insurance company. I told her I needed a temporary card faxed or emailed over. She got on the phone with the insurance company and they couldn't find any notes adding the new van. It was an annoyance, but we didn't think too much about it - she simply had to answer a few questions again.

They put her on hold.

Fifteen minutes...Thirty minutes...Forty-five minutes. The rep came back on, walked her through the questions, and as she was ready to hit "send", the computer went down and all the information was lost. Again!

Mary was told to call back in a few minutes. She was an hour and a half into this latest odyssey and felt utterly defeated. It seemed like the van sitting right outside my office, so close, was just out of reach.

She started to cry. 

As she dialed again and was put on hold once more, I looked at her and said "Mary, I'm done. This is ridiculous. Enough is enough - we need to pray!"

I asked God to bind all that was at work creating havoc with the process. I acknowledged His power over not only people but situations. I asked for peace for Mary as He worked out all the details.

In less than two minutes, a rep came on, walked her through the application, and emailed her a temporary card.

In I John 5:14 we are reminded: This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.

From there on out, it was smooth sailing. Mary went back to the DMV, got the title transferred to her name and received the new registration.

Twenty-seven months after being put on the wait list the first time, Mary got her van. Not only wasn't it held together with tape and a prayer like her last vehicle, it had the bonus of a DVD player for her two younger kids. She was over the moon.

But Mary's story doesn't end there.

The following day, she loaded up her family in that new van and came to the Easter Brunch we hold for our food pantry clients.

After a delicious lunch and a time of egg decorating, kids from our children's ministry drama team called Family Time Live, put on a show. The theme that day was "hope...believing that something good can come out of something bad."

After the show, as everyone was leaving, Mary took me aside.

"I know you keep telling me to trust God and believe Him, but today, those kids got to me. I finally understood. I had been smiling with my lips, but now, I'm smiling with my heart. I saw something good come out of something bad!"

There were tears in her eyes again, but this time, they were tears of joy.

My friend, when it seems like the wait is never-ending...when it feels like the answer to your need is just out of reach...do not despair. Something good can come out of something bad.

James 1:17 tells us this truth - "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."

We are commanded in Psalm 27:14 to"Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord."

And in Psalm 5:3 it says "In the morning, O Lord, You will hear my voice; in the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch."

Eagerly watch in anticipation of His answer.

Be strong and take courage that He is faithful to uphold His promises.

Pray in expectation of what God is doing and has already done even though you don't see it yet.

He will take your circumstances, no matter how hopeless and somehow, someway, make something good come out of them. He'll put a smile in your heart.

Just ask Mary.