Seeking all the Stand-Ins

July 24, 2019

It’s been a while since I’ve shown up here. There’s a whole slew of reasons why I’ve stepped away from writing regularly, the most obvious being that life has been pretty chaotic. In complete vulnerability, I’m only finally getting to write down these thoughts, that’ve been on my mind for months, because I’m babysitting, the power briefly went out so, I have no WiFi and my phone is dead. If that isn’t the Lord forcing me to write, then I don’t know what is.

I’ve felt the need to write about my current life situation for a while now – not particularly as a blog, but as a reflection of the past years in Myrtle Beach and what the Lord has revealed to me in the trying times, and in the good. Within these first years of marriage, I have moved three times (coming up on move #4), we’ve bought two houses, completed two renovations, opened a business, hired an employee, managed an Airbnb property, added two dogs to our family, and countless life events in between. There have been some deep valleys and some seriously celebrated mountain tops. But, it’d take more than a few blogs to dive into it all.

Instead, I wanted to write about the faithfulness of the Lord even in my faithlessness.

We obviously don’t need to write a blog, or read one, to know that the Lord is faithful. We already have a book declaring this from front to back. But, wow has He been gracious and merciful to gently bring these bible stories to the forefront of my brain in the midst of so many moments.

Most particularly, I’ve been reminded of the Israelites. They spend the majority of the Old Testament seeking things they think will meet their needs – materialism, earthly security, idols, etc. They continually ask the Lord for God-like replacements even as He rescues them from the hands of their enemies. As he fed them manna and met their physical needs in the wilderness, they still complained for more. “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?”

Then again in 1 Samuel, they ask for a king to rule over them, and God replies, “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.”

So many times the Israelites missed opportunities to praise the Lord for their victories because they were too busy begging Him for inferior stand-ins for their ultimate Victor.

Similarly, I found myself complaining (a lot) these past 3 years.

When I hated my job, I complained about the lack of windows and the unfair treatment I was receiving. I complained about the lack of growth. I frowned upon the less-than-ideal aspects of my job and I missed the opportunities to thank God for the relationships I built. I disregarded the experience I gained that would prove to be crucial in the future of my career, and I never worshipped Him for providing a greatly needed income for Zack and I. Yet even then, in my lack of gratitude, He provided me with the job I was sure I actually needed to make me happy.

When I whined about spending our first year in a trailer, when I complained about a few palmetto bugs and the “tight spaces,” and the lack of amenities, when I didn’t thank him for the gorgeous bike trails to the beach or the nearby pond always full of geese, or for the belly laughs and care/debt free memories that we filled those rooms with – even then He gave me the house I told Him I just “had” to have.

When I spent nights crying that I was so tired of renting our house out each weekend on Airbnb, when I whined and complained about the renovations and having to live with friends, when I spent my nights pointing out all of my “hardships,” I missed the opportunities to praise him for deeper friendships, a paid extended California vacation, and again financial provision that we wouldn’t have otherwise had. And, even then, he gave me another house.

Again, I complained about another house renovation, about scraping popcorn ceilings and sleeping in a bed in our living room. I whined about the lengthy repairs and the exhausting late night painting sessions, and again, I missed opportunities to praise Him for memories with my husband, for family who jumped at any chance to help and yet another roof over my head.

He gave me friends when I complained I had none – though He promises that he, “is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

He gave me hundreds of mornings walking to the beach, talking with him – even as I complained that I wanted to be back in Spartanburg, with my family.

He gave me a church, a community, joyful memories, countless dinners shared with friends, a home, and still I found reasons to complain.

Here’s my prayer as I embark upon this next journey. I pray I don’t miss the opportunities to worship my gracious God because I’m distracted by the things I wish I had. I refuse to spend my life complaining through His mercies, sometimes in disguise as my less-than-ideal situations.

Philippians 4: 6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 

      

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