This past Thursday marked the two year anniversary of my husband’s lay off. You have no idea what a milestone that is in our lives. More than half of our marriage, we have been on the journey of uncertainties from this event. The choice that a few men at a small company made have affected every day of our lives since then. March 22, 2010 will always be a profound date in our hearts.
I’ve been thinking about the anniversary of this date frequently as of late, so I was very prepared for it when it came this week. Ironically, my husband had no idea of the occasion this past Thursday, which is just how I had hoped his day would go. I woke up realizing what day it was, but he happily went about his day. We were walking down a sidewalk in Downtown Nashville on our way to a restaurant before we cashed in my Christmas gift from him for a night at the Theatre, when I looked over at him and said, “Baby, it’s been two years. And we’ve made it. I’m so proud of you.” He looked at me not with the eyes full of pain that I’ve seen over the past two years, but with beautiful, bright eyes filled with hope and said, “Wow. I did not even realize today was the anniversary! You’re right!”
Though there has been much heart ache these past few years resulting from that definitive day, there has been much more development of faith, humility, and character than we ever expected in our lives. Never once has the One Who Owns the Cattle on a Thousand Hills failed to provide our every need. Never. Never has He left us or forsaken us. Never. Never has He left us in our pit and not provided a way out. Never. For those reasons, we have had dancing hearts especially the past six months.
All that we have and all that we do can be taken from us in an instant. Perhaps that is one of the most valuable lessons we learned through this whole experience. More valuable than that, though, we have come to realize that all that we have and do belongs to God. We are just stewards of what He has given us- including our jobs.
Romans 8:28 has been a verse that I’ve always held very close to my heart because it was my Granddaddy’s life verse. I can’t stop pounding my fist in exclamation at the truth of it, because we have lived it. This certainly is not limited to the past two years of our lives, but it has been dramatically highlighted for us especially looking back over the time span of it all from where we were to where God has brought us. Dreams that we never could have dreamed on our own have come true all because of that terrible day. “And we know that ALL things work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.”
There are several key phrases to that verse…
#1. ALL things work together for good.
Good and Bad. Isn’t that incredible how even the worst of days can be for our own good? Countless times we’ve remarked over how stuck we would be if he was still at that particular job. Really, it was the vehicle God used to move us to Nashville for much greater things that He had in mind for our good, but more importantly HIS good plan for His own glory. Hallelujah!
#2. Those who love Him.
If we didn’t love Him, we would not be experiencing His goodness. I believe we’d be experiencing way more of our own bitterness if we didn’t love Him. Ohhhhhhhh but the beauty of it all is that HE FIRST LOVED US! We can love Him because He first loved us. He is so good. We all have the opportunity to love Him if we choose to. I think much of it boils down to the choice we are each given- choose life or choose death. Death comes from wallowing in your own misery. Believe, me, I’ve wallowed a couple times and smelled the stench of death of all that I thought should be. But, when I was resuscitated by the giver of all breath, I realized that I already had the victory because I had the LIFE living in me and nothing could separate me from the Love of God, which is what gives me life and woos me to love Him back.
#3. Called according to His purpose.
This is something else that has genuinely blown our minds. How on earth can anyone feel true satisfaction in life living only for their own purposes? As my dad often remarked, “Life is like a game of Monopoly. When the game is over, it all goes back in the box.” There were opportunities along the way these past two years to sell out for a quicksizable paycheck. But, we could not justify those job offers because they did not mesh with God’s purpose. Our patience and trust were tested and God has showed us great reward in waiting on His timing. Our chief goal is to know Him and to make Him known. He has blessed us with the most unconventional ways of doing that. The thought of how we could have missed out on those blessings makes me want to fall to my knees and rip my clothes. The sovereignty of God far outweighs the sorrows in our lives.
Those plans for good and not for harm…for hope and a future that He talks about in Jeremiah 29:11… Yeah, He does work ALL things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes. He turns our tears of sorrow into floods of joy. He lifts us up and takes our hands to dance with us. He.Turns.Our.Mourning. Into. Gladness.
So back to our walk this past Thursday. After dinner, we stopped outside the Tennessee Performing Arts Center before going in to see Mary Poppins so we could take a picture to remember the occasion. We were turned to take the picture and I looked just beyond us only to see a beautifully lit sky illuminating the State Capitol Building. Wow. We had come full circle. A week after David lost his job two years prior, he was miraculously offered a freelance photography job to capture the State Capitol Building on the occasion of Earth Hour for the World Wild Life Foundation. It’s ironic, because it was not like we were patrons of that foundation or anything. A photographer who had been too busy to shoot it just googled Nashville photographers and came up with David. The job payed $350, which to us was a fortune. The other photographer’s explanation to David for why he was selected? “Just blame it on Providence.” And that was only the beginning.
I close these thoughts with an insight I gleamed from watching Mary Poppins this drizzly March eve in Nashville. The play took on such different meaning for us this day than ever before. Prior, I’d just enjoyed the light heartedness of it. Never did I recognize it was centered around the climate of job turmoil and how a family responded to that. The most poignant segment to me was when George Banks was marching into the bank with only the two coins his children had given him jingling in his pocket toward what he thought would be his complete lay off. He was stopped by the wretched looking bird lady, who said, “Tuppence. Feed the Birds.” George pulled the coins his children had sacrificially invested in him out of his pocket and said to her, “Mam, I would consider it a great honor if you would take this tuppence and feed the birds for me.” Gladly, she did as the words to her song were fulfilled, “Come feed the birds. Show them that you care.”
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:29-31).
Oh yes, my friends, His eye is on the sparrow… and I know He watches me!