So it’s been an interesting month. One of the key lessons that I’ve learned over the past few weeks is this: even when we make the best plans in the world, sometimes life throws us an unexpected turn, and we have to be adaptable, flexible, and resilient in the face of the topsy-turvy times in which we live.
As I shared in a previous post, I have asthma, and have been living with this condition for most of my life. However, because of excellent medical care and some discipline on my part – taking my medicine, seeing my doctors regularly, and avoiding certain triggers – I’m able to live my life generally with little or no thought to this condition. Put another way, with God’s help, I manage my asthma well.
Sometimes, though, unforeseen circumstances enter our lives such that – no matter how disciplined we’ve been with our part of the equation – we’re still thrown for a loop by events unfurling beyond the scope of our control. Such has been my experience over the course of the past few weeks.
Then again, it’s been an important reminder to me that nothing is really under my control, when I think about it. The stark reality is this: I live and (literally) breathe each day by the sustaining grace of God, and I have been humbled to remember this important truth.
The past few weeks have also reminded me how often I take for granted certain everyday freedoms – like breathing fresh air, being able to come and go as I please, and enjoying simple pleasures like exercse or running errands without much thought or effort. Like all else, these are gifts from the Lord, and I have been reminded to treasure them as such.
So, you may be wondering, what else have I learned from this experience?
Well, here’s another key lesson: Holding things loosely – especially my plans. In one fail swoop, I had to cancel several things that I was really looking forward to, and instead spend significant chunks of time on my own – quite unexpectedly! However, even during this time, I have found my friends to be gracious, compassionate, and extremely supportive, too. As I’ve said on several other occasions, I am grateful to God for the wonderful friends in my life – indeed, they are a blessing!
Perhaps the most important lesson I’ve gleaned from this experience, however, is this: When life goes a little sideways, there is always a choice regarding the attitude one can have about things. The temptation is great to give into the “woe is me” syndrome, but how is that productive? So, even though there were other things I’d rather have been doing, I intentionally made some positive choices and have been surprised by the outcome.
For one thing, I have not felt lonely in all of this. During the time of solitude, I simply made the decision to talk to God as if He were there, because, well, He was (and is). No “Thees and Thous” here – just a simple, “Good morning, Lord,” and off we went about our adventures each day.
After all, when you really can’t leave your apartment, and no one else is around, you’re left with two choices: talk to yourself, or talk to God. I decided that there was great wisdom in talking to the Lord (with the occasional pep talk to myself thrown in for good measure).
I also realized that I was holding on to a lot of stuff that I simply no longer needed. This sort-and-release process is still ongoing, but I wonder if I would have taken the time to thoughtfully go through this exercise unless I had been more or less compelled by my circumstances to do so.
And I was not alone in this. All across Northern California, those of us peripherally impacted by the Camp Fire were forced to stay indoors for an inordinate period of time. For me, the time led to a greater time of contemplation and peace in some respects, including the acceptance that I am totally dependent on the Lord for everything – even the very air that I breathe.
So this takes me to this passage from Psalm 145 – yes, it has been my experience (just like the psalmist’s) that the Lord is close to those who call on Him – even when things are hard, and the going is not easy. Indeed, the going still is not easy for me now, but I am more convinced of His protective and guiding presence over my life than I ever was before all of this transpired.
He is close – to me, and to you, too, if you’re willing to call upon Him. And I am grateful.
PS – Thanks to you all for allowing me to reflect upon my experiences in my first few posts since my return. Lord willing, Daily Hopeful will continue on, but may perhaps be a little different – more reflective, if that is even possible. We’ll see how – and where – the Lord leads!