Last week I wrote about the stories we choose to live and write–either contamination stories or redemption stories.
I don’t know what challenges you face. I do know we all experience difficulties in life. I saw the dots connect when I lived and ministered with a group of women in the inner city of Los Angeles. When our lives were repeatedly threatened, I was often afraid. But God gave many opportunities to reach children and adults who were hurting, to share his love with people who sometimes found hope in him!
And the dots of illness, diagnosis, hospitalization, transplant and death of my first husband resulted in deep pain. But the redemptive framework I experienced included the care of the doctors, our PA and staff; and the love of new friends. I was thankful every morning for new mercies (Lamentations 3:22-23), for the grace and strength to continue walking our journey through the valley of the shadow of death; and for God’s provision, often through people who hadn’t known us three months earlier.
- Danita periodically came to the hospital, took my key, went to my little “transplant family apartment,” fixed dinner, and returned the key to me.
- John loaned me a truck when insurance coverage for transportation ran out.
- Bonnie and Cindy, whose husband and fiance met Jesus before Jerry did, were with me at the end of Jerry’s life.
- Friends who unexpectedly sent finances to help us.
- My mother, brothers and sisters-in-law, who supported by presence, phone calls with the doctors, and love.
Despite our dark plotline, woven through it was a redemptive story of God’s love, often expressed through others. And, both before and after his death, Jerry and I were able to share God’s love and our hope for eternity with many.
- In an ice cream parlor;
- In antique shops we visited before he was hospitalized;
- With our regular waitress at Denny’s, whose son was in juvenile hall and who welcomed our love and prayers;
- At the Olive Garden in Orlando, where a man overheard us mention something to our waitress and joined us for an extended conversation about the Lord, and an offer of housing while we waited for Jerry’s transplant; and more.
After Jerry’s death, I clung to the promise that God still had hope and a future for me. A future that, unknown to me at the time, included my second marriage to Don, a great gift.
God wasn’t surprised when Jerry or Delores, Don’s first wife, became ill and died; he didn’t look over his balcony when Mom entered his presence, saying “Oh my, I didn’t see that coming.”
The Bible’s Story
Rene reminded us of God’s story, which gives us great cause for hope.
God offers pardon for my past
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.Romans 8:1-2
God has purpose for my present
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.Romans 8:28
God has promise for my future
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.Romans 8:18
As we look at the tapestry of our lives, do we choose to look at all the broken threads on the back side of the weaving? Or do we focus on the promise that God is working his purposes into a work of art uniquely designed by him, for our good and his glory. Sometimes we can see the good side of the tapestry here on earth. But we may only understand in eternity. Meanwhile, we can hold onto God’s promises and rest in his presence.
So, what story will you choose to write and live this year? I want mine to be one of redemption. And yes, you have permission to call me on it when I fail, as I will.
Bethany Hamilton, the surger who lost an arm in a shark attack, has chosen the story she will live. “What happened to me was terrible but God has given me so many opportunities as a result that it has become a beautiful thing.”
“I know without a doubt that with Him, I am unstoppable, and I want you to know that you can be unstoppable too.”Bethany Hamilton, American Surfer
God be with you as you walk through this week with Him, living a redemption story.