Saturday, February 27, 2016

The steps of a woman...

The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way; Psalm 37:23

I went on a walk last Saturday in memory of a young man whose life was tragically ended because it seems he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Yet even as I write this I can't help but think how God works all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to his purpose. I don’t get the timing of life and death.   My prayer is that over time the blessings even in this tragedy become obvious to his family and the rest of us. 

Often things that seem like heart breaks and tragedies are allowed into our lives because God is protecting us and doing something greater than we can see or may even understand in our brief lifetime.  My connection to this young man and this walk in his memory was tenuous. In the small world of God's hand, I had worked with his stepdad Craig over twenty years ago for almost a decade and I had heard about his death because we live in a small community where even one homicide a year is out of the norm.  I was drawn to the walk by my friend Avis, who I knew from my first job out of college over 22 years ago. Avis knew Craig's wife Carolyn and put all her organizing and people corralling skills to use as she helped coordinate the walk. I walked to support these friends that God had brought into my life so many years ago. 

On the walk I met Carolyn’s boss, a sister in Christ and heard her story of how God had miraculously brought her to America from Jamaica as the assistant of the Ambassador's wife. Her story was one of being in the right place at the right time.  She just happened to work in an art gallery for a woman's whose husband just happened to be selected as the Jamaican ambassador to the US and my new friend was on her way to Washington DC. During her time in DC, her sister convinced her to go out with a handsome gospel singer.  They got married and stayed in the DC area until her husband's friend had a friend who was selling a house. Soon after moving here she found a new job and several years later, she became the boss of Craig's wife.  As Carolyn has struggled with the horrible reality of her son's death, I can see how God brought a kind compassionate husband into her life; he gave her a praying boss; and blessed her with Avis, a friend with a gift of organization and a heart for moms who have lost kids. These people are evidence of God’s pro –vision. He provides what we need before we need it because He can see what is to come.

I find a similar pattern in the story of the Shunnamite woman found  in 2 Kings 8: 1-6 . Her story shows God’s provision in the midst of heartbreak, famine and loss.  As this chapter opens, she is trying to move back home after leaving because she had been previously told by Elisha to leave her home to avoid a famine that was coming to her land.  When the famine was over she wanted to return home but her house was occupied by squatters.   God miraculously timed her arrival and appeal for her house to the king, to the exact time Gehazi was talking to the King about her son's miraculous healing (another story). The king then assigned an official to her case and said, “Give back everything that belonged to her, including all the income from her land from the day she left the country until now.” 

In God’s perfect provision, Gehazi was in the court to speak for her and the King assigned an official to make sure that she received what was rightfully hers. It is likely that she had suffered the death of her husband while away since her husband didn’t appeal to the King.  She was a widow and a single mom in a male dominated culture. God not only spared her from the famine but He also restored her house and lands and He gave her all of the income that she left behind when she was obedient to God. God has amazing blessings in store for us when we are obedient to follow His Word. Short term suffering like leaving our home in the midst of a famine results in God’s protection and even greater blessings.   It can be hard to see the blessing in the midst of homelessness or a famine, the heartbreaking loss of a child or a spouse, or devastating health issues but God will provide just as he sent Gehazi to the court before the Shunammite women arrived. I can see how God put friendships with Avis and Craig in my life over 20 years ago and even provided Carolyn a compassionate boss and husband long before she ever comprehended how much she would need them.   God knows what we need before we ask.  Have you experienced times of God’s provision even in the midst of hard times like the Shunnamite woman?

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