I’m feeling grateful today as I look back through the recent years of our lives.
During the 2000s decade Amy and I built a successful business and throughly enjoyed the experiences that success brought us. We made the money we needed to raise our children, with enough of what they needed and some of what they wanted. We were able to raise them with some acreage to play, neighbors who were positive and friendly role models, and a house big enough for all their friends. Our business also took Amy and I around the country on business many times, spending countless hours and days on the road and together we built a strong and happy relationship. In addition, our relationship with the Lord was strengthened during those days. Through the years, with the help of some strong Christian friends around us we grew from struggling immature Christians to leaders and teachers.
We had it all, we really did; we had people who loved us, well rounded kids, and a home to be proud of. God blessed us richly and I’m truly grateful for all that he gave us.
Then, near the end of the decade, through prayers and determination to know God more intimately, through a life of trust and faith, our business failed. We lost our multi-million dollar business, we lost our huge home in the country, and we lost our leadership in our church, and we lost our identity; we even lost many friends.
Yet, today, as I sit here and contemplate the past year, I realize we have more than we ever had. During the terribly bumpy year of 2013 we were forced to quickly move into our unfinished bus and move to a place we didn’t want to be. Our small house in town sold quickly and we drove south in the fall of 2013 to build our bus into something livable. But 2014 brought some new blessings.
After finishing the bus in the spring we spent some wonderful weeks with new friends who simply allowed us to recover and cry on their shoulders; then we drove back north to visit old friends and family. I spent a wonderful day with my dad; late that same day he was transported to the hospital and later died. How grateful I am that I had that final day with him.
Then, Amy and I spent the summer working on the shores of Lake Huron with some friends God knew we needed. We were near to old friends and family, yet building our new life on our own. It wasn’t always smooth, but growing pains never are. Amy struggled more during that summer with some of her own medical and emotional issues, but what better place for God to send us for “surgery of the heart” than the Straits of Mackinaw. That fall we left for Minot, North Dakota, before it got too cold, to spend a week with our son and his fiancée along with our prepackaged grandson, Connor. What a blessing to just rest and catch up with our son and meet the girl he plans to love for a lifetime just like I have with the girl God gave me. After that week, we traveled south to Kansas to work a couple months for the online giant Amazon. Then we left for Florida, to once again, meet up with friends and make new friends.
Today, as I write this, we’re spending almost two weeks in Vermont with our grandson, Benjamin (ya, and our daughter and son-in-law too). We’re enjoying the beauty of the mountains and the fresh white snowfall. What a breathtaking place.
So, what prompts these words? I realize there was a time in life, a good time, that I worked hard every day. I worked, thought, dreamed, and even slept about our business. The business is what drove our ability to provide financially for our children and many others. However in contrast, now we work a couple months here and a few weeks there and in between, we spend time with friends and family. How many people can work a job, then spend a week or two, or more with their children or friends? How are we so blessed to be here in Vermont with our kids for a couple weeks without worrying about getting back to work?
Yes, we have to work, we’re not retired or rich, we don’t have a huge bank account taking up the slack. We have something better. We have a God who holds all things in His hands and provides everything. Is it possible all our loss was from the hands of a loving and just God? Is it possible that our failure was, not simply allowed by God, but purposed for our good? Is it possible that this God of love that we adore and worship could be in the business of taking away the unnecessary things of this world to give us the greater joy? Is it possible that a prayer to know Him more intimately, by learning to trust Him more, would result in loosing our wealth, our home, and our reputation, only to give us a new kind of wealth?
I’m grateful that I get to spend every day, 24/7, with my wife that I chose to live beside me for as long as we live. I’m grateful that we get to spend weeks at a time with our children, and now grandchildren. I’m grateful that we get to travel the country together in our home on wheels. I’m grateful for friends that have stood beside us while God stripped us little by little while we waited, confused, and hurt. I’m grateful that God allowed us to build new relationships and find new friends that we never would have enjoyed without God’s intervention in our world.
Is it possible, that even when everything falls apart that God is actually giving us our hearts desires? Is it possible that he forms our heart’s desires and not just gives us what we think we want? Is it possible that there is unimaginable blessing in loss? Is it possible that the gift of trust can hurt, but be the greatest blessing available to any man while living on this earth? is it possible that God is the master of the impossible? Is it possible that there is blessing in loss?