NATIONAL PARK CHURCH blog
Today is an ordinary day. Yesterday was an ordinary day. I expect that tomorrow will be an ordinary day. The dictionary defines the adjective "ordinary" as with no special or distinctive features; normal. It seems that the routine of my life now has no special or distinctive features.
As a child, I had all kinds of dreams. I suppose that could be said of each of us. We dream of becoming this or that. We dream of accomplishing this or that. For some, those dreams do become reality. For many of us, however, our childhood dreams fade into a different reality. The reasons vary. Many times, circumstances change which don’t allow us to become what we once dreamed of. Many times, we change. We grow up and our goals and aspirations are no longer what they once were.
When I retired at the end of 2017, I found myself once again dreaming of what I thought would make my days worthwhile. I looked forward to retirement with great expectations. Now, two years later, I can honestly say that I love being retired. It’s great not having to wake up by an alarm clock and not having to punch a time clock. But, as the old saying goes, ‘it was good while it lasted.’ For life has a way of dealing us those hands we didn’t expect to be dealt. All the expectations I had…being my own person able to do my own thing…have faded into a new and unexpected reality.
Those who know me well know that my passion is writing. I have two novels completed and a third almost complete. My dream is to be published. Although I’ll keep writing until the Lord calls me home, being published would be opening the door for others to read my work, which would then open the door for even more writing. When I retired, my goal was to actively pursue publication. While that ultimate goal hasn’t changed, it’s become clear to me that God has other things in mind. He may not have closed that door, but He’s definitely said ‘not right now.’
You see, God had other plans. In His wisdom, He has once again shown me that my ways are not His ways. I’ve found myself in a season of life that I did not expect, and that I have struggled with on a daily basis. It’s not a season I welcomed. Why? Because it meant it was necessary for me to put those plans of pursuing publication of my novels on hold, and, instead, to learn that God not only is the God of dreams coming true and goals being accomplished, but He is also very much a God of the mundane and the ordinary.
When I retired, I had a real desire to serve in some way. I considered volunteering for Eight Days of Hope. That was something I could do from time to time and still pursue getting my novels published. But I gave that up because I realized that with the Fibromyalgia, I couldn’t commit as I’d need to. While I was considering other options, God placed two babies in my life. One is a biological great-grandchild. The other (they are siblings) is not. But we love them both equally. They are active toddlers! So, you see, what I envisioned after retirement and what is actual reality are two very different things. My days are now filled with a routine of helping to care for two precious little souls; changing diapers, rocking, folding mountains of laundry, doing lots of cooking, and lots of dishes (I’ve never owned a dishwasher). I’m not the main caregiver. I’m merely part of the supporting cast. Still, most days I barely have enough quiet time to contemplate writing anything, and when I do, I’m too tired to actually write.
I’ll be blatantly honest. I’ve cried out to God more times than I care to admit. I’ve cried also. I’ve cried lots of tears, and I’ve cried out in desperation, frustration, and anguish. I’ve questioned. I’ve not only asked why, but I’ve asked, “How long Lord?” I’ve asked because I’ve had to give up, for however long the Lord allows, the dream I’ve clung to for so long. I thrive on solitude and quiet time. I’ve always been a homebody. That hasn’t changed. So, I’ve cried out to God. ‘How long, Lord? I want my house back. I want my life back. How long, Lord?’ I love these babies with everything in me. They bring me a lot of joy. But, while I have never resented THEM, I came to realize that I very much resented the changes I’ve had to adjust to. I’ve had to give up, at least for now, that picture of what I thought my retirement would look like. I’ve had to deny self. That’s never easy. Most days now are okay. But I have to be honest. The journey leading to "okay" has been difficult.
Perhaps some of you are struggling with a reality that you did not expect or envision. Perhaps you, too, have cried, or are crying, tears of disappointment and frustration and desperation. Perhaps you, too, have cried out to God and asked why and how long, Lord. As always, our heavenly Father knows exactly what we need at any given time. This past Sunday, my first day back to church in quite a while after being sick, I felt as if the sermon must have been just for me. But, isn’t that always the way it is? God speaks to each of us in our various needs through scripture. The scripture text was from Habukkuk.
2 Then the Lord answered me and said,
“Record the vision
And inscribe it on tablets,
That the one who reads it may run.
3 “For the vision is yet for the appointed time;
It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
For it will certainly come, it will not delay.
Habakkuk 2: 2-3 NASB
We all struggle individually. Your struggles are likely very different from mine. In fact, you may be reading this and thinking, ‘she thinks she’s got struggles? She should see what I’m going through right now!’ Whatever your struggles are, dear one, He knows. He hears. He understands. I don’t know about you, but I needed to be reminded of that. You see, I’d lost sight of that; not entirely, but enough so that God knew I needed a reminder. Satan takes away our joy, if we let him. He comes to steal, kill, and destroy. I had allowed him to steal my joy. I had given him a foothold. So, I needed a stark reminder of God’s infinite wisdom and providential care. I also needed to take my eyes away from me, and focus them once again on Him.
As I sat listening through tears as my minister read those words, it was as if God was telling me, reinforcing for me, that He hears my cries. He sees my tears. He knows my expectations and disappointments. His loving heart cares and feels my desperation. But He was also telling me that this situation, like all others He allows, isn’t just about me. It’s FOR me, but it isn’t just ABOUT me. It’s for me because, even in my retirement years, there are truths I need to learn. It’s not just about me because He’s given me an opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus to two precious, innocent little souls. Even if being the hands and feet of Jesus means I’m cleaning, doing laundry, cooking, and washing dishes day after day after day. He’s also telling me that what I long for and pray for will come to pass. It may or may not be in the way I expect, but it WILL come to pass. He will bring about the desires of my heart, either literally, or by changing my desires to fit His will. Though it tarries, wait for it; For it will certainly come, it will not delay. It will come in His time, which is always the right time.
Today is another ordinary day. I expect each day will, for the most part, be an ordinary day; with no special or distinctive features. But this I know. God is there in the midst of the mundane, the routine, and the ordinary. Perhaps that’s when He does His best work.