Proverbs 16:9; Psalm 37:23
I was walking through our neighborhood recently, pondering what to write about. My mind wandered to a time, nearly 5 years ago when our oldest daughter, Amanda, was going through a really tough time. Her plan had been to get married and live close to us. She never wanted to move away from home – ever- she was adamant about that. Then through a series of difficult events it became clear to her dad and I that her environment had become toxic and she needed to make some really big changes. We encouraged her to move to our home state of Florida and to attend our alma mater. We really wanted her to have a fresh start in a safe place near our family and to work toward a career in something that she really loved.
Once she got to school her whole life blossomed. She immediately had a circle of the best friends anyone could want. Opportunities for performing as an actor became so abundant that she was even overwhelmed at times and she became a co-host for the campus TV show. Then she met an amazing man that became her husband and our son-in-law. She’s now working at her university and finishing her film and communications degree.
As I thought about everything God did I was so excited! I thought about how great it was that God interrupted her plans. I wasn’t excited or happy about the heartache she experienced but what came out of it is something that only God could do.
We can make our plans but the Lord determines our steps.
The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.
In the last couple of weeks we had to buy a car and it was unexpected. Travis and I had been praying about it for a while and I’d done a lot of research on makes and models to find out what type of vehicle would be best. We landed on a car and bought it fairly quickly. The next day I decided to take Halle out for a short drive and she said, “Mom, there’s a crack in your windshield”. Blerg. It took the wind out of my sails a bit because I put a lot of time, effort and prayer into the whole thing. How could I not notice a crack in the windshield? Well, I know how I missed it. It’s small, about the size of a spider, and the day we took it for a test drive it was really overcast outside. Thankfully, CarMax has a 30 day repair guarantee so it wasn’t going to cost me anything other than a trip to Franklin and a couple of hours waiting.
I hate waiting rooms because they remind me of hospitals. I determined to make the most of it though. I went to the library the day before to check out a book. As I perused the aisles I came across a book that looked interesting, Murder on Music Row. It seemed kind of interesting because I like mysteries, the Nashville aspect seemed intriguing and since I was looking for Sherlock Holmes the material seemed similar at least. Then the Holy Spirit spoke to me, “Amy, do not get that book”. I was a bit puzzled but figured that whether or not I was hearing from God I should just put it back. I found a Sherlock Holmes book that was small enough to put in my purse and planned on grabbing my ear buds too so I could tune out and pass the waiting time reading. That night as I laid in bed I thought about my plan and prayed that if God wanted me to interact with the people around me instead I’d do that.
So, the next afternoon I took my car to the shop, dreading the whole experience. The mechanics were nice but said that if they replaced my windshield I’d have to wait an hour after they were done before I could drive it. Thankfully Travis works close by and brought me lunch and we were able to hang out for a bit. While he was there other people came into the waiting room. One of them was a woman who was dealing with a double ear infection and had been for nearly four months- I’m going to call her Sally. I felt bad for her and realized that I’d never heard of anyone that had to deal with an ear infection for that long. I wondered if I should offer to pray for her and was waiting and quietly asking the Lord if that’s what I should do. While I was trying to figure all that out I was interrupted by a mechanic updating me on the status of my car. During that time, Sally had gotten a cold water bottle to press on her neck behind her ears to help relieve the pain. And while I would have loved to have had a clear word from the Holy Spirit on what to say or do I just heard the words, “Do you trust me”? I’ve been in this position before, a few times actually. A couple of times I’ve failed and left without praying for anyone and once I got past the panic rising up in me to pray for the stranger standing in front of me. This time I told the panic, no. I’m not going to freak out this time. I thought that she needed help that the doctors hadn’t been able to give her and I know Jesus. My compassion for her pain moved me past my comfort zone. So I just asked her if I could pray for her and told her that Jesus loves her and that he cares about things like infected ears that won’t heal. Then I prayed. It wasn’t weird and it wasn’t terrifying, it was just me bringing Jesus into the market place.
And then do you know what happened? She started talking and asked me if I listen to country music. I don’t listen to country music but I’ve lived in the Nashville area long enough to know that I should say that I don’t in a way that’s kind and humble- because a *lot* of people not only listen to it but are involved in some aspect of the business. As it turns out, her husband is a country music star. The band he’s in is a big deal and she started listing off the songs that I should listen to. She thought I’d like the ones that are uplifting and encouraging. Then she played a video of one of their songs from their new album.
So, while there may have been nothing at all wrong with my checking out a book called Murder on Music Row, her husband is a big deal on Music Row. She may or may not have been offended by the book but what that said to me is that the Holy Spirit knew ahead of time who I’d be praying for the next day and that God was most certainly directing my steps. All-in-all a broken windshield doesn’t seem to be such a bad thing.
How does all this fit together?
Whether you’re the one who is in difficult or devastating circumstances or you’re dealing with life’s little annoyances, God is there to direct you. He cares about your life and about where you end up. Ask Him to direct you and then listen and obey what He says. When things don’t go as planned, very often it gives God the opportunity to change our lives in very real and meaningful ways. I don’t rejoice over the hard things I’ve been through, some of those times were so painful I didn’t know if I’d make it through them. I do rejoice though in the fruit that came out of those times, that I’m not the same person I was and that I can share with others that no matter what you’re going through God is there and wants to direct your steps.