Sometimes I feel like my life is this endless string of events that if they were compiled and made into a movie, it would require such a gross suspension of disbelief that no one in their right mind would be willing to watch it.
At the end of last year, I began to pray and ask God for a word for 2016. Just one word. Last year, the word was “new.” And so many things were, in so many wonderful ways. This year, the word is “abundance.” And I’ve gotta tell ya, we’re 70 days in and that’s been a bit of a head scratcher.
The year began with a quick trip to Tampa and then a sick little girl. A mid-month ER visit and then a snow day. After all of that, I wasn’t back at work two hours before the school nurse was calling me. But we pressed on, and I spent the next two weeks trying to catch up at work, with meetings and trips and projects aplenty.
I had been desperate to get back into my routine after the holidays, and I was just sure I’d find my rhythm again after Tampa. But as January came to a close, it was obvious that nothing of the sort would be happening anytime soon.
February came in with a fever. Literally and again. More disruption of the routine. And then a flat tire that was really a ruined tire with one ginormous object lesson stuck in the sidewall. And then a fixed tire and a well kid but more trials by fire, more feeling like I’m marching straight into battle.
Late February saw her sick again. This time, a diagnosis and antibiotics, but geez Louise if I’m not about ready to pull my hair out over germs and other things outside of my control. Also, routine? What routine? We haven’t seen one of those since October, at least.
March began benignly enough. Well. At least, the first day or so of March was pretty normal. Mostly. Things kicked into gear – or should I say out of gear – last Friday, when my vehicle decided to roll out of my carport, down my driveway, across the street and into my neighbor’s yard, stopping roughly four feet from their front porch. Without me in it. I actually stood in their yard and watched as my previously barreling-toward-their-door SUV suddenly slowed and came to a stop, ever so gently bumping their little boy’s t-ball stand, causing the stand to teeter and knocking the bright green ball to the ground, where it bounced twice and quietly rolled behind my tire. I would have appreciated the irony if I had not been standing there, trembling and wild.
My nerves were shot and my throat was sore (did I mention how much I screamed as I chased my runaway vehicle?) for the rest of the night. I had planned to pass the weekend in relative ease at the lakehouse, and I certainly did give it my best effort, despite another completely bizarre event in the form of a random, unwanted email and one very euphemistically accurate bad penny.
So I came back from the lakehouse, and I dug in for the week and I’ll be darned if everything hasn’t felt just a little bit off.
This is the first week since December that my routine has been completely back to normal. No trips. No catastrophes. No meetings or speaking engagements. Just kid, life, work, Bible study. Normal.
So naturally I’ve spent all day with smudged mascara and emotions as raw as hamburger meat.
Then another email this afternoon, only this one I had been expecting…and more smudged mascara. More raw emotion. The lies hissed loud. And I knew I had this conscious choice to make: believe the lies, or recognize them as just that – lies. Falsehood. Ridiculous ridicule from the mouth of the accuser who sees my calling and my assignment and my tribe as a threat. Somehow, even in the midst of all this chaos, with this one final flaming arrow soaring toward my heart, the truth was running deeper still, a strong and rushing river with a current pulsing mightier than those winds could hope to batter my heart.
Because, see, what I haven’t told you about these 70 days is this: they have been overrun with grace and provision and richness.
Abundance, you might call it.
There are people who have brought the kid soup, sat with us at the ER, run errands for me, helped us get where we were going, gave us a reason to escape to north, north Arkansas, made us their Valentines, called just to check on us, called just to check in with us, spoke truth and love and strength and wisdom over us, came over and sat on the couch with us with knitting needles clacking away, came over and laughed over cheeseboard with us, read the Word with us and prayed for and with us.
Last Friday, just before my vehicle decided to go on its terrifying little jaunt across the street, I told a trusted friend that I had this sudden and strange dark feeling, and he said: “Psalm 91. You will feel it, but it won’t come near.” I didn’t have a chance to read the psalm until late that night, after the business with the car. It stunned me when I did.
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.
If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”
Yes, it has been a rough 70 days. There’s been trouble. Arrows have flown left and right. The fowler’s snare has been set in just about every place my feet have landed and I have been flat-out weary of the constant attack. I have seen it, and I have felt it in my bones. But still, it has not come near.
And what has come near instead?
Rescue. Protection. Answer. Deliverance. Life.
He has shown me His salvation.
Abundance, you might call it.