Last week I saw a post from an author and speaker that I respect, Lysa TerKeurst. It was a link to sign up for a 5 day email devotion called, "Unrush Me". I immediately signed up. Boy do I need to be un-rushed. And just to make sure I realized that truth, I never got around to reading them. At all. Didn't even open the emails. All five came, one each day, and there they set in my inbox.
You know how it goes. Life just happens. Kids need attention. Presents for Christmas need to be bought. Songs for church need to be practiced. Parties need to be planned. Laundry needs to be done. The list goes on and on. It can bury you.
15 weeks ago I woke up with a headache. Not just an annoyance, but a real headache. It was bad. I popped some Tylenol and went on about my day. When it was still there that night and then the next morning, and the next, and the next...well, I started to get concerned. By the time I saw my doctor two weeks later I was miserable. It was as bad as a migraine, but it wasn't a migraine, that much I knew. I have had migraines on and off for the last 20 years, I know migraines. This was something else.
It wasn't that I was having several headaches, it was one headache that just wouldn't end. (At this point I am now singing, "It's the song that never ends, yes it goes on and on my friend...")
15 weeks later I still don't know why I have this headache. Most of the time I can deal with it, other times it is incapacitating.I don't have time for this! I have a life to live. I have, well, you know, this list...
I've started blacking out now, so that's another problem. Who has time for this? I just want to go to bed and stay there.
I continue to add things to my schedule though. Jake, being the protector, has gotten to the frustrated point where he yells at me and tells me, "no. No more. You are not doing that. Tell them you can't." He does it because he is concerned. I know this. But I hate feeling like I am letting someone down. Like I am failing at life, and right now that is exactly how I feel. Like a failure. I can't do anything to full capacity. I can't even remember commitments, conversations, entire blocks of time. I am a perfectionist, and that just doesn't mesh well with my personality.
I know, however, that nothing comes into my life--good or bad--without it passing through God's hands first. So I know He has allowed this for some reason.
And then Thursday night happened. JD was supposed to leave Friday on a leadership campout up in the mountains with the scouts, so Jake went out into the garage to get something for him to take. What he found was 2 inches of water surrounding our hot water heater. We had plans to leave for Arkansas to spend Christmas with family, were already tight on money and trying to figure out how we were going to actually make the trip, then this happens. Awesome.
Jake's parents were amazing and immediately offered to help, as our Christmas present. They wanted us home for Christmas as much as we wanted to be there. But then pride kicked in. I didn't want their help. I didn't want their money. Jake boiled it down and put it pretty bluntly, "you'd rather stay here and be miserable than except their help and go be with family for Christmas." I'll be honest, it took me a couple of days to swallow my pride.
We found a brand new water heater on Craig's list, saving a couple of hundred dollars, and a friend offered to help Jake install it, saving more than $500 in instillation costs.
Friday night Jake was getting the old water heater ready so when our friend came Saturday everything would be set. He put his hand on the wall of the unit and his thumb went right through! Oh.My.Goodness. This could have been SO much worse! This thing was rusted out. Completely. It was about to go any minute. If we hadn't caught it we would have had a serious problem on our hands, especially if it happened while we were in Arkansas.
The inconvenience became a little less of an annoyance at that point. Thank you, Lord, for letting us catch it when we did.
So, we're strapped, stressed, but still going to Arkansas. We'll just eat snacks on the way and really watch our spending while there. It won't be easy, but it's doable. Then Sunday came. Do you know that song, "It's Friday But Sunday's Coming"? If not, find it.
Sunday morning one lady in the church handed JD and Cora each $20, telling them it was for their food on the way to Arkansas. She didn't know about the water heater incident. Then another couple hands JD and Cora each a card, telling them not to open them until the trip. Jake and I decided to go ahead and open them, so they wouldn't get lost in packing. More money for the kids. Another lady came up to Jake and handed him money for the trip. She said she wished she could do more. I am tearing up just thinking of these people and how God used them in our time of need. We are still strapped, but not nearly as much. It helped my stress-level go down a notch and allowed me to focus on other things besides money issues.
So, back to the beginning of this post, where I said I didn't have time to read the "Unrush Me" emails. Well, today I decided to take some time. The kids are in class this morning, so I decided instead of driving back across town to our house I would go to this little coffee shop by their school. I would take some time out to sit and read and relax. I read the 1st two email devotions and got a lot out of them, then I got to the 3rd. Towards the end of the email was a scripture reference. One I have read 1,000 times. One even those who don't know the Bible have heard. Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Him who gives me strength." And though that verse really does speak to me right now, it's not what caused me to stop. To pause. To have a catch in my breath and a tear in my eye. It was the verse that came right after it. The one I have obviously read 100s of times, as I've read through the book of Philippians.
Verse 14 says, "Still, you did well by sharing with me in my hardship."
Paul was saying, yes, I can do all things through Christ's strength. BUT...I don't have to do this alone. I don't have to suffer alone. I don't have to have joys and trials and temptations and stress and and and... I don't have to go through this life alone. Why? Because "you shared with me in my hardship."
We were created as social beings. We were created to help each other. To live life together. To bear one another's burdens. We were never meant to go through this life alone.
How often do we allow the busy to get in the way of people? We fill our schedules so full--of noble and honorable things--we cannot pause. We cannot stop. We cannot be un-rushed, our souls are spent, we have nothing left to give. And for what purpose?
We miss out on life. Real life. We miss the opportunity to minister to those around us. Stop. Pause. Look around. What are we missing by being so "on" all the time?
And on the flip side, how often to we keep our burdens to ourselves? How often do we not share with others our trials, our temptations, our stress, or even our joys? How often does pride or embarrassment get in the way? I know it does frequently for me. I put on a pretty facade. Everything looks all nice and put together on the surface. I've got this. I don't need help. I don't want people to know I'm falling apart inside. Ever been there? We all have. But Philippians tells us we are to bear each other's burdens.
Yes, I can do this through Christ. I can get through the next days, weeks, months, of this headache. I can deal with the financial stress. I can and will do it. But I don't have to do it alone. God doesn't want that for me. He doesn't want that for you either.
He wants to use you to reach into the life of...that person. He wants to use someone to reach into your life as well.