Category Archives: worth

See What I Did There?

I hate to read bad news. No matter how far removed from me, it stings to hear that someone was hurt. I would rather glide through life glibly on clouds of innocence and comfort than hear about tragedy and horror.  But I can’t.

I read about hate.  I read about sin.  Blame gets thrown.  Mud gets slung.  Mamas weep.  Children cry.  The world seems dark indeed.
Every morning in the brief interlude between staggering to the Keruig and hearing the patter of little feet, I pick up my Bible.  It’s usually only a few minutes, but it’s good.  I don’t follow a fancy reading plan or a devotional.  Maybe I’m too rebellious to follow someone else’s daily path through the Word of God.  Maybe I’m just lazy.  (There are a lot of great Bible study resources out there, I’m not knocking them, I just don’t tend to use them).
I just pick up my Bible and read.  I start at the beginning and plug on through.  It takes 2-3 years at my rate to get from one end to the other.  And then I start again.  Sometimes I’ll follow a rabbit trail for a day or two into another passage that caught my attention, sometimes I wish I read through faster, but… life.
Yes, Leviticus can be a bit tedious.  Yes, the prophets can feel a bit gloomy.  Yes, I’ve read it before and occasionally I glaze over on a familiar passage.  But the unique thing about this Book is that it is alive.  It’s the Word of God.  God Himself holds it higher than His own name, which the Jews won’t even speak or write because it is so holy.  It is heavy (not just because it’s a big book.)  So even though I’ve read it nearly every day for over 20 years, I still learn new things about God.

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But the part I really dislike reading every time is the crucifixion.  Of course it’s all through the Book, referenced for thousands of years through the Old Testament, narrated in each of the four gospels, and becomes the mantra of the rest of Christian history to date.  The actual events leading to Jesus’ killing are gruesome.  The murder itself is long and horrific.  I abhor the thought of anyone inflicting such pain on another human being, and my sense of justice revolts at the realization that they did this to an innocent Man.  To One I love.

But it’s where I go when the world seems dark.

Back to the cross.

It is the place, the only place, where love wins against a world of hate.

Acacia thorns formed the crown Jesus wore
Acacia thorns formed the crown Jesus wore

In one moment of time, the world literally shook as Jesus Himself wrenched the doors off of Hell and set the captives free.  Every single person deserved to be there.  Except Him.

But He went anyway.

And Jesus stood in the doorway between life and death, He stood there bloody and swollen, bruised, and humbled.  He reached out to the slaves to sin in the darkness.  He  reached toward me, abandoned to hopelessness, lost in a world of hate.  And Jesus offered a trade.  “My life – for yours.”  Most people rejected the red-streaked, mangled hand.  But some accepted the offer.  Some still do.

It wasn’t fair.  Death is fair.  Life is not.  That’s grace.

Every time another person dies, Jesus goes back to that moment again.  He pulls His crucifixion out of history and replays it before His Father.  He says, “See what I did there?”  And if that person who died had accepted the trade that Jesus offered, then God Himself looks at it and says, “Yes, the debt is paid.  Death has no claim on him.  Let him live.  Forever.”

Jesus knew He was going to die.  It’s why He came.  Christmas wouldn’t mean a thing if we didn’t have Easter.  BC and AD should have come together at the moment of Jesus’ death and resurrection.  (But they didn’t ask me, so we’re 33 years off, give or take.)  It is the culminating point around which time revolves.  What you decide to do about it defines your whole existence.

He knew it was coming.  A thousand days – a thousand years- before they killed Him, Jesus knew every detail of the agony to which He was headed.  A thousand times He must have gone through it in His mind.

But the death Jesus died – it only happened once.  Jesus died once.  And He came back to life because death has no right to an innocent person.  So He will never be dead again.  He doesn’t have to bring it up again.  It’s done.

But He replays it, again and again.

Paul's prison cell in Philippi, Greece
Paul’s prison cell in Philippi, Greece

Hate destroys.  It devalues life.  At best, we try to fix it by taking away the weapon.  But they killed Jesus with a hammer and nails.  They killed His disciples with rocks, with dull knives, and more hammers and nails.  Death is caused by sin.

There is only one thing stronger than sin.

When I hear about death and pain and heartache, I want to point fingers.  Mama bear wants to rear her head and demand justice.  I want to hide my cubs from a world of hate and pain.  But instead I try to do what Jesus does.  He doesn’t hide.  He doesn’t shake His fist.  He goes back to the cross.  So I must too.  Jesus pulls up the events of those horrible days that cost His own life, and plasters His gift of life across the face of all the filth and blood and terror that surrounds us, and reiterates it all again. “Love isn’t just puffy clouds and rainbows and comfort.  It isn’t Christmas.  Love is red-streaked agony.  Love is messy, and hard, and undeserved.  It isn’t weak.  It doesn’t lack.  It will not take.  It gives.”

“See what I did there?  I did it for you.”

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Between a rock and a soft, squishy mattress

I fear for my children.

Especially for the one glancing boldly at me while completely unrolling the aluminum foil to make a ball.

Truly.

But I do fear.  Some days, the future I hope for them seems bleak indeed.

I’ve learned in my old age that if I stare at my phone screen for too long I go cross eyed for a while afterwards.  I think old age and phone screens do not go together very well.

I’m 34.

You’re dying to reprimand me for saying I’m old.

But I am.  I am ever so old.  I know because when I was young it was easy to live at my parents’ house.  Now that I am old it is much more difficult.  When I was young I used to draw crayon castles and dream big.  I could ignore the news because it seemed far away, and jot down my ideas in a little pink diary.  These days, I stare at my phone screen, reading the news, searching for a new house, typing blog ideas that never get to posting,  messaging friends about difficult subjects, and wishing what I saw was more pleasant.

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I used to think the government systems would work if you just did your civic duty and voted and used your respectful indoor voice.  These days, the government wants money back that it “gave” to my disabled son.

They don’t believe he is disabled anymore.  (Wouldn’t that be nice if he could just stop being paralyzed?)

They have loopholes written into law that say we are in breach of our mortgage contract for leaving our little house.  They say we’re not “allowed” to not live there.

They say vote for the lesser of two evils, though even the lesser is ok with killing babies.  And I am not.

The world seems backwards.

It seems I cannot put my hope in any man.

I will not put my hope in a nation.

I shall not put my hope in the next generation. I must not even put my hope in my own ability to raise the next generation.  I will fail.  I am fallible.  So are they.

My country teeters on the edge of destruction by righteous judgement.  Bureaucracy, loopholes, redtape and complacency rule the day.  My tendency is to weep at the condition of the world my children are inheriting.  I fear they will come of age in a time where they will be penalized by tax, or jail, or certainly at least social disgrace if they uphold any morality.  I am afraid they could be pressed into military service against more just nations than our own.  Doing the right thing will be very uncomfortable for my young men.

But I forget what I want most for my children.

It is not their security.  (Though I crave it.)

It is not their health.  (Though I pray for it.)

It is not their comfort. (Though I would give up my own if they could have it.)

What I want most for my children is to know their God.

To love Him.  To accept His forgiveness.  To be passionate for His truth.  To be brave in hardship.  To be bold in adversity.  To be humble in the face of accusation.  To claim unity with God rather than man.

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I hate to think I may have to stand by helpless (or more likely, due to Mama bear instinct – to be held back kicking and screaming) as they face loss, condemnation, and searing pain from a heartless world.

But rather than watch them live out their days complacent and Godless while being safe and comfortable – rather – I pray they would live short, hard, painful, but meaningful lives walking with their Maker.

At least I try to pray that.

Make no mistake, I will fight for every inalienable right they should and could have.  I will pour out my own energy for their own comfort and joy.  I love to hear my kids laugh.  It is the greatest sound I’ve ever known.

But if through their tears – and my own – they learn their greatest joy is the glory of God – than I prefer that to any comfort or legal right.

It’s not my job to change the world.  We have been called to do a far harder thing.  I must live a changed life in an unchanged world.

It does seem backwards.  But I serve the God who said the poor will be rich.  The weak will be strong.  The humble made great.  The simple made wise.

And when I look at my phone screen (or any screen) I forget the backwards kingdom.  That’s when the world seems so topsy turvy.  Because it is.

Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Luke 12:32, 34

God help me, as I find a use for crumpled aluminum foil, to fear not.

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Can’t Touch This

It was small.  Just a little piece of a cracker.  Pierced.  Broken.  He offered me a fragment; I held it gently as the music played around us.  The deacon shuffled along the line of chairs to share the familiar ritual with the rest of the congregation.  And then my husband leaned over, his deep husky whisper curious, “What will you do with that?”

The music continued.  But time stopped for me.  Good question.

I will admit it.  I’ve joined the ranks of anti-gluten-tites.  I eschew wheat, barley, millet, and rye products.  It’s such a trend.  A fad.  I fought it for a long time.  (Really now, if I followed fads, I wouldn’t have 6 children… or homeschool… or not watch t.v….  No one ever accuses me of being trendy!)  But I’ve also spent many hours questioning, reading, searching.  A five minute conversation annually with a doctor is not sufficient to answer every health question I have.  I’ve been to nursing school.  I’ve lived in the hallways of hospitals; I’ve had doctors humbly admit they don’t (and can’t) know everything.  There’s constantly room for learning in science.  They used to swear the world was flat, after all.

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I’m pretty healthy – I eat my spinach and get more exercise than I really want as a mom of half a dozen young boys – but somewhere along the line, my thyroid kind of gave up.  I can’t blame it.  It’s a hard knock life to be a hormone regulator in a female body.  Add to that pregnancies, lactation, stress, too many ramen noodles in college, all the genetic twists I’ve inherited in the generations since Adam and Eve, and big old carbon footprints stomped all over my hormones for the past three decades, and I’m impressed the rest of my body hasn’t rebelled too.

Anyway, I dutifully started popping a daily thyroid-homone replacement pill about eight years ago.  But that at best appeases some symptoms; it doesn’t fix the problem or even halt the damage.  So I started to do my own homework like a big girl.  I kept finding that gluten sensitivity runs hand in hand with exhausted thyroid (specifically the auto immune disease Hashimotos).  In fact, it probably caused it.  But once your body starts attacking itself, there doesn’t seem to be a way to turn it off.  At best, you can lessen the attack by not eating the foods that probably started the whole war in the first place.

I didn’t really ditch wheat because it’s not healthy or holy.  I think you can be healthy and eat it.  I find it in the Bible.  True, it was healthier before American commercialism got its hands on it and changed the content to be less nutritious and much higher in gluten (and therefore harder on your digestive system).  And the standard American diet includes way too much of it.  But I still bake bread.  I’m a bit granola that way anyway.  I just don’t eat it.  I think you can also be unhealthy to swear off gluten.  A lot of pre-packaged replacements are unwholesome, full of sugar and chemicals, and just rushing to meet the lucrative trend without conscientiously seeking to fill a nutritional void.

This isn’t a post to convince you that wheat is evil; you can find plenty of other blogs to deal with that.  But if my body is trying to kill itself, I’m not giving the enemy any more firepower than I knowingly have to.  I’ve seen the holes in my thyroid in black and white (in an ultrasound.)  Wheat only drills them deeper.

So there, in the middle of the pew, under soft lighting and gentle music, I smacked against a rock and a hard place.  I must care for this body, this temple, this dust and water giving place to my soul on earth.  The effects of even a teensy bit of gluten can linger for months in my system.  But could I turn away from the Hand that reached out to feed me?  Always, so earnestly, my Savior had urged, “Take, eat… Do this in remembrance of Me.”  After all, the literal breaking of the Bread of life had cost Jesus’ health too.  It cost His life.

I lifted the fragment of cracker between my fingers, feeling the weight of His decision to die balanced on my thumb.  My own degenerating flesh, holding the reminder of His perfect sacrifice  on behalf of my broken body.  My broken soul…

“Have you comprehended the breadth of the earth?”  God Himself asked Job as he lay aching in the dust. (Job 38:18.)  The verse popped into my head.  I smiled as the meaning tickled my brain.  I was beginning to comprehend.  But a little.  Bread is filling, life-sustaining, comforting.  Bread is made to be shared.  Bread is made to be broken.  But for me, the very thing that gives life will cost my own.  On earth.

“I have fervently desired to share this with you,” Jesus had said, His deep voice choked with emotion.  But I shall not taste of it again,” He continued as He grabbed the sides of a fresh loaf and tore them apart.  “Not until the kingdom of God comes.”  He passed the warm wafers to His friends and they chewed and swallowed, savoring the bites wonderingly.  They didn’t know He’d be dead before the next evening’s meal.  Or alive forever before the next week was over.  This simple mix of ground wheat and water  – this held the promise of pain and hope that no other food group will ever claim.  Jesus didn’t tear the tofu.

Silently, I passed the crumbling cracker to my husband.   He’d have to handle both eighths of a square inch of Saltine this time.  Because I will not taste of it again, not with this broken body… But I will remember.  This choice not to eat.  This bread was costly.  It was broken for me.  His sacrifice made my own soul whole.  He gave me the promise of a new body, unbreakable, unbroken.  Someday I will share the bread of heaven – with the Bread of life.  It will be worth the wait.

And it won’t go to my hips.  Or my thyroid.

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Cast your bread upon the waters, you will find it again after many days.  Ecclesiastes 11:1

Welcome To My Crib

It was time.

Time for the baby to move out of our room into a crib in the boys’ room.

Time for the almost three year old to give his crib to the baby.

Time for the four year old to give up the toddler bed and move into a twin sized bed.

Time for the five boys to squeeze into one room.

It was time for bunk beds.  Round two.

But I wasn’t ready.

As a matter of fact, the baby learned to sleep through the night over a month ago (Haaaaalelujah!)  So it was time.  He needed to get out of our room.  We calculated that for Christmas we would invest in bunk beds. The grim-faced delivery men dropped off several imposing boxes a few days after the holiday.   It was New Year’s Day when Daddy and his helpers got around to the fun of assembly.

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helping

It was an all-day project (as projects with so much “help” tend to be).  I was mostly uninvolved, catching up on laundry, cleaning, and rudimentary cooking to keep us alive.  (Found out the dining room smoke alarm was dead when I tried to cook a pizza for lunch, all in a day’s work…)  The two littlest were out of sorts after days with schedules all askew.  But I was impressed when two boys walked by carrying the vacuum in tandem.  They guy-cleaned the rug before setting up the bed frames, and I was not in a position to complain.  They fought for the right to wield the drill (with help), and jockeyed for position with the tape measure.  They glowed with importance when asked to recharge a battery or be chosen to hold screws (your own might be loose if you trust a four year old with that job!)  Their excitement was infectious.  And yet, I managed not to catch it.

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I’ll help you, citizens!

I had dragged my heels when my husband had offered to attempt the project on his day off.  I just wasn’t in a hurry.  True, we needed our bedroom back.  No more holding our breath so as not to wake the baby when we went to bed late or got up early.  No more sleeping on the pull-out in the living room while he learned to self-soothe.  No more waiting for a bigger house to materialize.  It was simply time.  

five months old
five months old

But the thought of my still-just-two year old in a big twin-size bed grated against my cuddly, coddly mother hen-li-ness.  It seemed normal for a baby sleeping in the crib to be incapable of getting himself in or out.  It seemed odd for a child sleeping in a big bed to need the same level of help.  Bunk bed ladders seemed tauntingly impossible for the child who couldn’t even climb a stair alone.

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view from the crib

Late that night, as I checked in on the troop of five in solemn repose in their new beds, the sadness washed over me again.  The baby looked so small in his corner of the new big crib he’d just inherited from the two year old.  The toddler seemed dwarfed by the bunk bed mattress extending for a mile past his little legs.  The two bigger boys in the older bunks were tucked around the corner, hard to reach.  The room seemed ever so much smaller, now completely devoid of floor space and full of night breath.  So full.

The next night, as soon as Daddy got home from work, I topped off the baby and handed over the reigns of bedtime duty.  Grocery shopping is just so much more efficient without five helpers…  I raced through the store in record time and turned back onto our street before the car was even warmed up.  It wasn’t that late; cars were in most of the driveways, the residents still awake within the homes.   Thin blue light of televisions reflected through many windows, others were dimly lit.  I smiled as I pulled up to our humble abode at the end of the street.  Lights blazed from nearly every window, spilling across the white snow banks, rays escaping around curtains.  The overflowing recycling bin on the porch was guarded by two plastic dinosaurs.   My house, so full.  So full of life.  It looked so deliciously inviting, warm, enticing.  Alive.

Our electric bill is probably higher than our neighbors’ (and we don’t even have a t.v.).  Our dishwasher and laundry machines work overtime comparatively.  It comes with the territory.  But our house is the one spilling over with laughter, conversation, stories, the hum of the vacuum, the smell of woodsmoke and always something cooking, always, something moving.  Always life.  

And it’s mine.  I’m so blessed.    

And my children, tucked snugly together in their little room, slept through the cozy night, as oblivious to our lack as I had been to my overflowing blessing.

Maybe it’s time I realized that.

When He Came to Himself

For the prodigal son, it was a pigsty.  For the children of Israel, it was Babylon.  For me, it was my husband’s 70 hour work week.

It’s that moment of awareness.  Of awakening.  Of hitting the bottom, looking around, and realizing where you are.  And whose brilliant idea it was to jump in.

It’s when the invading army breaches the wall.

When the mind-numbing television is switched off and the quiet of real life rings in your ear.

When Facebook offers no witty distraction.

When there’s no chocolate in the house.

When you’re mucking out someone else’s pig pen and realize how alone you are.

When you fall exhausted on the sofa after a long, muddy-floor–stinky-diaper–bloody-nose–dirty-laundry–burned-bread–color-outside-the-lines–forgot-how-to-spell–stepping-on-legos–doctor-doesn’t-know-what’s-wrong–scared-of-the-dark–don’t-pick-your-nose–broken-fingernail–spilled-milk–rotten-onion–politics-stink–nobody-hears-me–baby-hurled-on-my-black-sweater–worry-for-stressed-husband–forgot-to-thaw-meat–back-hurts–mom-where-do-babies-come-from–toilet-plugged–what’s-that-smell–red-crayon-on-walls–the-curtain-is-not-a-tissue–don’t-lie–eat-your-broccoli–he’s-working-late–toothpaste-in-hair–splinter-in-foot–is-that-a-pimple–missing-puzzle-piece–cranky-snotty-children–I-am-fat-and-ugly-and-a-terrible-mother-kind of day.

You’ve been there too?

Good.  It’s a wonderful place to be.

Oh, I know it’s not a pleasant place, surrounded by mess, filth, sorrow, dark, used tissues, piles of legos, and difficulty of your own making.

It’s just good.

Self, let me introduce you to someone.  This is Me.  It’s time we met.

Here, eye-to-eye with my glaring insufficiency, I see things.

Yet, when they come to themselves in the land where they were carried captive, and repent, and make supplication to You… And when they return to You with all their heart and all their soul… Then hear from heaven, and maintain their cause and forgive Your people who have sinned against you.  2 Chronicles 6:37-38

I read this and it jogged my foggy memory of another passage where I’d seen it.  It’s in the story of the prodigal son.  You know him?  Luke 15?  The bold, beloved, selfish son who demanded his inheritance before his father even died?  He ran off and drowned out his conscience with loud living, busyness, cell always beeping, gossip buzzing, commercialism clamoring, tantalizing idols constantly screaming for his attention… Until one morning, early, when he woke up and the power company shut off his electricity.   With the last shreds of pride and self-preservation, he managed to land a job.

But his first paycheck went to “friends” demanding a paid-back loan.  He watched them walk away laughing before he turned to heave a pail of slop into the swines’ trough.  His pride came tumbling out  onto the pigs’ greedy snouts with pieces of salad and  remnants of leftover meals from a nearby restaurant.  He’d once frequented that restaurant.  His stomach rumbled.  He looked at the rotting food.  His stomach turned.  A thick hunk of bread was sitting on the corner.  The end was soggy, but the rest looked almost edible.  He reached for it… And a pig snuffed it up just as his finger brushed the crust.

In that moment, finally, the young man came to himself.

He knew where there was bread.  Good, fresh, abundant bread.  It wasn’t at any restaurant. It was at home, in the kitchen, on the table.  At home.  Where he wasn’t.  He felt the weight of his stupidity squarely on his shoulders.  He didn’t even try to shrug the weight off.  Not now.  He knew where there was bread.  And he’d have to bring his stupidity with him and lay it bare if he wanted that bread.

That breaking moment.  The awakening moment.  The sudden moment when the idols are proved helpless.  The moment you are helpless, and you see yourself just as you are.  And it ain’t pretty.

And God said, “Ah, good, about time you noticed.  Now can we talk?”

He could have responded with the anger of a stern Father and an “I told you so.”  But He didn’t.  Not to a child who has come to himself.

Instead, He came running like a Dad who had been waiting for His son. He brought him to the kitchen table.  And He gave him bread.  And the bread never tasted so good to the one who’d always whined for cake before.  But this time, fresh and hearty, warm and aromatic, it hit the empty spot.  And filled it.

That is a wonderful place to be.

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I’ve got you

I didn’t compare myself to a prodigal at first.  After all, I never left.  But I looked around the messy house, and it did feel a bit like a pig sty.  The fighting children, the unfinished chores and schoolwork, the pile of bills on the table, the long to-do list on the counter, concern for my husband, the mirror mocking my hips like a convex carnival trick, the worry, the fretting, the clutter in my head.  I realized, for the bazillionth time, that I am inept.  Completely.

But instead of browsing the internet for ideas on being “better” last week, I took a good look in the mirror.  The real one.  The Bible.  It reflects more honestly than that cheap glass panel with fingerprint smudges.  And what I saw wasn’t lovely.  I was not impressed.  But I got it.

I don’t need distraction.  I don’t need make up to hide the flaws.  I need a Savior.

Oh, wait, look, He’s on the next page.

When the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace  we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.  Titus 3:4-7

By grace I am heir of a kingdom.  But my myself, I can’t even manage a pig pen properly.  Usually I’m too proud to say so.  But finally I admitted it, shamefaced.  And the King looked at me, in a puddle of myself at His feet.

He reached down and lifted my chin.  He breathed out life.  He filled me up.  Grace is so filling.

It was a wonderful place to be.

 

 

 

The Gift of Madge and Guy

She never bought jewelry for herself.  Oh, it was nice to be able to wear it sometimes.  Every piece that she owned had value because it had been given to her.  That included, of course, her engagement ring.

He’d handed her a flower that day, joy forever etched in memory.  In the flower was the ring.  She’d been expecting it, but it was still a surprise to see the glint within the petals.  And there he was on one knee grinning at her, the young blonde musician, full of hope.  She said yes.

Years passed.  He wrote songs for her on his guitar.  They grew.  The ring went on all their travels together, through love and arguments, through mud and soap, scraping against the keys to their first house and first car, stuck on swollen fingers of pregnancy, worn through sickness and health, richer and poorer…

In the midst of hospital work, diapers at home and nursing school, she decided that it would be safer to tuck the ring away.  She kept a simple gold wedding band on her finger, but the poky diamond solitaire was too much of a liability.  Some of the prongs holding the rock were bent.  So it went to live in a little box, nestled next to her late grandmother’s ring on the shelf.  Her life bustled on.

Several years  passed.  The family grew.  They had a few children now.  It was the time annually when they normally drew in their belts, paid some yearly bills, planned for school shopping, and prayed nothing big would break.  But the minivan broke anyway.  Actually both of their minivans did, on the highway, one hundred miles from home, within minutes of each other.  It was a Sunday afternoon; not many mechanics were available.  Her husband tenaciously tinkered inside the hood of one before crawling under the other.  It took several tense hours lying on the hot cracked asphalt of a deserted parking lot, with tired kids and a worried wife andhungry baby milling around him, but he managed to stick the muffler and tail pipe back on one van with a little ingenuity and a lot of sweat.  The other van had be left to wait for more expensive repairs and another day.

They made it home eventually.  But repairs took the last breathing space out of their budget.  Every bit of his income was already spoken for.  Sorting through bills felt a bit like drowning; they were getting behind.  What could they do; choose between groceries or the mortgage?  Husband and wife scoured the house looking for anything of value that could be helpful.  There were few things that would bring more than a handful of change at a yard sale.  What little they had was second hand and quite necessary.  They only found two things of any worth.

His guitar.

Her ring.

They were simply objects, but both reminded them of priceless memories.  The guitar was used for worship music at church, and putting melody to thoughts at home.  The ring was the first symbol of their marriage.  God had done financial miracles in their life before.  They prayed for another.  But money didn’t fall from the sky this time.  The bills didn’t miraculously disappear.  Were their prayers for help not reaching heaven?  Was something amiss in their life?  Was it true that God only helps those who help themselves?  Was this their help?

The ring went to a pawn shop.  The guitar, to Ebay.

Once committed, they breathed freely.  There was nothing else.  Nothing to come between them and God.  Their need was all up to Him to meet now.

Of course, God did.

The guitar sold.  In the quiet, he taught himself to play piano.  Months later, he found a new guitar at a good price.

Her ring wasn’t worth a great deal to anyone else.  After trying several shops, it was returned to its place on the shelf.

But the mortgage got paid.  Groceries were bought.  They thanked God anew.

Sometimes little things can block our view of great big God.  Sometimes He is more honored to hear silence than the music of worship.  Sometimes we need to give up everything we consider valuable so that we can gain some real treasure.

Sometimes it is a real sacrifice to thank Him in the midst of distress.

These times are the most important times to do it.

Giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors Me.  – Psalm 50:23

God didn’t help them because they helped themselves.  He didn’t want to “help”.  What value would they assign Him if He was merely helping them to do it?  God wanted to do it all.  Once the obstacles were removed from their view, He did.  God gives the best gifts.

Always.