I felt so empowered by my bible study the first week, I posted by bible verse for the week on the wall, hung up our “Prescription for Contentment” (I copied it below) and was feeling such a calmness and peace despite our circumstances. The next week was pretty good also, but then I started to feel “reality” or probably more acuratly – the devil – fighting his way back into the forefront. The kids were starting to drive me crazy and another month and another round of bills were knocking on my door bringing the worry. Today I had the real kicker… we have been blessed to be receiving food stamps for a year now. Since it has been a year it was time to renew everything and that meant doing the process all over again. So I filled out their very long and extensive application, received and gathered everything for the “verification requests,” and faxed all the documents to the Department of Health and Human Services. I unfortunatly forgot that one page had a back side. A few days later we received a letter saying that we had failed to provide necessary verification. Upon realizing my mistake I quickly scanned and submitted the back side of the document they needed. This was late on a Friday so I could not call and verify that we were on track until Monday. When Monday rolled around I forgot…all week I forgot to call and check on that document. And because I forgot we received the letter yesturday that said we were DENIED due to failure to provide verification. I finally got through today and got everything cleared up, however, because we did not get this ironed out by the 28th of September they now have til the 28th of October to make a decision on our case. This means I have no food stamp money until they approve things and my experience is that they wait till the last minute. Now let me appologize for my list of sorrows, and for my complaining. Let me now share the insights God has laid upon me.
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, my soul knows that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
In our bible study we discussed how God knows us very intimatly, “my frame was not hidden from you,” and he knows what is planned for all our days. He gives us talents and abilities and helps to shape our character. But is he pleased with what we are doing with our talents? Are we sharing our talents with others? Are we using them to glorify God? And what about our character traits? Do they please God or do we have some that displease him?
The real kicker for our group was the question: Are you willing to be stretched to discover your abilities and spiritual gifts?
Are any of us willing to be stretched? Most of the time our answer would likely be no, I don’t want to be made uncomfortable. I want to stay here in my nice cozy comfort zone and let my days pass by. Well, some day your comfort zone may be yanked out from under you. I know mine sure has. But you know what, we have a way of doing a little rebuilding and creating a new comfort zone real quick. The question is, why did we loose our first comfort zone? Could it be that God is trying to stretch you a bit and teach you something. Yeah, I think now we might be working toward something here. So, I got yanked from my first comfort zone – financial stability. Now I lost my make-shift comfort zone – food stamps. Maybe it’s time to stand up and face the fear.
The plan: I love to crochet, that’s a real comfort for me. I make things for my family and give away as gifts. I have always thought about selling some items, but, uh-oh, here comes the fear…. what if I don’t have the time to get projects done, what if I make a bunch of stuff and then never sell it, what if this starts to feel like work and I don’t enjoy crocheting anymore? I guess now is the time to face the fear. We need income and I need to be at home with my family, so now is the time to start marketing my talents and the abilities God has given me. And who knows, maybe this will lead to opportunities to share the gospel, another fear of mine… oh gee, am I sharing the gospel now? Perhaps God has already put that one into action. (Hence the starting of this blog!)
My husband is also working on a plan. He is feeling drawn back to the ministry, but is he really ready to overcome the anxiety that comes along with visiting people. In order to face his fears and be stretched, he is going to go on visits with a pastor here in town. He will be doing this with an experienced pastor who really enjoys the visitation and pastoral care ministry. By shadowing him, my husband will be able to rebuild his confidence and God willing be able to serve a vacancy and eventually accept a call to a church. He is also continuing to look for other employment opportunities, since the visitations will not be paid work, but this is a step in the right direction.
So I ask that as you consider us in your prayers, also pray that you may be willing to be stretched to discover other abilities and gifts that God has given you. And let us all praise and glorify God for all the blessings that he has given us. I must note, as we did our prayers as a couple tonight we had more on our ‘thanks’ list than our requests list – even after a day like today. Praise the Lord!
Ella Spees, a misionary in Africa wrote this prescription for Contentment:
Never allow yourself to complain about anything — not even the weather.
Never picture yourself in any other circumstances or someplace else.
Never compare your lot with another’s.
Never allow yourself to wish this or that had been otherwise.
Never dwell on tomorrow —remember that [tomorrow] is God’s, not ours.
*taken from: Calm My Anxious Heart by Linda Dillow