How are you doing in these strange days? Are you finding a new rhythm? Are you getting back to the hobbies and arts that you love but haven't had time for in so long? Are you investing in your family and finding that quiet time with the Lord that you always longed for?
We were thrust into this new "normal" unexpectedly and for many of us, unwillingly, but I am ready to reclaim this time and declare that God will do GREAT THINGS with these days! This is the God that I serve! The God that brings beauty out of heart ache and new life out of great difficulty!
What beauty will you allow God to bring in your life? What "new life" will spring up from your heart in the form of music or art or ingenuity? Will you return to your love of baking or plant a garden with your extra time? Will you slow down and finally read that book or perhaps even write that book you've been meaning to write all these years? Will you choose to use the time homeschooling your kids to remind them that God is the author of life and that God has His hand in all that is around us? Will you get back to tinkering with the cars and the lawnmower to get things working smoothly again? Will you look for the good and praise God for the new opportunities to strike up a conversation with the neighbor across the street that you have never had the chance to get to know? Will you establish a new and healthy routine of rest and exercise? Will you allow your soul the time to breathe and pen poetry or other creative works? Will you sing again and pick up that instrument you used to play years ago? Will you teach your children the art of construction in the backyard or show them how to be resourceful and fix that one household appliance that never worked quite right? Will you dust off the sewing machine and find ways to aide in the efforts to produce masks and other medical supplies? Will you allow your gifts and God-given skills the time to bloom and grow? Will you play more and laugh more and refresh more?
See when we choose to allow God the chance to reclaim this time...when we choose to pray and trust instead of worry and fret...when we choose to praise God and look for the good...we suddenly will see that God has great things in store! When we are looking for the good, we will find more that is good. When we are being creative with our time, we will find more that brings joy. When we embrace the opportunity for something new, we will see God open up a whole new world of possibilities that can be very beautiful!
There are many examples in history of people who have allowed beauty and "new life" to spring from very difficult circumstances:
Charles Darrow lost his job in the Great Depression. One day he saw some friends playing a homemade game where they were buying and selling property. He partnered up with his friends and refined the look of the game. Then, he took the initiative and started promoting and selling the game himself to make ends meet. Before long, Parker Bros. got wind of this new game and we now have the iconic Monopoly board game in most houses in America! (1)
George Washington Carver was born a slave in 1864. When he was only a few weeks old, he was kidnapped along with his mother and sister. He, alone, was later rescued and adopted by his former slave owner, Moses Carver and his wife, Susan. Susan taught him to read and write and to make herbal medicines. This sparked a love for plants. He fought his way through school and eventually was granted permission to attend college after facing many rejections. Returning to his love of plants, he eventually came to study botany. He researched and learned how to identify and then treat crop diseases. He also came to realize the value of adding nutrients to the soil through crop rotation. He then studied the benefits of using peanuts in this crop rotation system and began to teach farmers in the south how to implement this practice. The farmers were astonished at the benefit that their cotton crops experienced, but didn't know what to do with all the peanuts that sat rotting in their storehouses. George Washington Carver heard of this dilemma and locked himself away in his shop for weeks. When he emerged, he had discovered over 300 uses for peanuts including flour, paste, paper products, building materials, soap and lotions. He is credited with saving the agricultural economy of the rural south! (2)
C.S. Lewis had a series of life experiences that led him to reject faith in his early teens and live as an atheist through his 20's. He then turned to theism around 1930 and then with the help of his friend J.R.R. Tolkien, he came to accept Christ as Lord and Savior in 1931. C.S. Lewis then used his incredible talent for the written word to pen many great books of faith.(3) When World War II broke out, C.S. Lewis spent much time traveling to the encampments of troops to share the Gospel of Jesus with them. He wanted to be sure they heard of the saving grace of Jesus since they were faced daily with the threat of death. He also used this time to take to the radio in hopes of reaching the families who were at home fearful and worried for their own safety and the safety of their loved ones fighting in the war. C.S. Lewis did a series of broadcasts that he later turned into the book we know as Mere Christianity. This book has been translated into countless languages and is one of the most influential Christian apologetic resources known today. Hundreds of people, both ordinary and famous, point to this work by C.S. Lewis as opening their eyes to understanding the truth of Jesus. This, all because a man used creative means to reach people during very difficult days with the hope that Christ can offer! (4)
We could continue to recount story after story of men and women who allowed God to bring something beautiful out of their hardships. The turning point in all of these stories come when a personal choice was made to look for the good! Look for the blessings! Look for the opportunities! Allow God to use what they had to do something incredible!
Jesus, himself, made the choice to trust God to bring good out of great pain and suffering when He surrendered to God's plan to rescue the world from sin. Jesus chose to trust God and allow God's plan to bloom and grow into the greatest story of love and redemption that this world has ever known! We celebrate and remember this great victory on Easter Sunday; but the joy found on Easter is only possible because Jesus allowed God to use the pain of Good Friday. Time and time again, God demonstrates that He is faithful in His promise to bring good and beauty and new life from the ashes of life and no story demonstrates this more clearly than the story of Easter.
My friends, I am not suggesting that these days are easy. I am not wearing "rose colored glasses" nor am I oblivious to the great hardships many of us are facing. I am simply making a choice. I am choosing to trust God! I am choosing to open my life up to the possibility that God can bring beauty from these uncertain days. I am going to look for the good and focus on God's graciousness and love. I am going to lean into opportunities to pour into my kids' lives while embracing the inevitable craziness that also comes with the changes to our lives. I invite you to do the same!
Let's reclaim the month of April and surrender these days to the Lord and see what great things He will do!
"Only fear the LORD, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you."
1 Samuel 12:24
1. Lindsay Stidham, "5 Brilliant Inventions That Came Out of The Great Depression," History Collection, https://historycollection.co/top-5-american-inventions-come-great-depression/
2. Mary Bagley, "George Washington Carver: Biography, Inventions & Quotes," Live Science, December 07, 2013, https://www.livescience.com/41780-george-washington-carver.html
3. Peter Schakel, "C.S. Lewis - IRISH-BORN AUTHOR AND SCHOLAR," Encyclopedia Britannica, last updated Feb 10, 2020, https://www.britannica.com/biography/C-S-Lewis
4. George Marsden, "A Biography of Mere Christianity," Knowing & Doing C.S. Lewis Institute, Spring Issue 2017, http://www.cslewisinstitute.org/A_Biography_of_Mere_Christianity_FullArticle