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Friday, May 6, 2016

Return is an answer to prayers

Sunday, July 24, 2011

After I lost my job at the end of May last year, I finally got around to blogging. In my very first post I wrote about my sense of the impending:

Change is coming. I feel it, I see it. God is up to something in my life. For the moment, I'm holding on fiercely, as if I have some measure of control, as if I've ever controlled any of it really.

I sense my fingers slipping. I know the change will come when I will myself to open my hands. Not as you do when giving up, but in supplication. Not my will but yours, Lord. I knew that. Here I am. Again.

I said it, fully open to whatever God had in store for my life. I, of course, expected Him to move quickly, for the process to only be minimally painful. Really, I didn't know.

There was a point last year where I swore I'd slug the next person who shrugged and said, "It's the economy ..." as if that explained anything at all. I had lost my job of almost six years to The Economy, my position with a firm I had invested 10 years of my best efforts with. And we were effectively stranded in Phoenix, Arizona.

Over the course of the next 11 months, we sold this and that, bit by bit, month by month, just to survive. I spent six hours a day, every day, seeking work.

I prayed to heavens that seemed to be made of brass. I couldn't understand, and I cried out to God for an explanation. A friend sent me this message, "My immediate impression is that there is a much bigger purpose in getting you home. Doors closing, no way left to go."

In the end, that became our truth. At the end, we had one final chance to sell what was left, load a truck and get home.

Eleven months of unemployment causes a person a lot of self-doubt. And you might imagine that a marriage suffered, that words were spoken that were not always loving. Just when we had decided to make a grand leap of faith and go home to Shelbyville, a test result returned so far out of normal range, cancer seemed a certainty -- we lingered weeks more for a biopsy result.

Even when the result came -- normal -- imagine a grown man's fear at embarking on this crazy journey -- with no job prospects on the other side. A 20-foot U-Haul, everything we owned inside. A 10-year old Explorer. Two middle-schoolers, two dogs and a dozen full totes of my books.

Three and a half days of driving.

I said later that I had a sense that God had dispatched a small fleet of angels to bring us safely home. 1,839 miles. Not. One. Drop. Of. Rain. No traffic or construction to speak of. There were dozens of small blessings along the way.

Our rental didn't have appliances, but before the end of the Easter holiday weekend phone calls were made, a loaned stove and refrigerator arrived . Then came a washer on loan, a dryer for cheap. Within three business days, each of us was employed. I'm writing, and getting paid for it. I'm probably the only person I know who doesn't think of me as a writer -- all I know is that I'm having a lot of fun going to work every day.

In these last weeks, my house has filled -- almost magically -- with furniture. There's a sofa, a desk, a dining table. Chairs. There are dressers for the kids, headboards and bed frames and night stands. A refrigerator, for keeps.

Each and every bit of it came as an extension of the love and fellowship of the body of Christ. It arrived sweetly, from perfect strangers who knew none of the longer version of the story, just that our family had a need, and that there was something in their spare room, their basement, the back of their truck that would help.

I quoted Chuck Swindoll on my Facebook page the day before the biopsy results came back:

"In the mystery of God's will, we sometimes come to a place where we cannot explain why things turned out as they did; yet, amazingly, we are still right in the middle of His will. It's not that you or I created a problem; it's that God is in the business of surprising his people on a regular basis."

"Furthermore, He is immutably faithful. And yet he deliberately surprises us with difficult assignments, premature or unexpected deaths, lost jobs and disappointing circumstances along the journey -- even while we are in the nucleus of his will. Let's face it, it's a mystery."

And this

* " ... God provides us with things, it seems, only for the purpose that we might learn to release them back to Him. He wants us to hold all things loosely. To release all things to Him."

It may take years before the full extent of His purposes for the last year will be revealed in our lives. In the meantime, each gift is like a love-letter from my Father. One who keeps His promises to redeem and restore. Thank you, Father for each disappointment and setback. Thank you for bringing us safely home.

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Tracy Simmons
Spirited Scribe