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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

For Everything There Is a Season

Winter in Wisconsin is not for the fainthearted. Yet despite below-zero temperatures, wind, and snow. I love the stark beauty of the season. There’s nothing quite like a quiet winter evening – the sound of logs crackling in the fireplace, a soothing cup of Christmas tea, and huge, lacy snowflakes silently blanketing the earth. Moments like these give me a sense of well-being and peace. But one particular January, I was feeling anything but peaceful.

A series of unexpected financial setbacks a couple of years earlier had devoured all of our savings and pushed us deeply into debt. The stress was constant. We were behind in paying many of our bills. An honest mistake in our tax estimate had created thousands of dollars in fines and interest. Our situation only seemed to get worse.

The winter seemed as gray and bleak as our financial picture. As frustrating as it was to be so in debt, and as tiring as it was to have to watch every penny, the most difficult thing for me as a mother was not being able to give my children simple things.

My oldest son, Drew, was eight years old and (to our chagrin) a big fan of WWF wrestling. He had asked me to buy some ice cream bars shaped like wrestling figures. After each grocery trip, I would honestly report that I could not find them. But even if I had found them, we couldn’t afford to buy them. As it was, the pantry was almost bare.

I was folding laundry when the doorbell rang. Karen, a friend from our Thursday morning Bible study, was standing there with a mischievous grin on her face. “We have a surprise for you. Patsy and I were at the Food Pantry picking up food for needy families and we said, ‘Why not Terry and Andy?’ Please accept this as from the Lord.” At that, they began hauling in boxes of food. I was speechless as I realized they had no idea how empty my pantry was.

Just before leaving, Karen pointed to a large box on the floor. “You’ll want to unpack this one first. It’s full of frozen things.” With that, they were gone as quickly as they’d come. I opened the box of frozen food and what do you think I found? Boxes of wrestling-figure ice cream bars! I was astonished! “Lord, how could they know? What would make them choose those specific bars for me?” In the quiet of my heart, I felt the Lord say, Now, I’m going to show you what it’s like when I provide for you. And He did – week after week, month after month, for several years. In the most unexpected and generous ways, family and friends sustained us with food, clothing, money, and prayers.

We were deeply grateful, but it was humbling. “Lord, we’ve tithed faithfully over and above what You’ve asked. We’ve always loved giving. Why have You taken away this blessing?” Lovingly but firmly, the Lord spoke. You have given faithfully and know the blessing therein. Now, I am blessing others as they give to you, and I want you to learn to receive graciously and humbly. For everything there is a season.

As difficult as that season was for us, we learned some valuable lessons. Being willing to receive was as important as being willing to give. Finding our security in Christ rather than in our own ability was painful and humbling.

We began to learn the fine art of contentment. In our kitchen we now have a cherished plaque that reads, CONTENTMENT IS NOT THE FULFILLMENT OF WHAT YOU WANT -- BUT THE REALIZATION OF HOW MUCH YOU ALREADY HAVE. The apostle Paul puts it this way,

“I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content . . . I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11, 13)

Lord, when I’m in a difficult season that I can’t control, I see how much I rely on myself. Teach me how to rest in You in the midst of difficulty and change. Jesus, fashion in me the kind of servant’s heart that is as able to receive as it is to give. Thank You for Your faithfulness to supply all my needs.

Excerpted with permission from Near to the Heart of God, by Terry Meeuwsen ©1998

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