Posts Tagged ‘help’

The Toad

July 8, 2013

It’s late at night.
I’m walking to the car to go to work for an overnight shift and I spy him: A big, fat,  hoppy, brown toad trying to “run”  from me as fast as a toad can. He hid under our reel mower, thinking I couldn’t see him. I just laughed and continued on my way.

The next morning I came home from work and my older (young adult) son tells me “I have a new pet!” I knew he meant the toad because when I returned the reel mower had been moved several inches. “Where is it?” I asked. “Don’t worry mom, he’s still outside”. I didn’t give it another thought as I went to bed — because working all through the night is exhausting.

After I woke up and gathered my thoughts I decided to go see how my garden is doing (my daily ritual). Out the door I went and over the patio towards the back yard. On my traipse through the patio an active bit of motion caught me from the corner of my eye: Upon investigation I discovered a fat, hoppy, brown toad trying to free his way out of the shallow pool of water at the bottom of the short blue bin on the patio. The bin walls were just a little too tall for him.

Oh dear, that’s MY toad!

I gently caught the little guy, holding him around his “waist”, upright, and away from my body (because I learned a long time ago that these critters will “pee” on you if you don’t!).

My mission was to put him in my garden where he had shelter. And shade. And a nearby water source. And protective places to hide.

In other words, the garden had everything a toad needed to be happy.

I truly didn’t expect that he’d stay there for the remainder of the season, but I still knew it was a much better place for him than that little blue bin. If he chose to leave the garden, that was beyond my control.

In spite of my good intentions he was having none of that human-hand-holding thing as I carried him the fifty-or-so feet it took to get to the garden.
He vigorously wiggled and squirmed;I gripped  him tighter (though gently).
He croaked at me, and I tried to speak to him gently.

He simply didn’t understand that I was taking him from a futile, and possibly dangerous situation, and putting him in a safer, more comfortable, and better place.

I put him under the shelter of the large, shady, zucchini plants and went about tending to my garden. I kept my distance from him, though I also kept my eye on him. He continually turned to watch me in between the times that he wasn’t distracted with the yummy bugs that kept coming in his reach. He was happy, sheltered, and being fed. After I was finished with the garden, I simply left and let him do as he wished.

The next day, as I expected, he was gone. Out of curiosity I did a thorough search for the toad; he was really really gone. Although I knew that would happen, I was a bit disappointed: I put him in a toad’s paradise! Plenty of shelter, shade, food, water, and dirt! WHY didn’t he stay?…..

And that’s when God brought it home to me:
“People are very much the same. I see them in a terrible situation, and I bring them out of it. They vigorously fight me, and I try to speak to them to calm them, but they’re so caught up in their immediate fear and discomfort that they don’t understand me or realize when I’ve placed them in a better situation. And once they get there, many times, instead of seeing what they have, they focus on where they could be, forgetting about where they were and how much improvement I gave them”.

And I said:
“But how can that toad not realize the difference between the bin and the garden? The bin was obviously futile, and he would have eventually drowned! Why, after all that hardship, did he leave the garden??!!”

And it came to me; was it from God, or did He let me figure it out myself? I don’t know, but here it is:
The Toad was in the garden, and he was doing  better there than when he was in that horrible bin. BUT…. after he was in the garden, and after he got used to it,  he saw more:

The outside of the garden.

In his limited mind, he thought that surely the outside of the garden has more bugs, more shelter, more water, and more comfort.

He was focused on what more he could have to enjoy, he didn’t think about the serious dangers that were out there: The neighborhood cats that prowl the night, the coyotes that live in the area, the slithering grass snakes stalking at all hours. He simply couldn’t see those things from his vantage point even though I knew all about those dangers. And I couldn’t protect him from those things because he didn’t see what I saw.

He didn’t understand all the vast things that I understand.
He didn’t understand that I knew dangers that he didn’t.
He only saw what he wanted, and what he thought was better.
And because of that, he left the “safety zone” and ventured out into dangerous territory

And I did not have the authority to control his free will, and so I lost him.

 

Are human relationships with God so much different than that?

Advertisements

God’s Perfect Timing

June 23, 2011

Recently I’ve gone through an epiphany of how God’s perfect timing works, regardless of my human ignorance.

The Backstory:
Several years ago I worked a job I loved in a hospital, with good benefits, decent wages, and good co-workers. About two years into the job I was hit with three major life crises all at once:

1. My husband was suffering from the aftermath of a severe concussion

2. My teenaged son was getting into serious legal trouble with people he wasn’t supposed to be associating with, and

3. I found myself being “burned at the stake” because I actually began to lose faith in the “Christian” sect I was born and raised in. My family had turned their back on me because I decided to leave their sect, and most of my friends did the same (to this day they continue to treat me as spiritual poison; I am dead to them).

Without having a support system these crises began affecting my attitude, my patience, and my judgment in very negative ways. My work life was also becoming seriously affected, as was the relationship between me and my co-workers. I knew I was heading down a slippery slope , and I knew that if I didn’t handle things right I’d mess up my job, my marriage, and my children. I began to cling to God like green on grass. He was the only support I had… and thankfully, He was the best.

In all His mercy God provide me an opportunity to leave my job without serious financial repercussions. I reluctantly took the opportunity; I really didn’t want to leave my job but I also knew that if I didn’t  I would probably end up getting fired anyway with the way things were going. So I put in a month’s notice and quit.

Thank you God, as I needed the time to focus on resolving those issues that were crushing me.

About a year later, when things started coming back together I tried to re-apply for my old job. Unfortunately, my manager must have put something disparaging in my employee record because the recruiter I spoke to was acting very elusive about hiring me even though I knew for a fact the job was open. By this time I had already been working another  job, so I was able to “suck it up” and waited another year to try to apply to the old job again; this second attempt had the same basic result. Apparently, I had burned my bridges without realizing it. Eeesh.

I faced reality and accepted the situation for what it was and continued with the job I was already working, even though I wasn’t all that fond of it.

A couple of years later a friend of mine was hired at that hospital I used to work at, though on a different floor. After she had worked there a while she started asking me why I didn’t re-apply there again. I gave her a brief rundown of how things went and explained that I ruined any chance of ever getting rehired.  I wasn’t going to fool myself on this.

She didn’t mention it anymore until one day, last year, when I lost my job. The short version: I took a moral stand at work (in advocating for a patient’s safety), which made the wrong person look bad, and suddenly I wasn’t needed at my job anymore. It happened so fast it made my head spin — and yet somehow I inherently knew that, even though God didn’t ordain this to happen, He still allowed this to happen, though I didn’t know why at the time. So I had to get another job ASAP, and ended up working part time, minimum wage as a bottle clerk in a grocery store;I figured it was better having a low paycheck rather than no paycheck. I decided to work the job for at least six months in order to get a good reference and to have time to decide what to do next.  I was mulling over whether I wanted to continue working in health care or maybe try doing something else. I prayed to God for guidance: Should I remain a Certified Nursing Assistant (“CNA“) or should I pursue a different career path? I prayed constantly, and patiently waited for God’s answer (after all, I had at least six months before I needed to make a real decision anyway).

During this time my friend kept bugging me to re-apply at the hospital. I kept trying to make her understand how futile it was, but finally, after eight months at the grocery store, I applied for the job just to shut her up. I still wasn’t so sure I wanted to get back into CNA work (even though I had done it for the past ten years), and I was still waiting for God to direct me on what to do with my life. I submitted the application, knowing it was a complete waste of time, and never thought about it again.

Several weeks later THEY CALLED ME BACK FOR AN INTERVIEW!  In a whirlwind I was interviewed, hired, and oriented to the old floor I used to work on — I recognized God’s fingerprints all over this one! Not only did He restore the “bridges” I burned, but He also gave me the answer to my career question: I am absolutely supposed to continue as a CNA.

My first few days back on the job I was still trying to digest the fact that I was back working at the job I screwed up so many years before ! And God did me even better: This time around I was working “per diem”, which meant a higher wage, the ability to set my own schedule, and my choice of shift to work. Praise God!

Once the initial shock of being whirl-winded back into my old job wore off I realized how much it all made sense: It was a job I loved, and God knew that. But I had to leave it in order to get my family life back in order, and God knew THAT. And…even though I thought I was ready to go back to it years earlier, apparently God knew better than I did (no surprise!) and held me off from the job for seven years before giving it back to me. During that seven year period He guided me through the major issues: He taught me how to help my husband through his health issues (hubby has been successfully employed for some time now), He taught me how to use “tough love” to restore my son (who is now a responsible working married father), and, unbeknownst to me, God worked on the situation at my old job so that I wouldn’t have friction with my old co-workers.

And, once He decided that everything was the way it needed to be He restored me to that old job that I never wanted to leave in the first place!

Yes, even though my plan and my timing was seriously defective, God had His own plan that I simply did not see at the time.

Thank you God for pulling me through even when I didn’t know that You were doing it! Thank you for making me wait, even though I didn’t know what I was waiting for all that time. Thank you for not letting my impatience and reluctance stymie your perfect plan.

Lesson learned: God’s plan is always better than my plan….even when I don’t understand it at the time.

Amen.

Trial, Or Consequence?

September 18, 2010

Your future heart attack:
You knew eating high fat food was terrible for you, but you ate it all the time anyway. You knew your sedentary lifestyle was also terrible for you, but you never got around to exercising. You deliberately avoided getting your cholesterol levels checked because you were afraid of what it would show. And now you’re in the emergency room with a full blown hear attack trying to not die, and your family is wringing their hands in desperate worry.
CONSEQUENCE.

Your future car accident:
A drunk driver rammed into you. You are now in the hospital, in surgery, getting assorted organs repaired and bones re-set. You will endure a painful recovery complete with at least six months of rehab. You cannot work at your employment in the meanitme, meaning this is a huge financial blow to your family.
TRIAL

Your future lung cancer:
You knew all the warnings about tobacco and cancer, but you continued to smoke anyway. You knew about all the products designed to help you quit, but you refused them. And now you’re in a hospice room, breathing your last few breaths because lung cancer ambushed your perfect life.
CONSEQUENCE

Your future home foreclosure:
You had a great job and thus bought a good home for you, your wife and your kids. A few years later your employer goes bankrupt and you’re out of a job. Now your wife has to work a part time job at McDonald’s while you end up slaving away 40 hours per week in a low paying job as you continue to seek a better paying job. You cannot keep up with the house payments and end up moving in with your brother’s family until you can get back on your feet.
TRIAL.

Your future birthday party:
Your friends decide to celebrate your  milestone birthday by taking you out to a local bar. You have a few too many drinks. You vomit on another bar patron. A fight ensues. You wake up the next morning stinking of booze breath, with a fat lip and black eye,  in the county jail.
CONSEQUENCE

Your future family dinner:
For fun you take your wife and kids out to a restaurant for supper. The next day you are terribly sick  and with a high fever; you end up in the emergency room with a raging case of E.Coli. You are hospitalized for the next week due to the contaminted food you ate at the restaurant.
TRIAL

Do you see the differences here?

TRIALS are the things that happen to you when you are unaware of the dangers, or when you are forced into a situation.
CONSEQUENCES are what happens to you when you are aware of the dangers but choose to ignore them.

Although God realizes that we have bad judgment at times and make the wrong choices in spite of knowledge, He isn’t obligated to save us from ourselves. The Bible clearly states that we should not test God by acting recklessly (Matthew 4:5-7 ), and that we should expect direct consequences for our actions (Galatians 6:7-8). The Bible also warns that bad decisions on one’s part can end in death (Proverbs 1:32, 14:12, 16:25 ).

As for trials, on the other hand, The Bible makes a difference: In cases where believers are unaware or are forced into a situation God was willing to come to the rescue (Genesis 19:1-21, Daniel 3,  Acts 5:18-19)

Therefore, when something bad happens to you it’s very important to consider whether you brought it upon yourself, or if it was a situation out of your control.

If you find that you have indeed brought it upon yourself we strongly encourage you to ask for forgiveness and repent of your error. You may still have to endure the consequences (just like David did when the Bath-Sheba “thing” happened), but God will have not forgotten you.
If, on the other hand, you know it’s a trial that you had no control over we still strongly encourage you to seek God, for that is where your strength and help will come from. Take His hand and He will guide you through the dark and back into the light. (Satan does love to block the light with his darkness, don’t let him win!)

The gist of the matter is this: Please be aware of the differences between trials and consequences, and act with wisdom when it comes to situations involving consequences, and pray for forgiveness (and yes, we’ve all had our stupid “consequence” moments!). And if you are in the midst of a trial, continue to act with wisdom as you lean on God for help. But either way, if you lean on God, He does not leave you.

Amen, and peace.

(With a nod to Dr. James McDonald, who covered this type of thing in a radio sermon a little while ago)


%d bloggers like this: