We all face seasons of storms and thorns. My mother died unexpectedly in 2003, and her funeral was the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. I attended Daddy’s funeral on that same holiday in 2004. He was laughing one day, gone the next. All three of my siblings experienced serious health issues during this season of loss. I was terrified I would lose them too.
I was reading scripture and ran across, Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV. My face grew warm, my stomach churned, and a rage consumed me. I was acting like a child having a temper tantrum. It humbled me to discover the shallowness of my faith.
On the weekend preceding Memorial Day in 2005, I was with my sister who was recovering from breast cancer and said, “If no one I love dies this week, I’m going to say, ‘Thank you, Jesus’.” After two consecutive years of mourning, I faced the holiday with anxiety.
The loss I endured that week was my career. The CEO of the company where I worked informed me that the decision has been made to outsource my department, and my services were no longer needed. I was numb, crushed, and heartbroken. What had I done to cause this calamity? I’m ashamed to say I couldn’t force the words, “Thank you, Jesus” out of my mouth.
I recognize the summer of 2005 as a turning point. With no career, I was available to help with Vacation Bible School (VBS). The theme Bible verse was Deuteronomy: 6:5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. It was embedded in every story and song. On the Friday following VBS, we loaded our car and headed for the beach. On Sunday morning, we rushed to the Baptist church and realized we had missed the service. People were just walking out, but they pointed across the street to the Methodist church. We jogged across the street and found a seat. As I stared toward the front, the verse being projected behind the pastor caused me catch my breath. Deuteronomy 6:5.
I felt a chill, and every hair stood on end. I’d sang and read this verse over and over during the past week, but I hadn’t taken the time to consider the scripture.
I spoke to my minister when I returned home and asked, “What do you think God is trying to tell me?”
He frowned. “Sometimes scripture is difficult to understand, but this verse is clear.”
I still didn’t understand.
“God wants you to love him with all your heart…”
“But I do love him.” And then I remembered my rants, the angry outbursts, and my bitterness over losing my parents, the worry for my siblings, and my disappointment in losing my job.
After much introspection, I came to the understanding that God wants me to love him, unconditionally. God doesn’t owe me anything. Even though I was an adult, my personal relationship with God was shallow. I’d counted on Mom to be my prayer warrior instead of trusting in Jesus.
I discovered that to be able to trust Jesus you must spend time in scripture and prayer.
God is so good. All three siblings recovered from their illnesses. He provided a wonderful position for me as the director of a small-town library. Books have always been something I love, and three years ago I started writing. This week, on the Tuesday before Memorial Day, something amazing happened. An agent with one of the most prestigious literary management companies in the nation offered me a contract. My life has not been perfect, but I can have perfect peace if I trust Jesus.
Today I’m on the mountain top, but I know there will be valleys to pass. I pray that I learned my lesson and abide in faith, hope and love, so no storm nor thorn will not break me.
#nostormnorthorn #abideinfaithhopeandlove #memorialday