“Disappointment to a noble soul is what cold water is to burning metal; it strengthens, tempers, intensifies, but never destroys it.” ~Eliza Tabor
To say that I am disappointed is an understatement. It’s been two years since we finished paying on the van. When we began the journey of the 72 index cards, I had no doubt in my mind that at the end of the six years, God would bless me with great success. Would I have a bestselling book? Would I have written a hit musical? Would I be traveling a speaking circuit? Would I have a big house? Would I have a really cool high paying job? Maybe I would have all of those things! I would at least have one of those things…right?
For those who are reading just this piece, the 72 index card journey started in 2010 when we purchased a van to travel with our ministry, knowing we did not have a car payment in our budget. Already committed to being faithful with our tithe, we obeyed the Lord’s prompting in our hearts to get 72 index cards, one card for each month of the van payment, and keep track of how God Himself made every single payment. I truly felt that my obedience in trusting God in this way would lead to the life I always dreamed of. My dream, especially as an artist, consisted of being able to make my living either speaking or being on stage, and perhaps writing, and not having to work a “regular” job. I also dreamed of financial freedom and blessing because it had been a very lean and difficult life in the years since we stepped out in faith, quit our jobs, and tried to make a go at our traveling drama ministry.
So, where am I at right now? About four months ago, I took a job that was only three days a week. I promised God that if He gave me that three day a week job, I would give Him the other two, and that is exactly what I have done.
Some days I just sat there. Some days I wrote in my journal. I cried, I prayed, I read the Bible. I decided I would try to put together a presentation about the 72 index cards and all that God has taught me through the journey. I got together some props that represented key parts of my experiences, and as I held or put on the different pieces, I attempted to explore my feelings for that time period. One of the things that I found was a stuffed dog named Toto from my childhood. I put it in a basket along with the other things, although obviously, it was from a time period way before the index cards.
I really thought God had given me the two days off during the week to write a new presentation on God’s provision. After a while, things just were not coming together the way I thought they should, so I stopped trying to produce. It is very unlike me, but I started just “being” in God’s presence.
I don’t think I have EVER done that in my life.
Keeping my promise to give God my off days, I would get up and dressed and just sit and think about all the Lord has done for me through my life.
And a funny thing happened.
God did not smite me for not working on something. He was not angry with me for not striving toward a goal. He was not upset that I had not written anything that particular day. In fact, all I felt was loved.
I picked up my childhood dog. I let myself sob as I remembered holding on to Toto while hiding in my closet, hoping my parents didn’t kill each other. I would rub the little bell in her ear between my fingers, trying not to make a sound.
I realized Jesus was there. He was with me the whole time, sitting with me in the closet. I always had a strong sense of God, even as a tiny child and I remember so clearly the comfort of His presence then.
During that same time period, there is a picture I have of me at about 7 years old with my mother’s slip on my head, playing “Nun” with my brother and childhood friend. Growing up in the Catholic Church, this is what I knew of men and women serving God, and that is what I wanted to do with all my heart.
So many years later, in my living room, as the Lord brought me through the early years of my life, bringing healing and forgiveness to layer upon layer of my heart, again, I experienced an overwhelming sense of love. Like Divine Romance love, truly romantic love from my savior. I have not felt that kind of love since the Lord prepared my heart to meet my husband almost twenty years earlier.
In my days off, was it possible that Jesus just wanted to be with me?
As I continued to spend time with the Lord, a life changing thought hit me. Going back in my mind to my childhood and seeing that old picture of me playing Nun made me realize that from my very earliest desire, all I wanted was to love and serve God.
HE was the dream.
And He loved me.
I think growing up in a turbulent home cause me to want to produce and perform because whenever I did, at least for that moment, there was peace. Whether it was a dance recital, a play, a poem published in our local newspaper, my parents stopped fighting and told me how proud they were of me and how much they loved me, and it kind of bonded them together for a little while. It didn’t last long, but at least it was something.
I guess I carried that into my relationship with my heavenly Father. If I am doing something special, God will love me more. If I stop producing, He might stop loving me. Well, maybe not stop loving me, but He will be very disappointed in me.
Once the Lord brought healing to this area of my life, I felt so free!
I have never been free.
So this is new territory for me.
To sum it up, I never did write a best seller. I’m not traveling. I don’t have a big house. As far as my “really cool high paying” job, I am a medical assistant in a dermatology office three days a week. I pray all the time that God will use me there, especially because I don’t feel I am very good at what I do. Since many of our patients are elderly, I try to walk them to the check out area because it is kind of far from the rooms we use. Time crunch from “being behind” tells me I should hurry and clean my room, but instead, I walk with them, sometimes arm in arm, to the desk and I get many thanks as well as some hugs and even kisses.
I’ve never seen this as a ministry until I thought about the little moments of life, and how the Jesus I know sits in a closet with a scared child.
Am I still disappointed? I have my days.
But there is a renewed sense of love and closeness to my Lord and Savior, and I don’t have to “do” anything to receive it, I just have to believe.