Updated: Mar 2
An Added Introductory Message:
I began writing the following blog during the second half of January. After a handful of days putting my thoughts together, I arrived at the place where I thought I needed to wrap it all up. Though there was something in mind which I already knew from the start that I would share at the end, I still did not have an exact sense from the Holy Spirit as to my specific concluding words.
Then, the final days of January played out, and I had to hit a pause button on this piece. . .
My 82 year old daddy, who had been plagued with a number of health issues over the past five years, became seriously ill; and what began as a 6-day hospital stay, resulted in his being sent home on February 3rd, under hospice and full-time family care. Just six days later at approximately 8:30 pm eastern time, the angels escorted my father from his earthly home to his eternal one.
In the preceding and subsequent days encompassing this event, a lot of hard life—though, just as equally heavenly—took place.
It was about a week later when I would even begin to think about this unfinished blog, wondering if I would complete it or whether I should just shelve it for another season, since there was so much swirling and processing in my mind regarding all I had emotionally and spiritually experienced in the days surrounding my dad's death.
But then, the other morning, feeling impressed to read back through my words to hopefully get a sense from the Holy Spirit about what I needed to do with them, I immediately saw multiple new meanings in the title I had already penned: A Disappointing, Blessed Delay. Yes, it still represented the words I had written a month ago; but since the experience of this recent earthly pain and hard change, and the fresh heavenly perspective gleaned from it all, I now see new layers of meaning. And throughout the paragraphs that already had been penned, there are new layers of meaning. I know that I will be contemplating so much for many days and months to come.
God-willing, at some point in time, whenever and however the Spirit leads, I will write about it.
But for right now, I'll share the original thoughts I typed a little over a month ago. I sincerely pray they bring encouragement and strength as you encounter your own disappointments, heartbreaks, and delays, this side of Heaven.
This past Christmas, there was one particular present that I was especially excited about giving the recipient. It was not because it was extravagant or so costly, or because it was the latest, greatest, coveted gadget; rather, it was because it was a gift that I had invested much thought, time, heart and soul into. With the invaluable, gracious assistance of the art teacher of the local elementary school where I work, this gift—an original book based on a poem I had written in September—captured both my knowledge of and love for a precious child named Addie, who God placed in my life two and a half years ago.
When the thought entered my mind to turn my poem into a book, I had two desires: I wanted to have it beautifully illustrated, and I wanted to give it as a Christmas gift. In order to achieve this, I knew the creation of this treasure would involve time, so I approached the art teacher right away, making sure to give her sufficient weeks to complete her artistic contribution for this sentimental book.
We agreed that she would have her drawings ready by the week of Thanksgiving so that I could then design the layout of the book and order it right after the holiday weekend because I had heard several news reports stating package deliveries were predicted to take extra time throughout the Christmas season. So, when I submitted the finished design to the online company on November 29th and was given the expected delivery dates between December 8-10, I felt so pleased, so satisfied, knowing it would arrive in plenty of time to give this beautiful, most special gift on the morning that Addie and I would have our annual present exchange at my house.
But. . . I would eventually see that my expectation, based on what I truly believed should and would happen, would not unfold as my heart greatly desired.
December 8th arrived. No package.
Then the 9th. No package.
The 10th. No package.
And as it would turn out, Christmas would come and go without this special gift that I had so looked forward to giving. Needless to say, I was extremely disappointed that my "best-laid plans" had not come to pass as I had envisioned and so hoped they would.
Perhaps you can relate.
Life is full of circumstances that just don't end up the way our mind's constructs have beautifully and thoughtfully created. Even when we've done the best we can do with what is our part, often, due to a myriad of reasons—at times very complex—the end result is not at all what we wanted. And I'm not talking about a Christmas package not arriving on time, but tremendously painful disappointments and heartbreaks that really put our faith to the test. Times that the arch Enemy of our souls loves to utilize as ammunition against our confidence in our all-knowing, all-wise, all-loving, good God who is sovereign over the details of our life. I've experienced times such as these as well, so I can say from experience that these moments—sometimes which stretch into lengthy seasons—have the potential to result in clamorous internal unrest and waning hope.
If we're not careful, and so very prayerful, about the narratives that we script in our minds regarding the disappointing, hard narratives that have played out in our reality, and if we're not tenacious about recognizing and taking captive toxic thoughts that if left unruly and indulgent will eventually build into full-blown deceptive scripts, we will then find ourselves in a consuming mindset of disillusionment, discouragement, and doubt. Exactly where the Enemy wants us. Because such a mindset keeps us from living the abundant life (both internally and externally) that Christ's death makes possible for us to live.
This is why it's imperative that we keep our minds saturated with the Word of God.
Through every season of life—through the day-in, day-out ordinariness; through the hard, painful days of significant suffering, waiting, and stretching; and everything in between—we must have regular, consistent intakes of Biblical truth. And I'm not meaning just an uplifting verse or brief spiritual thought from a desktop flip calendar, although such a resource can definitely be a daily encouragement. (I have one myself, sitting right next to my French Press.) No, I'm meaning an established, daily discipline of really submersing our minds in the pages of God's Word, of really nourishing our inner man with the hefty, life-giving sustenance of Scripture.
Oh, how we desperately need this!
When I look back over my life, I can say with no hesitation at all that it's been these habitual heavenly appointments that have buoyed me through some tough, rough waters and have kept me desperately holding on to Jesus, come what may. Don't misunderstand. I’m not trying to convey that I've had no moments or days or even stretches of days when my faith was pretty puny. Most certainly, I have. However, I do know that it's been the day in, day out routine of Bible study, partnered with the constant companionship of the Holy Spirit, that has kept me from really going down deep, succumbing to the pull of the Enemy's dark ocean, always intent on drowning my peace and joy, faith and hope, purpose and impact.
No matter what, or even whom, has disappointed, discouraged, or even crushed me, the habitual intake of God's living, breathing, powerful Word has always realigned my restless, wandering mind, and my heart that has a propensity to become so heavy, back to a heavenly perspective.
Over and over again.
For this difficult, often pain-filled earthly sojourn, this is one of the greatest gifts—and one of my greatest needs—that the all-wise Creator, my good, good Father, has bestowed to me. And no matter whether I experience a small disappointment like a package not arriving on time, or whether life delivers a discouraging, crushing blow that's so different than all I had imagined, hoped and prayed for, God's Word keeps continually giving me the crucial, sustaining Truths I just can't live without.
An Added Conclusion:
Over the Christmas holiday while my husband's sister was visiting, I was sharing with her that Addie's book hadn't arrived and how very disappointing this was to me. She remarked that it was going to be interesting to see how it all turned out and that she believed there was a reason for the delay, meaning that she believed God had a purpose in it all. After getting nowhere, following multiple calls and emails to both carriers that were part of the transport, I contacted the design company. They issued me a second copy at no charge. (Note to self: Go directly to the top right away if something like this happens again.)
Then, just days before the newly issued copy arrived, there on my porch was the original order—unexpectedly right there, though arriving a little over a month later than anticipated. If that box could have talked, I'm sure it would have had some tales to tell of its journey and its delay. But though the outside of the box was damaged pretty significantly, the gift inside was still in mint condition. (Wow! As I type these words, I can't help but see a beautiful metaphorical meaning even in this. . . but. . .for another day.)
So. . .as it all turned out, I received two books—one for Addie and now one to have for myself—for the price of one.
Yes, an unforeseen blessing, birthed from the disappointment and delay.
And when we regularly submerse ourselves in the pages of the Word, which beautifully showcases this principle cover to cover, we come to an understanding that this is one of God’s specialties that displays His absolute sovereignty over all life’s details.
"The unfolding of your words give light;
it gives understanding to the simple."