Updated: Jan 31
For Christmas 2021, 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 gracious assistance of the art teacher of the elementary school where I work, this gift—an original book based on a poem I had written the previous September—captured both my knowledge and my love of a precious child named Addie. God had placed Addie in my life in August 2019 when I was hired to be her special education paraprofessional.
When the thought entered my mind to turn my poem into a book, I had two desires: I wanted it to be beautifully illustrated, and I wanted to give it as a Christmas gift. In order to achieve both, 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 contribution for this meaningful present.
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, since I had heard several news reports that stated that 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 8th-10th, I felt so pleased, convinced it would arrive in plenty of time to present this most special gift to Addie on the morning that she and I would have our annual present exchange at my home.
However, I would eventually realize 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 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 hoped they would.
Perhaps you can relate.
Life is full of circumstances that 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 had hoped or expected. 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 enemy of our soul loves to utilize as ammunition against our confidence in our all-knowing, all-wise, and all-loving Creator who is sovereign over the details of our life. I've experienced times such as these, 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 concerning these disappointing, hard narratives, and if we're not tenacious about recognizing and taking captive toxic thoughts if (which if left unruly and indulgent will eventually build into full-blown deceptive scripts), we will 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), which 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 habitual intakes of Biblical truth. 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 peace and joy, faith and hope, purpose and impact.
No matter what or whom has disappointed, discouraged, or even crushed me, the habitual intake of God's living, breathing Word has always lightened my heart—a heart that has a propensity to become so heavy—and realigned my restless, wandering mind 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 given 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 sustaining Truths that I just can't live without.
Over the Christmas '21 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 so interesting to see how it all turned out and that she believed there was a reason for the delay and that God had a purpose in it all.
Weeks later, after getting nowhere with multiple calls and emails to both carriers that were part of the transport, I contacted the design company. Immediately, 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 than originally anticipated. If that box could have talked, I'm sure it would have had some tales to tell of its journey and delay. But though the outside of the box was damaged pretty significantly, the gift inside was still in mint condition.
As it all turned out, I received two books—one for Addie and one to have for myself—for the price of one. Had there been no delay, had things worked out the way I had wanted them to, I would not have a book to call my own.
Yes, an unforeseen blessing, birthed from disappointment and delay.
And when we regularly submerse ourselves in the pages of the Word, which beautifully showcases this principle cover to cover, we develop an understanding that this is one of God’s specialties that display His absolute sovereignty over all life’s details.
"The unfolding of your words give light;
it gives understanding to the simple."