Thursday night I came home feeling very contented. A group of our friends went to Starbucks and gathered a whole bunch of chairs in a circle and just sat talking and laughing and gazing at one couple’s new little baby boy. All of us came from working different places and living different places and just sat there and enjoyed each other for a few hours. Here’s a brief description of the people: an accountant at Grace Community and his stay-at-home wife who is a brand new first time mother with their 6 or 7 week old son were there; two of my best friends who were just married over the summer came; one of the guys from the seminary who moved out here from Nebraska about one year ago exactly; a girl who was a fellow R.A. in college but I didn’t know very well who works for an investment firm now; a single guy in his thirties who works as an accountant but serves faithfully and humbly at the church drove all the way from downtown L.A. to be with us and had us laughing with almost every word he said; a guy who is a clean cut auditor with one of the big four firms and has gone to Grace Community his entire life came after he got off work after 8; and me. I love the diversity of the Church. I drove home feeling thankful and glad for the fellowship of the Body and the blessings of Christ in my life.
There have been several times over the last few months that I have been out with people and felt so happy to be a part of the group I’m with in an almost out of body like way. It’s like I can remember looking at groups and thinking how nice it must feel to be a part of something like that. Like when you go to Java n’ Jazz and see a group of people sitting outside talking together. Or when you see a group of adults out for dinner laughing with each other. I experienced that at our company Christmas party this year as my co-workers and their spouses and I sat all dressed up in this fancy restaurant enjoying each other. I love being a part of a group like that. It makes me thankful for what I have.
All that to say, God has blessed me enormously over the past few years. Well, all my years, really. But my senior year of college and my first year out were probably some of the most challenging years in my life apart from my Sophomore year of high school. Here is an excerpt from an e-mail I wrote my mom in the middle of last year:
“I was making potato salad for a bible study barbeque that we had last night, and the Lord reminded me of all the lessons I learned through studying the book of Ruth my junior year. That God is working even in the bleakest of times and even when we don’t see it. That the road to glory isn’t a straight line. It’s not a highway through Kansas but a trek through the Rockies– but we will get there. That my job isn’t to know why or how or when, but to be faithful. I was reminded of something I used to pray all the time my junior and senior years of college, that God would make me into this kind of woman,
‘Faith in God that sees beyond present bitter setbacks. Freedom from the securities and comforts of the world. Courage to venture into the unknown and the strange. Radical commitment in the relationships appointed by God.’
Apparently God is answering that prayer. And God has really changed my heart, which I am so grateful for. I didn’t want to fight Him, I didn’t want to wrestle with Him– we’ve done enough wrestling for one year. So all that to say, God is good. I believe that.”
I am far from being that kind of woman, but I am finally seeing clearly God’s smiling face behind some of the frowning providences of the last few years. And for that I’m grateful.
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.”