“Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel.” Philippians 1:12
Paul was in prison when he wrote those words – in prison. Many of us in Paul’s situation would take one look at our surroundings and collapse in a heap of despair, but not Paul. He viewed his temporary placement in a Philippian jail cell as God’s sovereign plan to bring strategic members of the Roman government to saving faith in Jesus Christ.
That probably would have been the last thing on my mind when I heard that cell door slam. I’d have been more worried about my own hardship and suffering than about the eternal souls of the men whose job it was to make my life miserable. I doubt I would have been so noble…
…but we can be.
Every day we find ourselves in a set of “circumstances” that we can use to either inspire others to pursue a life of hope in Jesus, or discourage them from ever seeking him altogether. How we manage our unexpected circumstances is one porthole through which the world looks to verify the authenticity of our faith.
We’re on the move again. Little did I realize when I started this blog a year and a half ago that we would still be rootless and restless, but we are. What began with just Bob and me pulling up stakes and moving to Colorado grew to include sons Philip and Steven, and then Philip’s new fiancée, Amanda. Last Thanksgiving our friends Josh and Jess with their son Isaac came out to join the adventure and now there’s talk of one of our favorite east coast friends hopping a plane and joining us for the summer.
Did I mention we have been staying in a hotel since January? At one time there were 8 of us here, and we’ve joked with the hotel staff that we’re renting to own this place. That’s all changing now, though. Within the next week all of us have to vacate the hotel where we’ve been staying because the rooms have been reserved for local college graduations. We’re not sure what’s next for us at the moment.
Cue Willie Nelson:
“On the road again. On the road again. Just can’t wait to get on the road again. The life I love is making music with my friends, and I can’t wait to get on the road again.”
Whoa. Wait. Stop the music!
Our situation is changing. We don’t know where we’re going, where we’ll live, or how this is all going to work out, but if I’ve learned anything about transitions, it’s to stop and take a breath right before things lurch off in a new direction.
After the nation of Israel crossed the Jordan River and entered the land, they stopped. They paused. Their forty years of wandering had come to an end and God wanted them to remember. He didn’t want them to dwell on their suffering and hardship; instead, God wanted them to remember his goodness to them. So, Joshua instructed 12 men (one from each tribe) to haul 12 large rocks out of the middle of the river and set them up as a tangible tribute of the day they entered their new land.
“Then you shall say to them (your children), ‘Because the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.’ So these stones shall become a memorial to the sons of Israel forever.” Joshua 4:7
So, before we top off our tanks, load ‘em up, and move ‘em out again maybe it’s good to remember all that God has done.
Our mornings at the hotel usually start in the quiet of the lobby after the storm of breakfast and check-outs are done.
How grateful we have been to our church who has allowed us to use their kitchen to make dinners a couple of times a week. As you can see, everyone joins in contributing to the meal in progress. This was the night Amanda and Philip made banana bread.
During the months of February and March we had several snowstorms. Whiteout conditions during these storms made driving treacherous so the hotel often filled with stranded motorists. When that happened, Jess and I pulled out crock pots and made dinner for whoever was hungry. The group below included some of the housekeeping staff who got stranded, as well as, a family of Native American Indians on their way to South Dakota to commemorate a special day of their heritage.
Music…always music. Here are the boys jamming by the fire pit one night. One of the guests came out to join them and they had great time!
“On the road again, goin’ places that I’ve never been. Seein’ things that I may never see again, and I can’t wait to get on the road again.”
You know, living in a hotel for five months was the furthest thing from my mind when we moved to Colorado, but it’s been an adventure. Allowing God’s sovereign plan to redefine our own understanding of what we think is best, has exploded our opportunities to share God’s love with the hurting around us. When you see God so strategically working, it’s a lot easier to be content with the circumstances his plan throws at you.
“Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.” Philippians 4:11
Is God asking the unexpected of you? Is he calling you out to an adventure with him? How does God want you to honor this moment of transition between what was and the unknown of what will be?
Don’t be afraid…
“Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
© Copyright, 2013 by Donna Tallman.