This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the Lord. “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house. Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the olive oil and everything else the ground produces, on people and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands.”
- Haggai 1:7-11
“’Of course you will make mistakes; everybody makes mistakes, but you will begin to recognize my voice as we continue to grow our relationship.’
“’I don’t want to make mistakes,’ Mack grunted.
“’Oh, Mackenzie,’ responded Sarayu, ’mistakes are a part of life, and Papa works her purpose in them too.’”
- Wm. Paul Young, The Shack
Yes, I am just getting around to reading The Shack. If it is a trendy trend, count on me to get on board after the trend has passed and is forgotten. If you are like me and have no idea about Sarayu, Sarayu, in this book, is the Holy Spirit, as seen by Mackenzie Allen Phillips on his weekend long vision, a fictional tale. Sarayu means a holy river in the Hindu tradition but may mean a person moving quickly or the wind. Me not reading The Shack until now means that God needs me to delve into the book now. When this book first came out, my walk with Jesus was nothing what it is now. God’s timing is perfect, even though it may not seem like it at the time, not even to Mack Phillips in the story.
No, I could have titled this post as “Yet Another Lousy Day,” but that would mean that I haven’t learned much lately.
I started off the day reading about how Beauty Beyond Bones had been censored on Facebook. I commented and another person commented to my comment regarding how Facebook had deleted many of his posts. This is not persecution anywhere near the life and death struggles in many other countries, but people need to take notice, or it could escalate to that in the US. Yet, if one of my posts gets deleted from my Facebook page, I will rejoice. If you have Facebook set up with a page to receive links to your blog, you may get a notice from Facebook saying that you have not posted in a while. Since I post every day and sometimes more often, that means that they have been censoring what I post. (Just letting you know.) If Satan puts the idea to press DELETE into the head of a Facebook censor, the post must have something in it that Satan does not want others to see. Of course, the censors also delete things that I might find offensive. It’s not all bad.
But, once I left the computer, I went to the doctor. I mentioned that I had an earache in an earlier post. I was convinced it was yet another ear infection. I had used an over-the-counter ear cleaning solution that seemed to make matters worse in one ear, so I figured that I might have a little problem there. The nurse cleaned out both ears even though I thought I only had a problem with the left ear. The right ear was harder to clean and was more distended than the left, but no infection in either ear.
The problem that I am having, according to the nurse practitioner, has no ‘known’ cause, but my eustachian tubes are blocked in some kind of way. That builds up pressure behind the eardrum, not related to an infection. Wow! Like the pressure in my head that feels like a tennis ball trying to grow into its baseball cousin, or worse yet, softball, didn’t tell me that already! Okay, I am known for a bit of exaggeration. I thought of saying medicine ball, but that would be too much.
I was given two prescriptions to pick up at the pharmacy. The prescriptions are rarely ready when I get to the pharmacy, even though I have a 20-30 minute drive to get there. The drive was even longer. It was a drive through a driving rain with horrible wind gusts and the other drivers seemed to not know how to drive. (Wow, drive in one form or another four times in one sentence.) No, in their defense, I was not slipping around due to the wet pavement because we have new tires – about six months old anyway. And I was not being cut off by the typical Pittsburgh habit of being in the left lane and cutting through all other lanes to use an exit – without looking. I could see it happening ahead of us since the left lane was the only lane moving – for obvious reasons. This maneuver caused everyone to slam on their breaks constantly. Even so, the drive was about 45 minutes and one of the prescriptions was not ready. Don’t get me wrong. Of all the services that we pay for, the people at this pharmacy are the best. Then again, my wife and I are there so often, they know us by name. We are friends now.
I needed to while the time, so I had my electronic tablet handy. But, my wife wanted me to look for some new athletic shoes. I would call them tennis shoes, but I don’t play tennis anymore. As I said earlier, I do not follow trends until they are no longer trendy, but the box says that they are “athletic shoes.” Since we were at the wholesale warehouse store, I went to the shoe area. I wanted to try on a pair of shoes, but it was clunky holding the tablet. I set the tablet down on some cushions (lawn furniture cushions) across the aisle from the shoes. The tablet took a nose dive between cushions, so I placed the tablet on some socks next to the shoes. I tried on the shoes, placed the shoes under my arm and then raced to the pharmacy. I left my electronic tablet in a pile of socks.
I said hello to the pharmacy tech, who said one prescription was not quite ready, even then. That is when I reached for the tablet and found a shoe box. I excused myself and walked briskly back to the shoe area. I threw cushions everywhere. No tablet. I had totally forgotten about the socks. I went to two different locations in the store to report a “lost” or “stolen” tablet. No luck. I went back to the pharmacy and got my medications. I then found my wife who had been shopping in the grocery section. We went back to the cushions and rearranged them again.
I suggested that we go to our cellphone provider one half mile away. The young man will forever be referred to as our private IT guy. We had a different guy at first who tried to disable the tablet remotely with no luck. Then, our IT guy and the guy who started the search had to change a few of my passwords, but they found the tablet. It was still at the wholesale warehouse store. That’s when our IT guy stepped over and asked for my phone. He downloaded an app to locate the tablet. He set it up so that all I had to do was tap one part of the phone screen and the tablet would start chirping for five minutes. We went back to the wholesale warehouse store. My wife and I stood, looking at the cushions. I pushed the “button” and nothing. I moved toward the lounge chair cushions and heard a faint chirp. When I got into the perfect position, I realized that the chirping was behind me. There the tablet was, under a pile of socks. Remember, I cannot hear. That is why we were there in the first place. The cover was closed on the tablet, muffling the sound. And then, there was a pile of socks on top. This is near miracle status.
Now to tie my “bad” day in with the quotes. Sarayu told Mack that everyone makes mistakes and Papa (God, the Father, appearing to Mack as a black woman, for reasons you’d have to read the book to understand) uses those mistakes to help us grow. Then in the Scriptures, the Jews were busy building their own houses and did not think of God and His house. As a result, a drought came. To borrow some of the thought process of Wm. Paul Young in The Shack, the drought was because they did not think of God and establishing a relationship with God; God’s house was just a symbol of that relationship. If they had only thought…
I’m not saying that God punished me for being distracted, but I was busy getting shoes, trying to get my ears fixed, and taking a tablet into the store, something that could easily be lost or stolen if mislaid, to make myself busy while waiting. I was busy, busy, busy. I should have been waiting on the Lord.
I could have prayed while waiting. I could have left the tablet in the car. Since I had not finished reading The Shack yet, I could have taken the book into the store, a lot less costly thing to replace. I kept beating myself up for being so stupid and so busy and so distracted. My wife reminded me of our nine months in Florida in 2015 when she left her purse in a grocery shopping cart just to have the manager holding it as she returned to the store. She had had two similar instances at a restaurant and a crafting store, never having anything stolen. Her stories helped a little, but reminded me that for the past few years, due to her mistakes and then illnesses – that might have been a partial cause for the mistakes, I had put more pressure on myself to be her rock, someone she could count on. And now this.
But I had first resolved to live without the tablet, and, with the tablet restored to our possession, I praised God. My wife said her prayers of thanks and praise as well. But I needed to know what “Papa” wanted me to learn.
Was it a bad day? Absolutely not. I still have pressure in my ears and a large loss of hearing, but my ears are clean and I have medicine that might help, maybe. The traffic was horrible, but there were no accidents in spite of the crazy drivers. I even offered a prayer of thanks for the expensive ‘good’ tires that held as the rain came down and the wind blew. I lost a tablet, but the tablet was found. In Luke 15, there are three parables about searching for lost things. In none of them does the loser call himself / herself a dummy for the loss, but they each celebrated when the lost thing was found. I now know what to do if I lose something at the warehouse store. I now have an app that can find my tablet. I now have a private IT guy. It was not a bad day. All those bad things got resolved to make it a great day. God is good, all the time.
Earaches need to be fixed. When you can look down and see little spots of your socks where the shoe should be, it is time to get a new pair of shoes. First time I have ever worn out the tops; it’s usually the soles. But in doing anything and everything, we need to keep our focus on Jesus, even when going to the doctors or to the pharmacy, shoe store, cellphone provider, whatever. In everything, Jesus works things for the good – whether I found the tablet or not. I cannot be my wife’s rock all the time, but I can, with God’s help, become her rock when she needs me. And she can become mine, like she was on that great day when God revealed Himself in so many ways.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.