If you’ve been following my blog the last few months you may have been seeing somewhat of a reoccurring theme—I’ve been talking a lot about houses, and packing, and moving, and the work associated with living in an older home. Perhaps you’re tired of hearing about messes or things not working or about any other number of particulars associated with moving. If so, I deeply apologize and give you my word, I will move on to other topics!
In the meantime, the Lord has me planted here. Our house is still on the market; we don’t have a buyer yet. My agent advised me yesterday to lower my price (it’s been on the market for exactly one month now) and while I know it’s probably a wise thing to do, I still felt like plopping myself down on the curb and having a good cry.
Coming to Terms with Being a Widow…Hopefully with Faith
Sometimes I don’t like being a widow—when you need good advice and there’s no one you really feel like you can turn to. Or when you don’t have anyone you can call on in a pinch when you need something fixed—like the lawnmower that we can’t start just when our grass really needs to be cut, or the kitchen sink that is leaking just enough to be a nuisance, or the sliding glass door that a friend thankfully put back on track, but now won’t slide open or shut very easily.
And that’s just the practical stuff around the house. I miss Chris’s input and humor when I get overwhelmed by the burdens my kids carry around which I want to fix—when my little man John is discouraged in trying to train his ‘wascally’ dog for the umpteenth time, or when my daughter is wondering if she’ll ever get a job that will give her enough to save a little and not just survive paycheck to paycheck.
I now have to fit in part-time work with overseeing schoolwork, running a household, teaching choir and keeping our house clean all the time because it’s on the market (plus a dozen other things that are like little balls I’m trying to juggle and keep up in the air). Sometimes everything seems so overwhelming I want to climb in bed and not get up in the next morning for a very long time (and I’m a morning person)! I dislike having to deal with this load all by myself…all the time.
Though often tired and sometimes feeling forsaken, I know however, that I am never truly alone. The Lord may choose to be silent, but He will never leave me. Ha may be slow in answering my prayers (at least according to me!), but He will never NOT give me what I need and what is good for me.
An Opportunity to Use my Widowhood to Bless Others
A couple months ago, a gentleman in our church scheduled to teach the children about the widow in the Bible God provided for (Psalms 146:9, Proverbs 15:25, I Timothy 5:3; James 1:27), and asked me if I would share for a few minutes before his lesson. I was happy to talk to the children and asked the Lord to give me the message He wanted me to share.
The idea the Lord gave was to show the children a picture of a classy restaurant, beautifully decorated with an abundance of appealing food served on large platters and trays. This is what we all would like to enjoy I told the children, yet life isn’t always like this. Sometimes the Lord lets our lives look like this; then I showed them a picture of a restaurant, with its brick building somewhat in shambles and with construction going on all around inside and outside. They could clearly see the dust and disarray, and that the restaurant was in no position to be open serving delicious food.
What we see when life is like this is the mess and the brokenness. We can’t see the work God is doing to remodel our lives and get us ready for heaven. We can’t see the banquet He is preparing for us as His bride. He lets us see a little bit of a sneak preview of His redemptive work now, through the power of Christ’s life in us, but it isn’t until we see Jesus face to face that our building will be completely made new. We’ll have new bodies ready for eternal life with Him.
While we’re waiting for that day, I told the children, we can know that God will always care for us. He gives us help, and comfort, and power, and assurance of His love. In fact, God will provide for everything we need if we take refuge in Him (Psalm 34:8-9). Best of all, the Father has freely given us the His Son, Jesus! (II Cor. 9:15)
I ended my time with the children by sharing a song the Lord had given me the night before, which I titled, The Widow’s Song:
I am not alone
My God takes care of me
He’s ruling on the throne
And He gives me all I need
God will always care for me (I can trust in Him)
Yes, He will always care for me…
Jesus will care for me
God is with me in the night
Even when I cannot see
His Word’s always my light
And He helps me to believe that…Chorus
Even though trials will come
You still will be with me
You keep me safe within Your love
You are so good to me…to me.
I closed by telling the kids, “God gave me the song to sing again and again to help me remember His promise to care for me as a widow, and that promise is true for each of you, His children.”
A Timely Book, an Even More Timely Lesson
I recently picked up Paul David Tripp’s new book, Broken Down House, living productively in a world gone bad. His premise is that we live, unfortunately, in the midst of brokenness all around, a restoration process that is both painful and messy. The good news is that Jesus is here with us, working in our midst to enable us to live with joy, peace and productivity in a place damaged by sin.
Just a few short chapters into the book I find myself identifying often with Paul’s wisdom and insight. He says in the first chapter,
While it is hard to live in a house that needs to be restored, in some ways it is even harder to live there while the restoration takes place…You often find yourself dreaming of what it would be like to live in a house that needed no restoration…You want to hold on to the promise of everything eventually being fixed, but it’s hard. You want to rest, but there’s work to do. You want to escape, but you can’t—this is your house and you have to live in it. You wonder if what you are seeing is really progress. In fact, it often seems like you’re losing ground.
God is not satisfied for us to live in the broken-down house of our lives with resignation. “In our hearts, [God] wants dissatisfaction and hope to kiss. He wants us, every day that we live, to embrace the gospel promise of a world made new. He wants our lives to be shaped by uncompromising honesty and undiminished hope…He calls us away from paralyzing discouragement and the nagging desire to quit.”
After reading these thoughts, I came to realize that part of my desire in wanting to move (albeit yes, to be closer to our church and to my new job) is also to live in a literal house that is newer and will hopefully need less repair. There is wisdom in this for me as a widow and with my children growing up and moving away very possibly, in the not-too-distant future. However, as I shared with a dear friend a couple of weeks ago while on a road trip together, “I’ve had so much brokenness all around me for so many years with Chris’s MS and how that has affected our whole family, I guess in one sense I just want to at least have a house that doesn’t look like my life has felt the last 15-20 years.”
In reality, a new literal home in another, more desirable location is still going to be subject to the fall. I’m still going to have to get appliances fixed and do home repairs and improvements over time. And as long as we breathe, our lives are going to be in a state of continual restoration as well. The very good news is that God is with us. His Word is very real and very powerful to guide us into truth and shape how we respond to living in a broken-down house. Furthermore, He has promised to give us grace for present sufferings because there is a glory that is to be revealed in us…that of new bodies for these old ones, joy for sorrow, complete harmony and perfect love for brokenness and division, and productivity untarnished by the fall.
May the Lord give us grace, as Paul Tripp in Broken-Down House encourages us to:
- Determine to be honest (to see places in our lives and in our world where things are not as God intended them to be and live to be a reconciler and restorer)
- Let ourselves mourn (the condition of our fallen world should cause us to weep)
- Fight to be dissatisfied (to not be content with our sensate world in all its brokenness; to not lose a reality perspective of just how badly sin affects our world)
- Be glad (even as we mourn, we can fight for joy and cling to a greater truth, that God is sovereignly working all things according to His will; He has redeemed us by the blood of His Son and as His adopted children, we have reason to celebrate His goodness, kindness, mercy and love everyday!)
- Live with anticipation (this broken-down house is not our permanent address; Jesus’ promise is that a mansion free from the effects of the fall awaits us in glory, and the joy of His presence there will far exceed any we might ever experience on this earth!)