A MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE?

by tklicka on September 17, 2011

Being a widow seems to never cease being a “new” experience for me. After starting a new, wonderful, part-time job at the Home School Foundation this past March, a “new” season of ministry in the Lord has unfolded. I’ve spoken at home school conferences for over 15 years now, but this is the first year I’ve spoken more than three times in one conference season.

I not only thank the Lord for this opportunity; I marvel at how He’s given me so many stories to share. People frequently comment that my transparency and willingness to be real about my struggles, temptations and fears has helped them to do the same. Equally, my openness about God’s faithfulness through every moment of hardship has been a source of great encouragement. It has consistently been and remains my desire that my experiences would used of the Lord to showcase God’s greatness and goodness, and inspire moms and dads to see God in a very big way as they lay down their lives for the Lord in raising and teaching their children for Him.

Ocean-like Experiences

The last five months, however, have been quite challenging for me as a widow. Having my house on the market for several months before finally getting a buyer on my home was stressful for our family. The joy of finding a new home closer to work and church was a blessing in early August, only to have that come crashing down after losing my buyers because of an inspector’s claim that I had ‘significant’ issues with our foundation walls. Yesterday would have been the day we would have gone to settlement on our home.

Ironically, I found out this morning, after starting excavating the foundation of my home that the structural integrity is 100%. Not only that, but there is no damage to the all-wood foundation, including the outside walls the inspector said were damaged. This absolutely best-possible news doesn’t bring back the buyers I lost, but it does remind me that God is merciful.

I couldn’t help but cry after getting such amazingly good news—thank You, Lord! I know that God will bring just the right buyer at just the right time for our home. Meanwhile, the Lord has given the sellers a generous and patient disposition to give us more time to work through this process, and let us keep the contract on their home. I am thankful for these mercies from my Father’s hand.

“I love the LORD, because He hears my voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me, therefore I shall call upon Him as long as I live.”    ~Psalm 116:1-2

All the ebb and flow of getting my hopes up and then dashed by the waves of difficult circumstances, only to have them rise up again when the tide of trials goes back out to sea has reminded me again and again, of my frailty and utter dependence upon God. I don’t need to be a widow to learn to lean hard on the Lord; being one, however, probably helps me learn more quickly!

An Ocean of Loneliness

Speaking of ocean-like experiences, another “new” experience this year for me as a widow has been a deep sense of loneliness. I’ve heard that the second year after a spouse dies is much harder than the first year. What I guess I wasn’t prepared for was how alone I feel at times. Even knowledge that the Lord is with me isn’t always felt in my, at times, fearful hesitant heart.

A picture that came to my mind recently in regards to this lonely uncertainty is that of tossing a bottle with a note inside into the ocean. As you watch your desperate cry or “Help!” drift away on the current, you realize there’s a pretty good chance someone will find it, but you’re never really sure. You hope so, but there isn’t any guarantee.

Talking to the Lord feels like this sometimes too. I pour out my heart to Him and trust that He is hearing me and that He too, will answer me. Sometimes His silence is painful. I don’t always trust Him like I should. The good thing about the Lord is that His Word says again and again that He hears our cries when we come to Him believing. His character is absolutely worthy of our trust. We know that with man trust can only go so far.

“When I remember Thee on my bed, I meditate on Thee in the night watches, for Thou hast been my help, and in the shadow of Thy wings I sing for joy. My soul clings to Thee; Thy right hand upholds me.”    ~Psalm 63:6-8

I don’t know what your life has been like these past five months. You may be pretty content; you may be trying to “have it all together”, even when you don’t really feel that way. May the Lord help you, wherever you find yourself, to know the freedom of being both needy yet believing in and seeing God’s faithful care.

When we place our trust and hope in Jesus Christ we can be certain that our cry for help, our “message in a bottle” will always reach Him. He will hear and help in our hardship, in our pain, in our loneliness. What a faithful loving God we have!

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