I was talking with a friend the other day and we were discussing the unexpected twists and turns in life, and how we just need to focus on the character of God instead of focusing on the circumstance at hand.
That got me thinking about “Happily Ever After”.
You know….. Long, long ago when I was 19 I met Prince Charming and we got married and we have lived Happily Ever After….
That’s not to say there haven’t been bumps and unexpected things along the way, it simply means that Happily Ever After is a choice not a lucky draw.
I think initially when we all set out in life looking for our Happily Ever After we have an idea of what we want.
My idea at 19 was probably a bad imitation of a Disney animated movie with chirping birds and Prince Charming and I dancing, singing and twirling into the sunset with the chipmunks, bunnies and blue birds all scampering after as as we went off to live out our dreams living off of LOVE…..
After all Happily Ever After is perfect bliss. Right???
We all seem a little shocked when reality settles in, and the chirping birds and chipmunks and cute bunnies all disappear.
When thinking about Happily Ever After, no one ever thinks about stomach bugs, flat tires, pinching pennies,eating cheap dinners, washing tons of laundry and having the occasional disagreements with Prince Charming (GASP) we truly think it will all be roses and bon-bons…..
Many of us have a 5 year plan and we know exactly what we want and where we are going….but, what happens when life unravels and we lose our job, or there is an unplanned illness, or some other unforeseen incident. How do we cope?
It is easy during the hard stuff to feel like God’s only forgotten child.
It is easy during these challenges to feel that Happily Ever After is simply pie in the sky, and we may wonder why our dreams aren’t working out just the way we wanted them to, after all the word of God says “God will give us the desires of our heart” right?
The word does say that God will give us the desires of our heart but it also says in James 1:2 that we are to Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, the implies its not all gonna be peachy. That tells us that there will be bumps in the road and things may unravel. This is no reason to fall apart instead it should challenge us.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us that in all things we should give thanks, so no matter what we face if we choose we can find something to be thankful for. Make it a life choice to see the good in your situation, make a choice to see your own personal growth. If the kids are sick, realize it’s a blessing that you are there and that you can comfort them. If you lose your job, remind yourself that God will supply all or your needs.
I often think of the missionary George Muller. He had an orphanage, one morning it was breakfast time and the children were pouring into the dining hall to eat, when the person in charge went up to George and informed him there was nothing at all to feed the children. He didn’t panic. He understood his life at that moment was the perfect ground for a miracle.
He entered the dining hall and everyone bowed their heads as he gave thanks to God for the food HE was going to provide for them, as he finished his prayer there was a knock on the door and it was the town baker. The Lord had awaken him up in the night and told him to bring rolls to the orphanage. So he had baked all night and had the rolls there for breakfast. Then, there was another knock and it was a milk man, whose cart had broken down because the load he was carrying was too heavy. He asked if the orphanage could use extra milk because he had to discard some of it in order to repair his cart. Breakfast was provided. It was a miracle! God had taken care of all the details.
This story has always impressed me because George didn’t look at the obviously bleak reality, instead he gave thanks based on the character of God. He knew God would provide and that God would come through. It didn’t matter at all what “reality” looked like it only mattered that he knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt that God, his heavenly father, would not desert them. He totally trusted God would come through. He didn’t hedge and wonder what if he doesn’t, he simply trusted that he would.
This story reminds me of the importance to give thanks. As we learn to give thanks and to be thankful we begin to have a deeper understanding of God and his character, we begin to realize he will never abandon us. Being thankful begins to develop trust in our hearts, we begin to see that it doesn’t matter what things look like because we walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5-7). The natural progression of thankfulness and trust seems to be contentedness.
Once we chose to be thankful, and we trust God we will find that we can be content regardless of what is going on. Paul tells us in Philippians 4:11 that he had learned to be content, then in verse 12-13 he shares the secret to being content. The secret is realizing that we can to all things through Christ who gives us strength. This of course builds our faith,and faith pleases God. Hebrews 11:6 tells us that with out faith it is impossible to please God.
What I have learned over the years is that as I give thanks, and I trust, and als,o become content and grow in my faith the initial five year plan is not as important as I once may have thought it was. Suddenly it becomes much more important to ask God to lead my way and for HIM to help develop my five year plan. We have to be willing to release our own agenda and be willing to fulfill the destiny God has for us.
I have also learned that when I think I know best. When I just know I can fix a situation. When I just know that if left to me everything would be okay because after all I have the best ideas…. I am treading on dangerous ground. All those assurances in my own ability and my own ideas are just a sneaky way for PRIDE to creep in…and pride always comes before the fall.
So when I realize that I have way too many “me’s and I’s” in my thoughts and plans I have to once again surrender it all to God, and tell myself that I can do all things only in Christ!
We don’t have to figure it out, we simply have to be thankful, trusting, content in all things,and have faith…..
As we commit to that, then we walk in favor, suddenly we realize that our steps are ordered by God.
HE will open doors of opportunity for us, and HE will show us what is important.
It is at this point that we are truly living out our Happily Ever After!!