"May I a small house and a large garden have;
And a few friends, and many books, both true,
Both wise, and both delighted, too."
Abraham Cowley, "This Wish".
Sleep was just beginning to arrive last night, almost before I finished my evening prayers, for the steady rain outside the bedroom window acted as a lullaby.
It always does.
But the sound of an incoming text from where the cell phone sleeps each night, perched in a rose patterned fine china saucer, told me someone was talking to me at this late hour.
I must admit, my curiosity got the best of me so I attempted to read the text without the reading glasses. The above picture was what I saw (this one "borrowed" from my son's Facebook account as I only have a flip top cell phone).
Below it was the statement that he had just finished kayaking in Trillium Lake and was now on his way to hike the foothills of Mt. Hood. Right... just what a mother wants to read before falling off to sleep. ;)
He has been on a business trip to Seattle but made arrangements to fly out of Portland so he could see his best friend, who recently moved to that area for a job offer. I know climbing a mountain has been primary on his "Bucket List" for awhile, even if he will not be climbing far.
So... this morning I showed the photo to my husband who sighed and said that is on his bucket list, too. Along with skydiving, parasailing, and a few other ridiculous adventures.
I reminded him of his age and the fact he has broken his collar bone already within the last few years. That is what wives are for, you know. It reminds me of Grandma Walton when she would shake her head and say, "Old fool". But I digress...
This all got me to thinking about the difference between stomping one's foot in anger at God for their limitations... or accepting them graciously. Now, I know there is a place for faith and I am always amazed and astounded at God's provision of finances, health, friendships, mercy, grace, etc.
But most people who live the real world have challenges and everyone has limitations. No human has unlimited time, money, or energy. We are a finite people who will not know infinity until we take off this earthly body and step into Eternity.
I do struggle with limitations at times. It certainly sounded a bit snarky when I reminded Hubby that my current "Bucket List" was to be healthy enough to keep up with the house and garden. Everything else is the proverbial icing on the cake.
But in truth, as I have progressed through the stages of chronic illness... the beginning of which is denial... I have learned the Truth found in the following Scripture:
I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. Philippians 4:12 NASBMy theology is such that I truly, unwaveringly believe God is in control of all aspects of my life. I don't think anything happens without Him knowing. Now, I know some things may happen due to my neglect or making the wrong decision. But I also know he "makes all things work together for my good" as I pray for His will to be accomplished.
I learned long ago the need to temper one's expectations with both faith and reality. For instance, I push myself beyond what I think I can do at times. Like when I travel to spend time with my daughter and her family. Or when I felt horrible yesterday morning but went out to the garden to weed and water and trim and cut some apple mint for sun tea.
But I also give myself grace, knowing there are things I cannot push my way through.
So what am I saying? It is essential to our joy as well as our walk with God when we accept the limitations He allows in our lives. Accepting comes a lot easier these days for two reasons.
The first being that I have lived long enough to experience the Biblical progress of "Faith, Patience, Experience, Hope". Because I have seen too many times that His answer to prayer was "no" but the end result... after long periods of waiting which may have involved stomping my foot and shouting at him... the result was often a good thing.
The second is this, when I accept the boundaries, then I can enjoy the blessings. There is something about the limitations of health and finances that cause one to be fully thankful for what they have. If that is our choice.
For you see, if you allow bitterness for what you do not have to permeate your life... you cannot possibly find joy in what you do have. It is impossible to please God when you are shouting at him (even if it is only internally) that something is obviously wrong with Him because He has not answered your deepest desires.
Sometimes His answer is yes. Sometimes it is later. There are times in our life when His answer is No. He always has a reason, even if we do not understand given our finite minds. Do not let bitterness take hold or an unthankful heart become your new normal. It is not Heaven, yet.
Someday your deepest loveliest desires will all be met... or perhaps He has something even better on the horizon. After all, the Word says He has planned something far beyond what we can ask or think. Even for those of us who are really good at asking and thinking!