The words weren’t audible but they were as clear as if a friend had uttered them right beside me. God spoke to me.
Things aren’t always the way they appear to be.
The words felt hopeful, but I had no idea what they meant. They startled me right in the middle of my work day. In one hand I carried a glass bottle of Tab, my daily afternoon pick-me-up. In the other, I clutched a laundry basket full of clean warm baby bed linens which I balanced on my hip.
How did things appear to me at that moment in my life? I was the director of a church day-care, pre-school and kindergarten in Clinton, Mississippi. My roles included perpetual laundress, kitchen assistant, rule enforcer, hirer and firer of employees, and conflict resolver among staff and parents.
I longed for a husband
I’d been divorced five years. When people asked me about my goals, I’d tell them since I was a little girl all I wanted was to marry and have a family. I never thought about being in a full time career; I thought of making a home.
Demographically, ours was a broken family. And, my little cadre truly felt broken. I was certainly incomplete in a very real sense, after my husband left. Without a connection to their father, my kids were harmed in ways they couldn’t understand at the time. My son Ben was seven years old and my daughter Dawn was going on five. She was non-verbal and still in diapers. As months passed, her cognitive delays became more pronounced. When I could carve out time, I’d research educational options. (Research was quite different without internet). It was so heart-breaking to watch how slowly and imperceptively she developed. The uncertainty for what lay ahead was very difficult.
Yes. If, from God’s point of view, things were actually different from the way they appeared, that sounded good to me.
The day after my message from God, the daycare phone rang. I walked down the hall to answer it. Imagine not carrying a phone in your pocket. It was 1984; we kept phone numbers written down on paper.
A young man wants a date with you
I answered the phone and my pastor/friend was on the other end. “I know a young man who wants a date with you. Would you like to meet him?”, he said. I don’t recall for sure, but I was probably mute for a few minutes and then went to muttering. Hmm…sure, I think I said. Instantly my mind pictured a movie on the big screen and a non-fast-food restaurant. I would love to go out with him. I would have a sitter for the children and would eat food I didn’t cook. How could I say no? The possibility that we’d actually like each other didn’t enter my thoughts.
A dear friend took care of the children. I felt like big stuff going out on an actual date. I didn’t get my movie, but I got a lot more. We talked for hours and we were both intrigued to learn more. If it wasn’t love at first sight, it was at least like very much at first sight. What sealed the deal for us to continue to get to know each other was that he was very open to having children. As in instant children. My biggest fear had been that I wouldn’t find a man who’d love my two precious kids, especially since one had such severe developmental challenges.
Tom lived 800 miles away from me. We wore out our land lines and wore out his bank account and talked for hours every night. We saw each other only a few times before our wedding six months after we met. We didn’t have social media so we couldn’t remember what each other looked like. Once when he visited me, he didn’t recognize me at the airport. Another time he thought my friend Dolly was me. To his credit, Dolly and I were presumed to be sisters sometimes.
I tell you this story because it’s good to remember God’s faithfulness
I want you to know in your heart that things are not always they appear to be. One day I was breaking up fights between four-year-olds in Mississippi and six months later I was with my dream man and two children in North Carolina.
Here are some things I want you to remember:
- Look up with your spiritual eyes. What you perceive with your natural eyes is only part of the picture.
- Anything can happen at any moment. Your circumstances may feel hopeless, but they’re not. Our Father is for you. He is working in unseen ways to cause things to work for His glory and for your good.
- Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its mold. Don’t believe everything you think—keep your hope centered on Jesus.
- List the gifts God has given you. You’ll be surprised how many you’ll come up with.
- Live in God’s word continually. Allow truth to resonate and outweigh the cacophony of the world.
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23