Earlier this week, we once again had some unexpected drama and excitement in our neighborhood from one of our neighbor families nearby. This is a fairly common occurrence with this family, too. As I was preparing to leave the house that morning to run a couple of quick errands, I happened to look out one of our front windows to see two police cars out front. Based on previous experiences like this, I knew right away which house they were visiting. I just did not know the cause this time.
It did not take long to figure out that the youngest grown son, who lives with his parents and older brother in the home, was in what my beloved grandmother would have called “a heap of trouble.” One policeman was attempting to talk to him at the edge of the street while the other policeman was talking to his parents in their front yard. The young man was extremely upset, to a point that did not seem normal to me when talking to a police officer. So, that may be a bit of evidence as to the problem at hand, although I still have no clue what his real issue was. After an hour of obviously heated discussions between officers and family members, the officers finally handcuffed the young man, frisked him and took him away in the first police vehicle.
I prayed for this family once again during that hour as I watched out my window, as well as praying for the officers and their safety. It was obviously a very bad day for this family. The husband has shared that their older son has been in prison twice, most recently being released earlier this year on a federal crime conviction. Now, it seems they may walk a similar path with their younger child, too. This family has deep, deep issues, and I pray that God will bring them all to a place of peace, reconciliation, healing and obedience soon. Hubby is good to talk to the husband fairly regularly, as he seems to be the only member of the family that is ever interested in being somewhat neighborly, and I am sure Hubby will continue to be open to talking with this man as the occasion presents itself. I pray that God will bring others into their life that can offer real help, too.
My family also walked a very difficult path together for a time over ten years ago, and I know the feeling of having my own world turned upside down in an instant, not having a clue if the next day would even remotely resemble the days of my life that I had known to that point. When I now see other families in turmoil, I can relate in a very real way. It was, by far, the worst time of my life, and it all came to full fruition in the week of the 9-11 attacks, too. I just do not think that life could have been much worse at that time, and I still feel that way today. It was rock-bottom for me, if not for our entire family. I’m sure our neighbors likely know this same feeling right about now, as having one or more family members with serious issues is probably one of the most stressful situations any of us will ever deal with in our lives.
In so many ways, that time period in our lives seems like a fleeting bad dream to me now. I can hardly recognize our life as it was back then, based on the happily imperfect life we happily live today. God performed what I consider to be a miracle healing in a family member, and my own spiritual walk forever changed, too. If it took this nightmarish turn of events to bring me to the place I am today, then so be it. Gods timing is always perfect, and families can (and do) heal!
One of the most difficult aspects of that time period was the endless waiting. Waiting for breakthroughs. Waiting for resolutions. Waiting for God to bring clarity to that whole situation. Waiting for just one day that was not tumultuous. Waiting for the right people and groups to come into our lives to help. Waiting… waiting… endless waiting. It was maddening for me so many times. But, I learned so much about the blessing of waiting, too. Yes, it was a blessing to wait. I know that now.
“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” — Isaiah 40:31 ESV
That hard-learned “boot-camp” lesson on waiting continues to serve me well in my life today, although I must confess that it is still so very hard at times, especially where our loved ones are concerned. But, I also know that God is there in a very real way in every minute of that hard wait, too. The verse above demonstrates how actively waiting on God is a productive exercise and does not constitute cowering in a closet with heads held in shame or fear. This is my “go to” verse when I am waiting in a particular area of my life, and I frequently find myself waiting these days in one way or another. Certainly, there are times to act, but active waiting is a big part of life now, it seems, and I don’t think that should be a big surprise.
Active waiting has been a tremendous growth opportunity for me, and slowly but surely, God is good to help me realize the true blessing of waiting. I cannot control others when I actively wait and let God do his thing, and that is so often the lesson God has for me in many situations. Wait… pray… have faith… trust… act only when appropriate, not nearly so often as I want to think… trust again… pray endlessly… give thanks. What a huge lesson this has been and continues to be, and not an easy one, for sure. But, it is the real deal. Just read how many times in the Bible we are told to wait. Waiting is this way is not an idle, unproductive time, as we like to define productive so many times. It is a highly active pursuit.
In the past few years, I have been extremely blessed to have the opportunity to work directly with some ladies who have since found themselves in the position I was in back in the fall of 2001. I will never be able to adequately put into words how this honor has impacted my life. Each instance has been a definite God-thing, and my life is so much fuller for being a part of the lives of these special ladies during their own times of waiting. I can hardly speak about it without welling up in tears.
Starting today, and through the entire month of November, I am going to add a personal prayer request twice a day for families that are in turmoil, especially due to drug and alcohol issues, and waiting in their own ways. I believe that is the take-away for me from witnessing this event in my own neighborhood this week. While this is a personal thing for me, I hope you will consider joining me, too. I find it interesting that this will also take place in the month of Thanksgiving, and how deeply that fact speaks to me in all of this today.
Give thanks in everything…
every… single… thing.
Yes, God… with your help.
Dear God, thank you for your unbelievable grace in our lives. May I be an instrument of your love in a tangible way today, and help me to continue to believe in and expect unbelievable miracles.
10/24/2014 Update: Sometimes God just blows me away. One of my online “mentors” (Beth Moore) posted this on her Twitter feed on the very day this all came down. I just saw it this morning for the first time. It truly got my attention once again. Praying hard for these families.
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