Sometimes, things you never saw coming derail your life plans. This derailment is exacerbated when you are living in that generation that’s the middle of the sandwich—in that generation that’s pulled between the aged parents and the kids. When that happens, you feel you aren’t running your life anymore, but it is running you. it’s kind of a numb experience and you just keep telling yourself that the life that’s running you is short and that the One in charge of your destiny is, in fact, still in charge; that there’s coming an eternal day when everything gets put right again—only this time without the potential of derailment, defilement or decay. There are a few lessons you can learn quickly in these times of life. This is merely reflection; not an exhaustive list of everything I need to know to deal with such a time. I don’t yet know that list. Here’s a baker’s dozen:
- Never put your trust in people. Always keep your emotional funding in the treasure chest in heaven (Luke 12:33,34).
- Don’t feel guilty if there’s ever an hour when you can walk around in an antique store or do whatever it is that distracts you for a minute; whatever brings peace. It’s worth it for the renewal—for what it enables you to do for others (Col. 3:15).
- Keep trying to do the things that have encouraged you all of your life. If they encouraged you before, they have some power now, even though it doesn’t feel like it (Psalm 23:4).
- Never stop looking for those people who are in more dire circumstances than you are. They are everywhere, far and near. (And take them a casserole if they are nearby.) [Deut. 15:11].
- Don’t forget that anything is possible with the God who is your Father. His infinite power to change things and His infinite love for you are the chemistry of hope (Mark 14:36).
- Set a repeating prayer alarm and be getting to the throne all day every day. Prayers do not have to be long to be effective. Beg his people to pray, too. Never be embarrassed to ask for prayers from the faithful (Luke 11:8-10).
- Find a few good sisters. Just a few encouragers to whom you can bare your soul are invaluable. Pick women who genuinely care about the important things in life—God, heaven and the people you love so much (1 Thess. 5:11).
- Don’t stop self-examining. Always be humble and know that personal sin is always going to be part of this life’s troubles. But, if you’re faithful, don’t let anyone convince you that God’s not hearing and answering, just because you make mistakes along the way (1 Cor. 10:12).
- Stay in the Word. This should be #1, actually (Heb. 4:12).
- Stay with God’s people. This should be #2 (Rom. 14:19).
- As you’re staying with God’s people, don’t be shocked when people of the world act like people of the world. Don’t let those who have never been His or those who have walked away make you bitter. Realize the power of the devil. But be sure to remember the devil’s place on the power spectrum. Your Father’s power is infinite. The devil’s power has limits (1 John 4:4).
- Try not to dwell on the things over which you have no control, no matter their painful nature. God can still control anything and in any way He chooses. Control your relationship with Him above all. He has given you that control. It’s called free moral agency and it is so valuable to you in the day of trouble (1 Peter 5:7).
- Don’t ever fail to praise Him. Your temptation may be to forget the blessings—the sustenance, the support system, your salvation—in the times of despair. Ask Him to help you never to forget the numberless blessings that have never stopped coming your way (Col. 3:2).
This may not be helpful to a single person except me. But thinking through this list makes me more okay with what I have to do today. When I pillow my head tonight, I will be one day nearer to the throne; one day nearer the ultimate eternal embrace of the Savior. That “end game” makes all the difference. How do people do hard things without the throne clearly in the faith’s-eye-view?