“God made the world round so we would never be able to see too far down the road.”- Isak Dinesen
My late father-in-law, Victor Miller, consistently placed material possessions a distant second behind his faith in Jesus. Victor raised two sons and three daughters while working as a bank teller for forty-three years. He never owned a new car. He was thankful for and contented with the basic necessities of life: food, clothing, shelter, and his recliner. For seventeen years, Victor cared for his wife Erma during her steady decline from Alzheimer’s Disease- in an era when caregivers had little or no available outside support. Yet, Victor knew with unshakeable certainty that Jesus was walking before him, sustaining and guiding him through all the circumstances of life.
When we have been blindsided by our ministry downsizing or vocation loss, we need to refocus on what St. Paul prayed is the most important thing God could give us- to know Him better (Ephesians 1:17). It means having the eyes of our hearts enlightened (v. 18), so that God’s truth so deeply penetrates and grips us that our whole person is changed. Timothy Keller writes in Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God that this vivid sense of the reality of God’s presence is a more critical thing to receive than a change of circumstances:
“Without this powerful sense of God’s reality, good circumstances can lead to overconfidence and indifference. . . . without this enlightened heart, bad circumstances can lead to discouragement and despair.”
Victor was thankful in all circumstances because he was secure in his Savior’s love. He knew Jesus never would leave him or forsake him- Christ before me. As Ruth Graham encourages in Fear Not Tomorrow, God Is Already There, God plants His hope and beauty in the most desperate situations:
“In the most inhospitable, difficult, bleak, barren places, God plants His beauty. He plants His nature. Whatever we are facing, however dark and foreboding, God can plant His nature in it. And that is our hope.”