Every year around this time, my heart begins to long (even more so than it already does) for my East Texas roots...shopping trips with my mom, the smell of her creme brulee lit candles, my nana's Thanksgiving dinner and her good company...hearing the Sallee boys' hunting stories and seeing the excitement in their eyes...car rides with no destination in mind, just the chance to catch up with the best of friends...holiday decorations from my childhood...and the leaves. Oh, the leaves. A plethora of trees display a sea of autumn foliage. Oh, how I miss that...how I want my boys to experience some of these same delights...to be able to see their grandparents whenever their little hearts' desire.
This is when ministry gets tough. But not just ministry. I think of all the vocations that God calls people into and the answer of obedience that takes them far and wide and out of their comfort zone. I am reminded of Luke 14:26 : "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple." Obviously Jesus isn't saying that we should hate our parents, children or siblings. He is making the point that His followers must be willing to place His will for their lives above even the people and things most precious to them. This is where "bloom where you are planted" takes on a whole new meaning. Let's just be honest: we don't always like the season, or the weather, or the dirt in which we are planted. We especially do not enjoy some of the weeds growing around us that threaten to choke the life out of us. But let this verse serve as a reminder that we should persevere: "...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) ...it doesn't say "shall run and not be weary if circumstances are favorable".
So how do we "run and not be weary" when all hope seems lost? I know for myself that it helps immensely to cling to this verse: "Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain."( 1 Corinthians 15:58)...IN THE LORD YOUR LABOR IS NOT IN VAIN! This should be the cry of our hearts amidst dark hours and troubled times, when anxiety, loneliness, and fear cloud out all hope...that the Lord is sovereign in ALL things. And who knows how He is using our trials to display His glory and advance His kingdom? Often we can't see this until we are through the valley and on top of the hill. But one thing I do know and can always see is that God is love and He is with me. And I can always find joy in Him and His ever present blessings that surround me. Blessings that come in the form of two precious grins and one handsome soul mate. And when I look into the eye's of my blessings, I am reminded of the importance to make sweet memories right where I am.