Before I share these recent stories about God’s kindness, my hope is that His goodness is what is highlighted, not my prayers or moments of right thinking. But HIS GOODNESS, which I’m still trying to understand. Perhaps when I’m a parent, I will understand His good gifts better than I do now.
A couple of weeks ago, I was looking in my towel closet at our dingy, detergent stained bath towels.
And I found myself saying, “Lord, I know this isn’t that important, but would You make a way for us to buy new towels?”
To be clear, I do not see God as a genie. But I feel totally free to express my desires to Him and then leave them in His capable hands, knowing that whatever He decides to do is for my good and His glory.
The next day, I got a package in the mail.
I was confused when I opened it and saw our wedding program and a congratulations card. Then I saw a BedBath&Beyond gift card! along with the sweetest and sincerest note of apology from one of our wedding guests, stating that she was mortified when she found the unsent gift while cleaning up around her house. Matt and I got married 7 years ago.
It’s just towels. There’s child slavery in the world. And the Lord heard (and cared about) my request for towels. I don’t understand His kindness to me sometimes.
A week later, Matt and I headed to the beach to spend some time with his family.
Our connecting flight got delayed, then cancelled due to weather. We managed to fly stand-by on a later flight and reached our destination.
My suitcase, however, did not reach our destination. It remained in our connecting city, but we were assured that it would be on the first flight the next morning.
So I went to bed in my airplane clothes and anticipated my bag coming. Fortunately, I had traveled in a casual, comfortable, long dress.
The next morning, I checked my bag’s status. It was still in the delayed city.
I called the airline and was told there were several flights the bag could be put on, and it would likely come at some point today. As an optimist, I figured, “It’ll be here in a few hours, tonight at the latest, I’m not gonna sweat it. I can endure anything for one day.”
So I went down to the beach, still in my long dress, and soaked up some rays on a beach chair. The sun felt nice, and I was content to be out there for awhile.
Then I got hot, and having no other desirable options, I went inside.
That’s when I started to miss my bag, for a change of clothes or a swimsuit or my hairbrush. Something to feel comfortable.
I proceeded to check the status of my bag periodically for the next several hours, discovering that my poor suitcase had not made it on the first 5 flights out that day. Then I was told that over 2,000 bags were stuck in the wrong cities due to all the delays and cancelled flights. My optimism took a little hit at that news.
The day wore on. No bag. We ate dinner. No bag.
I started to think about a handout I saw at church recently about source idols. And I started thinking that perhaps God was trying to expose a comfort idol that I have.
In the meantime, we enjoyed sunsets like this:
And Matt took this cool picture of the sand after some rain. And I marveled how God knows how many grains of sand are on all the beaches. And I thought about the fact that He saw fit for my suitcase to get lost.
I vacillated between having a good attitude and one of quiet (but real) frustration.
My healthy perspective inner record would play this: “There’s child slavery in the world…There’s child slavery in the world…There’s child slavery in the world…This is a first world problem…I have all my limbs…Thank you for my limbs, God….I have my hair…Thank you for my hair, God…I have no real reason to complain…We are with our family who loves us…the fact that we’re even ON a vacation is reason to be grateful….I am not a victim of human trafficking….I am not a victim at all…This is a first world problem…Wow, the ocean is really pretty…Thank you, God, for your beautiful creation…” and so on.
And then in moments of weakness, my bummed perspective inner record would play this: “Shucks, some of my favorite clothes were in that bag….And the hair dryer that Matt just got me….And all my toiletries….I don’t want to have to replace all that….It stinks being at the beach without my swimsuit….I want to play in the water….I could just go get one…but what if my bag arrives?….And my journal’s in that bag, so I can’t even process my frustration the way I feel like I need to….I’m so frustrated right now!…Maybe I do have a comfort idol…Is it so wrong to want my stuff?…Liane, it’s just stuff…I know, but it’s MY stuff and I want it….I want to fully enjoy this vacation and not be tied on the phone with the airline the whole time…”
I went to bed that night in my airplane clothes again. By this time, we had at least replaced some toiletries, because, well, hygiene is important. But I was hesitant to replace clothes, etc. since I kept thinking my bag was going to arrive the next hour.
Before going to sleep, I cried out, “Lord, please help me see this rightly. And respond rightly. I don’t want to be dependent on my stuff for happiness, but I’m super frustrated right now and starting to loathe this stupid dress. I need to see your kindness in this. Please show me your kindness in a new way. I believe You ARE kind. I know your kindness does not necessarily equate my comfort. It does not demand my comfort. Help me to see Your goodness in this.”
And I did. More than I expected to see.
Ways God showed me His unexpectedly lavish kindness:
- The next day, Matt and I headed to Target (Thank you for existing, Target) to get me a swimsuit and change of clothes. While there, I got a phone call from some dear family friends who happened to be in the same beach town that week and insisted on meeting up with me to give me some “birthday money.” (My birthday’s in April.)
- My suitcase was finally delivered to where we were staying. Nothing was missing or broken.
- The airline agreed to extend our travel day by 1 day at no extra charge and offered to reimburse us for interim purchases.
- On the flight home, Matt and I both somehow ended up in first class.
Are you kidding me, Jesus? I just wanted my bag back.