How did I end up here?

“Where is ‘here’?”, you may ask. I’m a guy in my early years of senior citizenship (which I find hard to believe). I now find myself very alone.

I am estranged from some of my family members. In the last few years I have dealt with mental illness in my family, unemployment and the subsequent necessity to look for work.

I have relocated after leaving my family. Then I relocated again after finding a job. I live in a place one of my roommates likes to call “The Home for Wayward Boys.” Guys come and go in here.

Some of them have been less trustworthy than others and some have had a record. One burglarized the place after he left.

I found an old friend in my new area, but he recently got drunk on a visit I made to his home. He called me a *$**# and had to be restrained from who knows what. He basically threatened to just take me home right then and there.  So I saved him the trouble. I walked out into the darkness at 9 am and made my way home the next day. That relationship is done.

My marriage is shot, too. I would like to have a female in my life, but I have to agree with a friend of mine. He recently asked me,”What do you have to offer a woman?” When I responded–a little defensively and a little in jest–he apologized, indicating that he meant financially. But he was right I think across the board.

I pretty much spend my time working. I also spend my time working. Did I say I work a lot?

When I am not working, I read and watch TV and try to exercise. I have a life threatening disease which is not much of  a threat at the moment, but may return due to my lack of access to the medicine needed to control it. Thank you Mr. President.

Pretty much I consider myself a loser.

Yet, I am a believer in Jesus Christ, and this faith informs my world view. I trace my faith back to my youth.

I have been involved in missionary work, gone to Bible college and spent a lot of my life trying to serve God and do ministry.  Those days seem like a distant memory.

Probably my biggest biblical hero is Job. I hope my life turns out like his in the end.

But back to the original question. How DID I end up here?I am not sure I have an answer to that query, but the following is the best answer I can come up with.

Generally, I think I have myself to blame for my current situation. I have made a bunch of bad choices. These decisions have sent my life into a death spiral physically, spiritually, emotionally, relationally, and financially. I could add just about any other -ly word you can imagine to that list.

These choices in many cases were well intended. I really did want to serve Jesus. But I sacrificed my family’s financial security to do it, somehow believing that “God can make it happen” (the title, by the way, of a heretical book I read once promising health and wealth if you gave your money to the Lord.)

Some of these choices were probably made in unbelief. I bailed on some things when I just could not take it anymore (i.e, job and marriage). I suppose you could say I depended on my own strength instead of the Lord’s sufficiency.

In my circumstances I just didn’t see God there. These bad decisions also came from my own character flaws: impurity, pride and  anger among them.

Some of these issues were baggage I carried into adulthood from my own family (like anyone else I guess) and some I developed on my own (also like anyone else I guess.)

However, I believe there has been more at work that just my poor volition. In the large cosmological view of things, I do think that what has happened with and to me is in the Providence of God.

John Piper in his series on the book of Ruth discusses what he calls “sweet and bitter providence.” This biblical story is named after the young woman involved in a romantic dance with a man named Boaz. But Piper believes her mother-in’law Naomi is the central character.

In the story, Naomi loses her husband and sons and financial security. Destitute, she returns home to Israel from the land of Moab. That’s the bitter.

When she and Ruth arrive in Bethlehem, however, their fortunes change through a wealthy older man named Boaz. He takes an interest in his relative Naomi and especially in the godly young woman she brought with her.

He tells Ruth that he has shown her favor because she has taken refuge under the wings of God and practically shown her character by assisting Naomi.

But he makes no move toward her for a lot of reasons, according to Piper. For one, he is a righteous man and doesn’t want to appear unseemly.

So Naomi and Ruth invoke an old Hebrew custom which requires that a near kinsman marry the wife of a deceased relative and produce children to carry on the latter’s line.

These two ladies take initiative and pursue Boaz. As a result, Boaz in his later years receives a God-fearing wife and Naomi a grandchild to nurture. Through this line, Jesus Christ is brought into the world.

This is the sweet.

Piper says,”This is the message of the gospel in the Old Testament and the New Testament. God will have mercy on anyone (Palestinian or Israelite or American) who humbles himself like Ruth and takes refuge under the wings of God.”

God is a rewarder of those who seek Him. In His Providence I think perhaps He has used my awful lot in life to get my attention so I will believe this.

The lyrics of a popular love song give me an application to this new understanding about God, that His Providence is meant to guide me toward mercy and glory.

“All I know is we said, ‘Hello.’
So dust off your highest hopes
All I know is pouring rain and everything has changed
All I know is a new found grace
All my days I’ll know your face
All I know since yesterday is everything has changed.” (lyrics by Taylor Swift)

This is my hope for the future after all that has come before.

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