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Heavenly Father, thank you. I don't say it enough, I know, but I honestly mean it. I have no life without you, so I can only say thank you for my life.
I'm a broken man. I struggle in my job, I struggle as a father to my daughter, I struggle with my health, I struggle in my day-to-day routines, I struggle with money, I struggle with anger, sadness, grief, frustration, fear, discouragement...stress. I struggle with relationships. I struggle with life.
All of these struggles are a part of life, but I don't deal with them very well. And the ironic thing is that if I just handed them over to You, I'd be able to deal with them so much better. Because You are the one who provides for me. "The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you," (Psalm 9:9-10 - NIV).
There's a scene in my favorite movie, IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, where George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) is sitting at the dinner table with his father, Peter (Samuel S. Hinds), and they're chatting about George's future, and Peter tells him, "You were born older, George." It speaks volumes about George, that he is so much more mature than his years. My father always uses this quote in describing me. I pass it off, because I don't want to believe it. I don't think any of us ever truly feels grown up, no matter how old we get. There's always something more to learn, to do, to experience. When I think about this, I get anxious. It means that there is an expectation that I carry myself a certain way. It's a responsibility. "In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us," (Titus 2:7-8).
When I hear stories from my parents about the things that they had to do, like my father moving away from home at the age of 17 and finding a job with the Federal Government (I never really left home....I just moved across town at the age of 25), and getting married at 22 (I was 30), and having a child (me!) at 24 (I was 34 when my daughter was born), I'm amazed. And I think about how young that is. Our parents always seem to have all of the answers. And our grandparents were so wise. And here I am, at 45, struggling with life. I'm scared to death. And then I'm reminded, "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand," (Isaiah 41:10). I don't know why I forget this, Lord. I don't have to be scared when I know you're with me. And you're ALWAYS with me.
I hate that I've allowed myself to drift away from you, Lord. The struggles that I've experienced have only increased this distance, when I know that it should be doing the opposite. I loved Teresa so much. I've never known a love like it, except in my relationship with you, Lord. I kid about how we had a storybook romance and marriage. We fell in love, got married in a beautiful ceremony, served You ("As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord," Joshua 24:15), We were gifted with a wonderful, beautiful daughter. And then Teresa died. And while I know, Lord, that you didn't take her from me, she is with you in eternal life, and I know that death is just a part of life, it hurts. It hurts a lot. And I should give these struggles I'm experiencing to you, Lord. I know that. "And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast," (1 Peter 5:10).
Tomorrow is a new day. And I know I have to enter into it with you. So I throw my struggles to you, Lord, and any others I encounter, and we will move forward together. "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything," (James 1:2-4). I will persevere and thrive.
Thank you, Lord, for my life, for your blessings, for your love for me and my daughter and family and friends. Thank you for my wife and my marriage, and for the encouragement to want to find a love like that again. Thank you for giving me purpose. Thank you for reminding me of my salvation through you. Thank you for loving me despite all of the stupid things I do. Thank you for accepting me. Thank you, Lord, for my life.
Thank you for my life.