JOURNAL: This past summer, my wife, Denice and I did a lot of work up in Cascade, Idaho. You see, we bought a half acre of property up there to have a place to camp and be able to keep our travel trailer on and setup, as much of the year as possible. It is a lot of wear and tear on our travel trailer as well as our truck and also on me, to pull the trailer back and forth the eighty some miles to and then back home from our camping spots every time we decide to go camping. So this chunk of land was a great thing for us for sure and it was so much nicer to just have it all set up for part of the spring and into summer/fall.
Some weekends we spent just in general cleanup of the property. Some weekends we spent trying to mow down the two feet high grass and whatnot that had overgrown a good portion of the property. It was a lot of work but it was worth it and different because it was on our own little piece of camping heaven up in the mountains.
With all the work we did, we also made sure we had lots of down time mixed in. After all, we were supposed to be camping. In the movie, The Shining, Jack Nicholson said, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Well, I certainly didn’t want to be a dull boy, so fun, rest and play were always in the mix. Just to be on the cautious side, Denice would also hide all the ax’s if I worked too long without fun. You will not get that last line unless you saw the movie.
Our property came equipped with a well, a septic tank with RV hook ups, power, a dirt horseshoe driveway and a 10x16 building that had the well water tank and misc other things in it. We spent quite a bit of time on many weekends, with the help of my daughter, Billi and son inlaw, Casey, working on various projects to make this building a cool place for someone to stay also. This work went on all the way up to the second week of November and actually, Denice and I just did a few more things there this month when we stayed there for the weekend. It has been fun to see it all come together for the good. Looking at pictures of what it looked like in May when we bought the place and how it looks now is amazing to me. It is like it is not even the same place.
This is very much how I feel when I look back over my life and see all the things that God has accomplished in it over time. Sometimes we don't know or even have clue about all the things that God is doing in our lives. But with the wide view of time, it becomes apparent to me that He is always hard at work in my life, even when I am totally unaware...which is most of the time, by the way. Ha. As cool and as wonderful, awesomely enlightening and eye opening as this point was and still is...it is not where I am going with this story. So off this rabbit trail and back to my real point.
During all this work we did this summer, we bought many things, usually at Lowes before going up for a stay. I remember one of the first big shopping trips before going up cost us close to $700. We had two carts of stuff if I remember right. We bought things for many different projects that we wanted to do and by the end of the summer, we did use just about all of that stuff. The only thing we did not get to use was a sweet and powerful chainsaw. I had things to cut up with it for sure. I actually had several piles of wood waiting for me to get my Paul Bunyan on but with all the other things to do, I ran out of time. That ended up possibly being a blessing as I got a recall letter in the mail for chainsaw saying that some of them were leaking gas and catching on fire during use. Now don't get me wrong...I like to put on a great show when I use a chainsaw but catching on fire is probably not a show anyone wants to see. Plus, there is the forest right there. So we did take that back but we will be purchasing it again next year...hopefully getting one that will not turn into a tiki torch in the middle of my amazing show.
As well as we planned each time before going up, inevitably, there would be something we needed from the hardware store and had not brought up with us. And that was a problem in Cascade. You see, they did not have an official hardware store that we knew of. The best places in town to buy hardware items were a Chevron station, a Shell station and the Dollar Store. They all have little hardware sections to help people like us out...at a good premium I might add. But if you have ever bought any kind of a tool from a dollar store, you know that your expectations of high quality or pretty much, any quality, are pretty dog gone low. No offense to the dogs.
So one weekend, we ended up with a leak in the travel trailer that was coming from our water heater. After some troubleshooting, I found the pipe that was leaking and re-routed the water to bypass the water heater and then took that piece off. I really did not expect any of the three places I mentioned above to have what I needed and so we "googled" (something, that if done in my younger years growing up, would have sent me to jail) "hardware stores in Cascade, Idaho." To our surprise, one actually came up. And so off to town my wife and I went.
When we got to the location of the address of the hardware store, we discovered it was not in business anymore and probably had not been for a long time. With that discovery, we curled our imaginary tails between our legs and drove around the corner and parked in the parking lot of the local supermarket to regroup and consider NOT having hot water the rest of the weekend. And then it happened.
Denice looked up and directly…and I mean...directly across the street from the market. And there it was, right in plain view…our answer, as clear as day. We had driven right by it in our tunnel vision quest to find that hardware store we were looking for. Sometime over the summer, without us ever noticing until that day, that moment even...an official, True Value Hardware store had moved in right in front of our faces. Right under our noses even. Seriously, there were ladders and wheel barrels and other large item out on the sidewalk in front of the store. Yet, this was the first time we ever noticed it there.
Now if I had been in the desert for say, forty days and forty nights without water, I would have just written it off as a mirage. But I had not been in the desert for even a day or even had a dessert in a few hours or so. So out of the truck and across the street I skedaddled.
They had exactly what I needed and even helped me piece things together, not making me buy the extra tools that would have been necessary to do so. And with that, I thanked them very much and was on my way with a smile still wondering if maybe this was all just a dream and I would wake up passed out in the parking lot of the closed down hardware store at any moment.
The answer to our problem had been right in front of us the whole time. But we had almost missed it because we had our sights set on just one thing, even though something even better was right there in front of our faces. And so it is in life it seems.
Many times in my life, I have expected something to work out a particular way. I even had it all figured out exactly how it was all going to go, just to have life mess it all up for me. If there is one thing I have learned about life, it is this. When it comes to, “My Plans for My Life vs. God's Plans for My Life”...God is very rarely on board with MY PLANS. The only plans He seems to be onboard with are the ones that started with me seeking Him first or the ones He planned in the first place…and even with those we often end up with a fork in the road because of my tendency to “me-ness.” Go figure!
My specific prayers to God often take on this same kind of pattern. That is not to say that God does not answer my prayers...because He always does, just not how I have the answers all planned out. The problem from my limited, selfish perspective is that God will very rarely follow MY answer suggestions, even if I lay them out very specifically. Sometimes God will actually just answer my prayers with...NO...or...NOT NOW...or...REALLY? I am sure you have never run into this and it is just me that God likes to mess with. But hearing this deep sharing from my heart will hopefully help show you just how blessed you are.
Not unlike my earlier story, God’s answers to my prayers may not even be on the same side of the street or in the location that I looked up and fully expected them to be. But the answers were still there, just waiting for me to see past my limited view and perspective and maybe see the bigger picture…or at least a little bit more of the big picture. But sometimes, though I want to, I still might not be able to see much of the picture at all. And even though sometimes the answers are not what I was expecting, maybe even not what I wanted, they are always better, even if I cannot see it now. What we think is best for our lives and what God knows is best are rarely the same things. A hard truth for sure because we live “here” in our small view and perspective of what life is really about and see very little of how it will not matter much when we enter into eternity.
Isaiah 55 tells us clearly that God's ways and thoughts are not our ways and thoughts. In fact, it goes on further to draw a visual picture of just how vast those gaps are. As high as the heavens are from the earth...that's how high my thoughts and ways are from yours. That’s quite a ways. And in 1 Corinthians 13, we are reminded that while we are on this side of eternity, we really don’t see things that clearly. But it also gives us the hope that on that side eternity, we will understand it all.
So really, once we get past ourselves and try to understand more about God, the way He works in our lives really should not surprise us that much. Whether He puts a hardware store of life...right in front of our faces or if He turns our life in a direction that we just can’t understand, that is just how much He loves us. If we can just love and trust Him, and learn to rest in Him, in all circumstances, He will use all things we perceive as good and bad to mold us closer to the likeness of His Son. Just wait and see.
Father...Daddy...oh how You love us. We are so lost without You and so blessed that You don't give us what we ask for or even more…what we deserve. How messed up our lives would be if You were not looking out for us. Thank You so much for your tender, loving care.
David L. Wood 1/24/2017 ©
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Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV)
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts..."
1 Corinthians 13:12 (NIV)
For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
Romans 8:28 (NIV)
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.