Christmas is around the corner, and despite this year’s pandemic, I am excited that my The Upper Room meditation will appear on December 15! Though small in words, that meditation took a great deal of time for me to write because it refers to a deep, personally difficult time in my life—the years of raising my four children alone.
When I think back on those years, the first word that comes to my mind is “work,” because that is all I did. Yet in retrospect, I see how fortunate I was to be working night and day because busyness sure does keep us out of lots of trouble! As soon as each child started 7th grade, he or she began a job of some kind as well. It just seemed like the “normal” thing for us to do, and no one ever complained.
When my children read my devotional recently, my daughter told me she remembered nothing but having fun when she was growing up! That had to be the greatest compliment she could have given me! I’m so glad she did not feel the anxiety I always felt about money, time, my teaching job, Christmas gifts, care of my parents, birthday gifts, bills, bills, bills . . . and the constant knot I had in my stomach over those things.
When it came time for college, I had no idea how we would do it. There was no way to do it except one semester at a time. I also discovered one positive thing about being a single mom—we got good financial aid!
The children’s work-study money was their spending money. They worked during the summer and during holidays, yet no one ever complained. God guided each one of them through by capitalizing each of their gifts and talents. All of my children graduated from college, two have advanced degrees, and all are contributing very well to the adult world.
Hard work! And wonderful lessons learned. I prayed daily that God would be their “father,” and he was—through good times and bad. I learned about taking one day at a time. I learned about asking, waiting, and receiving on God’s time table.
Most of all, I learned about listening to God and not talking so much! I wonder if we talk so much to God because we feel uncomfortable that we cannot actually see or touch God? Or are we so overwhelmed with our own concerns that we just spill our guts to God because we can’t do that with anyone else? I believe both of these feelings often guide our prayer time.
Well, the day I learned to listen was the day I began identifying with God—the Almighty, the Creator, the Beginning and End—and God’s Son who understood every feeling I ever had, and then gave his life for me. When I began getting outside of myself, I learned many things—to “see” God sitting with me, to talk to God about his feelings and his ideas and ask God how I could help him, to “see” my Shepherd, Jesus, leading me, to “feel” the Holy Spirit refilling me each day, to hear God through a verse of Scripture or through a friend’s words, to “see” God in everything around me and in nature—that’s the day I learned how to listen. Now and forever, I listen constantly to my Friend, my Shepherd, my Savior, and my God.
My minister mentioned recently the importance of our actually “being in love with God.” I can honestly say that I am...