Last summer- my brother-in-law unexpectedly passed away leaving behind his wife and three children. In an instant their lives were changed and with just one parent left to carry the load of both, the manner in which their family operates is forever altered.
In February- my husband was involved in a skiing accident. With one awkward turn on the slopes our lives changed. Initially, he could neither stand nor walk nor perform the most basic of tasks. I, along with a few others, stepped in to do those things for him until he recovered.
Recently- friends received a phone call with news that they had been chosen as the adoptive parents of a precious baby girl. In an instant their fourteen year pursuit to become parents had ended and their hopes became a joyous reality. Yay!
“Time Outs” are those periods of time and circumstances in life that stop us in our tracks just before transforming our hearts and providing us with a renewed perspective of the future. Though we would never ask for such tests of our faith, they are effectual in assessing the inward genuineness of our outward professions and preparing us for the days to come. So what should we do when unexpected circumstances and fiery trials drop themselves squarely into the middle of our lives? For me, I’m still learning how to maneuver through the stages of each by accepting them for their future purposes and I’ve joined the i-culture as follows:
i-Stop to pray and ponder the steps necessary to move forward.
i-Swap what I thought I knew about my abilities for the reality regarding them.
i-Swallow (with knots in my throat) the circumstances I face and try to agree with God to be transformed in the days, weeks, months and years that follow. * This one is so much easier said than it is done.
i-Share what I have encountered because somehow with God’s help I know I will make it to the other side and I will gain a new perspective of the trial’s future purpose. God simply works all things together for good!
Throughout the ages God in His infinite grace has provided His children with the opportunity to grow in wisdom and knowledge as a result of their trials. When we learn to look back through the lenses of hindsight we become better acquainted with God’s perspective and are able to honor His name with praises no matter how hard the circumstances seem at the time. This is a tough saying. It means that we admit our trials, as painful as they can be sometimes, will generate worthy rewards and sacrifices of praise. Our “Time out” seasons will provide us with the perspective to one day look back in order to minister forward. The scriptures, along with our own experiences, help us learn to gain the strength we need to move forward.
- Like my sister-in-law, Ruth and Naomi experienced a period of “time-out” marked by the deaths of their husbands and they journeyed together through widowhood void of the presence and partnership of their husbands (Ruth 1). God protected and cared for them both and brought them back to Naomi’s homeland where they encountered Boaz, the guardian-redeemer who married Ruth, restoring her and her mother-in-law, Naomi (Ruth 4).
- Like my husband, the lame man experienced a “time-out” marked by a season of immobility and reliance upon others. When he encountered the healing touch of Jesus he was able to walk and care for himself and testify of Jesus’ healing power (John 5).
- Like my friends who received that phone call, Hannah and Elkanah experienced a trial of barrenness (1 Samuel 1). Hannah uttered prayers and promises to God if only … because the wait for a child tends to stir up pledges we might not otherwise make. I know, I’ve uttered them. The wait opens our hearts and make us receptive to receiving children in other ways and for periods of time different from what we originally imagined.
COMMENT- How about you? What “time out” season in your life transformed you from the inside out and changed your past perspective into a future ministry?