“She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him. ‘Dear woman, why are you crying?’ Jesus asked her. ‘Who are you looking for?’” John 20:14-15a (NLT)
As Labor Day approached last year, I was bone-tired.
Finances were tight, and we hadn’t taken a vacation in some time, so I asked God if He could open a door. I prayed, and I waited. A couple of days later, a friend mentioned the people who’d booked their condo might be canceling their reservation. If they did, he wanted me to use it.
That night I prayed, If this would be a good thing, Lord, please open the door. If not, slam it closed.
The following morning, my friend called and said it was all mine. I was so excited. I would be relaxing for a week, rent-free, no makeup, no high heels — just T-shirts and a ball cap. My husband Barry had some things to take care of at home and offered to stay with the dogs while I rested and prayed. He kissed me goodbye as I set off the following morning.
An hour into the journey, things began to go wrong.
The air conditioning in my car quit on a day stretching into the high 90s. I turned the dial to the max to see if it might kick back in, but it didn’t. I turned it off and kept driving, but after an hour, sweat dripped off my forehead into my eyes. I rolled down the windows, hoping fresh air would dry me out. And it did — until the storm hit. The sky dumped bucket after bucket of hot water, and before I could roll up my window, I was soaked. Traffic came to a stop, and cars turned on their hazard lights.
I alternated between windows down with large buckets of water coming in, and windows up and large buckets of sweat pouring down. Nine hours later, I arrived, soaking wet and tired but still excited about the next day to relax. The following morning, I brewed some coffee and drove straight to the local drugstore for some sundries.
Less than an hour later, I found a deserted area outside and situated my chair and belongings. Paradise! But as soon as my body hit the chair, it collapsed on top of me. I was trapped — quite literally.
Apart from a large dog that bounded out of nowhere and kept licking my feet, I couldn’t see anyone else in the distance. I couldn’t figure how to get out of my predicament. By the time I dug myself out, my legs were bruised and scraped, and it started to rain — not just rain, but storm! My canine friend wagged his tail, and I left him the soggy towel before I headed back to the condo. The week was not going as planned, and after another string of mishaps — which would take too long to describe — I decided to abandon the trip and drive home through the storm in my incapacitated car. Barry met me at the door with a sympathetic hug and a large stack of towels.
Nothing had turned out the way I thought it would.
It hadn’t been the worst experience in life, and it certainly wasn’t the end of the world, but it had definitely been disappointing.
Don’t you find it’s the little things that push you over the edge? You cope with the harder things in life, and then the dryer breaks when you need to get laundry done and you end up crying a bucket of tears. Or your child doesn’t get the part in the school play she hoped for, or your friend cancels plans to have coffee just when you really needed to talk.
None of this is life-altering, but it’s disappointing and can catch us off guard.
When I find myself struggling with these kinds of disappointments, I choose to hear Jesus ask me the question He asked Mary Magdalene on that resurrection morning as seen in John 20:15a, “Who are you looking for?”
When we look for Jesus in the middle of what’s not working, we discover He’s always there, bringing peace and comfort. We can sit with Him for as long as it takes to be reminded of what’s always true, no matter what might be true for a moment. He loves us. He is with us. He is here.
Father, things in my life don’t always go as planned. I confess it’s easy at times to lose heart over the ups and downs, even if they are small. Thank You for the comfort and peace You offer in the middle of my mess when I choose to focus my heart again on You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Jeremiah 29:13, “If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.” (NLT)
Psalm 16:11, “You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.” (NLT)
Bright screens, beeping notifications, a never-ending list of activities and to-dos … when do we ever stop? Is it any wonder we’re deeply weary? If you’re ready to seek Jesus in the quiet, and hear Him say, “Come as you are!” then you’ll appreciate Sheila Walsh’s latest book, 5 Minutes With Jesus: Quiet Time for Your Soul.