For some time I have wondered how to answer the people who ask me, “How are you?”
There is so much that is still broken and not working. It is tedious to review.
Many times, and for fun, I have gone with the obvious. “I had a stroke…” I’ll reply. Most people get it and play along. Only once did someone not get the joke, and that was a nurse at the hospital.
Today one of the devotionals we read cited this verse:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11.
The last rector I served with had this verse posted on his office door. I’m thinking I may adopt it as the basis for all future questions about my circumstances. The LORD has plans t0 prosper me and not to harm me. His plans give me hope and a future.
If time allows for conversation after that I may also share my thoughts on not yet seeing this plan fully revealed. I will point to the line in Hebrews about the Old Testament saints like those Jeremiah faced:
These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. Hebrews 11:39-40.
I think we’re on both ends of that. The Old Testament saints had to wait for us to come on the scene and take our part in what God was creating. And the Lord has plans to prosper us in turn but those plans involve others who have not yet been joined to the Kingdom family. God’s plans will be fully seen only after all of us are in place. What we can see in the meantime is only partial. But even those partial glimpses can encourage us to hold on to the promise of the whole. A couple of stories I heard in the last few days encourage me.
One I heard from a visitor who came to see me at home. We got to talking about a third friend currently in the hospital with a load of problems. My visiting friend told me about going to see this third friend and praying with him as he lay on his hospital bed.
On his next visit, the hospitalized friend asked, “Did you feel that, the last time you were here?” And he went on to tell of feeling “a third hand” touching him while the visiting friend prayed for him. “That was for you, not me!” my praying friend told him. But it was interesting to find out that where two were gathered in the Name of the Lord, there were actually three present after all. It makes it a bit easier to stay in the hospital room waiting for a full healing and recovery, I hope.
My wife had gone out on errands while my friend was visiting me at our home that night. When she returned later she told me she had met another friend in the store and had a conversation. The other woman recounted a recent visit to the grocery store when she had only a few dollars to spend. So she had shopped very carefully.
Then she spotted a family with three small children, looking a bit lost. And she heard a voice distinctly say to her, “Fill up their cart.” She heard that order again as she passed them taking her own groceries to her car. She unloaded her few groceries and returned to the store where the family was standing. She approached them and discovered they were from Romania. She told them, “Go fill your shopping cart.” The family went into the store and Melanie’s friend waited for them by the cash registers.
When the family returned, their cart held a few basic items but was not full. “No, fill the cart,” she told them. The family went a second time around the store aisles and returned with the cart full.
Melanie’s friend noticed everything they had chosen was a basic food item. She looked at the three small children. “Come with me,” she told the mother. A third time they returned to the store aisles, this time to the shelves with snack items. Our friend added several treats for the children and finally let them enter a checkout lane.
The bill came to nearly $400. Our friend handed over a charge card silently.
Outside the store, the Romanian woman, in broken English, asked, “May I pray for you?”
And they did.
When Melanie’s friend got home, the phone was ringing. She recognized the voice on the line. “I’ve decided to send you the money for your rent next month,” they said. The amount was $1200.00.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.