I was asked back in October to share my testimony with the ladies from our church at our annual retreat. I’ve been pondering sharing the story here on my blog that I told them. I stuck it in my back pocket and waited for the right time. Well, now’s the time, and here’s why. My sister’s car was stolen today. This just sucks no matter who you are, but my sister seems to be a magnet for stupid stuff that alone would drive a person mad. She, however, has stupid stuff piled on top of her. I am beginning to wonder if she doesn’t have a stupid-people stalker fan club, just a group of them, watching her, waiting for the right moment. “She looks bored, gents, let’s move!”
I have experienced hair-pulling times in my life when the stupid was just piled on, too. Maybe one day we’ll right a book called, “Are a Few Dull Moments Too Much to Ask?” Which brings me to my story.
My husband Sean used to be in the Air Force. His first deployment after finishing all his training really wasn’t too bad. He hadn’t gone anywhere scary, and I had close friends to keep me company. His third deployment was the worst, and it was during that time that most of the stupid was piled on. I am surprised I didn’t go bald. But I survived all of that because my life is filled with many moments like the one I will tell you about in this post. Sometimes God does big things in our lives, giving us pivot points that turn our lives in new directions. Other lives, like mine so far, are filled with building blocks, stepping stones, things that inch us further along, closer to Him. These are moments that move through you like ice-cold water on a hot day, ones you can feel move into your limbs, relaxing you like you didn’t know you needed.
This second deployment seemed quiet. Me and my one pal, who didn’t have kids yet, practically lived together. We went to the gym together, ate dinner together. We both missed our husbands more than we could say, and even missed each other’s husbands more than we understood. It was quiet.
At the time, Sean and I had only our son, Theo, who was two. Two was hard. It wasn’t terrible, not yet. But the tedium of daily life was just relentless. Sean was deployed to Guam. I was in North Dakota. In the dead of winter. He kept sending me pictures of himself wearing tropical shirts that didn’t seem so ridiculous when he was home and it was summer. But looking at those pictures whilst wearing long underwear made me want to growl. He was tan. I was cold.
I remember a certain Sunday when the reality of my situation really sank in. I had gone through the hair-raising race of getting me and Theo ready for church. I was desperate for church then. It was food, both spiritual, and social. I needed church. We were finally all dressed, fed, ready to go, and I opened the front door to go warm up the car. And I saw that, in the night, it had snowed. Really, really SNOWED. I looked down at my super-cute high-heeled useless boots and stepped back into the house and sighed. I quickly ran upstairs and put Theo in his crib so he wouldn’t get into trouble while I was outside- shoveling. I love snow. I hate shoveling. Shoveling makes me angry at snow in ways I later feel led to apologize for.
So, here I was, angry, desperate for church and all it meant to me, and I might not make it, but I sure as heck was going to try, and I am shoveling and getting sweaty, and no, I hadn’t changed my boots, so I was slipping around everywhere. I was not happy with my current situation. And as I shoveled and sweated and grunted, I looked up to take a break, and, I kid you not, my neighbor across the street had hooked his huskies up to a sled and was just leaving his driveway.
This was the kind of winter I was having. I was just worn out. Life was being relentless, day in, day out, brushing teeth and baths and meals for one and a half, and quiet. It was starting to press in on me. It didn’t feel so much that I was at the end of my rope, as much as it felt the rope had wrapped itself around me, and I was trapped.
But when you are the only person there to take care of things, you do what needs to be done. Just get it done. Try not to think about it. Get it done. I was tired. So tired. Weary.
And lo and behold, one night, the garbage needed to be taken out. I, of course, had taken it out more often than that, but that night the garbage was that straw, and I was that camel’s back. I had already put on my jim-jams, a cup of tea was waiting for me in the kitchen, I was ready to watch some mindless TV. Then it occurred to me. The next day was garbage day. Our garbage men were always early, excruciatingly punctual. I could have waited for morning, but I didn’t want to take the chance of having to shovel a path from the garage to the curb at 6:00 in the morning. Better to do it now. Sigh.
So I find my boots, find my gloves, find my hat, find my coat. Gather the garbage.
I was bracing myself for the cold about to hit me, two bags of garbage in my hand. My head was bent down against the wind, when I looked up. I almost dropped the trash bags.
Up above my sled-dog neighbor’s house were the Northern Lights.
I stopped, in the booger-freezing cold, and watched them.
I had never seen them before, haven’t since. I was amazed they looked just like they do on TV. I’m sure that sounds stupid, but I had always assumed they sped up that photography. They don’t. It stopped me in my tracks. And God said, “See?”
That’s all. I can take 100 lessons away from that moment, and fill them with good things to know, but I always remind myself, nothing else happened in that moment other than God showing me His glory.
That whole story for a stolen car? Well. Here it is. The prayer I pray for my sister. Yes, it would be just great to get her car back. But my prayer for her is that God will just light up her sky. That she has a moment to see His glory and it will stop her in her tracks, and feed her, and fuel her until the next antic that fan club of hers pulls.
Like many moments in my life, this one has a soundtrack, though the song came a few years later. But when I heard it for the first time, and when I hear it now, I can think of nothing but that moment. I’m going to share the song with you, and I pray that soon God will stop you in your tracks, today, and tomorrow, and when you need it most, and when you least expect it. He WILL light up your sky.