Have you ever gotten a phone call that took your breath away? I have.
Yesterday, less than an hour after leaving the construction site at the new house in Elizabeth, I got a phone call that there had been a gas explosion on-site. It’s the kind of call that your mind has a hard time interpreting at first. The kind of call you pull over for.
After a quick U-Turn and a painfully long drive back to the construction site, I pulled into the driveway and was greeted by the Elizabeth Fire Department, Elizabeth Sheriff’s Department, and a full crew of calm (but frightened) tradesmen. One by one, I asked if they were okay as I walked up the driveway and each of them said something like, “We’re okay…just scared.”
Those words just keep repeating themselves over and over in my head. I fought back the lump in my throat all afternoon thinking about what could have happened. How bad it could have been. The protection over the nine men (if my count is correct) in the house at the time of the blast is undeniable. Undeniable. In the midst of such an accident, we can’t help but praise the Lord for his mighty hand over each of them yesterday. Not a broken bone. Not a burn. Nothing.
With the go-ahead from the Elizabeth Fire Chief, we put one foot in front of the other to assess the damage.
Let me be honest. This morning, as the shock began to wear off, insurance claims were being filed, and the “what now?” conversations started, I was battling a spirit of discouragement. My gas tank was running on low before the accident happened and here we are…resetting the odometer for more mileage without the chance to refuel. Now, don’t let me exaggerate. As far as we can tell, the majority of the damage was confined to the kitchen and three main areas in the basement. All completely replaceable and re-buildable. But for a moment this morning, it felt like starting over. It was in that moment that Monica Kelly, radio DJ for KLOVE (#4 on my radio dial), piped up and said:
If you’ve ever tried to put together a ministry team, a team to build a house, even a team within your own family, you may have wondered how everything was going to be put together. What’s cool is that God has a plan; He’s the overseer; He’s the general contractor of your life and He’s the one that’s going to put all the subs together to make sure everything comes out the way it’s supposed to.
In 2 Chronicles, God didn’t want David to build his temple, but he wanted him to prepare his son Solomon with all the plans, all the designs, all the workers so Solomon could execute the temple and build it, and a palace too. This is a great reminder to us that whatever we’re going through we need to trust God to execute all the plans he has for our lives.
Wo. I thought, “Well, that’s punctual.” So much so, I called KLOVE and asked them to transcribe it to me in an email. An email that came in at 9:34am. Then, at 10:31am, my mom forwards me today’s Proverbs 31 Ministries’ daily devotional where Tracie Miles starts out by saying:
What began as a simple plan to renovate a bathroom in dire need of updating, quickly morphed our entire house into a disaster zone.
Due to unanticipated electrical and plumbing issues, the mess extended beyond the bathroom, affecting multiple rooms in the house. Due to bad advice and disappointing work, the project dragged on for months.
Tracie goes on to describe how she whined to a friend about her frustration and disappointment. Her friend gently encourages her to flip to James 1:2 and there she finds this: “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.” She goes on to say:
I thought about how blessed we were to have lived in our home for 17 years, where we’ve raised all our children. I thought about the sweet memories our home held, despite its condition. I thought about the lessons we were learning as a family about tolerance, closeness, consideration and perseverance. I thought about the blessing of being able to afford the renovation.
Sometimes we allow trivial things to steal our joy, such as a bottle of spilled shampoo. At other times we may reach a breaking point for much more serious reasons. But whether our problems are big or small, James 1:2 reminds us to purposely and intentionally choose joy in Christ, even in the midst of our troubles.
Joy comes from choice, not problem-free circumstances, and James wanted us all to know that.
Instead of writing my name in the sheetrock dust on my furniture, I think I’ll just smile and etch in another word instead: joy.
I felt so convicted. The blessing of this house, what is stands for and what will be transformed there is far greater than this short-lived heartache and headache. The joy it will bring cannot be stolen away by anyone or anything and we can’t let it affect the legacy that will be born there. We have to be careful and intentional about the life (or death) we speak over this land, this project, and this house. And there it was. Perspective.
Join me in Tracie’s prayer:
Lord, help me find joy in You every day, despite my circumstances. Fill me with peace and help me choose joy on purpose. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.