Sunday, February 5, 2012

Surely, Shirley

Gratitude. It's flowing through me.

A part of my work day includes responding to folks who have inquired about the senior community I work in. Yesterday I was blessed to call a lovely woman named Shirley. Shirley, it turns out, is 61, and after a series of bad breaks, bad decisions and general bad luck, her home is in foreclosure. She and her daughter and two grandchildren, are now facing being uprooted to parts unknown. Her only income is Social Security. There is no house to sell, no pension to collect and no white knight heading in her direction. Even son, Shirley is not bemoaning her fate.

She is contemplating separation from her loved ones if they can't find an affordable place they all can fit into. In the first few seconds of our conversation, it became clear that she is not financially qualified to afford living in our community. So, I am adding to her list of unworkable options. Poor Shirley, right?

Wrong. Shirley lives in hope.

"Poor Shirley" wasted no time in lifting my spirits. She acknowledged that things look grim...admitted that she'd made some bad decisions in the past and that things hadn't turned out the way she'd hoped. But, she spoke with great conviction and a smile in her voice when she said, " I'm losing a home, but there is another home." She went on to tell me she knew it was going to be okay-that even if the Lord would allow this loss in her life, she was confident that He was going to carry them through it. He hope was not in a house or other earthly possessions, but, in God who promised to carry her through to her heavenly home. She went on to say that even if they were to lose everything she knew God was going to use the losses as stepping stones to get her to what He had next for her.

Surely, Shirley is walking the walk of faith. Not the talk, but the real deal. In the midst of potentially losing all her earthly possessions, she stands firm in the confidence that He will neither leave or forsake her. She believes firmly in the promise of Romans 8:28, that He will work it out for her benefit in the end.

I don't know exactly what the future holds for Shirley and her family. But, I do know that when we come before our Father in gratitude, not bemoaning our losses but looking expectantly to Him for what He will do, we can wait in expectation, knowing it will be good. When I hung up the phone, I was humbled, knowing I don't always live that way, nor do I reflect it nearly as clearly as Shirley did, in a simple phone conversation with a complete stranger.

Shirley lifted my spirit and also reduced me to tears. When I consider my petty grievances; at work, at home, in my community-- they are so small. And bemoaning them makes me small. I have a home. I have a family. I have a Savior. And yet, sometimes I live as if I am a pauper, never taking hold of the great riches I have in Him and His promises.

Surely, Shirley gets it. There is another home. The rest is gravy.

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