"Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you in the way you should go." --- Isaiah 48:17
August 31st 2010:
Tom arrived home from work, poof! In the middle of a gorgeous summer afternoon, boxes crammed into the back of the Toyota he drove down our farm's driveway. Through the car window I jokingly asked, "You weren't fired were you?"
He smiled and replied, "Actually, I was. Four of us were downsized."
Oh my goodness, gut-punch city!
Now, long ago you heard that story, but I want to tell you what happened a year (more?) before that day.
Occasionally I'd 'hear' in my conscience/spirit, "Get your house in order. Prepare in case Tom loses his job." But hey, we'd been married over 30 years and never had Tom been fired! Yeah, since 2008 people galore were losing jobs, but Tom? Nah. Probably wouldn't happen. (Can you say 'prideful ignorance'?)
So again and again, I dismissed that "prepare now" thought. Like a moron (that's allowed when one's speaking of herself). ッ
Also, sometimes I'd switch upon a tv show where the guest, all bug-eyed, stressed, "Always Have 6 Months' Worth of Paychecks Saved For Emergencies. Begin immediately! You never know in Today's world how secure your job is."
But the warnings came sporadically and none arrived with angel appearances or men shouting warnings upon white horses. (Er hem.) So I didn't consider them seriously. Instead I just sat aside one month's worth of paychecks, kept our credit cards at a zero balance and paid our bills on time (mostly. Hey, nobody's perfect. heh.).
So there was that. But still.
Even more warnings came. Online I'd read, "Stock up on food. It's important!", and ok, I made a wimpy stab at that, storing two weeks' worth of food in our pantry. (Just two weeks? Tom was laid off for 22 months!)
Also, deep down I 'heard,' --
"Replace your worn-out dishtowels with new ones. And bath towels, pillowcases and under garments. Buy new ones now."
"Also, increase your giving to other people. Up the amounts."
Yet did I obey those nudgings? Well, in just a kinda sorta lackadaisically hit and miss way.
The Holy Spirit tried, He truly did. But never did I assign enormous importance to His 'whispers'. And trust me, even ten years later--though I've forgiven myself--I still cringe.
Anyway. Now? Millions of folks, maybe you, even, are experiencing my 2010 year plus. Plus complication and hardships America hasn't beheld since the Great Depression--and more besides.
And so why would I insist that 2020 is a remarkable year? Because for zillions it resembles my 2010 and oh, that Learning Year! That's when I truly awoke to the practicality of paying attention to the Holy Spirit.
I began listening, noticing, the help God sent me early and stopped procrastinating the things which matter. And it all matters.
Early help. God so often sends early help.
Because of the Holy Spirit, never again have Tom and I been caught unprepared. Because 2010 zoomed us to the scary places where procrastination leads, we now long to listen to the Holy Spirit, not our flawed heads.
Obedience leads to being taught, prepared and growing up.
And now when we sometimes mess up? We know it's only because we strayed. Nothing, no one else gets blamed. Nothing but our disobedience can limit God's provision and wisdom.
Since 2010 we've never lived the same way and Life's never appeared more wonderful.
And that, my friends, is why I believe 2020, a similar year for millions, can be just as remarkable for everyone. The year they all, we all, learned to pause, to listen.
"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
We must become so sensitive to the Holy Spirit that He need not shout nor send angels, signs or wonders before we'll obey.
One very specific way God sent me 'early help' for 2020:
Remember when, beginning in October of 2019, I'd get out of bed around 2 a.m. then climb down the stairs to the red couch and watch Youtube videos? Well, just being able to do that was proof this was a 'God thing,' but besides that? He introduced me to 10+ encouragers. Kindred spirits. People who love to discuss the same subjects I do.
Friends who don't even know me, but who I appreciate so much, along with how they've led me to 10 other such friends!
So all along this wildly-crazy 2020, I've hung out with those new encourager friends, my gifts from God. And you know? Having Him and them all these months, never have I felt alone in what I believe is really happening these days. Often they put into words what I could only feel in my mind and heart.
What a blessing from God, that early help. What an enormous blessing, indeed.
(You can find my list of those folks here. Scroll down.)
"For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." ... Matthew 6:14,15