One of my favorite memories from my youth is watching the sun go down while sitting on top of the haystack. I remember sitting there, up high with my legs hanging over the side. I would sit there alone, feeling the wind slam into me (it seems like it always blew from the west), watching as the sky would turn from the sharp blue to the glorious color wheel of oranges, pinks, purples and blacks (further evidence for God – because let’s face it, who would ever think to put those colors together). The force of the wind pushing me back off the edge was powerful, scary and comforting all at the same time ( Just like our God ). At the time, I was simply marveling at the display of glory that was there every day! God, in His wisdom chose to close out every day with a glorious visual feast.
Back then, I would often marvel that from the ground, it was the same sun and the same wind, but somehow, it didn’t feel the same. It didn’t have the same overwhelming feel when my vision was a little obscured and I was safely on the ground. Comfortable. That is what we become. Once we are comfortable, we just don’t marvel at God’s majesty the way we should. We miss the work of a living God all around us because we safe, on the ground, where we can’t get hurt.
This year has been a haystack year for us. We have been on the edge, pushed by the wind from our front row seat of God’s majesty. The climb up the haystack was a lot more difficult than what I remember from my youth. The wind is a lot more fierce and the edge feels a little bit terrifying. But it has been a glorious sunset to behold! We have been so busy with other things, that I am finally getting the opportunity to put some thoughts down.
Beautiful completed her cancer treatments on September 27th. That statement is as plain as I can make it. Unvarnished because our emotional tanks were nearly completely drained at the end. Just before her last treatment, Beautiful had another surgery that was unexpected and in comparison to her other surgeries was fairly minor. However, she had some complications about a week after it was over. As I was parking the truck at the hospital, trying to hurry because the ambulance beat me there, I remember the reality that this was the first point since knowing she had cancer where I felt like I might lose her. I remember thinking that no one on earth had the benefit of knowing her like I did, but it wasn’t enough. I remember praying that I needed more, and everyone else needed the opportunity to know God through her. All of that happened in an instant before I needed to clamp it down and be there for her.
God is faithful. He has given me more time and He has lifted that burden from all of us. We are thankful for the growth we experienced, but we are also relieved to be watching this Sunset through the rearview mirror!
Part of what has added to the busyness of our lives is we have had our home on the market to sell. We are thrilled that our home has new owners today. I still sit in an office full of boxes and our garage won’t see a car for a loooooonnnngggg time, but we are pretty settled and we can find what we need most of the time. It is here somewhere, we just need to figure out which box.
To help add some context to the magnificence of this sunset, let me help provide some perspective. A little over two years ago, we sold our dream house. It was the 7th one that I had designed and had built and it included all of our lessons learned. It fit us perfectly. We all loved the home and it was a blessing to many. But in the end it was a just a house that we made our home. Giving up that home allowed us to be in a position to be part of something bigger. By selling it we would be able to build a therapy farm to help children with special needs. Fast forward 2 years and we are ready to begin!
God’s timing is perfect. Most of the steps of getting this farm going have been difficult or time consuming or both. There will surely be more difficult tasks in front us, but for now, we can be encouraged by the new beginning. You see, not only did we sell our house today, but our builder and good friend filed our permits to begin construction today. A small step, but it is the beginning of something glorious.
“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…” Zechariah 4:10
The passage above was angelic encouragement to the chief re-builder of the temple, Zerubbabel. The work of rebuilding the temple was huge. It was overwhelming, but it was also important. Even though it was far from easy, it was worth every drop of sweat and more. While our work is not on par with rebuilding the temple of God, we are still doing His work and we are rebuilding His children, those that bear the image of the living God. We take comfort from the same encouragement that Zerubbabel was given:
“It is not by force, nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” Zechariah 4:6
We have always known that our job is do the work and not force the timing or the results. God has His purposes in all things and we are to be faithful and apply ourselves whole-heartedly to the work, but trust Him for the outcome. We are not in control and we cannot work as though we are. It is God who wills and who does. Our job is to get working and witness what He does through us.
In other words, I don’t make the sun set or the sun rise, but I am still very much a part of the process. We are there. We bear witness to the majesty of our God through glorious works He is performing. The sunsets have been spectacular. Now we will turn to the east and watch the new beginning as the Sun Rises on a new chapter.