Anniversary: the yearly remembrance of an event or occurrence.
We typically associate the word “anniversary” with weddings, don’t we? Which, by the way, Gary and I will celebrate such a remembrance this Saturday. 39 years!!! I wonder how this is possible…and then I look in the mirror and realize that yes, indeed, this is true.
But there are other anniversary dates as well. Many are full of happiness, yet sadly, many are just the opposite. In my Bible, I often make a note beside certain verses that were especially meaningful to me during good times and during not so good times. I jot down the date and make a short entry about what was occurring when that particular verse, or verses, impacted my life. I call these my memorial stones, taken from the way that Israel would memorialize important national events by building a stone memorial. Israel would thus remember what God had done for them there, just as I can remember what God has done for me through significant sections of Scripture during significant times in my life.
I came upon a memorial stone this morning as I was reading II Samuel 22:18-19.
“He delivered me from my strong enemy, from those who hated me, for they were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the Lord was my support.”
I looked at the brief notation I had made, and memories came flooding over me. The year was 2008 and the month was May, ten years ago. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long since Gary and I were blindsided by the events that took place. I really can’t say more about it, but I knew that God’s hand was in it as a direct answer to prayer even though there was much wrong involved. Our lives have been forever changed…forever scarred…yet forever touched by the hand of God.
You see, after verse 19 comes verse 20:
“He also brought me forth into a broad place; He rescued me, because He delighted in me.”
So now, ten years later, I can truly say that God has brought us to a broad place. But what does that mean?
Well, places of hardship and distress in the Bible are usually referred to as narrow places. They are places of being closed in, confined, and full of danger. But broad places are places of peace and security, where you can stretch and grow and see all around.
I can look back on the past ten years and see the progression in our lives from the narrow to the broad. I can also attest to the fact that God was very present with us through the awful narrow passages, and He is also very present with us in the broad place. We need Him in both.
You see, coming from the narrow to the broad doesn’t mean that we have achieved perfection. Wrong done still carries a huge impact in our lives. But God’s presence also carries an impact even larger than hurt and pain carries.
Time is ever so slow when we travel from the narrow to the broad place. There are many, many dangers. It’s easy to doubt God…to quit serving Him…to blame Him…to resent others…to gossip…
But the painful journey is also the perfect time to hear God speak to us through His Word. It’s a time for us to take one verse at a time and ponder it, apply it, and let God use those verses to heal us. It’s a time to learn to look to God and not to anyone else or anything else. The most disastrous events in our lives cannot hold a candle to the amazing grace and love of God that He delights in showing us, if we but let Him.
David, King of Israel, wrote these verses in II Samuel 22. He certainly saw his share of turmoil and rejection and danger and sin. Yet he also wrote this, in II Samuel 15:26:
“But if He (God) should say thus, ‘I have no delight in you,’ behold, here I am, LET HIM DO TO ME AS SEEMS GOOD TO HIM.”
Do you see what David was saying…what he was doing? David had a grip on God’s sovereignty, as Dale Davis says. Part of the journey from narrow to broad is being able to understand this: that we must be satisfied with letting God do to me what seems good to Him.
I did NOT say being satisfied with letting God do to me what seems good to ME.
Sometimes the cancer is not cured. Sometimes the prodigal does not come home. Sometimes the lay-off still happens. Sometimes the grave is where we visit the one we love. Sometimes restoration is not granted, as happened to us.
Yet regardless of all the “sometimes,” we can say that EVERY time, God knows what is best for my life.
So I hang onto Him, in total trust, and know that my good is of utmost importance to Him. My good may come at great cost, but it is also of great value for all of eternity.
I’m stretching in the broad place today, thank God!
And so can you.