Veering into the Serene Providence

Knocking twenty-two years’ worth of dust off a resume stretches the definition of “creative writing” to its limit. After giving my time away for two decades, can I convince even myself that my skills are marketable? Am I still capable of holding my own in the workforce? The questions hang in the air like a challenge.

This job search is not happening at all the way I had planned it. Certainly, I have always expected to return to work someday, but only after the graduation party for boy number four, the culmination of my career as a homeschooling mum.  Naturally, I would observe a few weeks’ intermission — to beautify my future Pinterest-perfect home. Then and only then would I break out the resume and step magically into the job of my dreams  – or else . . .  just crank out a run-away best-seller, the smoke rolling off my keyboard from the intensity of its truth-telling.

However, with reality comes the quaint truth that “making ends meet” may simply mean bringing them into the same zip code. With my teacher-husband home for the summer, why not let him manage the family mowing business – and the family? Why not see if I can land a summer job?

Why not?

Whenever the unexpected happens, I’m thrown against the framework of my theology. Will it hold? Does what I believe about the sovereignty of God accommodate a veering turn that was not anywhere on my road map? In the past, I have found that the disruption of my plans has been a salutary thing – not a sign from heaven that I have disobeyed or ignored God’s direction, but, rather, an assurance that there is a serene Providence* at work behind the scenes, that God has said words of promise over me:  “I have other plans for you, plans which will open a way for you to learn to know Me – which is far better than what you had planned.”

Naomi would agree, I think. Senior heroine from the book of Ruth, she encountered the unexpected when Bethlehem, “The House of Bread” was stripped by famine and left without a crumb. The journey to Moab with Elimelech and their two young sons would have been a desperate act, and it was followed by a decade of every imaginable kind of loss as, one by one, her men — her protectors — died.

Even the comforting presence of devoted daughter-in-law Ruth could not dilute life’s acrid brew that transformed Naomi the Pleasant into Mara the Bitter, (Ruth 1:20, 21). Naomi’s jarring change of direction leaves me breathless. How does a woman ever absorb the loss of a husband and two sons? One thing she discovered (and that I am learning) is that God is the only One who is equipped to recognize a detour while it is happening. It is only from the vantage point of the rear view mirror that we mortals are able to verify the truth that, all along, God had in mind our best interest and the furthering of His Kingdom.

With the sadness of mourning still roaring in her ears, Naomi could never have imagined that her slow trek back to Bethlehem would be a journey toward life and joy – and grandchildren! She could not have discerned that her time in Moab – temporary after all – would reap a bearer of strong genes for the making of the Messianic Line:  King David’s great-grandmother, Ruth, the gleaner of barley who gathered grace as well.

In the interim, therefore, we wait; and we pray for grace to trust God’s motives.  Today, I am feeling the murkiness of the fog of unknowing. This waiting is something I’ve never been good at, and yet I can attest to the deep groove that is formed in the soul by waiting – and praying. Paul Miller in The Praying Life advises:

“Instead of trying to suppress anxiety – to manage it or smother it with pleasure – we can turn our anxiety toward God. When we do that, we find that we have slipped into continuous praying.”

How delightful to think that if I can adjust the angle of all my concerns at this turn in the road (Can I still be the present kind of mum I long to be? Who will direct the church’s VBS?  Will my blog disappear from the planet?), if I can move the trajectory away from worry and toward petition, I will “slip into” prayer.

What a mercy.

“Expect delays,” say all the road signs, and while my detour is only the palest adumbration of Naomi’s jarring ride, I am blessed by her words to Ruth:

“Wait, my daughter, until you learn how the matter turns out.”

And, Note to Soul:

While you’re waiting, let the memory of past deliverances teach you to hope against all hope in today’s uncertainty, knowing that with every unexpected bend in the road you are veering into the loving and wise sovereignty of God.

 

*The phrase “serene Providence” is borrowed from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s oration on the death of Lincoln.

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Michele Morin

Michele Morin is a teacher, blogger, reader, and gardener who finds joy in sitting at a table surrounded by women with open Bibles. She has been married to an unreasonably patient husband for over 25 years, and their four children are growing up at an alarming rate. Michele loves hot tea and well-crafted sentences, poems that stop her in her tracks and days at the ocean with the whole family. She laments biblical illiteracy and advocates for the prudent use of “little minutes.” She blogs at Living Our Days, and you can connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

56 thoughts on “Veering into the Serene Providence”

  1. Michele, I love your open, honest transparency in this post and the words, “serene providence”…such peace we experience when we enter His rest! I thought you might be blessed by this devotional by Joel Osteen…
    “‘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, NIV)
    God-Ordained Moments
    God created every one of us to be successful. Before the foundations of the world, He laid out an exact plan for your life. In this plan, He has marked moments that are going to come across your path. These moments are not ordinary. They are destiny-altering moments. They are designed to thrust you years ahead.

    It says in Ecclesiastes 9:11 that “time and chance come together for every person.” That means you’ll have opportunities to meet the right people, opportunities to advance in your career, and opportunities to fulfill your dreams. God has already prearranged times of increase and blessing. You may not see a lot of good breaks right now, but be encouraged because there are seasons of favor and increase marked for your future!

    A Prayer for Today
    “Father, thank You for ordering my steps. Thank You for making a way when there seems to be no way. I choose to step out today with faith and expectancy knowing that You have marked moments for my future in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

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  2. Praying for you, Michele, as you move into this “new normal” and next phase of your life! You can do this! And, God can take care of your kids, your home, and your blog – while you are working!
    I’ve been there too! I’m praying that God will use you in a mighty way in that job – with fellow employees, customers, and anyone else who needs the hope of our Savior.
    You are a blessing to my life. I believe you are going to be an amazing blessing to many!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your words here had me nodding and whispering ‘yes’: “Does what I believe about the sovereignty of God accommodate a veering turn that was not anywhere on my road map?” I’m too looking at a point on the road I did not expect or plan for. It’s unnerving and scary. The doubts pop up, “Can I really do this successfully?” I’ll keep you close to my heart (though I know you’ll be a success at whatever you set your mind to 🙂 Many blessings, Michele!

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  4. Michele, thank you for your transparency. I once had a singing ministry that lasted for 30 years. I was a trained (for opera) coloratura soprano (I could go above high-C) and I thought for years that music and singing would always be my life. Then doctors found a tumour the size of a grapefruit in my stomach. While taking it out they ruptured my bladder, but they didn’t know it and sent me back to recovery with an open bladder that was seeping poison into my system. A nurse called my husband at 12:30 am because the doctors wouldn’t listen to her that I was dying. She told him to get to the hospital fast to advocate for me. To make a long story short, they listened, but in their haste to keep me alive they made another mistake and my vocal chords were permanently damaged when they intubated me. I never sang again. I thought my ministry was over, but God was way ahead of me and He is way ahead of you too. Before I lost my voice He had given me a gift of creativity and urged me to take a writing course. So I did. But I didn’t know why because I had no desire or reason to pursue writing. Before I lost my voice He gave me a desire to always, no matter what, spend an hour or more in Bible study every day. Even when my children were tiny I never missed my studies. Before I lost my voice, He gifted me with training at Precept Ministries in Canada to learn how to study my Bible and teach others how to do the same thing. Before I lost my voice I thought I knew what I was going to be doing for the rest of my life – singing. But God had other plans and prepared me (without me really being aware of it) before hand. I am now writing my fifth book (another Bible study).

    The waiting is the hardest. We are anxious to know what we are supposed to be doing next. I wondered what in the world I was going to do with my life. I was in my fifties and starting all over again. It was terrifying, but God saw everything before I did. He was definitely a serene providence working behind the scenes. Isn’t it wonderful to know He is in charge?

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    1. What a harrowing story! Thank you for taking time to share it with me. And yes, I’m thankful for this reminder that God is in charge, even when it appears to me that all is chaos. I’m more and more convinced that we see His work and His faithfulness most clearly in the rear view mirror.

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  5. Michele,
    How true that hindsight is always 20-20, and we don’t see that the routes we thought were detours were actually the right road indeed?! So hard to be in that “what do you want me to do now, Lord?” period of waiting. Take heart that it’s already written in His book of Life. I placed limits on my expectations about God and He handily blew the doors right off those hinges…expect the unexpected. I will be praying for you my friend. I know God has the perfect place where He wants to use you. Thanks for letting us journey with you…
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

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    1. Love the image of you standing in a door with the hinges blown off. Thanks for your prayers, and for your friendship on this journey. Looking forward to your upcoming podcast!

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  6. I have a lifetime of stories about flying full throttle into unexpected harrowing curves. Listen, obey and trust – not to mention, prepare for sudden stops. That’s the take away from what I can now define as my life adventure. While in the middle of the learning curve – and that is what the twists and turns represent – we are naturally inclined to lean toward fearfulness of the unknown – will we come out on the other side in one piece? – it’s that human nature thing. But then, in retrospect, once we hit a calm straight stretch, we are able to see the amazingly creative story God is writing. Oh the drama, the suspense as well as the comic!

    But I do fully understand the wondering that prompts shades of doubt. Even to this day, the road I am still on has all manner of unexpected turns. I’m holding on with both hands tight on the wheel ten and two. But this time, I am so old, I’ve been here before so many times, I’m smiling. Imagine that! After all this time I finally get it – He has a plan for me, a plan to use me. One never has to retire from this job.

    Do this – close your eyes, smile and say out loud – “I know You have this, Father” then open your eyes with new understanding and trust He’ll make it right. Be aware it will be in the way He defines right and one day you’ll look back in amazement at how clever He is.

    BTW, why are you not teaching young women how to can? In this digital age some of the best jobs are simply YouTube channels. And, why are you not being recompensed for your outstanding book reviews? Just sayin’…

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  7. May God lead you clearly! Turning our anxieties and concerns into prayers is such a key to living in the peace of God. I needed this reminder!

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  8. I love this and how you described your heart and journey which is very similar to my own. God is in the detours, the familiar paths and the rods that have no end in sight. He never leaves our sides even though we many times leave His.

    Your summer will be amazing as you step out in obedience to what God is calling you to in this pursuit and provision of a job. I am hoping you will write about it so we can keep up to date with how faithful our God is in your life. I’ll be praying as you begin tomorrow and that God’s presence is felt in this new journey. Blessings and hugs!

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    1. Mary, what a blessing to read your words of encouragement and support. I hope I will have words to put around the experience – and am praying for opportunities to make a difference in the lives of the women with whom I will be working every day. Again, thanks for your kindness.

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  9. It’s always reassuring to remember that God knows where the road is going even when we don’t and it is unfamiliar or scary or not as we had intended. Praying for you as you step into your new job and all the change that comes with it, and as you try to balance different aspects of life. I love the idea that when we turn our anxiety towards God it transforms it into constant prayer.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Your musings about this season of your life made me smile. It reminded me of some earlier seasons of my own. It was more than 40 years ago when I was asked to meet with an editor of a newspaper in the next county to be the western Stark Co. correspondent, working as a stringer, getting paid by the column inch. It came when I was occasionally submitting something to our church newsletter and the offer quite surprised me. My children were young, but this was a job I could do from home and even to be paid a pittance delighted my heart since it was writing! It nudged my passion out of the back of the closet and I did it for three years and would have continued except for an opportunity to lead a county-wide women’s ministry group. From there, each new direction came with an invitation versus a job I sought. Little by little the writing I did became technical and academic. More than once I was dissuaded from believing I had any skill or gifting in that area and the passion got pushed back into the closet even further except for the journaling I began doing 20 years ago. From time to time something the Lord had nudged me to write fit with a client I was meeting with in my counseling office and I shared it and sensed perhaps the Lord did have a purpose for it. Then after deaths of parents, marrying off children, and becoming a grandmother six times over, the Lord opened this door and pulled the dusty package from the back of the closet after retiring about a year and a half ago.

    Trust Him with the process and how He leads. We don’t talk about ages, but I know you are younger than I. As I move in this new season for me, I see His wisdom in the delay for so many reasons and I find greater contentment in the now versus wondering “what if” or allowing ambition to run amok.

    I can’t wait to see what He does in your life!!

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    1. I am feeling like the most fortunate and blessed person in all the insightful comments I’ve received from people like you, Pam, who have read this post and then offered their stories to me as encouragement and as wisdom — which I will certainly tuck away, re-read, and thank God for. Thankful for you, Pam.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. “Wait for it.”

    In combat, this can be the hardest injunction, but it’s the one that can keep you alive. One simply HAS to allow a situation to develop to be able to take action that is both decisive AND effective.

    Great post. As always!

    (And I an your neighbour at Inspire Me Monday).

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  12. Dear Michelle. I have no fear that the Lord would direct the course of your life. And yes the detours! The unknowns that sometimes quake our hearts with fear. I know and I at this point now….you have been a source of encouragement. So you know, that email you sent was what gave me courage to keep showing up on my blog even if it is once a week.
    You have touched lives friend and I have no doubt that God will hold you and lead you right where He has prepared for you.
    I hope with all my heart that you will keep your blog going even if it is your devotionals or reviews
    Many Blessings to you sweet friend

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your words are so encouraging, Ifeoma. And I’m glad that you are still showing up with your writing. We will be obedient to the call of God on our lives to write — and let Him handle the outcome!

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  13. Michele, your message so parallels the past 2 1/2 years for me. After devoting my time to raising my children, I never dreamed what God had planned for me. He always has other plans for us, and on this side of it, I can testify that He not only honored my heartfelt desire to be a mother, but planted me in a place where every single skill developed through the years is used. Prayers for you as you wait with eager expectation, because God NEVER disappoints! He is crazy good:) And Ruth…my favorite O.T. book!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. “…slip into continuous praying.” I love that, Michele! It’s true when we turn to God with our anxiety we do seem to pray continually. He gives us peace even when the answers aren’t clear yet. We know we can trust him and wait. Blessings to you, sweet Michele!

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  15. What a great post! I can so relate. Waiting is not a fun game but one that carries many lessons of great value in it. Keep strong and know that the best is yet to come…I haven’t seen it fail yet!!

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    1. What an encourager you are, Susan. Yes, I do have a summer job. I’m working as a bank teller . . . this week I feel as if I’m drowning in information and procedures. This 50+ year old brain is reeling from the shock!

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  16. Michele, thank you so much for sharing your life here at The Loft community. This type of community is what I’m looking for where we can be real, share day-to-day struggles, and uplift each other.

    So, you’ve come to another bend in the road of life. My journey, also, seems to always have twists and turns and 90 degree angles where you’d never would believe what you will be looking at once you round that bend. We are twins, you and I. Oh, not identical, but sisters of the same Father who is lovingly directing and guiding our footsteps. The one thing we know: He is on that journey with us because He has promised to never leave or forsake us.

    You are such a gifted writer, Michele. I’m anxious to read of your adventures, maybe partially because I, too, twice worked in a bank, and I, too, had to leave home and go back to work before “I” was ready!

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  17. So much good stuff here, Michele! I can hear God whispering to your spirit (and mine!) in these words you’ve shared. I’m a few days behind, but I’m so glad I took the time to come back and read this post 🙂

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  18. I’m thankful the Lord knows every bend and bump in the road. I pray you find your dream job quickly, Michele. Thanks for linking up with Thankful Thursdays.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Michele,
    I am praying for this huge life transition! And friend, I fully believe you have a best seller in that head of yours!

    Thank you for this eloquent reminder of the hope that lies in the unknown and uncertain. I’m always honored to have you sharing alongside me at Moments of Hope!!!
    Blessings,
    Lori

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  20. so often I want to rush what God wants to deepen. the deep groove of the soul doesn’t happen fast,period. thank you for your encouraging words. have a blessed day!

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  21. Michele, I’m so glad that I earmarked this post to come back and read today. Our church just finished a series on Ruth titled “Nothing Wasted,” and your word here reminded me of the lessons I learned. Today, I pray for you during this season of gleaning. May your harvest come soon. Hugs,
    Lyli

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