Based on the response to yesterday’s post I would venture a guess that many of you are in circumstances right now that are just a bit overwhelming. I’d like to suggest to you the essence of this verse, Philippians 4:8 “Think about the things that are good and worthy of praise. Think about the things that are true and honorable and right and pure and beautiful and respected.” And along the same line of thought, in Proverbs it says, “Be careful what you think because your thoughts run your life.”
Whenever you’re going through one of those situations or circumstances where you feel stuck and you hate it and you wish you didn’t have to be there but you can’t get out, think of it as God sending you to the gym. He’s working your muscles of character to build you up into the person you really ought to be.
What I’m learning is whenever I’m in one of those situations where I’m stuck and I hate it and I wish I weren’t there but I am there and don’t know when I’m getting out, is to mentally drawing a circle around my life and look to God and say, “I’m going to be the best me I can possibly be in this circle of circumstance that I’m stuck in.” Did I mention that I am “learning” to do that? My default mode is to think, “I would be a joyful person if I were over in that circumstance. If you give me that thing, then I’ll be a good Christian. I’ll be a good boy.” God’s going, “No. I have you in this circumstance on purpose to grow your character.” Learn to draw a circle around yourself, fully embrace the circumstance you’re in and decide, “I’m going to be the best I can be today in this difficult situation.”
John Blanchard stood up from the bench, straightened his army uniform and studied the people making their way through Grand Central station. He looked for the girl whose heart he knew but whose face he did not, the girl with the rose. His interest in her had begun thirteen months before in the Florida library. Taking a book off the shelf, he found himself intrigued not with the words of the book but with the notes penciled in the margins. The soft handwriting reflected a thoughtful soul and insightful mind. In the front of the book, he discovered the previous owner’s name Miss Hollis Maynell. With time and effort he located her address. She lived in New York City. He wrote her a letter introducing himself and inviting her to correspond and the next day he was shipped overseas for service in World War II.
During the next year and one-month, they came to know each other through the mail. Each letter was a seed falling on a fertile heart. A romance was budding. John Blanchard requested a photograph but she refused. She felt that if you really cared it wouldn’t matter what she looked like.
When the day finally came for him to return from Europe, they scheduled their first meeting – 7:00 p.m. sharp at the Grand Central Station in New York City. “You’ll recognize me,” she wrote. “By the red rose I’ll be wearing on my lapel.” So at seven sharp he was at the station looking for the girl whose heart he loved but whose face he’d never seen. I’ll let Mr. Blanchard tell you what happened, “A young woman was coming toward me, her figure long and slim. Her blond hair laid back in curls from her delicate ears. Her eyes were blue as flowers, her lips and chin had a gentle firmness and in her pale gray suit she was like springtime come alive. I started toward her, entirely forgetting to notice that she was not wearing a rose. As I moved, a small provocative grin curled her lips, `Going my way, sailor?’ she murmured.
Almost uncontrollably I made one step closer to her and then I saw Hollis Maynell. She was standing almost directly behind the girl. A woman well past forty, she had graying hair tucked under a worn hat. She was more than plump, her thick ankles thrust into low healed shoes. The girl in the gray suit was walking quickly away. I felt as though I was split in two, so strong was my desire to follow her and yet was my longing for the woman whose spirit had true companion in me and had filled my own. And there she stood. Her pale plump face was gentle and sensible. Her gray eyes had a warm and kindly twinkle. I did not hesitate. My fingers gripped the small worn blue leather copy of the book that was to identify me to her. This would not be love but it would be something precious, something perhaps even better than love, a friendship for which I had been and must forever be grateful. I squared my shoulders; I saluted, I held out the book to the woman even though while I spoke I felt choked by the bitterness of my disappointment.
“I’m Lt. John Blanchard. You must be Miss Maynell. I’m so glad to meet you. May I take you out to dinner?” The woman face broadened into a tolerant smile, “I don’t know what this is about, son,” she answered. “But the young lady in the gray suit who just went by she begged me to wear this rose on my coat. And she said that if you asked me to dinner that I should tell you that she’s waiting for you in the big restaurant across the street. She said it was a kind of test.”
I share this story because I think the circumstances we get stuck in from time to time just very well could be tests. And how we respond to them will make all the difference of whether or not we’ll move on to God’s next level of blessing (Matt. 25:21).
Picture courtesy of Nardell on Flickr