A few months back, Dooley Funeral Home in Antwerp started to destroy the nice stairway in front of their building, a stairway that they had just had refinished a few years back. Heck, I would say that it was the nicest stairway in Antwerp, yet Shawn Dooley had the audacity to destroy it.
I was asked by people, “Do you know why they are destroying the stairs?” “Didn’t they just get them redone?” “Those were nice stairs, why would he do that?”
This situation with the stairs reminds me of the way we interact with God. We are often on the outside of knowing the big plan. Things are going on, yet we are often left confused. What is God doing? Why is He allowing me to go through this bad health, these bad finances, this troubling situation, these distraught relationships?
A few years back, I had melanoma. I had to go to a plastic surgeon in Toledo to have it removed from my face. There is this period of extreme stress between having it removed and having further tests done to see if it has spread through my body. For melanoma, once it has moved beyond the skin and entered the system, is as deadly as the most deadliest forms of cancer. So I was worried. Something I shouldn’t have been. And I talked a lot with God. Something I should do much more, even during normal, sunshiny situations.
After all the testing was done, I was given the all clear. Thankfully, I have not had a recurrence of the melanoma. The thing that shocked me the most through the whole situation is that with my melanoma also came the greatest increase in my faith. Through the whole experience, my faith grew tremendously. Actually, I do not think I would be a pastor here in Antwerp if it was not for my melanoma. My melanoma was a blessing, for it was used by God to shape me who I am today. My melanoma changed me.
Do you let your hardships change you for the better? Our times of confusion—our valleys—are much more than just moments of disease. We struggle through broken relationships. We face tough finances. We despair at the loss of loved ones. Life is full of one hardship after another.
Here’s the thing though. With the stairs being destroyed, Shawn knew what he was doing. He had a plan for his nice, new steps that would have access on both sides to accommodate the people who would park in his new parking lot. The destruction of the nice stairway made since to him the whole time because he knew the end goal. Shawn had the whole picture. To many of the people watching, it made no sense. But then in the end, they could also look at the Dooley Funeral Home and see that what was confusing before makes perfect sense now.
G.K. Chesterton wrote, “One sees great things from the valley; only small things from the peak.”
That is what we have to remember. God is using our valleys to show us something that we would not be able to see without them. Are we willing to see? If we are not, then all that pain and suffering is for naught. But if we go in with our eyes, ears, and heart open, we will come out on the other side of every situation more of who God wants us to be.
Sadly, sometimes our valleys lead to death, but we must remember that for those in Jesus, death is only temporary. It is just a passing, fleeting moment. It is the time when our physical shell is broken and the spiritual seed inside can finally grow into who we are destined to be.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV).
We need to reach a point of trust. We need to be willing to be vulnerable with God. His thoughts are not our thoughts. His ways our not our ways. But they should be. The more we align ourselves to His way of thinking and His way of living, the more we will live the fulfilled life we were created for. We need to rest assured that no matter what happens, He has our back. What is going on now, even though we have no idea why how it will make things better, will be used to bring Him glory.