Lay Me Down
By Wendy Wippel
Last August, I shared personally about the difficulty of being a believer seemingly stuck in a situation I couldn’t change, and that God seemed to have no intention of changing either, no matter how much weeping, wailing, and fervent prayer ensued. (See “God from the Backside”) I’m here to report that God is faithful. And, as I guess we should have anticipated, in surprising ways.
Those of you who read that column may remember that there was a whole lot of quaking going on in the Memphis area as the stress associated with both mine and my husband’s jobs just kept ratcheting up and up and up. This after 32 years of being very happy and successful at the same job for my husband, and me taking a medical writing job at a very large medical equipment corporation after 15 years of freelancing very happily at home. New overseas owners of my husband’s company changed everything for him, and the fact that the company that hired me under the job title Medical Writer actually wanted a technical specialist changed everything for me.
(I actually received a notice that in order to retain my job, I was expected to become the technical expert in the department. Confession: I can barely operate my toaster. I wish I could insert here a soundbite of my husband, laughing hysterically at the idea that I had any hope of achieving my technical mastery of anything.)
Except it wasn’t really funny, because I had long since given up all my freelance clients and I took the job in the first place because we were about to have both daughters in college. So the whole situation created a whole lot of stress.
And then it got worse. January 5, 2016. I walked out of a conversation with my delusional boss in which he informed me that I would not be occupying my position much longer to find my cell phone buzzing on my desk. It was my husband, and he had just been told that after 10 years as the general manager, he would not be occupying that position anymore either.
To be honest, we kind of just sat in stunned silence that evening. Our heads couldn’t quite wrap themselves around what had just happened. To both of us. On the same day.
But God wasn’t done.
Scripture tells us that, “All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth, to such as keep His covenant and His testimonies.” (Psalm 25:10) And when the dust cleared I had a new job, at the exact same salary, Jeff was offered a different position at his company (at the same salary), and I was actually given a severance package. So I actually came out ahead.
But truth told, our finances weren’t really what needed to be fixed. Jeff’s job as general manager of a manufacturing facility had been kind of an all-consuming job, and for ten years it was definitely Priority One, with lots of travel, lots of evening dinners with clients and colleagues, and hundreds of emails for him to answer in his free time.
And frankly, our relationship, over those ten years, had sort of withered away accordingly. No talk of divorce,mind you. We “loved” each other. Told each other so every day. Just very little actual interaction between us, aside from me letting him know what he had to show up at besides work.
The job had to increase, so our marriage had to decrease. That’s biblical, right?
No. But it’s funny how you can rationalize things in the muddle that makes up so much of life.
So God intervened on our behalf.
Jeff’s job now is virtually stress-free, and though we both have to travel, we also both have the ability to work remotely part of the time, so we will be able to travel with each other when the need arises. And we have our lives back (meaning lives that we can actually share). We do the shopping together. (Previously unheard of.) We watch some TV together. (Very rare.)
And we actually talk. About more than what happened at work and when the kids might come home. About how we want to do without kids here. What we want to do before we’re too old to do it. About our hopes and dreams and fears.
And in just a little more than 6 weeks I can really say that we have reconnected. Dare I say it? Fallen back in love.
And this is an answer to a prayer much deeper-a prayer whose answer was much more delayed- than the very temporal job issues that prompted the original hysteria.
So-lest you label this column a self-indulgent memoir– here’s what God has shown me from His Word.
Specifically, Psalm 23. Which starts off like this: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.”
Here’s the thing, I never really picked up on the fact, till this Psalm went through my head a few weeks ago, that it says he MAKES me lie down in green pastures. Translation: A lot of times the very thing that God knows we need-what is going to be the answer to our deepest needs and longings– is to be found at the end of a path that we wouldn’t have chosen.
Not on our best day.
Jeff loved being the general manager. He wouldn’t have chosen to give the job up. I was completely convinced I could not match my salary elsewhere. And on Jan 5, we were sure our lives were over.
But God saw the whole picture. So He made us go down that path. He made us lie down in the pastures that only He knew would ultimately, be green.
Our requisite response to God’s actions when they seem to be the exact opposite of what we desire, what we need, is also described in Scripture: “Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, Like a weaned child with his mother; Like a weaned child is my soul within me” (Psalm 131:2)
A weaned child is looking for nothing but his mother’s presence for contentment. It is enough to be held in her arms. The psalmist goes on to say, 3″O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forever.”
Translation: When Jehovah Himself has your back you have nothing to fear. So trust Him.
As Psalm 23 winds up David gives us the end result of the process, the process of walking hand in hand with God through what definitely feels like the valley of the Shadow of death.
Here it is. Ultimately? “He restores my soul”
And as somebody who notched another year on my belt just this morning, I can testify that the longer you live as a child of God, the more you see His faithfulness. And the more you see His faithfulness, the more you can understand the surety of the promises God makes in the rest of Psalm 23:
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil;
For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell ]in the house of the Lord.”
Not that we’re not all sometimes going to lose sight of God’s faithfulness. To doubt His promises. To think that this time He’s really not listening! We’re human. And Even Jesus had that moment. (Isaiah 49:4)
I think we all just need to memorize a little Psalm 27:13-14:
I would have lost heart, unless I had believed That I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.14 Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!
Today? I am here to testify.