Updated on May 18, 2014
Updated on May 18, 2014
Last night, we had my two best friends over for dinner. My dear friend Sharon LOVES Chicken Piccata. In fact, she would say she is a “Chicken Piccata Connoisseur.” No. Seriously, she is! So, this was a fabulous opportunity to feed their tummies and feed my soul. Whether it rivaled the best she had ever tasted or not, this was more a reason to be together and share some “soul food” than anything else.
I dug the recipe out of the stacks I have collected over the years. Yes, paper, black and white printed recipes. I printed it in January of 2010. (Long before Pinterest and oh do I thank God for that ingenious idea!) I recalled the first (and last) time I made this Chicken Piccata for my same two best friends. It was January, 2010 and they were coming to my house for a very belated Christmas celebration. We had decided we were going to take a trip to the Grand Canyon together and my friend Caran had brought us each a jar so that we could collect our pennies in advance of the trip. I recalled the Facebook status I posted that day about having Chicken Piccata and Chardonnay with my friends, and my Facebook friend Troy saying, “Mmmm, that sounds good!”
This morning, as I waited for my first, heavenly cup of coffee to brew, I was looking at the magnets on my kitchen refrigerator. Each magnet has a memory. Some are from my adventures with my two best friends (“The YaYa’s”). There was that Grand Canyon trip we took, San Francisco, two trips to Napa, a trip to Monterey and Carmel, those trips to Vegas (and may others that we have memories of, but no magnets to show for it). There are magnets from our family cruise to Mexico on “Da Mariner ohf da Seas” (That’s Mariner of the Seas in Norwegian captain speak). There is the magnet from Niagara Falls where my husband and I went on our honeymoon. (Cliche’ yes! But it is such a beautiful and amazing sight!) Then there are the two magnets from our trip to Pennsylvania and New York this past March/April where we attended my sweet niece Jessica’s wedding and spent a few days in the City that Never Sleeps.
I stood looking at those magnets for a long time and wondered what I should write about today. I thought about Samuel, who set up a stone to remember where and when God delivered Israel from the Philistines. He called the stone Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” There you have it. The first ever-recorded refrigerator magnet! (See 1 Samuel 7)
It’s no surprise that in church today, the message involved markers and memories and stories of hard times and God times (yes, I said “God” not “good” intentionally). As we sang “Great is Thy Faithfulness” and “How Great Thou Art” together, my heart swelled with the remembrance of all the “Ebenezers” in my life. And then, the pastor said this:
Think of three highs in your life and two lows.
It didn’t take me long to do that. My three highs:
The adoption of my son. The adoption of my daughter. My marriage to my husband Troy.
The two lows quickly followed:
My infertility and hysterectomy. My painful divorce.
In that moment, I realized that the two lows had led to the three highs. I would know none of the highs if I hadn’t experienced the lows. In hindsight, I can see how God used each of the difficult times in my life to show me his grace, love and mercy. I have the benefit now of looking back and seeing my Ebenezer firmly planted saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped me.”
Our pastor put it this way:
God gives his grace to sustain you, people to support you and shapes your character in the process.
And oh, how that has been the case for me. I can look back and see God’s fingerprints all over my days, even (or especially) in the darkest ones.
So why is it that every time difficulties invade my life, I doubt that God will show up? I doubt, because I forget. I get lost in the fog and can’t find my way and I panic, thinking somehow I have to take control of things and turn them around. Only most things are not mine to control. I can’t control my kids’ choices. I can’t control wild fires that threaten to destroy lives and homes where my co-workers live. I can’t control what will happen in the future. But there is this:
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
Did you read that? ALL things. Not some things. Not many things. All things. He didn’t say all things would be good. He said he would work all things for the good of those who love him. And that, is why my two lows led to my three highs. Not that God made those difficult things happen, but that he recycled the difficult things into remade, restored, amazing, beautiful and wonderful things. Yes! And there is the promise. If we let him, he will work all things for our good.
Here’s a song we heard in church today that you may find encouraging. I know I did. Never Let Go – The David Crowder Band – YouTube. It reminded me that back in those dark days, he never let go of me. And today and tomorrow and next week and next year, he will continue to hold on to me, and promises to recycle the good, the bad and the ugly, into something for my good.
Oh, that Facebook friend that commented on my Chicken Piccata and Chardonnay? He’s now my husband. Yeah… that’s God’s amazing restoration alright.