It was an unexpected surprise! But isn’t that how God’s orchestrations in our life typically happen? He takes huge JOY in the WOW factor! He delights in catching us off guard with that glorious grin upon our day as if to say, “You didn’t see this coming, but I did.”
Rip and I are just like you – we work our fingers to bone and as I watch Rip put his all into everything he does, (praying daily over every job and task; asking God to perform His excellence through him), I also watch him generously give and sacrifice and go the extra mile …
and then God.
God always has His way of letting us know, “I am. I am with you. I see you. I know you. I got you. No need to look any further. I am here providing for you – just trust, wait and watch.”
When you know that you know that you know God sees everything…hears everything…knows everything…owns everything, then you get a certain “rest” to your life that I do believe only a few find. But it’s a rest that allows every fiber of your spiritual, emotional and mental being to enter into a place of such serenity and calm. And it all translates into absolute trust in God. You also are sensitized to His soft whisper — a whisper that’s like a small tap on your shoulder from His finger that gently gets your attention to His presence … but with His attention, comes His storehouse of surprises that plum overflow your cup!
That is what He did for Rip and me through our friends, Ann and Mark Rowe. They have a condo at the beach and they “just so happen” to have it free and clear the week of mine and Rip’s anniversary. (There was the first small tap!) This trip is one they had been wanting us to take a while back, but the timing wasn’t quite in God’s calendar yet. But, this past week…it was!
You see …
What God orchestrates, He invites us to deliberate.
What does the verb “deliberate” mean? It means to carefully think or talk something through.
And THAT, my friend, was His plan in providing Rip and I with an anniversary getaway to His ocean. He orchestrated this trip and that meant, it was for a purpose that would invite us to carefully & prayerfully think & talk through certain things.
We spent our days walking the beach holding hands. Talking about things we love and have loved since childhood. We shared dreams and ideas with each other. We also enjoyed the freedom He was giving us to reflect and remember as we soaked in the sun. I watched Rip do something that I never get to see —
Rip face down warming and sunning while sleeping. To see that man enjoying some much needed rest, … well, it was a certain thing that blessed my pee-pickin’ heart!!
But it was the morning and night of our anniversary when God did something again that I didn’t expect.
A tradition of Rip’s is to give me 3 cards on my birthday, Valentines Day, and our anniversary. But there’s more…he doesn’t just give me 3 cards. Oh, no! That would be too easy…he writes inside each one of them very personal messages. Then, he numbers the cards envelopes, letting me know which one is to be read 1st, 2nd, and then 3rd. THEN, he hides them. And when I wake up and go about my morning, they always seem to “appear.” One may be in my coffee cup cupboard. One may be in my Bible. I may find one inside my laptop or beside my makeup mirror. I’ve even found one on my steering wheel waiting for me when I’ve left the house for work.
Well, this year’s anniversary was really interesting … I got up around 3:20am to get a glass of water, and when I leave our bedroom, I find him sitting at the bar writing in cards. He says, “Baby! What are you doing up?” I told him I needed water and he said, “Ok, but don’t look.” So, the whooooole time I’m walking through the kitchen I have my head bowed, hand over my eyes, getting water into a glass … without giving him even a glance.
But what meant the WORLD to me is … here is a man who obviously woke up in the middle of the night and wanted to write in those 3 cards he had picked out, and then hide them, so when I woke up I’d have my traditional “hunt” waiting for me. Unbelievable! And so romantic…and so selfless…and so kind and caring. Such a precious thing. Such a loving thing. Such a Rip thing!
I got up around 6:30 and …
I found one by the coffee pot – one tucked in my Bible – and the last one was in the bathroom leaning against the basket of face towels.
Rip and I have been at both places of the financial worlds. He’s had a home on the cover of Forbes magazine and I’ve had stock and an income bracket that placed me in what some would consider “upper class.” We’ve also counted change for groceries, cut coupons and wondered if the mortgage would be paid. We’ve been at both extremes and in the happy middle – having plenty and having want. We know what it means to be in need and what it means to have an abundance. But when I read what my man wrote in these cards, God anchored me in something that isn’t just a certain thing, but He anchored me in greater things.
Some of those greater things, I read on the cover of one of Rip’s cards.
Having each other. Slowing down to snuggle in our recliner at night. Watching Heartland (our new favorite TV show on Netflix), holding hands constantly … these are some of the greater things that God has for us and we see it all in the book of Song of Solomon. But that’s not all. Jesus talked about the greater things and they are more than feelings.
John 14:12 tells us –
“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
The greater things are our “deeds – works – actions – rooted & fruited through our faith.” The person who trusts in the Lord will not only do what He was seen doing during His earthly ministry, but Jesus said they will do even greater things. Because He was on His way to the Father, He was going to be giving us the same work to do that He’d been doing. We can count on it!
Self check: Am I? Can I say that John 14:12 is a verse that marks my relationship with the Father? Do I live abandoned to and anchored in the Greater Things of life?
But then came the anniversary dinner. We decided to not go out, but to just stay at the condo and Rip grill his “famous filets!”
While he grilled, I sat under the gazebo and just enjoyed the views…Rip and palm trees!
Then of course, we had to take a selfie because it’s our anniversary and I couldn’t let that evening pass without one!
Then, he sets it all out on the balcony table, with a nice cold glass of iced tea. And we enjoy the best anniversary dinner ever! He takes me by the hand and gives thanks – then we sit there and eat and talk and laugh! It was a simple moment full of significance!!
God was using the simplicity in all this to help turn both our hearts toward what He calls significant.
What does God call “significant?” It’s so much like what we read in David Platt’s book, “Radical.”
“Radical obedience to Christ is not easy… It’s not comfort, not health, not wealth, and not prosperity in this world. Radical obedience to Christ risks losing all these things. But in the end, such risk finds its reward in Christ. And he is more than enough for us.” – David Platt
When He is more than enough for us – we begin living the significant life.
We aren’t here to pursue and personalize the American Dream. We are here to pursue and have God personalize the dream He has had for us since the beginning. Life is not about the certain things we accumulate. The certain things we drive. The certain things in our homes. The certain things we achieve. Life is not about the certain things we try to get others to believe about us. The certain things we want or want to become. The certain things we portray or perform. Life is not about the certain things that we own or disown. Life is not about the certain things we give or take.
“But then I realize there is never going to be a day when I stand before God and He looks at me and says, ‘I wish you would have kept more for yourself.’ I’m confident that God will take care of me.” – David Platt
Life is never about certain things, but about the greater things!
And those greater things start with all confidence in Him. To experience the greater things means for us exactly what it meant for Jesus Christ – that we abandon ourselves unto the Father’s will. That is true Christianity.
“We are settling for a Christianity that revolves around catering to ourselves when the central message of Christianity is actually about abandoning ourselves.” – David Platt
As we took the photo above, we were walking up the beach talking about so many things. But one thing we both want more and more is … to know God. And to live the life of “greater things” that we have in Christ.
When Rip and I tried to take a selfie, with only him trying to get the photo, we missed the mark a little. He was shuved to one side of the photo.
BUT when we took it together – me holding the phone and Rip pressing the camera – then we got a much better picture.
Can you believe that in that one moment we got a “greater thing” lesson from it? And it’s this … In our marriage, we work best when we work together. We do best when we do together. We serve best when we serve together. Our deeds, works and actions are best … together. It’s simply one of His “greater things” of living for our marriage. He used a beach trip to anchor us in knowing we are a chord of three – Rip, me, and Him – every. single. day. That is true of every marriage. And that is how the Lord calls, plans, purposes, motivates, orchestrates, and deliberates John 14:12 in and through us – “… they will do even greater things…” (emphasis on the they!) Once married, God sees you as one flesh – and how God calls Rip and how God calls me to living in “the greater things” will never be in conflict, but will be in harmony with each other.
Being in relationships with people who live with a spiritual thirst for “the greater things” of God is … well, it’s so unlike any other certain things we try to go to when we’re thirsty. Things like people’s approval or acceptance. The accumulation of stuff or trying to get something for nothing. (That will always leave you quenching for more!)
As Rip wrote in one of this cards …
“…but God always gives and blesses us with Greater Things. We would not be in this condo today with out Him! God is Amazing!”
What are the greater things? These greater things are of such worth! So valuable to Him, to His kingdom, that no matter what it takes … He wants us to know and to live in His Greater Things! Even if it means hauling us off to His beach and positioning us on a condo balcony to discover all about them while reading His Word!
His greater things are what He calls:
His Word, His Way, His Worship
To sum it all up as to what His “Greater Things” really are, all we need to say is they are …
Whatever is His, is far greater than anything that isn’t.
The next several blogs, I’ll be sharing with you more of what I’ve learned about these greater things that Jesus spoke of in John 14:12 because if Jesus said they are the will of God … then it’s my prayer they will be the ways of us all!
With Love From the balcony, (smile)