but God

Posted: May 18, 2013 in Uncategorized

When I moved out of a house I had been renting from my parents, my mom came through to see what would need to be done to the house before selling it.  Going from room to room, she cataloged needs, eventually turning to me, curious.  “If you had told us these things needed done, we would have taken care of them.  Why didn’t you ask?”  I remember that both the list of things needing done and the question surprised me. 

It hadn’t occurred to me that those things needed done, and even if it had, I don’t think it would have occurred to me to ask.  This is who I have been, for much of life:  a person who makes do, mostly joyfully, with what I am given.  I’m grateful for it, because I see how hard, how grating, how irritating, how frustrating life seems to be for people who are always seeing what they don’t have and struggling, rather than rejoicing in what they do have.  I can’t take credit for being this way, because it’s not so much an “on purpose” thing – it just happens that way.  I’m just wired that way.  I believe the term is that I am laid back

Gary is even more laid back than I am.  Umm.  BY A LOT.  He is remarkably gifted to live joyfully with life as it is.  Example:  when the hot water goes out in his building, sometimes for days, I never hear about it from him.  He just keeps on being happy, good-natured Gary and doesn’t complain.  I only know about it if others speak up to complain.  There are hundreds of examples I could give of the way Gary embraces life as it is, but smiling through lack of hot showers is such a powerful one that we’ll just leave it at that, eh?

In the first days after Gary and I got engaged, people who heard the announcement live and in person would often turn their gaze to my hand, asking to see the rock.  It surprised me each time.  Wasn’t it a foregone conclusion?  I am marrying a missionary.  He hasn’t lived in what I call “paycheck world” for many years.  Of course we wouldn’t be doing an engagement ring.  And that was fine with me.  Didn’t dampen my joy in the slightest.  I get to marry the man who is the answer to what seemed impossible prayers.  Why does jewelry matter? Though some seemed a little surprised at this, for me it was just a matter of embracing life as it is – so much so that it didn’t require the slightest effort at all.  

So.  There’s the setup.  Now:  enter Union Station, a little before 10 PM, downtown Chicago.  I have come on the train for a weekend visit.  Often Gary comes on the subway or a bus to meet me at the station.  Tonight he is in a hurry, as he’s actually on shift to work.  A friend is subbing for him for the first hour of his shift, so that he can meet me.  A couple who are dear friends are driving him to get me, so that he can make it back to work. 

My train comes in ahead of schedule.  No problem.  When Gary and company arrive, I am riding the escalator UP to the street, texting him, and notice that the three of them are riding the escalator DOWN to find me.  I call out, and Gary turns to hustle up the down escalator, meeting me at the top, while our friends ride on down.  Always fun to start a visit with laughter, eh?

We are standing at the top of the escalators, just inside the doors to the street, and there are hugs and little kisses, but then all of a sudden everything shifts.  Gary’s usual glowing smile has expanded into something so full of joy and anticipation that it seems to be shifting time and space around us.  Everything is going by us very fast, but the space between us is moving in slow motion.  He is fumbling with something, some kind of box, and then he is grabbing my hand, and there are these SPARKLES everywhere, and I can almost-but-not-quite process what is happening.  And then here are our friends – she is laughing for joy, he is smiling, and I’m still trying to understand.  There is an engagement ring on my hand!  WHAT?!  This was for sure not happening (ahh assumptions)…I had been so confident and patient, explaining it to others.  But here it was, really real, and though I would have been perfectly happy and filled with joy without a rock on my hand and never would have felt like I was missing a thing, I’m not gonna lie – there is a major WOW factor here. 

Eventually, I caught in a passing comment that this was a but God thing.  That of course this was not a predetermined, for sure thing…but God.  I don’t know the particulars of the journey of this ring, but I caught that it’s a God story, that He made it possible, where it was not at all possible, and that’s all the story I need.  It just increases the WOW factor and all I can do is smile as it sparkles at me. 

Some friends of mine like to say sometimes about God that He is, “Just showing off.”  This comes up when something so unexpected, so wonderful, so impossible just falls into place and you can practically HEAR Him laughing for joy.  Just showing off.  It was impossible…but God. 

May we never miss the opportunity to catch Him in the act of showing off.  May we never miss our but God moments. 

  1. Stacy says:

    With pure tears of joy streaming down my face for you all I can think is …..I CANT WAIT TO SEE THIS RING!!!! I’m beyond happy for you Karen! I love you so very much!!

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