Friday, August 19, 2005

Weekly Word for August 19 - 26, 2005

Weekly Word - August 19, 2005

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, . . . For God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
(1 Samuel 16: 7)

“How can you look at something so ugly - and see that something so good can come out of it?” Mike asked. We were standing in front of the bureau that Ted and I had just brought for our little granddaughter Emma. It was a bureau that Ted had owned for many years. And even then, it was old when he bought it. It had been such an ugly bureau, green with tarnished brass knobs and siding. When we first offered to refinish it, we weren’t really sure how it would come out. Now, standing before this beautiful mahogany bureau, with pink roses on the knobs, I loved how it looked! It had been so much work - sanding every inch - - - taking every part of the bureau apart - - - rebuilding it and putting a new finish on it - - - making it into this beautiful piece of furniture before us. When Mike asked the question, I shrugged, shaking my head. As we stood there, memories came flooding back - - - How could we see - - - something so good . . .

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now know in part, but then I shall know fully . . .
(1 Corinthians 13: 12)

He was just 21 years old, when he first saw it. His girlfriend had just broken up with him, and broken hearted - he had decided to go back home. He had followed her to Connecticut, leaving college and his family to be with her. So when she left him, he was sure he couldn’t go on living here. That is when his friends convinced him to stay. They offered him a place to live, and convinced him to stay working in his job. He wasn’t sure, but said yes anyways. For the next few months, he went to work, lived in their house, and grieved . . .

Then one day, they told him it was time to get out on his own. They helped him find an apartment - but he didn’t have any furniture. That‘s when a friend offered him a bedroom set for $50. It had a bed, long dresser and mirror, and that bureau. It was old, and green, and he took it. For the first time in Ted’s life, he had his own place, where he could do what he wanted. He wasn’t sure what lay ahead - - - but that bureau was now part of his life . . .

Love . . . bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things . . .
(1 Corinthians 13: 7)

She had come back into his life, and he knew he would do anything to keep her from leaving again. He loved her. So over the next few years they dated, and then became engaged. As the date for the wedding drew closer, she asked him to look for another apartment. He said he would, but knew he didn’t want to. As they went from apartment to apartment, he would find something wrong with each. Soon, she realized that he wasn’t going to move. So as the date grew closer, she decided to decorate what was going to be her new home. She wallpapered and she painted, trying to make the apartment she hated - into their new home.

It was their home for quite a few years, moving only once to the apartment down below them. And then they bought a house. As they stood in the middle of it, it was ugly! It was dusty and dirty, and full of old furniture from the woman who had lived there before. Standing there though, they saw something different - - - it was going to be a place for those who needed help. It was going to be a “sanctuary” - a place to welcome others . . .

“But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. For truly I say to you, that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it; and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”
(Mathew 13: 16 & 17)

We were at our Ladies’ bible study, when she told us about their new house. She told how the Lord had told them it was to be a “safe house” for those who needed a place to go. So when things got worse in my marriage - and I didn’t know what to do or where to go - I remembered what she had said. My husband had always told me he would rather kill me, than divorce me and have to pay money. That threat had stayed with me. And so I approached her. “I need a place to stay, a place where he wouldn’t even think to look” I told her. I was begging, hoping that she would understand. But she didn’t. She told me “no” - and not knowing what else to do - I begged even harder. I had a friend and pastor with me, and so she finally gave in and said “yes”.
The Lord opens the eyes of the blind; The Lord raises up those who are bowed down; The Lord loves the righteous;
Praise the Lord!
(Psalm 146: 8 & 10)

I can’t say I remember too much about the room, or what was in it, that very first day. It was the day I left my husband. As I picked up Jen, and we drove away, the tears filled my eyes. I didn’t want to leave him, but I also didn’t want to live like this. So as we drove, I told her all about the people we were going to be living with. I had directions, and soon we were pulling into the driveway. Inside, we found the two bedrooms that were to be ours for the next few months. As we brought our things inside, my thoughts and feelings ran together. I wasn’t sure I could take another breath, and still somehow, I did. We unpacked some of our things, and I tried to keep my attention on my daughter. That evening, we ate supper with our hosts, trying to keep the conversation light and easy. Soon though, it was time for bed. As I kissed my daughter, I held her tight and told her everything would be alright.

As I went into my new room, one of the couple’s cats came with me. He was a large, black and white cat. And he seemed to know that I needed some company. I had placed some blankets on top of the bureau standing next to my bed. It was here that he waited, watching me and purring the whole time. Sitting on the bed, my emotions let go. I poured out my heart to him, telling him my grief and sorrow. He had jumped down from that bureau, and was curled next to me on the bed. Exhaustion overcame me, and curled against him, I fell asleep.

The righteous cry - and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted,
And saves those who are crushed in spirit.
(Psalm 34: 17 & 18)

For the next few months, Jen and I made that house, and those two rooms, our home. LT (as the cat was called) became my constant companion. He would sit on top of that ugly bureau, purring and waiting for me. In the mornings, as I put on my makeup, he was always there to help. He loved rubbing his face against the brushes, and didn’t seem to mind that he was a boy wearing my makeup! That room became my sanctuary - and I loved every part of it. The big bed - that I shared with LT. The small makeup table and chair - where I sat doing my makeup or writing in my journal. And that big ugly bureau, where LT always waited for me, and where all my things were stored. When it came time to leave, I cried. I had never felt so safe, and wished that I could stay. But it was time to go, and face my future . . .

“Then your light will rise in darkness, and your gloom will become like midday. And the Lord will continually guide you, . . . And you will be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.”
(Isaiah 58: 10b & 11)

It was a few years later, when I saw that ugly bureau again. I was living in my new apartment, the one that Ted had built. He had just gone through his own divorce, and his heart was just beginning to heal. I was working full time in ministry, and the friendship between us was growing stronger. He had just fixed the washing machine, and had decided to bring over his old bureau. It would fit just perfectly in the laundry area, helping to hold all the extra towels and sheets that were everywhere. As we slid it into place, we looked at each other and laughed. That old bureau had been just about everywhere. And now it was helping out at the ministry.

It stayed there for a few more years, until the time came for Ted and I to head out on our own. We had been married for a couple of years when, this time it was Ted and I standing in the middle of a very old building. We were deciding to walk away from everything - all that we had invested in the ministry of another. Now, as we looked around at the old light hanging crookedly from the dining room ceiling, the hole in the ceiling of the kitchen, the single light bulbs in each bedroom, the old windows and painted walls - all of it seemed pretty bad. But as we stood there, we also saw a brand new start, a new home for just the two or us. When we moved in, we took only what belonged to us - and that ugly, old bureau came along too.

That bureau stayed in the basement of that old house for about a year. During that time, everything in the basement became covered in mold. As we stood looking at the mess, we knew that most had to be thrown away. But somehow, we were able to save that ugly, old bureau . . .

“For God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord - - - looks at the heart.”

“How can you look at something so ugly - and see that something so good can come out of it?” There had been some really tough, awful times in both of our lives. Looking back, we really hadn’t known how it all would turn out. Now, as we stood looking at the bureau, we remembered back through the years. It had been there when Ted had first stepped out on his own, after heartbreak and loss. It had been there again, when I too was starting out on my own. It had gone with us when we left everything, for our love and our own life. Now, as we stood here with our little granddaughter, it was the start of a brand new life - just for her!

“For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for calamity - to give you a future and a hope.”
(Jeremiah 29: 11)

“How can you look at something so ugly - and see that something so good can come out of it?” Most of us feel have felt, just this way! But we have a God who knows the truth! He knows who you are, and how to bring good things into your life. He has been waiting for you - waiting for you to ask Him to be part of your life. When you do - it will be the start of a brand new life - just for you . . .

“For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the Lord, “to give you a future and a hope.”

God bless in the coming week ahead!

In His Love,
Debbie & Ted Ayers


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