Are you in the wilderness?
Are you in a season of wondering if God cares about you or even sees you? Does it seem like He led you into a wilderness and forgot where he left you?
I feel like that a lot whenever I launch a new series of talks, a service, or book. I have a “moment” or two when it feels like I might have misread the signals God sent. That I am all alone and forgotten. That I will die out here in the wilderness.
Then God shows up in some extravagant way to reassure me that I am not forgotten at all. That’s what happened when Almida said she had a present for me.
I need to tell you Almida is an interesting woman. Her wisdom, life experiences and prayers have been my life line for decades. Russian by birth, she escaped the Nazis by walking across Europe only to live in a refuge camp for months before getting a sponsor in the US. She made a living as a tailor until she married an entrepreneur who made a boatload of money as a building developer. Her husband, Willy, died at 41 in a plane crash leaving her devastated. Her grief was compounded when Willy’s business partner bankrupted the business, depleting her resources and retirement.
Almida is now 87, and resides in an assisted living facility. The pain in her hip is her constant companion, making an outing to any store a major ordeal. She’s frugal by necessity and was never a big believer in “good behavior” gifts. It wasn’t my birthday and Christmas was long gone, so I couldn’t imagine what gift she might have for me.
A piece of advice?
A photo of us?
God’s gifts may not look like you expect.
“What do you mean, you have a present for me, Almida?” I asked.
“I’m going to give you my mink coat,” she answered in her heavy accent, with a tone that suggested there would be no arguing. “Willy bought it for me but I have no place to wear it. With all your travels, you should have it now.”
I did some quick math and calculated that this coat must be 50 years old. Oh dear, I thought, what am I going to do with an ancient mink coat? I pictured images of movie stars and glamour girls from the 40’s. I pictured me showing up to speak at an event in a mink coat! What is the message that sends to people? Can I even wear fur? Is that a thing?
“Almida, I’m a foot taller than you and outweigh you by … a lot! I doubt your coat will fit me.”
“Oh, sure it will.” There was that tone again.
After we hung up the phone, I googled pictures of full-length mink coats from 50 years ago. Oh, dear. This coat might be wildly out of style. It might be missing little tufts of fur in spots. What in the world was I going to do with a mink coat?
Still, it was a magnanimous gesture and I decided that I would love that coat even if I couldn’t get into it, even if it was out of style, even if it has signs of wear. Better on me than in a landfill somewhere.
A couple months later, my speaking schedule landed us within an hour of Almida’s apartment.
She welcomed us in. Her face was full of what was either mischief or delight. After a bit of chit chat, she went to the cloak closet and pulled out a what looked like an oriental bathrobe. Fur peeked out of the collar and I held my breath.
“I don’t know if you will like it, but I want you to have it,” said Almida as she unwrapped it.
As the protective cloth covering was unpeeled, an immaculate dark brown mink coat with a black fox trim appeared. It looked brand new and was such a classic style no one would ever guess it’s age.
I slipped into it and twirled in front of the mirror.
It was gorgeous! I was gorgeous! It fit like it was meant for me.
Why am I telling you this story?
Because at a moment when I questioned God’s providence and leading, he gifted me a with a mink coat. An extravagant, elegant mink coat.
It was if God said, “I see you and I’ve got you covered, Robyn. In every way, I’m watching over you and I have you covered.”
Not what I expected. Not what I would have ever thought to ask for.
This time it was a mink coat. Other times it’s been an encouraging card in the mail or a good report from the doctor.
We adjust to life’s exciting twists and unpleasant turns by trusting God with unwavering faith. Instead of focusing on what you don’t have, look at what God has given or gifted you that demonstrates his love to you.
How has God shown you he is with you and concerned about your life and all the details you fret about? Leave me a comment telling me how God has provided or protected you in a way you didn’t expect. I can’t wait to read them.
Prayer: Father in Heaven, thank you for the perfect reassurance and for your perfect timing. I love you and trust you to fill in all the gaps and reassure me of your presence. In Jesus Name, Amen.