A couple of days ago I celebrated one of those “milestone” birthdays. I turned 60. WOW! In anticipation of what is waiting for me in this new decade of my life, I looked back at the last third of the past decade, which I spent the better part of unemployed, and my wish is that I hope I can soon close that chapter of my life with whatever it is I’ve been waiting for to arrive for over three years now. I was hoping to do it before I turned 60. Actually, I was hoping to do it before I turned 58, and then 59 . . . . However, it was not that wish that I wished for when I blew out my birthday candles. No, my wish is for something else . . . .
My birthday cake was actually a very small cinnamon coffee cake that I ate for breakfast (well, not all of it but a fair amount–hey, it was my birthday!!!). Of course, I put candles on it, lit them, made a wish, and then blew them out. As I made the wish and blew them out, the verse that came to mind was Psalm 37:4—“Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Now at 60, you can be sure that there have been other birthdays in my past where I’ve had the same wish, but as I’ve gotten older and perhaps a bit more cynical (no . . . really?) I can’t remember when the last birthday was that I had this particular wish in mind. I stopped looking for a prince a long time ago.
How does that saying go . . . the one that says you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince? Well, I stopped kissing frogs many years ago. It got old. And at this stage of the game, even if Prince Charming came along, I doubt that either of us would be particularly charming after what life has thrown across our individual paths over the years. Besides, charming is for fairy tales.
Psalm 37:4 starts out with “Delight yourself in the LORD . . . ”. The definition for “delight” is “a high degree of pleasure or enjoyment; joy; rapture.” That means to delight ourselves in the LORD for who He is and not just for what we want or need. So often over the years I have come to Him with a laundry list of things I needed or for the needs of others or for a variety of other reasons, and there is nothing wrong with that because He has a told us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Phil.4:6). But when I entered this very long time of unemployment, my relationship with God deepened on a level I never expected nor even realized existed. Up to that point, life and the cares of this world as well as the many challenges that come our way on a daily basis consumed so much of my time and my thoughts.
My previous blog posts go into a small part of some of the things I’ve learned from Him and about Him while waiting on Him to move me out of this trial of mine, but more than anything what I have learned over these past three plus years is what it means to really “delight” myself in the Lord . . . and not just on Sunday morning singing the worship songs during the church service.
Long term unemployment is not a “gift” I ever wanted–yet it’s been the greatest “gift” I’ve ever received (aside from salvation). I have learned over this long period of time (and it took every single minute, hour, day, week, month and year to accomplish it) to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matt. 22:37), though I do it in an imperfectly human way. He has become the very first thing I think of when I wake up in the morning to start a new day, and my first words are always to Him in prayer before I even stumble out of bed (without a million other cares vying for attention in our frenetic society). He has become my desire.
And because He has become my desire, He knows the “desires” of my heart . . . after all, He is the one who placed them there for a purpose that is specifically His, not mine. He takes into account how He has made us . . . all of us and not just me. We have been designed with a Divine purpose in mind, but we must seek Him first and foremost in order to get to that place of purpose–His purpose–for our lives. Remember that “time” is not a factor for God; it is only a factor to our way of thinking and living. Some of His greatest servants were “old” by the time He started using them for the purpose He designed them for (the list is very long–just open your Bible, and you can start with Abraham and Sarah or Moses).
While my desire lay dormant for a lot of years because of all the frogs I’ve kissed (or not kissed, as was also the case) and because I was never really sure if it was God’s desire for me, God has seen fit to awakened that desire (and to be honest, to my dismay at times) and I can’t shake it. I have tried to kill it a number of times over these past three plus years by telling God to take it from me–that I didn’t want it, not at this stage in my life. What for? What could be the purpose? But mostly, it’s been because I’ve been afraid because I’ve witnessed more bad marriages and been asked out by more married men (most of whom feigned singleness) or divorced men looking for sex but not an actual relationship that you could say I’ve developed significant trust issues when it comes to men and marriage. And I’m not sure love exists, at least the kind of love that leads to marriage.
The other day I was at a dollar store and they just recently started selling DVDs of movies for $3.00. That’s a real bargain, even for an unemployed person (me) who has had no income whatsoever for the past year. It’s hard to find good movies nowadays but I ran across a movie, “Two Weeks Notice,” starring Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant (2002) and bought it hoping it would be funny and light-hearted. I’ve probably watched it a half dozen times already if that tells you anything. It is truly a great little romantic comedy about a lawyer (Sandra Bullock) who doesn’t care about money and fights for humanitarian causes and a billionaire (Hugh Grant) who is shallow and loves money and women. And, that’s all I’m going to tell you in case you decide to watch it.
There are some great songs in this movie but one near the end is my absolute favorite. It’s titled “Love is a Beautiful Thing” and sung by Al Green. Of course, I just had to go looking for it on YouTube and I’ve included it at the end of this post. It stirred feelings in me (as did the movie) that, well, makes me a bit nervous to say the least.
So, with all of that nervousness in tow (as well as anticipation), I made a wish (and said a prayer) on my birthday, my 60th birthday, that His desire for me would be fulfilled according to His plans, and not mine. I don’t have any plans of my own after three plus years of being unemployed and after applying for almost 500 jobs during this time. Being 60 and unemployed and almost broke in this economy isn’t leaving a lot of options from a human perspective.
And, I’ll be sure to let you know what happens . . . .
YouTube Video: “Love Is A Beautiful Thing” sung by Al Green on the 2-Disc CD “Love: The Essential Al Green” (it’s not on the album pictured in the video)
Photo credit here
Cake photos taken by me