It was to be a time of celebration when a dear friend invited me to share a gift she received of a two-night stay at a local vineyard and winery. The time away was scheduled weeks ago to celebrate something we had worked on together. But the story was upended several days before we were to leave when we learned the project we expected to celebrate was stalled and perhaps given a deathblow.
What would the time look like now?
Despite the plans we had made, the shift did not catch the Lord off-guard. What did He have in mind? Could He restore peace to our hearts and show us the next step? We both knew He could, but how? Our hearts were crushed from the disappointing news we received.
We had not had time to process the news prior to our arrival so after catching up with each other’s lives over dinner, we sat down to see how the Lord was moving in each of our hearts. We discovered we both were certain we needed to wait on the Lord to move. This was not a time to try to fix anything we had done. It was a time to lay it down before the Lord since it was clear only He could show the way forward.
The following morning as I sat with my Bible and journal in hand, I looked for the place I had stopped the previous day. Romans 5 was the starting point. The first five verses are some of my favorites, but as I read them they spoke directly to my heart as I paused at verses three through five:
“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5 ESV
Suffering comes in many forms and disguises. Sometimes it comes with a dashed expectation or dream. When we look at the significant physical suffering around us, it can be easy to devalue the way our hearts and spirits can be bent low when disappointment crushes us. But it is also suffering. The harvest of suffering a significant disappointment is often doubt. That is where the Lord knew I was and His words through Paul were the balm for the hurt as well as a reminder of the truth. My spirit rested in the grateful grace and provision for that doubt that only He could provide.
A short time later I received a text from a mutual friend and prayer warrior who did not know any of what had happened or where we were staying. She wanted to schedule our next coffee date. I agreed to check my calendar. The friend who was with me suggested she meet us for lunch if she were free since she only lived five minutes from where we were.
Once more the Lord showed provision as an appointment on her calendar had just canceled. Before we went to lunch, she came to the house where we were staying and we shared with her what was happening. After fellowshipping for a while, we spent a precious season in prayer together turning everything about the project before the Lord yet again. We did not end the time with a direction, but a sweet peace. After all, He had supplied the next step a few hours earlier when she contacted me for coffee and came to fellowship and pray with us before lunch. This evidence did not escape our attention.
That evening we had dinner reservations that included a few special others who helped us with some aspect of the project. We shared the news with them at dinner with lighter hearts, but no clear path ahead.
The waitress asked us when we sat down what we were celebrating. Our response was that we were not celebrating anything. Throughout her interaction through the meal she repeated the same question and always received the same answer. Then as she brought the check she mentioned to my friend another name in passing. It was someone my friend knew and within a few moments, we shared an overview of what we hoped the celebration was to be and how it now was not. Without hesitation she laid down the check and put an arm around my friend and me as she stood between us and began praying.
The Lord had provided yet again. He demonstrated clearly that He knew our disappointment and wanted our hearts, minds, and spirits to be encouraged.
The following morning before we left the vineyard we talked about how the Lord met us in more than one unexpected way.
It had happened only after we had laid down the burden we carried. He had picked it up and shared the yoke.
We came to a vineyard and winery and before I left, I walked through the vineyard and sensed there was more He wanted me to see.
What He reminded me of still did not give me a direct answer, but it wrapped me in His love.
What did He show me on the walk? Join me next time to hear about the walk.