Of Plums, Poland and Possessions

“Lord,” Papa said loud enough for the angels, “we do not understand what you did to your plums, but that is your business. For the food before us and your blessings, we thank you.”
…And Papa, who had just lost at least half of his income overnight, had never looked more like jolly old Saint Nicholas

I recently read Eva Underground by Dandi Daley MacKall. While I wouldn’t put it on my most-recommended list, I learned a lot from it about life in 1970s Communist Poland.

Eva, an American teenager, moves to Poland with her father. While he teaches with an underground education movement, she witnesses the suppression of free speech, the fear of government displeasure, the limited food supply, the isolation from the world, the cost of seeking freedom…

Amidst all that, Eva meets Papa Muchowieckis who is thankful and trusts the Lord even when he has so little and half his plum crop is destroyed by an ice storm.

A book like this can really make you look around and realize how much you have, wonder if you need half the things you own, recognize more blessings for which to be thankful than you may have ever seen, and reflect on who really owns what you have.

“Lord,” Papa said loud enough for the angels, “we do not understand what you did to your plums, but that is your business.”

Your plums? Your business? Don’t we often think of the things we work for as ours, as belonging to us? The question, of course, is do they really belong to us? If we read the Bible, we will come to the conclusion that all we “own” ultimately comes from and belongs to God. Along with this, the success of our endeavors – whether our college studies or our plum crop – ultimately comes from God as well. It really is His business. if it’s not, then maybe God isn’t the omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent God we claim Him to be.

Agreeing with Papa Muchowieckis that it is God’s business brings both peace and a sense of joy that Papa portrays. However, this peace and joy demand great faith. Do any of us have this faith? Maybe this is the kind of faith that grows from a life pruned by hardships and persecution.

[1] Dandi Daley MacKall, Eva Underground (Harcourt Books: Chicago, IL, 2006) pg. 148-149.

Perfect Timing

As we say “adios” to 2015, I’ve been thinking about timing. Did you get to do everything you wanted to do this year? Did things happen according to your schedule? If your year went anything like mine, not much happened in your timeframe. You still might be waiting for an event or wishing some things hadn’t gone by so fast. Perhaps you are actually scurrying to keep up with a whirlwind of new direction. On the other hand, the timing of other things might have been as sweet as the best Christmas surprise.

As much as we try, there are simply many things about our lives that we cannot control. The passage of time and the timing of so much are not subject to our wishes. However, time is subject to the King of Kings.

Life happens in God’s timing. And I think His timing is mysterious.

That’s how it was with the first Christmas. God’s people waited for generations – for thousands of years – for the prophecies to be fulfilled about the expected Savior. When it happened, all the pieces came together in a flurry. Now as God’s people look back to that day, generations are again waiting for Jesus – in a new way but with the same level of unknowns.

Why did the Lord choose that time in history to unfold such a pivotal scene in His story? Why not sooner or later? What was it like for the generations waiting? Was it anything like us waiting for God to give us the answers, direction or things that we’d like?

If you are in the middle of being at the mercy of God’s timing or if you’ve been there done that a time or two, you can relate to Christy and Todd in Forever with You the first installment in the series “Christy & Todd: The Married Years” by Robin Jones Gunn.

Like many young couples, especially those in ministry, these two are surfing their life-wave when the ocean gets messy. As breaker after breaker rolls over them, they can’t help wondering what in the world God is doing as they wait, wait, wait for Him to bring some solutions to their very-present problems.

Yeah, I’ve been there, too. The waiting is not so fun.

Happily for Christy and Todd (and any readers), they figure out how to keep trusting God amidst their stormy seas. Then they get to watch God bring all the elements together at just the right time…like He did on the first Christmas. As in real life, not all of their problems get tied up with a bow – besides it is the first book in a series – but the ending is sufficiently wrapped up with these words from Todd:

“To the King and His kingdom! We praise you, Father, for Your mysterious ways and Your perfect timing.” (pg. 265)

Yes, someday the mystery will be gone, and we’ll be able to see God’s timing as perfect.

May we be able to face 2016 with the same spirit even with the waiting, “whirlwind-ing”, and wondering. And if you’re looking for a little encouragement along the way, you might want to pick up a copy of Forever with You.

More than One Answer…

Genevieve peeked around the marble pillar. She wasn’t supposed to be here. Well, at least not at this exact moment. The king was listening to his subjects’ petitions, and Genevieve was eavesdropping.

She knew from experience that the king usually gave one of three answers – either “Yes,” “No,” or “Wait” – to the supplications of those under his protection. Of course, everyone hoped to hear a “Yes”. When the king said “Yes,” you knew that he meant it, and you went on your way merrily.

Nobody really wanted to hear a “No” or a “Wait”. Nobody, including the man kneeling before the king just then.

As Genevieve watched, her eyes grew wide. The man stood and stomped his foot. His hands clenched.

Genevieve felt for the man. After all, what he had asked for seemed like a good thing.

Sadness crossed the king’s face. Rising from his throne, he reached out his hand.

The man refused to take it. “I came to you for help, and this is all you give me? You didn’t even answer my request!” He turned, stormed past the marble pillars and left the throne room.

Genevieve ducked back into the shadow of the pillar. Doesn’t that man realize that the king did answer him? It was just a different answer than he wanted. Doesn’t the king have his best interests in mind and know more about what is going on in his vast kingdom than this man?

Genevieve has a good perspective on things from her hiding place, doesn’t she? I know I’d like to stand in her shoes. But you know what? I’ve also been like the man in this story.

There have been times when I’ve come before the throne of grace, before the King of Kings, with requests for what I saw as deep-down good things. But God didn’t answer all of my prayers. That is, He didn’t answer them with a “Yes” (what I wanted) or with what I expected.

And sometimes that was really hard to take. 

With the release of the box-office-surprise film War Room I’ve been contemplating prayer. What does it mean to have God answer our prayers?

Clearly, God does answer our prayers, even when He gives a different answer than we would like. If He isn’t worth trusting with a “Wait” or a “No”, He isn’t Almighty God, is He?

Well, that’s a start on my thoughts. I think little bits will be popping up throughout posts in the coming weeks. For now, I’ll leave you with these verses that are becoming precious to me. I hope they’ll encourage you as well.


“…[D]o not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” Romans 12:12

“Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.” Psalm 62:8