After sharing with a friend that I was doing a blog on the blessings of the unknown, he shared this story:
One fall evening as I was relaxing in my lawn chair, I heard someone screaming”. I ran to the road and found a woman I didn’t know having been dragged by her two big dogs who were spoofed by a smaller dog. She was scraped up and crying but didn’t think she needed an ambulance but asked, “Could you take me home?” I helped her into my pickup and drove her several streets over, less than five minutes away. I met her husband and discovered that we had a lot in common. When he discovered that I was qualified in several areas, he lined me up to do some house repairs. During that time, we got better acquainted and several years later they have become very close friends. My wife and I really love that couple. We do things together and have so much fun. If she hadn’t had the accident and if I hadn’t been outdoors at that time, we would never have known each other. M.
Maybe you’ve heard stories similar to the following: “I was stunned when my job ended abruptly, but eventually that upset led to a better situation,” or “Stranded in the airport due to weather-related delays and cancellations of which I had no control, I, as many others, had no choice but to patiently wait it out, when I got involved in a conversation with a person who later became my spouse.”
Good examples of what we don’t know are difficulties involving ourselves or our child who won or didn’t win, who didn’t make the team or had a mishap which dashed all hopes of competing in regionals, state or national opportunities but paved the way for opportunities or interests in different fields.
Parents who calmly deal with a young person’s disappointments by urging him/her to look beyond the changes and challenges and anticipate the possibilities of unknown blessings instill positive attitudes, preparing them for future unplanned situations, looking ahead with confidence and expectation of benefits that will become known. Horizons in life keep us motivated to keep going and not give up.
Like many others, Jim and I faced a few difficult financial and work-related circumstances that gradually morphed into unknown beneficial blessings that we would never have discovered and in the process dispelling our faintheartedness. Together, we learned patience, confidence and a deepened trust in God.
‘Who knew’ that if I hadn’t accepted the job of secretary to the Business Manager of the Seminary which after a month became evident it wasn’t a good fit, but was agreeable to being transferred one step into the business office where I was put in charge of updating student addresses, and would get acquainted with Dr. Gresham, Dean of Students, assisting him in locating new addresses?
And ‘who knew’ that in a week, when Dr. Gresham, exasperated that his secretary resigned, that he would ask me if I would like to take her place? I grabbed my purse and took four steps across the hall to my own office and a position that was perfect, allowing me personal access to seminary students, chapel services with Jim, getting acquainted with faculty and counseling for several years until Jim graduated and we moved to Pennsylvania to our first full-time church. In every experience, the blessings of the unknown became evident. I learned much later that Dr. Gresham ignored protocol by not going through the business manager to replace a secretary. But because they were good friends, Dr. Evans let it go.
When Jim said “we need to have children’s worship”, ‘who knew’ that my name was ‘we’ and by the next week I would begin leading children’s worship, something that I had never attempted or even wanted to do would open the doors wide? I was not a children’s teacher but an adults’ teacher. But ‘who knew’ that when I could not find children’s worship material at the Christian bookstore, and the manager said, “There are no materials, you’ll have to write your own book,” I never dreamed of writing a book.
And, not only that, but ‘who knew’ that a pastor-friend from a larger church in Maryland who was looking for material for children’s worship had an editor friend who would donate his knowledge and connections to get my first book--Worship is For Kids, Too--published which I hadn’t written?
And ‘who knew’ that the publisher would ask me to write other books on marriage counseling and parenting? All that led to other magazine articles including Guideposts. The blessings I’ve encountered cannot be counted since my favorite occupation is helping people to love God and get along with family, spouses and how to rear happy and fulfilled children. Unknown blessings became known.
Naturally, all disappointments do not lead to better circumstances, but we never know when we are in the process of accepting changes and difficulties, how our lives will be affected or what new challenges and opportunities will be handed to us which we would never have known to pursue.
Since, in general, many are afflicted with ‘who knew’ catastrophes, disasters, accidents, losses and changes throughout life, we can mentally prepare ourselves with wisdom and common sense as we endeavor to take the necessary adjustment steps carefully and looking ahead positively to the maturing growth and benefits of the what-might-be-outcomes as they become ‘known’.
But one of the most difficult life-changing adversity is parting with a loved one. Involving the unknown of life beyond was recently voiced when a friend asked whether her recently deceased family member would have a spiritual body. I shared with her an example given in a devotional commentary that made sense to me: that a seed that is put into the soil has to die before it takes on a new form of a flower or vegetable and looks nothing like its seed but is still part of the seed. And when we die, our soul doesn’t end but takes on a new form. But what that form is, we do not know, but we will have to wait and see. in chatting about this subject with brother John, a retired minister and college teacher on death and dying about his understanding about what we can expect, he said:
“We have to accept a certain reality regarding losing loved ones in death or nearing that time for ourselves and embrace another reality regarding the afterlife. Theological scholars have written their interpretation of Scripture, each with different angles of ‘what might be’ and other brilliant writers who have shared their insights: For example, those who hold such views will characteristically quote the English poet, Robert Browning: "Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was made.” But the Creator of the human body with a soul, would certainly in death also create a spiritual form to house that soul.”
But there seems to be more that we don’t know than we do know. As the saying goes, “We receive no postcards from heaven”. We are encouraged to confidently look forward to “the beyond” with the same expectations. So, just as in life, we accept and adjust to ‘who knew?’ changes. And like we say to our children experiencing a ‘who knew’ situation, “You need to be patient, do your best and wait and see.”
Jesus said: Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? ‘And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me so that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going…I am the way and the truth and the life. John 14:1-4. 6. `
(NIV) Paul wrote: But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. Phil. 3:20-21. Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Heb. 11:1 (NIV).