Happiness

Happiness

“What has happened to Walker?” asked Susan. Connie’s friend from work had come over to sit on the porch and watch the sun set.

“What do you mean?” asked Connie.

“I saw him yesterday at the Lumber Depot,” said Susan. It’s like he’s a new man. So full of life. Don’t get me wrong. He’s always been a good guy. But lately it seems like he really enjoys his job. Yesterday I was looking for some light bulbs and he greeted me like I was his long lost friend.”

Connie laughed. “I know! I see it too. Please don’t bring my old husband back! He used to be constantly overwhelmed, like he was climbing up a steep hill or something. Everything got him down: the bills, his job, retirement… And if anything went wrong, like a car problem, or a leak in the roof, he would go into his shell and brood. It was like he took the brokenness of this world personally. And when Lizzie died, well that really send him for a loop.”

“I still see the sadness,” said Susan. “But the anger is gone. It’s hard to describe. Looking into his eyes is like looking into a deep pool. There is sorrow there but it is somehow beautiful. It’s like he has been to the very bottom and found treasure there.”

“He’s not a worry wart anymore either, said Connie.” He used to be obsessed with making plans. He wore me out with all of his projections about the future, like he thought he could control things if he planned well enough. Of course, it never worked. Every few weeks he would throw out his old calculations and come up with new ones. He still likes to plan but somehow he holds them loosely.”

“Sounds like he’s learned to trust,” said Susan.

“That’s it,” said Connie.

“But what about Lizzie,” said Susan. “That must still be hard.” 

“Of course,” said Connie. “We’ll feel that pain until the day we die. But we’ll see her again. We know that now. We no longer think of her death as a final separation. Some days we practically feel her, like she’s still here, just out of sight. We know she’s very much alive. I’m not sure exactly what the life to come will be, but I know it will be amazing. It’s like that verse in Romans. We hope for what we can’t yet see. But it’s not just wishful thinking. We actually feel the future joy even though we aren’t there yet.”

Susan shrugged. “Still, it’s just hard to understand why God let that happen. I mean, if God really loved Lizzie and had the power to stop the accident, why didn’t he?” 

“If I had the answer to that one…” said Connie. “That’s the hardest question of all. I certainly don’t have an answer. I don’t think anyone does. I only know that whatever the answer is, it doesn’t mean God doesn’t love us.”

“I’m in awe of your faith,” said Susan.”

“It hasn’t always been like this,” said Connie. “For months I felt rejected by God. I couldn’t reconcile Lizzie’s death with a God of love. There were times when I even cursed God.”

“What changed?” asked Susan. 

“The cross,” said Connie. Every time I really laid into God for not saving our only daughter, I saw Gods’ only son on the cross. It wasn’t an answer. Like I said, I don’t think anyone has an answer. But I couldn’t accuse God of not caring. In fact, I felt God’s love most deeply in those times. It was like I was sharing in God’s sorrow, and God’s love.” 

“Wow,” said Susan.

“Yeah,” said Connie. “I don’t know how, but I know that somehow God will use Lizzie’s death for good. In fact, He already is. I’ve given up trying to explain it. I focus instead of living in God’s love—for Lizzie and for me.”

“The outpouring from the community was certainly amazing,” said Susan.

“It really was,” said Connie. “I had no idea how much love there was in this little town until this happened. It has really opened our eyes. We used to keep to our little group from church. But love came from all quarters. We have made really good friends with people that I’m ashamed to say we would have walked across the street to avoid.”

“I heard about what Amy and Angela did,” said Susan.

“Yep,” said Connie. “$35,000. That blew our minds. Before this happened, Walker and I never would have done something like that for people so far outside of our circle. Now we see how love doesn’t draw circles. We’ve decided to leave the judging to God and focus on loving people instead. Actually, I think that’s the difference you see in Walker at the Lumber Depot. He doesn’t get up to go to work to make a few dollars or arrange the electronics aisle. He goes to work to indiscriminately love people. It makes him happy.”

The door to the garage opened and Walker came in, carrying a half-finished fly rod.

“I have to go to the fly shack,” he said. “I’m out of glue.”

“She keeps you out in the garage now?” asked Susan.

Connie laughed. “He practically lives out there. About six months ago he cleaned it out and turned into a rod building shop. He sure loves building those rods. He gets orders from all over the world. In fact, he’s thinking of quitting his job at the Lumber Depot and doing it full time.”

“And miss all that fun?” laughed Susan.

Walker went out the front door, and put the rod in the backseat. This particular rod wasn’t coming out well. He had run out of glue at a critical moment. He was wondering if he could salvage it when he heard the Voice.”

“It will be magnificent.”

“I don’t see how,” said Walker.

“You will figure it out,” said the Voice. “You always do. In fact, your little setback will give this rod unique character. Its as good as perfect because whether it knows it or not, it is in the hands of a master.”

“I do always find a way,” said Walker.

“And so do I,” said the Voice. “I’m glad you are learning this. You have entered my rest.”

“But my life has so many ragged edges,” said Walker. 

“You are in the hands of a Master,” said the Voice. “Relax.”

“There is so much to do,” said Walker.

“I didn’t say there wasn’t more to do,” said the Voice. “I said you can relax.” 

Walker nodded. “I get it. But what about my job at the Lumber Depot? What about my rod building? Should I go full time?”

“When the time is right, you will know,” said the Voice. “Trust me and take the next step. Right now go buy some glue.”

“Your ways are hard to understand,” said Walker.

“Impossible,” said the Voice. “That’s why you must trust. But you know that. And have you noticed something?”

“What?” asked Walker.

“That you are happy,” said the Voice. 

Walker smiled. “I suppose I am. I feel so much more at peace. Before, I was trying to make something of my life. I am learning how to enter yours.

I know that brokenness is an invitation to a deeper life.
I trust you
I have hope for the future
I receive your love, and give it freely
My life has purpose.”

“And you are entering my rest,” said the Voice. “Not because your journey is over but because at this moment you are everything you are supposed to be. We are both craftsmen, Walker. We do things well.”

Walker thought of a song he used to sing,  growing up in church. I was written by a woman in the 1800’s named Fannie Crosby. She was born blind. She had every reason to be angry with God, even more than he did. But she discovered the way of happiness, just as he did. 

Walker began to sing.

All the way my Savior leads me,
What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy,
Who through life has been my Guide?
Heav’nly peace, divinest comfort,
Here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well;
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well.

He went around a sharp corner and thought of his winding road and all its unexpected turns. He thought of Lizzie. His eyes grew moist as he continued singing.

All the way my Savior leads me,
Cheers each winding path I tread,
Gives me grace for every trial,
Feeds me with the living Bread.
Though my weary steps may falter
And my soul athirst may be,
Gushing from the Rock before me,
Lo! A spring of joy I see;
Gushing from the Rock before me,
Lo! A spring of joy I see.

Walker’s heart was so full he felt it would burst. He felt completely at peace. He relaxed his grip on the steering wheel and sang at the top of his lungs.

All the way my Savior leads me,
Oh, the fullness of His love!
Perfect rest to me is promised
In my Father’s house above.
When my spirit, clothed immortal,
Wings its flight to realms of day
This my song through endless ages:
Jesus led me all the way;
This my song through endless ages:
Jesus led me all the way.

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