There are a number of days and seasons throughout the year when I intentionally open my figurative chest of memories, select the appropriate box and carefully remove the lid so I can inspect the contents. Sometimes the momentous events that trigger my reflections were joyfully anticipated, like the births of my daughters and grandchildren. But others, like the sudden death of my husband, came without warning and brought deep sorrow and bewilderment. Irrespective of the emotions associated with the initial event, I choose to remember. Because time offers perspective. And anniversaries provide opportunities to reflect on God’s goodness.
One January morning eight years ago, I awoke to my first day of unemployment in over three decades. Although not completely unexpected, the news the day before that I was no longer needed because my job was being eliminated left me numb and disoriented. I recognized those feelings, milder versions of the shock I felt after my husband’s unexpected death.
Unlike the previous afternoon when the slate sky matched the tenor of the windowless conference room where I received my termination notice, the morning was drenched in brilliant sunlight. In spite of my surreal circumstances, I held onto hope every bit as bright as the sunshine streaming through my windows. In fact, I posted the following status on Facebook:
“30+ years of continuous employment came to a halt yesterday when my job was eliminated. God obviously has something else for me to do. I can’t wait to see what it is! J”
Even though I was uncertain how being unemployed would affect my life, I rested in the certainty that my life was exactly where it had been before I lost my job – secure in the hands of the One who declares the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:9-10), who has a plan for good and not harm (Jeremiah 29:11). The previous day’s events did not surprise Him or catch Him off-guard.
I reminded myself of another windowless room where I and my elementary-aged daughters were told the unthinkable – that our beloved husband and father had succumbed to a fatal heart attack – and I recalled God’s provision across the 13 ½-intervening years. He’d graciously allowed me to work as long as my daughters depended on me for support. Single parent, sole provider, but underneath were the everlasting arms (Deuteronomy 33:27) of the One who’s promised to never leave us or forsake us. (Deuteronomy 31:8)
Even so, I couldn’t have imagined all God had in store for me. A mere two days after losing my job, I contacted the admissions office at the local community college to inquire about enrolling in their horticulture program. Six months later, my first grandchild was born. Joshua became my study buddy as I strolled him around the neighborhood while practicing my new-found plant identification skills. He, along with my mom and daughter Mary were present at my graduation ceremony the following year. Yes, 18 months after losing my job, I fulfilled my dream of acquiring an Environmental Horticulture diploma. God is truly able to do far more than all we ask or think. (Ephesians 3:20-21)
Two more grandchildren, Lyla and Emma, have joined our family. I’m blessed to spend two days each week with them and big-brother Joshua. I volunteer at a local botanical garden. I started a blog. I’m available to help my aging parents. I’m a member of our Women’s Ministry Committee. Engaging in these activities would be impossible if I was still working in my cubicle, making carpet samples and visiting customers. For a time, that was my work, but now God has other work for me to do. (Ephesians 2:10) And I am grateful for both seasons of my life.
Knowing how easily we forget, how we tend to focus on our immediate circumstances instead of His covenant promises, God commands His people to take time to remember. Sometimes our memory aids are physical, like the 12-stone monument erected in the Jordan after the people passed over on dry land (Joshua 4:1-7). Then again, there were God-ordained days of feasting and celebration throughout the Jewish year. Passover, which commemorated God’s passing over the first born sons of Israel (Exodus 12:1-14), reached its ultimate culmination in the sacrifice of the Spotless Lamb who Himself instituted the Lord’s supper. (Matthew 26:26-29) What a blessing to partake regularly of that Sacrament and remember everything Jesus accomplished for us – reconciliation, forgiveness, righteousness – and His promise to return to dwell with us forever. (Revelation 21:3)
I don’t know what you may be going through, dear reader. Maybe your life is relatively free of difficulties, but we know troubles of various kinds will come. Jesus said as much. However, He also told us not to fear because He would be with us to the end. (John 16:33; Matthew 28:20b) So let us call to mind the good He’s already done for us, personally and corporately, in full assurance that His compassions never fail. They are new every morning. (Lamentations 3:22-24) And be sure to tell your children and your children’s children so that generations to come will never forget the glorious deeds of the LORD and His might and the wonders that He has done. (Psalm 78:4)
 There’s a stump in my woods that reminds me of God’s protection when a towering oak fell away from, not on, my house during a storm over 20 years ago.
About the Author:
Patsy often refers to herself as “Gardening Grammie,” a title that encompasses two of her favorite pastimes. Widowed at age 38, she was blessed to be gainfully employed all the years she spent raising two daughters on her own. When her job was eliminated several years ago, she returned to school to study horticulture, a passion born of caring for the garden her husband left as part of his legacy. She is Grammie to three small but enthusiastic garden helpers. Patsy started her blog, Back 2 the Garden, to tell others of God’s faithfulness. She is a member of Grace Covenant Church in Dallas, GA where she serves on the Women’s Ministry Committee and leads women’s Bible studies.