I’m in Southern California this week with my husband. It’s the place I spent the first four years of my adult life. It’s the place where I spent the first four years of my marriage. It’s the place of my birth – my rebirth, that is – I came to know Christ and was baptized here. It’s the place where I stopped being an atheist.

This week, Phil and I have visited with friends from the first church I attended as a believer, the first small group I was a part of, the first friends I had after becoming a Christian. We’ve also visited with Phil’s aunt and uncle who “parented” us when we were 2400 miles from anything and anyone familiar. We’ve eaten at restaurants we ate at thirty years ago. On Sunday we’re visiting the church in which I was baptized. Well, it’s not quite the same church, but it has some of the same people in it and it meets in the same building. We’ve marveled at how different the world is now than it was thirty years ago. (When we left CA, no one had a PC or a VCR or a cell phone. WalMart and Starbucks didn’t exist. We drank Tab instead of Diet Coke.)

As Phil and I sat at dinner last night – El Torito’s on Redondo Beach Pier – I was overcome with emotions. Phil saw me struggling to hold back the tears and asked what I was thinking. When I told him it was hard to put into words, his response was “You’re a professional writer. Give it a try.” So this is me trying.

  • God is so very good and I have been so very blessed. He has been so faithful during the past thirty years.
  • As we live our lives, every difficult situation or challenge seems so urgent, so immediate, and so serious. And, of course, they are. Yet in hindsight, they really aren’t. As I looked back on all the situations that caused me grief over the years, I can’t help but see the hand of God in so many of them and the perfect timing of God resolving them. So today I hear God whispering in my ear, “Trust Me. You could have trusted Me at the very beginning of each situation and missed so much of the stress and heartache you experienced. So trust Me now.”
  • I was so young thirty years ago! Yet I’m sure I didn’t think I was. What 23-year-old doesn’t think they know everything?
  • Being a part of a local church is so very important. It grounds us. It provides a community of many generations that gives perspective and wisdom, if we’re willing to listen. I remember one example of this quite clearly. My husband’s vacation had been canceled unexpectedly, squelching the plans we had made to go to San Francisco for a couple of days. I was depressed. (Yes, it was one of those little challenges that grew out of proportion.) I remember an elderly member of the congregation listening to my tale of woe and saying simply, “You’re young. You’ll have many more opportunities to go to San Francisco.” My perspective was immediately changed. And I eventually made it to San Francisco.
  • The only thing that lasts is the impact we’ve made in people’s lives. As introverts, Phil and I have to force ourselves to be social. We’re happy living our lives alone with one another. It’s not God’s best for us, though. God’s best is interacting with His children and those who are not yet His children, allowing them to help us become more like Christ and allowing God to use us to help them become more like Christ.
  • God has changed me a lot in the past thirty years. I bet you’re like me: Sometimes it feels like we haven’t changed much and we carry around the same old problems and issues and insecurities and doubts. It seems that way because we’re always with ourselves – but when we have the opportunity to take the long view, we can see more clearly that God is, in fact, shaping and transforming us into the man or woman He wants us to be.
  • If God can do this much in the first thirty years I’ve known Him, how much more can he do with the next thirty?

I’m a blessed woman.

But all of these things, with just a few of the details changed (all right, maybe lots of the details, but none of the principles) are true of you, too. God is so very good and you are so very blessed. I don’t know your current life situation, but I know that you are blessed by God. I know that Christ died for you and that God wants to bless you with eternal life and an intimate relationship with Him. Beyond that, He wants to walk beside you, helping you make right decisions, helping you get through wrong decisions, and helping you become the man or woman He created you to be. That’s the kind of God He is. And He is unchanging – that means He doesn’t change over time and He doesn’t change how He responds to different people. What He’s done for me, He will do for you.

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