A Hope and Furniture

Jun 26, 2013

The gift came wrapped in a jersey knit t-shirt. Size 6X. Unusual packaging, to be sure. But my little girl didn’t care. Across the front of the shirt spread the seven letters of her name. Like a banner.

“It’s for me!” She smiled.

As we unwrapped the shirt to see the gift inside, we found a notebook, colorful pens, a Bible and a card. The card caught my eye. I wanted to know what kind of person would go to such lengths for my girl.

“Here is the Bible for you! I hope you will read it every day. I highlighted my favorite verse for you—it’s Jeremiah 29:11 on p. 859. I know God has special plans for you because this verse says He does.

I loved being your teacher at church this year. You are a super special girl!

Love, Mrs. Johnson

Holy hot tears. Her Sunday school teacher couldn’t have known the story behind my girl. Didn’t understand the loss and struggle that’s defined her short life, nor her daily scraping and clawing for reassurance of her value. And yet we stood in our kitchen, holding a card filled with the very words she needed to hear. God bless her. It couldn’t have been more precious to me if the Almighty himself delivered it.

Perhaps He did.

“What’s the verse say, Mommy?”

Knowing Jeremiah’s words, I cracked open the Bible’s cover. “How about we look it up together?”

I first turned to the table of contents. “This is where we look for the name of the book—Jeremiah.”

Her little finger scrolled down the list of sixty-six names, searching for the one that started with a “J.”

“Here it is!” She smiled, triumphant.

“Now, turn to page number 689. Yes, exactly. Good job.”

She turned slowly, reverently, until she found page 689 and “Jeremiah” in big, bold letters.

“Now search for the big numbers, like this.” I pointed to chapter one. “Keep going until you get to twenty-nine …”

“…Then search the small numbers until you get to 11.”

“One, two, three, four …” She counted verse by verse until she landed on eleven, highlighted in hot pink by a teacher who didn’t want her to miss it.

“There it is!” She announced, pointing, so very proud.

“Now read it,” I smiled. “You can do it. Go ahead.”

And with that, my seven-year-old girl read one of the most quoted verses of the entire Bible.

Kind of.

Hmmmmm.

“‘Plans to prosper you,’ sweetheart. Not perspire.” I pursed my lips, trying to swallow my smirk. “And it’s ‘future,’ not furniture.”

She nodded, understanding. But then I thought: I like her version better.

As good as it is, you and I both know this life can be exhausting and so very hard. Perspiration-inducing, actually. Some days I long for heaven, and wish, wish, wish today was the day Jesus would come back and take all the tears away.

But another day ends without his coming in the clouds. And I resolve myself to wait some more.

Which is why a solid piece of furniture would come in handy. Something to collapse into while we wait for rescue. Something secure that surrounds us with safety and rest.

Something like the presence of One who knows what we need and sends His words of reassurance in a Sunday school teacher’s card.

Read whichever version of Jeremiah 29:11 that you like. But as for me, I’m sticking with the SYOV (Seven Year Old Version). Because even though this life brings us to sweat and tears, the God who loves us and wears our name like a banner has promised a safe place to land.

Himself.

A hope and furniture.

Is your faith life a safe place to land? How so?

21 Comments

  1. Ree Klein

    Good Morning, Michele ~

    I’m new to your site…I come by way of your recent guest post on Michael Hyatt’s site. Your post today makes me wonder what has happened to make you wish to be released from this life. My spirituality is grounded in different beliefs so it kind of makes me sad that you would want to be gone. But you say there’s pain and that your daughter’s short life has been very difficult. I’m so sorry.

    Please know that while you are here, you and your daughter shine bright and I’m happy to be getting to know you. It is my hope that life for you both begins to feel lovely, light and joyful so you’ll want to stay!

    Ree ~ I blog at EscapingDodge.com

    Reply
    • Michele

      Hi there, Ree. Good to see you here. I have a wonderful life, one that I’m incredibly grateful for. Still, there are days … 🙂 My youngest three children joined our family two years ago. They came from a hard place, and are still healing. Will probably be healing for a long time. My mama’s heart just hurts for them at times, but I’m so thankful to be on this journey with them. Looking forward to getting to know you more!

      Reply
  2. Esther

    That is not only the best version, it’s the best picture!
    There are plenty of days I’d like to just fall into the arms of a holy Barcalounger. 🙂

    Reply
    • Michele

      Ha! Holy Barcalounger. Love it!

      Reply
  3. Michelle du Toit

    Absolutely love this story and a fresh reassurance that our Sovereign Lord holds it all together in God-designed plans.

    Reply
    • Michele

      Thank you, Michelle. Yes, he does.

      Reply
  4. Ken

    Michelle, what an amazing writer you are! So few people could capture the heart of this moment with such beautiful words. Thank you for this post. You made my day!

    Reply
    • Michele

      Thank you, Ken. What a kind thing to say. As you know, these children have completely captured me!

      Reply
  5. Jon Stallings

    Wow Michelle, what a great post (Fighting hard not to be the guy at work who cries) I think I like furniture also. It is like your favorite spot on the sofa that is your spot. A place of comfort, rest and it fits just right.

    Reply
    • Michele

      Ah, yes. Love that description, Jon. A favorite spot on the sofa (which is where I’m sitting right now…)

      Reply
    • Michele

      Thank you, Darlene. I should keep a notebook of all the precious things they say! Glad you stopped by here. 🙂

      Reply
  6. Gretchen

    Michele – I love the way you see teaching in every moment – even if it is not the adult doing the teaching. Your littles are lucky indeed to have such an amazing Mommy.

    Reply
  7. Debbie Rosenow

    Love this Michele! I so enjoy reading your blog. I am continually amazed at what God is doing in your life. Keep up the great writing my friend…it inspires and encourages!

    Reply
    • Michele

      Debbie, soooooo good to see your name here. Grateful for your friendship and encouragement!

      Reply
  8. Jody Moland

    Michele, I love your tender heart. I could have bawled my eyeballs out when you gave the closing presentation at last fall’s Launch Conference. (I was worried I’d be audibly sobbing!) This post, too, is beautiful and told so well. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Michele

      How sweet you are, Jody. Thank you.

      Reply
  9. Brent

    Oh this was good. And My wife is Mrs. Johnson and an awesome teacher too. Made two reasons for me to get choked up over this. This is where I want to live and breath. To be an encouragement to others with a timely note, a look acknowledging their worth, a hug without words when there are no words to share. So you see this blog post was just for me!!!
    Blessings to you and the family,
    Brent

    Reply
    • Michele

      🙂 Thank you, Kelli.

      Reply

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