I returned home on Wednesday to an empty house, but it was still standing! We still had no electricity, gas, and our water was contaminated. However, I had returned home to a house fully intact! Now mind you, if I continue writing this and pretended that cleaning out the refrigerator, or actually cleaning anything in my house, was an “out of the ordinary task for me,” anyone and everyone who truly knows me would know I wasn’t telling the truth! I have an issue with clean! At my age however, I fully except that it is my issue! It actually even goes to a deeper level of healing when I am hurting! When I say goodbye to my children after a visit, when I watch them drive out of my driveway and back to Southern California or further Northern California, when I hug and kiss those sweet little babies of mine and tuck them securely into their car seats and wave goodbye, the healthiest way I have to absorb the pain is to clean my house!
But this day was different! I was returning home to completely clean out my refrigerator and freezer! The water had already begun to form a puddle halfway across our kitchen floor. We had gotten there just in time! I began to take garbage bag after garbage bag and fill it full of every single item in my refrigerator! It was a sort of “CLEANSING!”
Now, before any of you start getting on me for throwing away perfectly good food in the middle of a crisis where I could bless others, I did take two big bags full to our church where we had evacuees. And I saved things from the freezer and put them into a friends freezer!
However, because it had sat for several days with no energy source there were many things that could not be saved!
I am in no way complaining about cleaning out my refrigerator. It is quite the opposite actually, I had an unexplainable thankfulness in my heart that I still had a refrigerator! The spoiled food I cleaned out and threw into the garbage bag, the water spilling across my floor that I continued to clean up, left me with nothing but gratitude in my heart! My house was spared! But why?
I was in awe, God had saved our house, but why? Why me, when so many others had lost everything? With each breath I took and with each can, bottle, piece of fruit, or limp vegetable I pulled out I would thank Him, and then ask why?
I was feeling more emotion now while cleaning out my powerless refrigerator, then I had felt driving away from my house! Why me, why was I spared, when so many around me were in complete and utter devastation?
I was experiencing what they call, “Survivors Guilt!” I knew I didn’t deserve to have my home spared in such a devastating fire storm anymore then all of those who tragically lost their homes. I didn’t deserve it, but God allowed it.
“Survivors Guilt” produces two distinct responses. The first one stops us in our tracks, it freezes us, we are immobilized by the overwhelming sense of guilt and even shame as to why were we spared when so many others were not? We then let the guilt overwhelm us and we accomplish nothing!
The second response is to realize that we were spared for a purpose! We must move through that guilt to help those in need and fulfill the purposes that God has for us in this situation.
It might DERAIL you, but it does not have to DEFEAT you!
Being derailed is temporary!
I had a choice to make. Would I allow the guilt to overwhelm me and sit frozen, not helping or reaching out to anyone? Or, would I recognize the gift I was given and move forward in my purpose in the devastation?
Recognizing I have been spared, lifting my eyes up in gratitude and hope, instead of down in guilt and shame, allows me to focus on His purpose for me in all of it!
I am to LOVE THE LORD MY GOD, no matter the circumstances, and to “WALK IN HIS WAYS!”
The only steps worth taking, are the steps that lead us closer to God.
As I sat near the puddle of water forming on my kitchen floor, I realized the only way I could truly thank God for sparing our home was to GET UP and take steps toward loving my God by helping those in need around me!
I finished cleaning out my refrigerator with much greater vigor than before! I threw each rotted piece of fruit into the place it belonged, the garbage! Each rotted piece reminded me that I too must get rid of each piece of rotten attitude in my life that holds me back and spoils the good fruit around it!
As my hand reached into the freezer to pull out frozen fruit bags that had lost their vitality and hung lifeless and limp, I remembered I am called by God to produce good fruit! And as my hand grabbed for each bottle of salad dressing that contained vinegar and oil, my spirit was overwhelmed by the truth that when my life is seasoned with proper ingredients, I am preserved! Those bottles stayed. They would not only survive, they would last!
Will you and I last? When troubles, trials and devastation consume our lives, will we have the preservatives it takes to STAND UP, AND STEP INTO THE PURPOSE GOD HAS FOR US?
I got up off the floor, I mopped up the water around me, I cleaned my refrigerator like never before, and then I left that secure, warm home God had given me and then preserved for me, to step into His purpose for me in all of this!
Jim and I were blessed to minister to many who came to our church. We served alongside so many from our church that cooked food for them, secured warm beds for them and shared God’s love for them through kind, warm , sincere smiles and hugs!
Yes, the devastation is real.Some of them lost EVERYTHING…homes, cars, even animals. But, because we all choose to stand up and step beside our God as He loved these people, we were blessed beyond measure!
Friends, I do not know what “REFRIGERATOR” you are facing in your life that needs cleaned out? But I do know that under the most crippling of circumstances, as you step through them toward God, HE WILL WALK BESIDE YOU! He will show you WHY, WHY He saved you to Bear Much Fruit!
I know I will never look at my refrigerator the same again! I intend to use it as a reminder, a sort of ,”Altar of Remembrance,” that no matter how discouraged or doubtful I get of where God has placed me, to be used by Him for His purposes, that as long as I continue to, get up and step with Him, I will be useful in His Kingdom Enterprise!
“LORD, YOUR KINGDOM COME! YOUR WILL BE DONE HERE ON THIS PART OF EARTH WHERE YOU HAVE PLACED ME!”
Speak Truth Love