A couple of evenings ago, HGTV’s House Hunters featured James, his wife Mindy, and their four children in their search for a house in southern California—but James was no ordinary man.
Born in Da Nang, Vietnam, during the war, James contracted polio in his infancy and inadequate medical help left him crippled in both legs.
James’ mother made the heart-wrenching decision to put him in an orphanage, no doubt hoping and praying he would find the help he needed.
Then, during the fall of Saigon, U.S. President Gerald R. Ford arranged emergency evacuation flights for some 110,000 Vietnamese, including two-year-old James.
James praised the American family that adopted and raised him and—then came the best moment, for me, of the program: James explained how thankful he was for his polio and for being given to the orphanage because, he explained, if he had remained in Vietnam, his life would have held bleak prospects and many hardships.
And isn’t that what Jeremiah 29:11 is all about?
“For I know the plans I have for you,”
declares the Lord,
“plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future.”
James recognized, and told HGTV viewers about, the blessings that resulted from what appeared, at first, to be disasters. Based on his words and his wife’s necklace, I’m sure James saw God’s fingerprints all over his life.
If you’ve been part of the SM 101 tribe for a while, you know where I’m going with this:
Think back on events that seemed all wrong, that threatened to destroy your dreams and hopes, that left you in despair.
Take a few days to take a long look at those events and search for God’s fingerprints all over them.
We often miss the most important Holy Fingerprints because we don’t take time to dig deeply and examine and think and pray.
Invest time in this until you can declare, like Elisabeth Elliot:
“The will of God is never exactly what you expect it to be.
It may seem to be worse,
but in the end
it’s going to be a lot better and a lot bigger.”
Write a vignette for your memoir showing ways that, despite seeming setbacks, God had plans to prosper* you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).
You’ll find additional inspiration from these earlier blog posts:
Connect Your Dots, and my friend Barb’s cry, “Lord, You’ve said you’d make my path straight, so why is my path so crooked?”
You’re the bridge between generations past and generations yet to come.
Write your stories!
Your children, grandchildren and other readers
need to know they can trust God with their lives,
that He has plans to prosper* them
and not to harm them,
plans to give them hope and a future.
*The word prosper is, in Hebrew, shalom, meaning peace, completeness, tranquility, soundness, safety, and well-being. Here’s how Cornelius Plantinga describes shalom:
“The webbing together of God, humans, and all creation in justice, fulfillment, and delight is what the Hebrew prophets call shalom. We call it peace but it means far more than mere peace of mind or a cease-fire between enemies. In the Bible, shalom means universal flourishing, wholeness and delight—a rich state of affairs in which natural needs are satisfied and natural gifts fruitfully employed, a state of affairs that inspires joyful wonder as its Creator and Savior opens doors and welcomes the creatures in whom he delights. Shalom, in other words, is the way things ought to be” (from Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be).