Generally Speaking: Meaningful messages in unexpected places

By MARILYN TINNIN COLUMNIST,

One of the hardest years of my life was 2008. In the previous three years I had survived breast cancer, a divorce and a new business launch.

The ground beneath my feet had never felt more like quicksand than near the end of 2007. But then, as often happens when God is trying to get one’s attention, things got lots worse.

My decision to get married again may have surprised a few of my friends, but believe me, it surprised me even more!

At the end of a painful divorce - and I really don’t think there exists any other kind - I had almost recovered my equilibrium and thought I was firm and fine in my decision to be single forever.

And then, Charles Tinnin showed up.

It just happened.

I was not expecting it to happen at all, but it did.

We fell in love.

“The Great Recession” was in full bloom about the time we chose to get married.

To this day I think the timing was terrible, but I also think God was hammering home to me a lesson

He has had to teach me often! He is in charge, and I am not.

And so we began our life together at a terribly inconvenient moment.

He had a retail business. I had a magazine business. The horrible economy hit us between the eyes on a daily basis as we tried to sell our houses in a dead real estate market where nothing was selling.

I was living out of a suitcase and trying to find my way around his kitchen.

One morning I wrote in my journal that I felt like I was living someone else’s life because I did not recognize mine anywhere in this scenario. Oh, yes, and by the way, we had five adult children between us who all liked to share their advice.

Every afternoon during that time, my homeward trek took me west across Jackson Avenue in Ridgeland and straight across I-55.

When I made a left on Highland Colony, the sun was setting right behind the big white cross on the St. Andrews Episcopal School football field.

I must have passed it for months without noticing, but one afternoon the sky, streaked with reds, oranges and varying shades of gray-blue, caught my attention.

Every day after that I found myself watching for the spectacular scene to come into view.

It was a comfort to me to see that cross in the evenings—so much so that I made a point of looking for it again every morning when I was traveling in the opposite direction and the sun was then on the opposite side of the interstate.

And there I was, between the sun and the cross. There was a message in that, too. The light was before me, and the Cross had my back.

I liked that the cross never changed its location. It was always there—exactly as it was the day before. I think, too, that I did not just accidentally notice it in passing one afternoon. I believe God sends those “wow” moments that whisper to something within us and we suddenly inch a little closer into fellowship with Him. No matter what my day had been like, I saw that cross and I saw that sunset, and I was reminded of His greatness, my smallness, and the wonder that He was well aware of every detail in my haphazard circumstances.

There was meaning in my circumstances. Nothing would be wasted.

I was in a season where my prayers were barely coherent – I hadn’t wandered, really, but I was definitely MIA (missing in action). My prayers were few, my panic was real, and I was just tired.

You know we human beings can get bored very easily with a job or a routine or the regularity of the same old-same old.

We begin to live in the mundane as if we have been sentenced to a life without purpose or meaning.

I recently read one author’s imaginative take on what it might look like if God got bored with doing the same job every day. What if He suddenly adopted a “Well, I would have done something extra spectacular today, but it was really too much work, and besides, it really was not in my job description and I really wanted to get off early.”

It was G.K. Chesterton who remarked that “God is strong enough to exult in monotony.”

He compared God’s amazing creative ability to continually make the same things fresh and wonderful to some quality akin to the “abounding vitality” of children who find something they enjoy and say, “Do it again.” God can make daisies day after because to God, every one is separate and different…that’s why he never gets tired of making daisies. I guess he sees sunrises and sunsets the same way—every one is new.

I can only imagine how God delights in those “make us smile” moments, too—like the sunset and the St. Andrew’s Cross—that make me forget everything else except Him for those few moments—and they remind me of grace, perfect love, and the One who goes to extraordinary lengths just to remind me that He is always near.

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you. Psalm 139:17-18

 

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