Lord, give me the grace to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can – and the wisdom to know the difference. A traditional prayer
Martin and I had been married for coming up to 4 years when, having lived in various hospital accommodation around the country, we bought our first house in Cambridge. Dr Dyer would cycle off round the ring-road to bury himself in his exciting medical research at Addenbrooke’s hospital every morning, leaving me to look after 2 year old Rebecca and our 1940s semi. Being our first home and the middle of the 80’s (undoubtedly like all young couples starting out) we were a bit stretched financially – especially as I had given up nursing and was fully embracing my call as a housewife…so there was no income from me! We were very happy to have our own place at last, and it was just right for us, but the decor and second-hand furnishings left a lot to be desired. I desperately wanted to make my mark on it but there was a lot of work to do and not a lot of hours, money or skill to do it. I found it very frustrating being limited by the demands of parenthood and lack of time and energy.
A few months on, feeling pretty low and resentful about my life and limitations, I went with our church to a ladies’ weekend. At the end of the first evening session I cornered the speaker to ask for prayer, pouring out my woes about Martin’s working hours and how horrible the wallpaper was. I was totally shocked by her response! She looked at me and said… “My dear, you just have to submit to it.”
I left that room in tears and pretty angry! But, despite grumbling to myself, I could at least recognise her wisdom through my pain and humiliation. So I did get down on my knees and make a prayer of submission to God and acceptance of where we were at and His hand in that: I guess we would call it ‘laying it all down at His feet’ now. And after that I must have begun to look at all the positives and find things to be grateful for as well, because looking back now I see that evening as a huge spiritual marker in my life and a big lesson learnt.
Best of all, things started to change – not necessarily in the situation, but in me! A burden lifted and I started to see it all differently. I really believe when I prayed in submission something broke in the spirit that was holding me captive: my attitude had been binding me up on earth and I got loosed in heaven! (Matthew 16v19) “Submit to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you” James 4v7: there is real power in taking that position – in that order!
It took some time, but the Lord brought along some new friends who were good at decorating and coming round week by week they helped us work through the whole house. It was a wonderful day when that ghastly wallpaper finally came off! Our confidence and knowledge of DIY grew by leaps and bounds along with a very special friendship with Steve and Susanna and a deep appreciation of the grace and goodness of God, who really does care for all the little details of our lives.
“My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest” Isaiah 32v18 – not as a right, but as a gift – and in His way and His time.
It wasn’t a quick fix. It continued to be a journey of submission once the paper was off! The walls stayed bare for so long, and hampered now by two small children I grew near to despair again! But a friend prayed about it with me and she felt that someone was going to come and decorate the lounge for us – for free. Sure enough a while later, Martin’s parents unexpectedly came to stay while we were away at Spring Harvest and did the whole room for us!
God is good. But He is more interested in our hearts than our houses, our attitudes than our possessions and in growing people than undertaking projects. As if to underline His desire to finish His work, 10 days after I laid the last carpet on the stairs and the house was completely finished to my specifications – we had to put it on the market! The Lord had more than met my needs and proved His kindness, faithfulness and provision, but now it was time for a new adventure and new and deeper lessons to learn…
to be continued…