GOD, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Living One day at a time; Enjoying one moment at a time; Accepting hardship as the pathway to peace. Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it. Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will; That I may be reasonably happy in this life, and supremely happy with Him forever in the next. Amen
The Serenity Prayer, commonly attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr, is perhaps one of the most popular prayers in the Christian world. Certainly, it is a beautiful prayer. Although many, including Niebuhr, differ on the origin of the prayer, it has become synonymous with Twelve Step programs around the world.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I volunteer with Celebrate Recovery at my local church, Clearbranch. It is a wonderful Christ-centered recovery program that broadens the recovery process beyond drug and alcohol addiction and reaches out to other problems such as physical abuse, sexual addictions, divorce care, codependency, grief, anger, and practically anything that can serve as a stumbling block in life.
Recently, as we recited the prayer in our friday night worship service, I listened and thought about how it applied to my own life. In the past year and a half, I have dealt with a job transition and the obligatory financial stress that accompanies such a transition, four months of unemployment, starting a business, managing another business, hiring employees, replacing employees, and balancing all of the above with being a husband and father. It wasn’t easy.
When I lost my job in the spring of 2005, people questioned me because I would not get angry at those who were causing my problems. Although I was mad, I refused to act on my anger. The hardest thing in the world, sometimes, is to pray for someone who has wronged you intentionally. I prayed anyway and I struggled to maintain a positive outlook. God was telling me not to cling to anger.
I never doubted that God had a plan for me and that he was shaping me for something better. After a few months of soul-searching I got a call from a company I had interviewed with months earlier. I had wanted that job at the time so that I could leave my company early, before my job expired at the end of the fiscal year. It did not happen. This time, months later and unexpectedly, the company offered me a consulting job. I accepted the offer in order to stop the bleeding (my wife hated that phrase, but we were spending our savings quickly at that point).
Once I took the job, it turned out that it was not the perfect situation I had imagined it to be months earlier. I am thankful for the experience, but I am also thankful that God allowed me to see WHY he had not allowed me to have that job at the time. Within a week or so, I got a call from a freelance client who was starting a new company – and they wanted me to run it for them. By the end of the year, I had a stable job and, despite months of unemployment, had made a better income for the year than I would have made if I had never changed jobs. I don’t mention this to brag but to illustrate a point. I didn’t do it – God did. He provided for my family in His own way and in His own perfect time. The lesson I had learned was to let Him lead.
In the prayer above, I highlighted the part about accepting hardship as a pathway to peace. It caught my attention as we recited the prayer because I have seen others in the group turn to Christ in the midst of difficulty. I believe He used my experiences to shape me to be a better servant.
We don’t have to get our lives straight before we approach God. In times of trouble, God pulls us closer to Him. In the last year, I have become more involved in my church, its ministries, and I have been on an Emmaus walk. Although I cannot say I enjoyed the difficulties from a year ago, I am thankful for them because they drew me closer to God. I am thankful that He lifted me up and gave me the wisdom to know the difference.
I didn’t set out to write a testimony when I wrote this. I had intended to write a short piece about seeing God in the little details in life. Hopefully, I have done both.