Set Me Free Ministries would like to recognize and thank all of the men and women who have fearlessly served, and are serving, our country! We remember those who gave everything. Thank you!
Seeing Blessings From God
by Jennifer Decker, Set Me Free Ministries Board of Directors
A lot of things conspired the week I wrote this blog to bring this story to my mind.
First of all, I was reading a really good book. Among other things, it discussed how we sometimes don’t see God’s hand in a situation until after the fact, sometimes years later. This idea has stuck with me and given me another opportunity to praise God for His goodness.
Second, it was the anniversary of the bombing in Oklahoma City. I’ve had the opportunity to visit the memorial there, and I have to say, it’s an amazing place. It does justice to the memory of the event without paying too much tribute to the violence that took place there. It beautifully recognizes and remembers the victims. It was a place I expected would be hard to visit—painful, mournful, full of regret—but instead, it is a quiet, peaceful place—an appropriate answer to violence and hate. Anyway, this week, with the anniversary and my really good book, got me thinking about 9/11 and how God blessed me.
On 9/11/2001, I was supposed to be on a business trip in New York. I didn’t go because I was pregnant and taking care of my 4-year-old son alone in Indiana, as my husband had already moved to Omaha for his new job. My colleagues who did go on that business trip, including my boss, saw the first hijacked plane fly by their conference room window before it hit the first tower of the World Trade Center. As you can imagine, their day turned very dark, and they experienced and witnessed a lot of terrible things. But they made it back to Indiana safe a couple of days later.
Although grateful not to be in New York that day, the blessing I’ve been thinking of came two weeks later on 9/25. This was the day my son Michael turned 5. Michael and I had planned to fly from Indianapolis to Omaha for his birthday, and we stuck to those plans, despite the anxiety surrounding air travel during that time. Indeed, flights had resumed by 9/21 when we flew to Omaha, but it was a tense experience, with heightened security, nervous fellow passengers, and uptight flight attendants. But the Deckers needed to be together, and by golly, we were going to get there. We had a wonderful visit, and our little guy turned 5 with his mom and dad by his side (his last birthday as an “only child”). On the day of his birthday, we once again drove to the airport and prepared to board another airplane for our flight.
Let me back up and quickly explain a little bit about Michael. He was an extremely reserved little boy. When he was a baby/toddler, he had extreme separation anxiety and hated new situations. When we changed his daycare provider, it took almost three months for him to hug his caregivers. When we took him to kindergarten roundup, we had to pick him up and carry him into the gym of his new school, because the crowds completely freaked him out. On our initial flight to Omaha on 9/21, he was very cautious about strangers and didn’t want to talk to them, even to the very nice, if tense, flight attendants. He clung to his mom, and that was that.
Fast forward to 9/25. Michael was a little boy transformed. Everyone we met—the man in the line at the concession stand, the cashier, the TSA employee at the security line—heard this cheerful, exuberant declaration, “It’s my birthday today! I’m 5!” Some people huffed. Others looked stunned. Most felt their anxiety melt away. On the airplane, the flight attendants were positively bursting, rummaging through drawers and pockets for any little trinket they could find to give Michael. I laughed and felt very happy as I watched my son have such a fun day, and I was joyful to share a side of him that others, especially strangers, rarely saw. He helped us relax. He helped us find joy in the moment. He helped us shake off the worry and concern of a tense experience and breathe deep.
I don’t know why it wasn’t crystal clear to me at the time, but God was blessing me. He was blessing a lot of people that day by sending a cute little blonde-haired boy into their midst, sharing with them his excitement. It was life in the midst of fear and death. It was a slice of joy in a time of great uncertainty. God chose Michael to be an ambassador of happiness for those who were ready to receive it. And as God has often done, he picked someone unexpected—a shy little boy. I thank God He let me be a part of that. I thank God for that little boy (who, by the way, still had that kindergarten roundup experience in his future). I still thank God for that boy, who is now a teenager, taller than me, and, although more confident and relaxed than he once was, is certainly not always brimming over with good cheer! And I thank God for letting me see Him at work, for allowing Michael to reflect His goodness, and for being a faithful and loving God.
God has everything under control; we don’t need to. We can trust in His great, loving plan for our lives. He never promised it would be easy; in fact, He promised we would experience hardship (Romans 8:17). Heaven will come on the other side, but for now, we are here on earth. But we are not alone, and we have a guidebook. (Praise God!) And we have a God who in all things works for our good (Romans 8:28) and promises a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11). And He provides us wonderful guidance (Proverbs 3: 5-6). And sometimes, He lets us see what He’s up to. What an amazing blessing of joy!