Back in the days before there was voice mail, there was such a thing called an answering machine. That’s about the time my husband, Larry, and I returned from a two-week speaking trip in Venezuela and Trinidad. As we flew home, I felt excited thinking of the messages waiting for me on my business line’s answering machine.
“Thanks for the reminder, Father,” I responded. “I know it’s not wrong to enjoy getting my messages, but I don’t want that to become my source of happiness. You are my source for that, right?”
I sensed Him smiling–a knowing kind of smile like …. well I couldn’t quite identify it.
Arriving home, I hurried to my desk and stopped in my tracks as I stared at the machine. The light blinked twice. That seemed strange. Only two messages in a two-week period? Oh, I know, since my out-going message said we’d be gone, callers most likely didn’t leave a message and plan to call back instead. Yes, that’s it. The telephone will start ringing off the hook tomorrow.
“Tomorrow” came and the phone didn’t ring. Strange. Oh, well, everyone’s thinking I want a day to recuperate.
On the second day, the phone rang! It was one of the publicists from one of my publishers. “Kathy, why didn’t you call me back after your trip? Didn’t you get my message?”
A mental warning bell went off. “No, I didn’t. I’m so sorry, Carrie.”
After we concluded our conversation, I began to ask, “Where are my calls?” I rewound the tape on the machine for a long time and played it back. Nothing. I began to realize that I’d missed a lot of messages.
I went into the family room where my two teenaged children sat watching television and asked, “Do either of you know anything about my messages on the business machine? I seem to be missing some.”
My daughter Darcy spoke up, “Well, it did make some long crazy sound at some point while you were gone. But no one touched it or anything.”
An awful feeling crept down my spine. “Like it was rewinding?” I tried to keep my voice controlled.
“I’m not sure, but maybe.”
I stood aghast. That tape is an hour long. The machine got to the end of the tape and erased all my messages! I can’t believe it! I didn’t know it did that. I should have called from overseas and gotten my messages! Or I could have asked Darcy to take them off for me.
As I walked back to my desk, I felt stunned. Oh, no. What am I missing? What speaking invitations were on that? Oh, Lord, I can’t believe You let this happen. What will people think of me when I don’t return their messages? What reputation am I going to have now? Are You really sovereign and in control if You allow a disaster like this to happen?
Then the smile I sensed God gave me while on the plane replayed in my mind. It was a smile like …. a knowing smile, like “… I have something up my sleeve!
“Oh, no, Lord, now it makes sense.”
He whispered again, “Is your joy in getting messages or in Me?”
“Yes, Lord, it’s in You. I choose to believe You’re still in control, even when all my messages are erased. I trust You, Lord. My heart is sad. But I know You intend only good for me, so I’ll trust You in my mind and hope it filters to my heart.”
It didn’t filter fast. In the middle of many nights, I woke up feeling panicky. “The messages!” my mind would scream. “What did I miss? Lord, how could You have allowed that to happen?”
Then I had to consciously release disappointment and tell myself the truth: God is sovereign. He’s in control. He wants what’s best for me. I can trust Him.
I never did receive any other indications of what messages were on the tape. At times I’ve comforted myself with reasoning that there might have been a speaking invitation that God didn’t want me to have. He knew I wouldn’t be able to turn it down, so I didn’t need to be tempted.
I still don’t know why this happened and most likely won’t until I get to heaven–and then it won’t matter! The Lord is still in control.
Is there something that has happened to you that makes you wonder whether God is still in control? Regardless, God is sovereign. He’s in control. And He intends only my and your good. After all, that’s what Jeremiah 29:11 says, “for I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”