Wow…where to begin. Well, here we go!
March has been a banner month for us in the Hinojos household.
For the first week, my husband was on trial for, convicted of and sentenced to 7 years and a dishonorable discharge for a crime he did not commit! That was March 4-8.
The next week I did nothing but plan for last week and this week.
Last week and this week, I have been packing up the house to get ready to move by the end of the week.
I had begun a cooking project in February, but needless to say, I have not been working on it this month, which means that I will have about 12 recipes to add to the months remaining in the year. Never fear though. The recipe box is in a box I have set aside to bring with me. All this means is that I have gained another person on which to test my recipes. And in July, that number could potentially increase by 2. Woohoo! That means: if a recipe stinks, the love will be shared among more people, which means fewer left overs.
But, back to my news of the first of the month. I have always liked the proverb: “Bloom Where You’re Planted.” Perhaps it’s because I have been married to a man in the Navy for the last almost-20 years. We move so often that I have had to learn how to make the best of the situations and places we are in. All of us have. So…why should this time be any different?
The trial was the end of a 22-month long ordeal that is now, finally & thankfully, over.
There have been so many things I have learned along the way, I don’t know that there will be time enough left in my life for me to even be able to grasp the depths to which this thing has reached, but, with your indulgence, I would like to share some of them here.
First, God means to have ALL of you!
I was raised in church. I’ve been saved since I was 8 years old. And in 30 years time I have never really, ever had to rely totally upon God for anything. I’m not saying He hasn’t provided WELL for me in that time. I’m just saying that I have never totally laid my entire life on the line for Him. Oh sure, I have said as much. I have prayed as much. But, I have never done it. I don’t know that I can recall a time when I’ve ever felt like I was being asked to. Not until this last 22 months.
Over the last 22 months, what God was asking of me scared the daylights out of me. Will you still love me if the trial does not give you the results you want? Will you still love me if your husband goes away? Will you still love me if I don’t intervene to keep him out of jail?
I wanted to be able to say, unwaveringly, unquestioningly, YES!
I wanted to. But I couldn’t.
The only honest answer I could come up with was: “I don’t know.”
To be a 38-year-old, raised in church, saved for 30 years, Christian and to have no better answer than “I don’t know” was: enlightening, shameful, humbling, you name it.
I prayed for 22 months for God to let me keep my husband, for God to keep my husband out of jail. And I wasn’t the only one. We had tons of people praying for my husband not to go to jail. And when that is not the answer I got, part of me began to wonder: “What’s the point of praying if God’s just going to do what He’s going to do?” “Why bother?”
This led me to another painful realization. While God wants us to pray to Him and to ask Him for what we want, in accordance with His will, He will not be manipulated by our prayers. God intends to have all of creation glorify Him. That includes us. If the greater glory comes from my husband’s going to jail, if God’s purposes are served even better by that, then He may just allow that pain in our lives for a season. But that pain will not go untreated. Jeremiah 29:11 states that He knows the plans He has for us; plans to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us a hope and a future. Now, in my finite mind, I cannot comprehend how it is for our good that my husband goes to jail. Surely it cannot be for my good, for my husband’s good, or for our children’s good. Surely not. Right? But the Bible says otherwise. The thing is: that good is not necessarily immediate, and it is not necessarily earthly. But whatever it is, there is no way that God is going to allow us to come out of this thing worse off than when we went in. He is faithful to those who are faithful to Him, to those who call on His name.
And we have called. Believe me! And not just us, but so many others as well. Did He just neglect all of us? I don’t think so.
See, for 22 months, while I was praying for this whole thing just to go away, God was sending me scripture verses to comfort me. And when I was really desperate, He would send people my way who, invariably, gave me those same scriptures as confirmation that I had heard from God. They would always begin by saying something to the effect of: “You know, I was reading today and I came across this passage that I made me think of you and I just had to share it.” And wouldn’t you know, they shared with me the very thing that God had shown me.
And for the last month, my house has been full of people who know our family, people who know the situation and the absurdity of it, who have been here to help us – physically, emotionally, and spiritually – in this time of need.
And that question God posed to me about whether or not I would still love Him if I didn’t get the answer I wanted: Well, see, God knows me. I have prayed for years and years that my faith would mean more to me than just getting my ticket on the train to heaven punched. As far back as high school, I knew there had to be more to being a Christian than saying “Yes” to Jesus and then, just going to church on Sundays and Wednesdays for the rest of my life. There had to be something deeper. It had to MEAN SOMETHING. Back in high school, that was about as deep as I got, but I prayed that God would make that a reality for me. I had no idea what kind of a prayer that was. I had no idea that I was offering myself up to God in such a way as to let Him know that He had full permission to make me understand just what I had prayed. I didn’t, that is, until the last 22 months.
You see, since I was raised in church, and believe that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, I know that my salvation by the blood of Jesus Christ is ALL I’VE GOT. It is my only security. Not my husband. Not my children. Not my church. Not my parents. Just Jesus. I knew that. I believed it. Well…..to be honest, I think I only thought I knew it. And I think I only thought I believed it. It wasn’t until those statements were tested did the reality set it. And during the testing, I was wondering if I would pass muster. I was hoping I would pass. But see, the thing about testing is: until you have gone through it, you don’t really know what your faith is like. You don’t know how strong a teabag is until you put it in hot water, right?!
And here I am on the back side of this, kinda. And on the front side of something else. But still, it feels like we are on the back side. And where do I stand? What is my answer to that question now? Will I still love God if I don’t get my way?
Now, I can say, with my head held high, YES! I do still love Him.
I did not get the answer I wanted, but I have had every need met. My children have had every need met. Yes, it’s still early. Yes, there’s still money in the bank and nobody has gotten sick yet. No, the appeal has not started yet, so there is still hope that we can win it. But, I am blooming where I am planted. I am not banking on the appeal. I am praying that it goes through, but trusting God regardless. See, I prayed for 22 months for something I didn’t get, and I thought I would be devastated if I didn’t get my way. But now, when I pray about the appeal, the idea of not getting my way doesn’t bother me. Now, 7 years is 7 years, and I know God will make something good out of this time my husband is away whether the appeal goes through or not, whether my husband is gone for 7 years or not. Everything comes to an end; good stuff and bad stuff alike. So this will not last. This, too, shall past. And once it has, we will be even better off than before! Why? Because we have Jesus. Because we know the story. We know who wins in the end, and it ain’t Satan. So, really, we have already won.
Thank you all so much for your time. I hope that this has been encouraging to you. I will write more later.
Blessed & then some,