I sauntered out of a local business fumbling for my car keys until a glance at my car stopped me cold. Black splotches of bird poop plastered every side, every window, the roof, the front hood, and the trunk of my white sedan. A single bird could never accomplish such a huge deposit. Apparently I left my car directly under the largest public bird restroom in town. Either that or a herd of elephants flew by.
Surveying the mounds of black muck smothering my car, my first words were, "Really God? Be thankful for bird poop?"
Because wouldn't you know it, that very morning my devotional reading pointed me to Ephesians 5:20, "...giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Believe me, when a friend and I later discussed what being grateful always and for everything would look like, I never imagined a scenario that included bird poop!
For forty-five minutes I scrubbed and polished my car. And I pondered how I could possibly find gratitude for bird droppings? I only came up with one idea: Thank you God I have a car to poop on. Otherwise all this muck would have landed on my head.
Just as I neared the last black patch, my cell phone rang. I sat down to explain to my friend what I'd been up to. She laughed. "Well, how often do you get the opportunity for forty-five uninterrupted minutes to meditate on gratitude?"
Perhaps, she went on, God views bad situations from a loftier perspective. When Paul promised that God works all things together for the good of those called according to His purpose in Christ Jesus, (Romans 8:28) maybe he meant God uses everything He allows in my life to fulfill His plan.
When I told this story to a writer friend, she expanded on this idea: "Well sure. Bird poop is a fertilizer. It makes things grow." Spiritual maturity. Isn't God's purpose to grow me in Christ-likeness in order that I would bring Him glory?
Every tough situation is another chance to watch God work. Because He's always working. Always polishing off selfishness, pride, and obsession with the world to create something wonderful in and through us. God is Good for all eternity. His mercies are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness.
Let's face it. Poop happens. To all of us. Divorce and broken families, drug addiction, alcoholism, abuse, disease, chronic illness. Turmoil, accidents, children who make bad choices, financial difficulty. Strife, wars, terrorism, vandalism, hatred, bullying and a whole hoard of other ugly stuff bombard us in this life. Sometimes God allows a huge poop dump all at once. It may feel so weighty we bend underneath. That brings us to our knees where God desires us to find strength in Him. To let Him bear our burdens with us. Suffering is temporary. But in the middle of the storm--what my friend calls "in the meantime"--it often feels as if our trouble will never end. God empowers us to ride out the waves of sorrow, secure in the knowledge that He is with us.
The Friday after the bird-poop incident, my father-in-law passed away and craziness rained down on my life. Along with all the final arrangements and memorial service to plan and execute, my husband moved to his mother's house until we can get her situation settled. Husband-gone means the garage door breaks and the dog gets sick. A dear friend is diagnosed with a serious illness. I exhaust myself running errands and back-and-forth trips to deliver food to my husband and his mother. In a weird way, I now see the bird poop incident as a gift to prepare me for what was to come. A new adventure in trusting God and watching Him work.
Gratitude makes bad times bearable. No matter what happens, if I keep my eyes focused on God I escape the clutches of anger, resentment, and bitterness. Dissolving into anxiety or dread won't help for a millisecond. Neither will running away. Trusting that God is working, leaning on His promises, believing He is Good even when the situation isn't, and making a decision not to be defeated are key. Gratitude holds me firmly in a place of peace, surrender, and dependence on Almighty, Unchanging God.
I love the chorus to an Amy Grant song called, "More Than Anything"
Help me want the Healer more than the healing
Help me want the Savior more than the saving
Help me want the Giver more than the giving
Help me want you Jesus more than anything
How about you? Is poop happening in your life? Where can you see God working? What does He want you to learn? Look for something to be grateful for in your suffering. Ask God to help you enjoy the journey by looking at every trial as an adventure in seeing God work.
Thank you God for bird poop. Without a bit of ugliness, how would I ever appreciate Your exquisite beauty?
In my latest book, THE ROAD TO TERMINUS, poop just keeps on happening. As three strangers travel Route 66 in 1955, one disaster after another befalls them. Think The Perils of Pauline meets Pligrims Progress. But God has a plan to bring something beautiful out of it all.
Read this inspiring and captivating book. Click here to find my page on Amazon and order a copy or two.
Read the reviews too. You'll love THE ROAD TO TERMINUS just like those people did. Pinky promise.