My arms were full of swim towels and snack bags as I struggled to open the front door. A herd of kids, seven to be exact, jumped out of the car in a flurry of hollering and excitement, someone opened the door for me, and they all ran past in a giant blur. Everything was wet and there was a strong wind blowing my hair into my face. It had been a glorious afternoon! Our dear friends from Washington were visiting us for several days, and it had been one fun event after another . . . finishing up with swimming today and a huge thunderstorm to send us home in a hurry. Summer fun had been at a high as our two families had been spending their visit talking and sharing, jumping on the trampoline, playing in the treehouse, scootering around the neighborhood, enjoying picnics, swimming in the pool and seeing the sights around Colorado Springs.
As I lumbered into the house with too much to carry one of my kids said, “Mom . . . are there milk bottles in the box? Did we forget to take them in?” In a split second she was outside with the others, screaming something about a new game she had thought up for the trampoline. What did she say? I thought as I brought everything in and dropped it on the couch. Milk bottles? No – milk is delivered on Mondays, today is Thursday. What is she talking about? Everyone was busy and not paying attention as I walked out to the front of the house and lifted the lid to the milk box. I gasped as I realized what had happened. Oh no! What a waste of both milk and money! I looked down at what should have been our milk for the week, forgotten in the hustle and bustle of having guests, and now sour, clumped and starting to ooze out of the plastic, gallon size containers near the lid. It had been an incredibly hot week for Colorado Springs, days in a row with temperatures in the 90’s. There was a definite stench of sour milk in the air! What to do? No one was looking . . . I was so embarrassed. How could I have let this happen? I thought – I’ll just bring one bottle at a time to the sink while the adults are changing out of their swimsuits and the kids are playing outside. No one will know – I will pour them out one by one and put them back into the milkbox, empty. Here I go.
A feeling of gratefulness came over me as I picked up one of the bottles – bloated to it’s maximum capacity – and lugged it into the kitchen. What a precious time it had been with our friends! The mom of the bunch, Stephanie, has been one of my very best friends for years and years, and having her family here was one of my favorite treats for our summer. Things were going well for us as a family. . . we were healing and adjusting to the passing of Grandma Lois, my mother-in-law who had lived with us for the past two years here in our home. We had enjoyed a summer of play, popsicles, bike rides, and swimming not to mention a long string of guests who came to visit because they cared for us deeply. Life was good! Thank you Jesus!
BOOM! I gasped in shock and was blinded for a moment as I tried to get my bearings. What had just happened?!!! I grabbed the kitchen towel and struggled to wipe something out of my eyes when I realized that it was all over me, all over my hair . . . the milk bottle had exploded directly in my face over the sink! I rubbed my eyes and tried to see what was around me . . . there were little white, stinky, disgusting sour milk chunks all over the floor, all over the sink, all over the window, all over me . . . oh, what a horrible sight and smell!!! I blinked my eyes over and over again, trying to get them to see straight, but the explosion must have scratched them because they wouldn’t stop stinging. Oh my Lord, what happened?????
Doesn’t this silly incident (it’s true – I promise, but really who could make it up?) just remind you of how life is? We are going along, walking tall, things seem to be all under our control for a season, we are puffed up with pride about how well we are handling things, the sun is shining, not a cloud in sight when WHAM! Something happens to completely throw us off balance. Has this happened to you? It has happened to me time and time again and I know there will be many more milk explosions to come in my life. Here are some of the explosions that people around me have dealt with lately: news from the doctor that you have terminal cancer and there is very little that can be done, a letter from a spouse on the kitchen table explaining that she is having an affair and wants out of the marriage, the sudden loss of a job that you thought would provide for your family for years, a notice in the mail that your house is finally going into foreclosure because you haven’t been able to pay the bills, a car accident that took the life of your best friend, an adult child who announces that he is addicted to drugs and dropping out of college, the sudden onset of a terrifying illness that leaves you disabled and wondering if you will ever really recover. The list could go on and on and on and on . . . life in this world is so full of heartache, sorrow, and pain. Or . . . what about the smaller sour milk explosions? The fight with your husband, the dent you accidently made in the neighbor’s car, the keys that are lost, the stress at work, the hurt feelings from something your coworker said. The sour milk explodes in your face, and you never saw it coming.
I was completely unprepared for that explosion, that evening. I had no idea it was coming, I had not anticipated it, I had not made any kind of preparations for it, I could not have predicted that it would happen at all, much less the way it would happen. What do we do with these unexpected explosions in our lives? For my whole adult life I have been turning to emotional eating to deal with these situations, as so many of you on this Thin Within journey can relate to. I would stuff my feelings in by stuffing my stomach with too much food when my body didn’t need food at all. I medicated myself with handfuls of chocolate chips, just like taking a handful of pills. I snuck through the drive through for a pile of french fries on the way home from work. I stayed up late at night and ate bowlfuls of ice cream in front of the television. Whatever emotion I was feeling . . . despair, depression, complete overwhelm, anger, frustration, humiliation, embarrassment . . . I would stuff back down into my heart with food. I would cry out to God, Why God? Why did this happen? Where are you? Don’t you care? Take this problem away! I am overwhelmed! Why me???? I don’t want this!!!! Emotional eating never failed to do the opposite of solving my problems . . . and always made things much worse. Although I kept doing it, I knew without a doubt that it was not God’s plan for my life.
There is no question about unexpected sour milk explosions in the Bible. God is very clear about what will happen as we journey through this world.
John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
1 Samuel 26:24 “As surely as I valued your life today, so may the Lord value my life and deliver me from all trouble.”
Job 4:5 “But now trouble comes to you, and you are discouraged; it strikes you, and you are dismayed.”
Job 5:7 Yet man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.
Psalm 27:5 “For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.”
Yes, there is no question about it . . . we are going to have trouble in this world, and no shortage of it. What to do? If we look in His word, God shows us exactly what to do. He longs for us to experience victory over our sour milk explosions, even in the midst of pain and suffering.
We can receive hope in the living God: Isaiah 40:31 “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
We can fill our minds with truth: Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
We can have real conversations with God and He hears us: Psalm 32:6 “Therefore let all the faithful pray to you while you may be found; surely the rising of the mighty waters will not reach them.” Jeremiah 29:12 “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.”
We can depend on His very real, perfect love for us: Psalm 42:8 “By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me— a prayer to the God of my life.
We can trust in the sovereignty of God: Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
The white, stinky, chunky mess was everywhere and I realized that there was no possibility of hiding the sour milk explosion from my friends who were visiting. I was feeling embarrassed and humiliated not to mention the pain in my stinging eyes as my friend walked in the room and said “Oh my gosh, Christina! What happened!?” I covered my face with the towel, trying desperately to wipe the mess away and out of my hair . . . and then I looked at my dear friend. The look on her face wasn’t one of condemnation or judgement, in fact – there was a twinkle in her eye and a smile on her face . . . so I started laughing. “Stephanie, help! I just had a giant sour milk explosion and it is everywhere!!!” We laughed together and spent the next hour or so cleaning it all up. I took the empty, still bloated milk container back to the milkbox at the front of the house only to find that two more bottles had exploded in the box, and there were stinky, chunky, sour milk pieces all over the inside of the box, the outside of the box and the front steps of the house . . . even in my flower pots! Oh, good grief!!! As I worked to clean up that mess through the lenses of my stinging eyes, it started to rain again, and the water made my work go faster. I looked up at the sky and thanked God through my teary, painful eyes. I felt his gentle squeeze as He promised to love me through all of the sour milk explosions in my life . . . and you know what? Praise God, He will!!!
How about you? What sour milk explosions have you dealt with in your life? Are you having one right now? What is God calling you to do in the midst of your pain and suffering? God loves you so much. What is He whispering to your heart today?