When God Gives You a Shovel

Susan Narjala   |   February 8, 2016 


This morning my husband called about an hour after he’d left home for work.

Did he miss me already? Did he want to whisper sweet nothings over the phone?

Ha! After 10 years of marriage I knew better.

“Hey! What’s up?” I ask.

“I’m coming back home,” he says.

Wow, he really did miss me.

Or not.

“I’ve been on the road for an hour and fifteen minutes and I’m not even half way to work yet,” he continued.

Nope, he doesn't work in another city. This was just a traffic jam in all its unpredictable chaos.

So he made a U and came back to his wife work from home.

Our family recently relocated to India after living in the US for more than a decade. And from the time we’ve returned, one thing has been evident: Very very little works according to plan.

The internet connection has mood swings, the electricity plays hard to get, the plumber who promised to fix that leak two days ago is still on his way, cell phone conversations are interrupted with multiple hello- can-you-hear-me-nows, the pharmacy down the road shuts shop for the day because the owner needs a nap just about the time you need meds. There’s precious little you can count on (save the traffic jams).

Reminds me of the famous quote from Forrest Gump: "Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get."

Except, in India, the box may not even contain chocolate. Often it’s a surprising mix ranging from ladoos to lemons that greets you.

For instance, the other day, I’d planned to cook Mexican food for dinner. I go to the gourmet food store which sells imported food. There’s no sour cream. The lettuce is brown. The taco shells are out of stock.

In the US, I would meal plan for the entire week. I prided myself on organizing my grocery list by aisle. I would get exactly what I needed (okay, fine, I’ll ‘fess up … I didn’t quite NEED the dark chocolate bars) and nothing was ever out of stock.

As much as I reminisce over my weekly Trader Joe’s trips, I’m learning to enjoy the unpredictability of life back home. India keeps you on your toes – which puts me about an inch closer to God (inarguably sound theology right there).

All kidding aside, only when you’re up against some odds do you discover the need to fully rely on God – and dig deep into the resources He’s given you.

Author and speaker Ann Voskamp recently blogged about this very thing. She tells the true story of a small floating village off the coast of Thailand. This teensy village was small on space but big on dreams. Like the dream of a group of boys who loved football more than anything else in the world. A dream that was set to die as there was simply no space for a football field.

But, instead of giving up, these die-hard football fans got busy. They set to work to make their very own floating football pitch. They found scraps of wood, worked hard after school and nailed together a football field suspended in the water! And then they played their hearts out.

Voskamp goes on to say, “God gives you the raw materials — but you will have to make your life.

Not having sour cream is hardly a fair comparison, but sometimes that’s my football pitch.

And instead of whining about it, I can ask God for a fresh perspective and new ideas.

Sometimes, we think our blessings should come tied with a pretty bow and delivered at our doorstep.

But what if instead of ready-made blessings we rely on God for resourcefulness?

What if instead of cookie-cutter conveniences we depend on Him for creativity?

Can our blessings come from us finding joy in the chaos, looking at our circumstances with fresh eyes, from unearthing treasures in trash heaps?

Here’s something to chew on: Blessings don’t have to be spoon fed. Is God throwing you a shovel instead and asking you to dig deep into your creative resources? Are inconveniences God promptings for innovation?

When you stand back and look at what God helped you create you’re at once humbled and filled with a sense of accomplishment.

Maybe the blessing isn’t always state-of-the-art football field of perfectly green artificial turf.

Maybe, instead, God gives you the resources to create your own pieced-together pitch where, eventually, your game will be perfected because of what it took to get there.


Photo Credit : Unsplash 


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When she's not smuggling chocolate past her kids or drinking gallons of coffee, Susan Narjala can be found writing, baking and (thinking about) working out. She grew up in Chennai, lived in Portland, Oregon, for the last ten years and is now back in India with her family. She finds nuggets of humour in the everyday, and writes about it on on her blog, www.susannarjala.com

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14 comments on “When God Gives You a Shovel”

  1. Great post Susan. How are your kids adjusting to the change? Half of mine want to go back to India! Hahahaha! No one is ever happy 🙂

  2. Such a wonderful a new look at the real meaning to life and theology so perfectly illustrated with daily events and sprinkled with good humor

  3. Your writing always encourages me. I still miss you on Sunday's - ladies night is not right without you. Thanks to the reminders to keep my perspective focused on Jesus. Are you in BSF for Revelation?

  4. Its written for me. Your post made me realise to get up and pick my shovel. Thank you looking forward for more of your posts

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