images (3)Matthew 9:17 “Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”

I should have known better than to call our few days away at my brother-in-law’s cabin a “mini-vacation.” For those of you who have read Virgin Snow, you may recall that our family vacations seem to be a magnet for catastrophe. As I mentioned in my book, beside each year’s destination we have listed the accompanying disaster.

So there we were unloading the car outside of State College, PA, when we realized my suitcase remained quietly reposed on the bed…at home. All I had with me was a book bag with my Bible, journal, and reading material, but other than that, not even a hairbrush. Not even my laptop. My thoughts were frozen in what do we do now mode, even as my spirit whispered make the best of it.  My husband offered to drive the 2 ½ hours back to retrieve it, and although I was touched by his sensitivity, somehow that didn’t seem right. But the options were limited: either let frustration immobilize me, or allow my set expectations to bend….

Little by little, my inflexibility started to give, and ideas began to surface. My flash drive (which I had inadvertently dropped into my bag) would work on Chip’s Netbook so I could still complete some work. A quick run into town would provide the lacking necessities. (In fact, I even found a sundress on sale for $6.00!)  I could make-do for the rest.

As we ate Chinese take-out later that night on the front porch, I was struck with how God had not only turned the circumstances around, but how he had so meticulously adjusted my wineskin. He had stretched my capacity for “being content” and deepened my trust in his faithfulness to “work all things together for good.”

I realize this experience hardly qualifies as “enduring hardship.” But I believe it is in the small setbacks we face in life where we learn to align ourselves increasingly with God’s character. Where we choose either to shut down and refuse to let anything change our wineskin or grasp the opportunity to be enlarged.

In one of Paul’s last recorded messages, he wrote that he was “being poured out like a drink offering” (2 Timothy 4:6). When I reach that time in life where I am called to be “poured out,” I hope the choices I’ve made will evidence more than a few drops. I pray that my life’s challenges would have caused my wineskin to have been expanded, not shrunk.

How about you?

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