I wish I had the ability to thank, in person, each and every one who has been praying with us over the past 40 months of unemployment. I know I will probably not understand God’s timing until I can ask Him face to face. I also know that we could not have survived this trial without the continual prayer support, words of encouragement, and the physical gifts from so many generous people. Anyone who thinks the “church” is just a bunch of hypocrites has not met the real church. And no, it wasn’t just the people with whom we worship every Sunday….it was a whole, diverse, beautiful body of believers who has helped us in incredibly generous ways. There are so many people to thank, and for whom we thank God. God keeps working in mysterious ways…
Just last Sunday, a friend dropped a gas card into my children’s ministry apron pocket. The night before I had put my last $19 into the gas tank, and I had asked God to please move someone to provide for us. Well, specifically, I asked God to move someone at church, but then I back-pedaled on it. When I prayed it, I felt a boldness I don’t usually feel, but then I second-guessed myself. When my friend caught up with me, she said she knew there was a story behind this card as she had actually purchased it two weeks prior. She had forgotten it the next week, then I did not go to Bible study on Wednesday. She and her husband got into the car to go to church Sunday, and she remembered the card and had to run back inside to get it. How amazing is it that God had already made provision for us two weeks before I asked Him to fill that need?
Some of the provision over the last few years has been in the form ordinary, weekly kindnesses while other provision has been astounding in the generosity displayed, often anonymously. Our friends who have a cow have insisted on giving us milk for the last few months at no charge. Our music teacher has been willing to barter her services; the Handy Man owes her some felled trees. Our mechanic, also a Christian, who has been willing to fix our cars for the last year despite never knowing how long it would take us to pay for his services…on one memorable occasion, I went to pay the bill several weeks after the repair only to discover that someone else had paid it or us anonymously. Anonymous people at church on Sunday mornings, or even at the park when gifts were left in my car, have given us money to pay bills…sometimes hundreds of dollars. When we have been at our lowest point, God has always shown up. Always.
Last week I hurt my shoulder. My mother gave me the needed funds to go to the doctor. A cortisone shot has helped immensely, and I am so grateful that the medical need has been met. My shoulder needs much more recovery before it is whole, but I can move it again, and I have almost 50% of the range of motion in it. It is a blessing to be able to reach the keys to turn on my car! I asked her if she would loan me the money. She insisted on GIVING me the money.
Last Sunday I told a different friend that I was done…I was done getting my hopes up about a certain job…I was done trying to pray a certain way….I was done, not with trusting God, but with trying to figure out HOW He was going to provide for our family. It was at that moment that my other friend walked up and dropped the envelope into my apron pocket. I began to cry as I said, “I know what that is.” Every time I have stood before God and asked Him WHERE HE WAS, He has answered me…..sometime the answer seemed too long in coming. Sometime the answer was different from what I expected to see. (Much like the Jews expecting a military conqueror and not a servant king, even though they had scriptures to tell them exactly who the Messiah would be, and military conqueror it was not.) Sometimes the answer is just a complete peace the invades my soul, overcoming any fears with supernatural assurance that God loves my family and that He will NEVER let us go. I have clung to those times, reminding myself of all the Lord has done for us over the last few years, making an effort to monitor my self-talk, when I have felt low.
Yesterday we received word that our prayers for the Handy Man to find employment have been answered. He goes for orientation tomorrow at Scovill Fasteners in Clarkesville. What a HUGE relief! I stood outside in the rain and yelled it from the mountain top!
I am sure that the lessons of the last forty months will continue to manifest themselves in our lives. I know that I will never look at provision or generosity the same way EVER again. I know that we cannot cling too closely to anything we think will give us the security or assurance that all is well….because it is all fleeting. Only God Himself is secure. Habakkuk 3:19 is a verse the children and I have memorized. “The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.” We have had weary, weary weeks….and we have had weeks when we were so full of faith that it felt like we would burst. Somehow, and honestly, I cannot tell you that it was anything we did at ALL, every single one of our bills has been paid….on time.
God has been our portion. He has been our deliverer. He has given us this amazing family called the “church” who has helped us in our long sojourn of need. Noah and his family listened to rain beat on the ark for forty days and forty nights. They spent well over a year waiting for the flood waters to subside and the land to dry out. The Israelites spent forty years wandering in the desert waiting for the promised land. When we started this journey in unemployment land, we thought it might take a few months….seven seemed reasonable. Seven is the number of completion, after all. And then a year passed, and then eighteen months and the unemployment benefits ran out. Then two years passed and I was working full time while trying to keep up with my home and the education of my children. By the time three years passed, my time working outside the home had ended, and we were living purely on faith that God would provide. And He did.
We are still waiting for details from the offer…pay, benefits, etc. We have no idea what the package may look like. Really, it does not matter. At this point, a job with pay is better than nothing. And we are so very grateful for the opportunity the Handy Man has to begin again in a new venture. We have learned that the manner of provision, while important to us, really is not important in the grand scheme of things. God will provide how He sees fit. It is our job to faithfully wait, to keep taking the next step, to look for Him, to wait upon Him. Wait and then wait some more.
I pray that our journey has pointed to God’s faithfulness to His children. I pray that we have been found faithful before Him. I pray that we will never leave behind our absolute dependence upon the Lord, even when the paychecks begin coming in again.
Do you know my Faithful Lord Jesus? Do you know my Jehovah Jireh, my Jehovah Nissi and Adonai? I hope you do. I hope you have cause to celebrate His faithfulness, even in the difficult walking-through-the-valley times.