Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Just keep walking.

Ever wonder if God really hears you?  Does He really care?  Why would your small plea even make it through all the other urgent requests being made of Him every minute, so that He would answer you in an unmistakable way?

James 4:1-2 says, “Where do wars and fights come from among you?  Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?  You lust and do not have.  You murder and covet and cannot obtain.  You fight and war.  Yet you do not have because you do not ask” (NKJV, emphasis mine).

            I’ve titled my blog “Revelation 12:11” because this verse talks about the power that can be found in the word of our testimony.  Chains can be broken.  People might hear or read about another’s experience, and learn that they too, are so so loved by our Great God.  I’m not writing to boast about my relationship with the Lord, or anything great on my part, but really about how amazing God is, and how He really does hear us when we ask of Him!  I have felt like God has been asking me to share my small testimonies with you, as a way of encouraging you, and bringing glory to Him!

            So let me share with you a time when I asked of the Lord in one of the darkest seasons of my spiritual walk, and He wasted no time in answering! 

            We moved to Hampton, VA from Anchorage, AK in September 2013.  After a month of temporary living, church hopping, and even a trip back to Connecticut to help my best friend with her newborn baby, I was still feeling completely at a loss for what God’s purpose for me in this new place would be.  After I returned from my CT trip, Jordan left for work one morning and told me I needed to get out of the house that day… go find a coffee shop and read… just get out.  He could see how unsettled I was about a lack of community, church, and how being alone all day while he was at work was not helping.

            So I looked up local coffee shops in my new city and visited one down by the water where the boats dock.  I grabbed my coffee to-go and walked around the area until I found the perfect bench to sit on.  I remember in my mind I had these requirements for that bench: it had to be facing the water and it had to be in the sun.  

 Once I found it, I settled in and began journaling.

Journal Entry from October 4, 2013

“There is so much to be thankful for right now, just as there always is.  There’s never NOT something to be thankful for.  And Lord, I am so thankful.  But do I really show my gratitude in my life?  I’ve had a really tough month emotionally.  It’s been so hard to hold on to the positives and the promises when all I can focus on is what I don’t have right now and what I’m not doing with my life.

Often I look back at my ministry in Alaska and I miss it terribly.  It just felt like I belonged there.  Great friends, great church, great pastors, great CYAK, great students, great mountains, camp… this list is endless.  Alaska was just. great.  And I’ll never have that back.  I’ll never get to live there again.

Hampton still has potential, but it doesn’t feel like home yet.  It feels like a place I’m screaming to get away from.  Sure, we are buying this beautiful house.  But what about ME Lord?  What are you doing to do with me?

I find so much comfort in the promise you give me that I don’t have to do this on my own.  That you have a plan here, but I just have to do the work to figure that out.  I am so willing to do that work, too!  I want to listen and be guided and be chiseled to become more like you.  I so desire to please you with my life.

So please, open a door for me TODAY.  Show me the church you desire us to try this weekend or a job opening, or a new friend.  Put your plan in front of my face.  Because I am not seeing your purpose and I am becoming more and more discouraged.

If I need a big dose of patience, well so be it.  I can wait.  It is hardest to ignore everyone else in my life that thinks I should have a job by now.  But I need to remember that they don’t matter.  Only You do.  Thank you for putting Jordan in my life to be my encourager and stronghold.  I love the way he loves me.  Lord, I will faithfully follow You here… but I need your guidance and encouragement TODAY.”

After I finished writing “TODAY,” I opened my Bible and began reading in Genesis.  When you don’t know where to start, start at the beginning, right?  The next thing that happened was truly a miracle.

Up to this point, I was completely alone.  I think it was a Friday morning, so most people were at work… certainly not hanging around the docks of Hampton. 

But then suddenly, as if from literally nowhere, this couple walks up from behind me.  I mean, I was completely alone for almost half an hour, and then as soon as I close my journal and open my Bible, this couple walks over!  The man sees I’m reading my Bible and asks what chapter I’m on.  I tell him I’m in Genesis and he begins to strike up a conversation with me and his wife about their church that was currently studying Genesis. 

We stood there and chatted for almost 45 minutes!  They shared with me that they lived on a boat at the docks and attended a church close to the area we were in.  I told them about just moving to Hampton with my husband.

“You’re not going to believe this,” I said.  “But I just finished praying about two minutes ago that God would send me a new friend TODAY… specifically.”

A huge smile spread across the man’s face and he asked if we could pray together, as truly this was a divine encounter!  We prayed, exchanged information, and they continued their walk towards their boat.

I immediately opened up my journal again and wrote the following:

WOW!  YOU WORK FAST, LORD! As soon as I put my pen down and opened my Bible you put someone right in my path!  This wonderful couple named… (I’ll omit their names for confidentiality)… started talking to me on the bench and they are Christians from a Presbyterian church here in downtown!

Then I jotted down this verse I must have seen while I was reading in Genesis:

“The Lord kept his word and did for Sarah exactly what he had promised.”- Genesis 21:1

I was so excited about what God had just done that I called my mother-in-law to share the story.  There was something about needing someone else to hear what just happened to help me believe it!

A few minutes later, the couple starts heading back my way with a cooler full of cold drinks.  They said they offer them to the homeless and others that are hanging around this area on hot days.  They offered me one, and asked if I would like to come with them over to their church to meet their pastor and see where it was located.  I literally could come up with no reason not to go, other than the fact that these people were complete strangers.  I think if the circumstances were different, I probably wouldn’t have gone, but given that I believed these people were sort of like angels sent to me that day, I asked the woman to come with me in my car and we’d meet her husband at the church.

I met several people hanging out around the church, and the couple took me to the pastor’s office.  The pastor was a really nice woman who listened to my story about meeting this couple and what I had prayed that day.  I shared with her that I would like to be involved with youth ministry in whatever church we are called to here.  Before we parted ways, she asked if she could pray for me.  Again, what a blessing!

Jordan and I ended up visiting that church several times before we settled into our home at City Life.  In fact, the Sunday before we closed on our house we attended the Presbyterian Church for the first time and met an elderly couple sitting behind us.  Jordan shared that we were about to close on our first house the next day, and they asked where.  As it turned out, they were going to be our new neighbors across the street!  Crazy!

I think what I am most called to share with you through this story is the hope that comes out of moments like these.  They don’t happen every day.  They aren’t always glorious, surprising, or in our eyes, miraculous.  Walking with the Lord is a journey that requires patient endurance. Keep walking, even when you don’t experience a miracle.  Be faithful.  Be in the Word.  Be in fellowship with other believers that can encourage you on those “dry” days.  Because when (notice I didn’t say if) God does provide the answers/promise/encouragement/new friend, you will have the faith to recognize it, believe in it and give Him the honor, glory, and praise!

“Here me as I pray, O Lord,
Be merciful and answer me!
My heart has heard you say, ‘Come and talk with me.’
And my heart responds, ‘Lord, I am coming.’ ~Psalm 27:7-8