You may recall a couple weeks ago I wrote about the almost five year long saga Brian and I have been walking through. (You can read it here.) Things have finally settled enough here to continue with the story.
The first lesson I was hit with was what it really feels like to have financial need. Our money has always been “just enough”, which has felt like need to me. However, in those first few weeks when Brian was out of work,
I learned what true need felt like. In the midst of my fear (read that “lack of faith”) I heard, “Have mercy on the poor.” Shortly after I heard the Lord speak this to me, Brian got a temporary job. It didn’t pay well, but we would be able to keep food on the table and a roof over our heads if we were extremely careful. Therefore, the financial lesson continued a while longer. During all this, we still had it easier than so many people, though, because we still had a nice house, decent cars, and enough food to eat.
The next step in our journey took Brian out of the country with a good paying position for a month at a time, with about a week at home in between times. Now the money was there, but our family was not together. At this point our kids were 16 and 14, so, in effect, I was a single mom. All the daily stress and strain of daily dealing with teenagers in the house fell to me. (Brian had another kind of stress to deal with, and a different lesson to learn. He was a great dad who wanted to be with his kids, but was prevented by circumstances from being there for them.) I was blessed that our kids were great (and still are), but still, it wasn’t easy. There were days that it all seemed too much to take. I longed for the days when Brian would walk into the house at the end of his work day and help with whatever situations had come up during the day.
After several months of this, my nerves were strained, and I was exhausted. I was again crying out to God about my misery (not faithfully calling on Him, but more like whining, really). Once again I heard the Lord speak to me. This time I heard him say, “Have mercy on the single mothers.” Wow! That hit me right between the eyes! Revelation flooded over me as a new understanding of the plight of single mothers sunk deep into my spirit. This wasn’t new information, but a deeper understanding, because, just as in the previous lesson, I was feeling it for myself. At the same time, I also realized that I had it much easier than most single mothers, because I didn’t have to work two jobs to keep food on the table. I didn’t have to worry about where my kids were while I was at work. I also had a husband that I could call to dump my frustration on, even if it was just a few minutes on an international call at the end of each day.
There were a number of these types of encounters I had with God during the first year or two of our situation, with the biggest one being the last. By now Brian was working in Pennsylvania, and the kids and I were still in Oklahoma. I was regularly confronted by well meaning Christians who “knew” what God wanted me to do, or claimed to have a “prophetic word” for us, which only served to deepen my desire to be reunited with Brian and get on with our lives. Along with doing the household bills, all the shopping, coercing the kids to do the yardwork (all five acres of it!), and all the rest of what it takes to keep a household running, the pressure put on me by our friends to do what made sense rather than be obedient to God eventually became more than I felt I could deal with. One night in desperation I cried out to God, “God! I want my husband back! He’s supposed to be with me! I’m married, but don’t have a husband! It’s not supposed to be like this!”
Very quietly, very gently, I heard the reply, “I know. That’s how it has been for me for 2000 years now…” The turmoil inside me instantly settled as I realized what He had just said. I now saw my frustration and pain in the context of His, and it became infinitesimal. I saw how temporary my life issues are in the context of eternity. Besides all that, I was awed by God sharing such an intimate experience with me. He didn’t have to, and I didn’t earn it; He just shared it because we’re friends. How humbling that is!
After that God seemed to be mostly quiet in my life for quite some time. I came to understand that I needed this time to internalize what He had taught me. He also was laying the ground work for many more lessons of which I was totally unaware. It seems to be only at the end of a lesson that I find out what is going on. (I don’t know if He plans it that way, or if I’m just slow, but that’s how it seems to work.)
As these lessons unfolded in my life, one thing that began to grow in my spirit was a peace that we had truly heard God. We were in fact in His will with the decisions we were making, even though they were pretty counter-intuitive. There is now a more settled, peaceful place inside of me that knows Who God is, and sees events in my life in light of that truth. I’m less apt to be “blown by every wind of doctrine”, as I’m more stable in my understanding of eternity and the identity of God, and the goodness of His plan for my life. I’ve felt His nearness in times of darkness, and now can experiencially say that He will never leave me.
So, that’s pretty much the internal part of the story. We’re not through with all this yet, as we are still praying for the right house (we think we found it, but have to wait to see if the sellers agree with us!), and living in a tiny apartment with only the bare necessities to get us through, but we are almost there. (Famous last words, you think?) For the next few posts I’ll deal more in depth with the things I’ve been learning. It’s all pretty cool, but, I must admit, I do still have times of wondering if there wasn’t an easier path to learn all this!