June 2010 our dream ministry job ended due to a restructuring of the church where we held staff positions. We stayed around for another year to help with the change because we had no idea what else to do, but it was a bad idea and our (paid) ministry life ended May 2011. My MIL passed away that April, followed quickly by my own mom’s passing in May of the same year. Three months later my son was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident. (Fully and thankfully recovered now!) That August we also began what would be 2 cycles of using Food Stamps, and I was assigned the kindest doctor I’ve ever had, at the same local Family Services Center where I used to volunteer time with a “coats for kids” program when I was a pastor’s wife. We depleted all of our savings account and came very close to losing our home.
Good things happened during those awful months too. Writer Son married Sassy Bride (Yes, she still is.) We were gifted surprising amounts of money from friends and our marriage blossomed in this difficult season of us against the world.
But mostly we were confused and miserable.
Recently I was asked if I’ve ever felt completely out of control in my life while calling it faith in God.
A journal entry from June 19, 2011 reads….
“Father, I am flunking this test (if that’s what it is) badly and painfully. I KNOW deep down that you love us and you have not forgotten us. But it is REALLY deep down and nearly hard to believe today.
We’ve lost both mothers and both of our jobs and many friendships this last year. I don’t feel you and I cannot help Hubs feel you.
We desperately need an encounter with you regarding our income and lack of jobs. It is getting scary around here!
What would you have us do Father? We need your direction and presence so much!
Yes, I felt completely out of control…because I was. (And this was written BEFORE Rocker Son's accident!) And no, I did not call it faith. Even the word “faith” mocked me.
A journal entry 10 days later….
Psalm 31 is very applicable right now. “Have mercy on us Lord, for we are in trouble….But our trust is in you.”
Can we trust and be afraid at the same time? Well, that’s where we are. No clue what the rescue will be, but still expecting it.”
Here on Recovering Church Lady I stumbled and bumbled my way through discussing what trust and faith really looked like in real life. It was not pretty or mighty or terribly inspirational. During that time my journal has huge gaps between dates. I got tired of asking God what was going on. My mind and heart were in a constant circle of doubt, then strength, then back to a downward spiral of confusion and depression.
It did not feel like faith.
It felt like failure with a capital “F”.
I tried giving God the silent treatment. But that is like an ant out on my front porch giving me the silent treatment. I wrote about it here. I stopped believing in a lot of stuff I used to believe…
..but I never stopped believing in God.
Can I take credit for that tiny sliver of faith? No, that belief was lodged SO DEEP inside me that it took no faith to access it at all. It was just there. Yes, God is real. Yes, He knows what is happening in my life. In some ways that made me even more confused and yes, angry.
You Guys, I look back now and I can see that God was there. I do not know why He chose to keep Himself a secret. But NOW I can see that He was listening, watching and maybe even shifting some things and events around that would bring us to where we are today.
Today we own a beautiful home and even though we still live paycheck to paycheck, we actually go out to dinner once in a while and we are trying very hard not to touch a new savings account. We live near our son, his wife and the most amazing grandson on the planet. Hubs has a fulltime job and I am contributing a teeny tiny bit by freelance writing from home!
As I finished that last sentence it felt like I should say “And God is good.” But He was good back there in the crappy time too. He was doing things behind the scenes that we may never know. He was whispering encouragement to one or the other of us at just the right moment to keep us sane. God was prompting people to give us money anonymously and others to let us know they were praying for us and dropping checks in our hands at the perfect second.
God is with you in your crappy season, friend. He may be playing hide & seek and it’s not a fun game right now, but He has not forgotten you and there will be another chapter to your story. It does not end here.
Your story is not over. There will be a day when you are looking back at today and you will be telling the story from a shockingly happy ending. You cannot picture that right now. I know that place. But please know that God has not left you. God has not given up on you and turned away in exasperation. He has not decided to just let you fall out of his hands. “Oops, that one got away.”
Take a deep breath. Maybe breath out a whispered prayer that “all will be well.” Talk to Him even if He has hit the MUTE button and you can hear nothing. Don’t over analyze the WHYs of your situation. Instead look at the WHO. Remind yourself of WHO God has been for you in the past. Pull out your old journals and read aloud the stories of His provision and presence in your life. (Try really hard not to shake your head in doubt as you read.)
Linking up with Random Journal Day.
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