I have always loved reading about Abraham of the Old Testament. Abraham was incredibly courageous and filled with faith as he literally stepped out into unfamiliar territory. The stories of Noah and Moses and so many other heroes of the Bible still inspire me as they were told to leave the familiar and to walk into the unknown. I would shudder as I would contemplate each man’s journey and be grateful that God did not require that of me. I was fearful that I would have failed their test for lack of courage, faith, and strength of heart. Little did I know back then what God has since taught me: if I continue to cling to the familiar, and refuse to walk in to the unknown, if I am not walking by faith, then I am missing out on all God has planned for me.
And then I prayed…
First, let me explain what was going on in my life at the time. I was 26, a Christian, had been raised in a strong and wonderful Christian home; very proud of my Christian heritage; unbelievably backward and shy; horribly missing my mother as she had died a few years before; my husband’s job was steady, but the company had us in transition for over a year before permanently moving us far away from all family and friends; we had finally settled into our first home; and I was almost 8 months pregnant with our second child.
But God was at work for me even though I did not appreciate His faithfulness, His awareness of my circumstances, and His involvement in my daily life. It seemed like I “just happened” to become involved in 2 very different Bible studies. And what Bible studies they were! Both required daily homework. One required memory work that was tested weekly! (Stressful! I am still awful at memorizing.) This was a period of time that I thankfully refer to as “Death by Bible Study.” It felt like a lightning bolt hit my heart when I realized I didn’t have the kind of faith I was reading about.
And then I prayed…
First it was a prayer of confession and for forgiveness: I was not who I had thought I was. My pride had hidden my true nature. The Lord God alone is God. He is Almighty. He is the “God who sees me.” My parents and grandparents may have had a strong faith, but I did not.
Then it became a prayer for help: I do believe, help my unbelief.
Then it became a prayer of faith: I give my life to You, Lord. Increase my faith. Do whatever it takes to make me completely Yours. My health and/or life, my husband’s health or job, the house, all that I have or am is Yours to do whatever it takes to make me Yours.
Then it became a prayer of partial commitment: But, Lord, it won’t help my faith if You hurt one of the kids. And Lord, I really don’t think I could live in (1) southern California, (2) the Northeast, or (3) Alaska.
I knew whatever God put in front of me would have a wonderful ending. I was confident of His faithfulness. And knew I had better “buckle up” because it would be a wild ride. Unfortunately, I prayed alone because I was too afraid to admit to my husband that I had put his health and job on the line for God to choose how He was going to use them. As if all these things aren’t already under His control. O ye of little faith.
Thankfully, the Lord God hears our hearts and not all the silly words we use. Less than one month later, my husband lost his job. While the Fear screamed to be noticed with the mortgage still due, bills to be paid, and the now lacking insurance to pay for a soon-to-come baby’s birth, God whispered “Trust Me.”
Lord, I do believe, help my unbelief!
And the Lord’s work becomes visible. During a time of job shortages, my husband had a new job with in a few weeks. In south California. (#1 on my list of places I don’t think I could live.)
We put our house up for sale, pack up the car, head to California where, again, we knew no one at all, and to the apartment we could almost afford along with a house mortgage, and the to the one doctor (the doctor from Washington state had to beg for weeks for a doctor to take me) who would accept an uninsured, 9-month pregnant woman he has never seen before. God was just getting started.
We drug in late at night with our 2 year-old son for our first night in our new city. As I entered the hotel (a very nice word for this place), the baby shifted his position. This is a problem for 2 reasons: this very big baby had been head down, ready to deliver, and now he was not, and the new company didn’t activate insurance for another month, and we may have needed a C- section to bring this baby boy into the world.
Lord, I don’t know how You are going to take care of all this, but I know You will.
Early the next morning, at the first check-up with the new doctor, the doctor gets a little anxious about the baby’s position. He decides to wait to see if the baby will move back, even when he doesn’t understand how such a large baby had room to move at all. The doctor gives us a deadline to have the baby as he is going on vacation and doesn’t want to dump “this case” on another doctor. A week before the deadline, my husband’s previous company calls to let us know they have extended our insurance until the end of the month.
Lord, You are faithful. You hold the world in Your hands. Nothing is too big or hard for You. I am a sheep in Your pasture. You care for me.
So, we pack for the trip to the hospital. Day before the looming “deadline” not only does the baby move back into the right position, but I also lost the plug and was having mild contractions. This baby boy was born naturally, no drugs, and we were out of the hospital within 24 hours. Upon seeing God work so mightily in our lives, did I finally have the courage to tell my husband about my prayers? I did. I was so thankful to God for my husband’s response of “Don’t stop praying.”
The number 1 place that I had thought I wouldn’t be able to tolerate was quickly becoming home. I loved the church family, the crazy California people, and the sunshine! And 6 months later, my husband’s company decides to move us to Pennsylvania. (#2 on my list of places I didn’t want to move.)
OK, Lord. I get it. Please keep us close. Help my faith continue to grow.
It was another huge culture shock since the Yankees hated my accent, and I couldn’t understand the Pennsylvania Dutch for the life of me. But I also grew to love it. The church activities, the beautiful fall trees, and snowball fights with the neighbor kids. And I pray, “Lord, I think I get it. If You want me to go to Alaska, I’m ok with that.” Life settled down a little. I was still relying on God, but not as desperately. Thankfully, God has a way of reminding me of my fears, my promises to Him, my heart’s desires.
Fast forward a few years. My older son, on the threat of punishment as to why he can’t rake the leaves in the yard, explains that his legs hurt. Fear touches my heart when I report the bruises on his legs to the doctor and he wants us to come in right away. Then the fear grips so tight breathing seems impossible as we are rushed immediately in to the examination room and then immediately walked right over to the adjoining hospital.
Lord. Please. This is my son. I was wrong to think I could withhold him from Your care. That my care was somehow better, safer than Yours. I am powerless to do anything. I give my son into Your care. You alone are the Great Physician. Whatever You choose to do with my son, I will accept. I do believe. Help my unbelief.
Lots of tests and a few days later, we know our son is cancer free. A couple of days later and the doctor explains his diagnosis. Antiphylatic purpara: an allergic reaction that has to be closely watched for more dangerous complications and it will take months for recovery to be complete. We were so thankful to God as our son did not have any complications and was well in a few months.
The Lord is good. He gives me what I do not deserve. He calls me not what I am, but what He wants me to be. To Him belong all praise and glory.
I love telling this story. Hopefully you, the reader, are encouraged but it also reminds me of several important lessons:
- It shows how God is so willing to give me what I need. I have but to ask.
- The most important thing in life is to love God. To be faithful no matter the circumstance. This life is only the testing ground of the life to come.
- God loves me more than I love Him. I can get confused when I use my amount of love for Him as the measuring stick for His love for me.
- The more I read my Bible, the more He helps me understand Him. The less I read my Bible, the more I forget.
- The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.
- I am but dust. As hard as I strive to walk in a manner worthy of His calling, I still will fail. His grace and mercy continually washes me with Jesus’ blood and tells me to keep trying. Don’t give up. Keep reaching for the prize of His praise, “Well done good and faithful servant.”
To God be all glory and praise.