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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Faithful


The journey of faith is never dull and quite unpredictable where the path twists and turns will lead you. But one thing is sure to be constant: God is faithful and is the “same yesterday and today, YES and forever.” (Heb 13:8) It’s hard to believe that it’s been 4 months since I’ve returned from South Africa. In one vein it seems like I’ve been back forever and in another vein I felt like I just got off the plane. I feel that now that I have been settled for 2 ½ weeks in my flat apartment, reverse culture shock is showing up to be more prevalent than when I was living in a suitcase.

If you have talked to me at all in these last 4 months, if I shared any stories about South Africa, more than likely you also heard me talk about one-overarching theme that pervaded my life whilst in South Africa and especially what transpired within the last month of my life. That theme would be the faithfulness of God. Every step of faith (meager though it be) I took to get to South Africa and while I was there, God matched it a hundred fold! Because of the abundant love and joy I experienced (even on the hard days), upon returning back to the States, I resolved to the Lord that I would never again have need to worry ever again. I don’t say this flippantly or out of irreverence. I know the weight of such statement and the shift of emotions that would need to take place to live out such a bold statement. But really, at the end of the day- how do you define S-O-V-E-R-E-I-G-N? The Lord either is or He isn’t- there can be no in between. But let me tell you- I have already been tempted to worry or become anxious on numerous occasions and in those moments I have had to literally run to the Word for solace and comfort. “In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence, and his children will have refuge.” (Proverbs 14:26) I am also reminded of this quote by Robert Benson in Living Prayer :

“Most of the time, we are somewhere in the past or the future. The past echoes and the future beckons; the present just seems to be sitting on the edge of the bed leering at us when we wake up in the morning. It does not always seem like much, so we do not often pay it much mind. When we do visit the present from time to time, we are likely to wonder why it is not what it seems like it used to be or not what we had hoped it might be. We rarely are content to live in it just the way it is. ‘There is only now,’ wrote Merton. The daily prayer of the faithful can create places in our hearts and minds that can be filled with something besides worry and fear about the days that we can no longer live or cannot yet reach.”

Let me share my story that has taken place within the last month of November. After all of the weddings I had been to since I’ve been home, it was only then I could actually get serious and start looking for a job in Ft. Worth and waiting to hear back from campus housing to see if I would be able to get in sooner than later (even when I was coming at a random time in the semester). It was a God-sized task that only He could pull off. The first week of November I got an e-mail on Tuesday saying that I had been granted an interview with a church in Ft Worth for an administrative assistant job on that Friday. I was ecstatic! The next day I went to Ft. Worth to apply at every Hallmark card store that was in the area. “Why Hallmark?” you might ask. That’s a great question and to which I would reply, “I felt like the Lord put it in/on my heart to work there.” Plain and simple and no strings attached. It was the most random thing, but one I truly believe that was from the Father. And let me tell you, it is so vital to be called to whatever/whereve it is that is taking up the majority of your time (like a job), because in the hardest of days you can look back in reassurance to that call and be at rest. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a card-giver and love, love, LOVE to use my words of affirmations through the dying art of snail mail. I know the value there is in a card. Back to Hallmark- I applied at 3 stores and got an interview for one of the stores, which was also on Friday.

Friday rolls around and had a great interview with both places, but my heart was leaning to the Hallmark job. I got hired on the spot for Hallmark, whereas I would need to wait for a week for the church job to hear back. I then go to the seminary and prepare myself to BEG to get my keys from them, to which I didn’t even have to- I left with keys IN HAND!!! He gives and He gives and He gives!!! So that next Tuesday I move into my apartment and that following Monday I start my job with Hallmark. CAN I JUST TELL YOU how freeing it was to walk in confident trust- knowing that my Father would provide?!!

Thanksgiving week is when I started work. When you ask a Hallmark employee how long they have worked there, they always respond in how many Christmases they have worked; meaning they’ll say “I’ve worked 5 Christmases” because it is INSANELY busy around this time of year and people care A LOT (more than I ever knew) about their Christmas ornaments. Needless to say, I had (have) a big learning curve and just got thrown in there and trying to keep up with the pace. When stress level rises, your character is always in check and its true colors will show. And let’s just say- I’ve got a lot to learn. A couple of the lessons I’ve been learning are:

1. My people-pleasing tendencies will A-L-W-A-Y-S be futile, so now is the best time than ever to start working  heartily as to the Lord and not to men (Col3:23).

2. Reverse culture shock is real and is reverberating all the more because that I have now moved to a new city, a new apartment and started a new job. When people are transitioning, I am always quick to tell them that with all the “newness”= AT LEAST one melt down/break down for each “new” thing. It’s OK, it’s normal and I would be concerned if they didn’t. Now, it’s time to listen to my own advice and be ok with not being 100% whilst in this major transition. Change takes time and it also takes time to know people well and also be known by them.

3. When I am weak, He is strong (2Cor 12:7-10)!! This past Tuesday I had a day off and had a much needed time alone with the Lord and just some solitude. Henri Nouwen, in his book Out of Solitude penned this beautifully when he wrote,

“In solitude we can slowly unmask the illusion of our possessiveness and discover in the center of our own self that we are not what we can conquer, but what is given to us. In solitude we can listen to the voice of the One who spoke to us before we could speak a word, Who healed us before we could make any gesture to help, Who set us free long before we could free others, and Who loved us long before we could give love to anyone. It is in this solitude that we discover that being is more important than having, and that we are worth more than the result of our efforts. In solitude we discover that our life is not a possession to be defended, but a gift to be shared. It’s there we recognize that the healing words we speak are not just our own, but are given to us; that the love we can express is part of a greater love; and that the new life we bring forth is not a property to cling to, but a gift to be received.”

I was in raw form on Tuesday- feeling a little misunderstood at work and having only worked part time for my first 2 weeks, and that my December rent/utilities would be due by the end of the week. I could dip into my savings, but I didn’t want to do that. But before I could even begin worrying, 2 mighty displays of God’s provision happened:

1.       My friend Emily, was so gracious to send me an Amazon gift card as an appreciation/housing-warming gift. I “just so happened” (insert sarcasm because I don’t believe in coincidences) totally missed that e-mail when she sent it the Saturday before Thanksgiving week. I was long overdue on cleaning out my e-mail inbox and that’s when I noticed it! I was completely taken aback and completely grateful at the same time. I was able to purchase a George Foreman grill- that I so very much wanted because this sister loves to grill her meat!

 

2.       I went out to my mailbox to where I received my first piece of mail! It was from a kindred soul (who I know would want to remain nameless) and in her note was a check for the E-X-A-C-T amount, down to the PENNY of how much my December rent/utilities needed to be!!!! I would have likened to cry, but instead fell on my knees to worship my Jehovah-Jireh that provides!!!! She didn’t even know how much my rent is every month. He gives and He gives and He gives!!!

I am so thankful/grateful to the Lord for this reminder as the rubber hits the road at this point. Where He leads He always strengthens. I have just borrowed a book from a friend entitled Ruthless Trust by Brennan Manning. I’ve only read the first chapter and it is already rocking my world. Manning states “Somewhere along the way, in the life of the maturing Christian, faith combined with hope grows into trust.” Also in the first chapter is a prayer I hope to make my own in the recesses of my heart:

“Uncompromising trust in the love of God inspires us to thank God for the spiritual darkness that envelops us, for the loss of income, for the nagging arthritis that is so painful, and to pray from the heart, “Abba, into your hands I entrust my body, mind, and spirit and this entire day- morning afternoon, evening, and night. Whatever You want of me, I want of me, falling into You and I trusting in You in the midst of my life. Into Your heart I entrust my heart, feeble, distracted, insecure, uncertain. Abba, unto You I abandon myself in Jesus our Lord. Amen.”

Oh for grace to trust Him more!! I am grateful that from one faith-walk to the next He will always be there, ever guiding and directing, being faithful to the end. Here’s to the journey!

3 comments:

Kels

I love this story (your story, His story)! So encouraged by you and your walk with Him, dear friend!

gracefortheroad.com

Praise Him for His faithfulness. I love the quote about living in the present. And remembering you with the culture shock ... I nearly had another meltdown in the sugar aisle the other day ...

Mandi

Love this and you. I tell trav all the time you're my plumb line for beauty and good wall calendars.

"Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude."
Colossians 2:6-7
I want my life to be flowing with an attitude of gratitude towards my Lord, Jesus Christ. How could I not? He has given me abundant life and it is my prayer that I clearly represent Him in every area of my daily life of what He did on the cross on my behalf.