I'm feeling the need to be honest and real today. I've heard the word patience - and have used it - what seems like a thousand times in the last week. "In God's Time", "God's plan", "just be patient"...all so true, but when you are the one waiting, wondering and hoping for something, God's time is not always a comfort...especially if you have a personality that likes to have things planned :) So, it got me thinking about my life, especially after I graduated college and how God has always come through...and many times at the last minute :)
I'm not sure why God likes to put us through that...the waiting, the wondering, not knowing what's going to happen in the next month. One of my theories is that God likes to make sure that you are relying on Him and not the world, and that perhaps, you need a little lesson in patience :) Personally, I think I've had enough tests and I wish He'd stop already :) But again, as I look back at my life I see a series of challenges and tests that I or my family has been through and I'm reassured. I'm reassured that God loves me, that God is taking care of me, that God has a plan for me and that it WILL happen in His time...just be patient. It will work out. It always has and always will. You may not see it in your lifetime, but that's where faith comes in. Let me give you some examples...
For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the , plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Jeremiah 29:11
It's hard living month to month - many people here and around the world have to deal with that reality. If you've never gotten to one week before the end of the month and had $0 in your account, then you can't possibly understand what it's like. It's a stress you don't want to deal with and sometimes can be downright frightening. It comes with a feeling of helplessness that is overwhelming. But I thank God, that in our 11 years of marriage, we have had to, on occasion, deal with this problem. Why be thankful? Because the majority of people deal with it daily and now I can relate. And because I have gotten to see God pull us out of it time and time again. We have seen people come out of nowhere to help.
Through getting married and moving to the US, through struggling to find a job when we first got here, through going to seminary for three years and Noe going longer, through having two children, through multiple surgeries, through different jobs, through moving and through unexpected issues, we have never felt anything other than God's peace in our lives. Sure, there were times of trouble, but even though we struggled financially, we never felt like we were doing something other than what God had planned for us. In other words, the challenge of Noe working full time in the public schools but not even getting paid a teacher's salary, while I worked part time, while we had our first child, while I had an unplanned surgery, all while paying for seminary...we never made it to the end of the month. Ever. So why didn't I quit and get a full time job? Why didn't Noe look for a different job...why didn't we do something about it, why, why, why? Simple. It was where God wanted us at the time. I knew that I was working in a ministry where God called me...as did Noe. We both knew we were supposed to be in seminary. We knew it was time to have a child. We would not risk what God was calling us to do for all the money in the world - because we knew that we could not be truly happy if we are not doing what God called us to do. It was hard at times, especially once we had a child and realized that we wouldn't be able to afford what other parents could for their children. But God saw us through and still is. How? Check this out...
We had no where to live when we got married and moved to the US because someone was renting my townhouse. But my sister had to move to Colorado and needed someone in her house to help with rent while they decided on their next move of whether to sell or not. Problem solved.
I was having trouble finding a job when we came back to the US and then a spot became available in the program where I used to work before I went to Peru. Problem solved.
When Noe finally got his license and working permit, he needed to be able to get around and we couldn't afford another car. Our townhouse then became available which was right by the bus stop. When the bus was no longer enough to help get him to where he needed to be, someone at the church donated a car and they gave it to Noe. Problem solved...twice.
Despite not knowing much English, Noe was blessed with a job at a church starting an Hispanic Ministry.
When the above car stopped working and we needed a new one because we were going to have a baby, Noe decided to take it to the junkyard to try and get a couple hundred dollars for it. On the way to the junkyard a car side swiped Noe totaling our car. We got almost $5000 from the insurance company. Not a coincidence.
Once I had Paul, I knew that God was calling me to do something else. I was no longer happy or at peace with where I was working. So I resigned and gave 3 months notice with no prospects. Stupid or brave? Faith. And peace. Two weeks before the end of my job I had an interview with what ended up as my first call at a church in Reidsville. God loves to wait until the last minute :)
One December, after we had Ella, and Noe was still in seminary, we got a call from the pastor of our home church. He said that someone had brought in a trash bag full of Christmas presents for our kids. Amazing.
We couldn't afford for Noe not to work while he searched for his first call after seminary and his job at the school system was no longer secure. Right when we were starting to get worried and wonder what we would do, Noe was accepted into the chaplaincy program at Duke which gave us a full year to look for a call. Awesome.
When that year was half over and he still didn't have a call, he found the "For such a time as this" program that landed us in Fort Lauderdale. The process ended and the call was extended less than a month after the end of his chaplaincy. God is good.
While we were in Fort Lauderdale, Noe's car broke down and it was more expensive to fix it then it was worth. We decided to not get a new one because we were already tight each month. We would just ride it out and share one car. Was it a coincidence that two days later my mother called and said that my grandmother decided she no longer needed a car and, since she had already given one to her other two children, she gave it to my mom...and did I want it? Of course it was no coincidence. It was God working things out again...at the last minute :)
After a year of being in Fort Lauderdale, I was still trying to figure out what my calling was. As a pastor's wife, I have realized that we will always go where Noe is called. It's the nature of the work. So, once we follow his call, I will have to figure out where God is calling me. It took a while in Fort Lauderdale, but God came through as He always does. After getting on my knees and begging God to please show me the way, days later I was called to an interview at another church to start a Mother's Morning Out Program. I did...but at our church :) We also got a grant so I could get paid to help with the Christian Education at our church. All in God's time...
And what about those times that friends or family chipped in a few hundred here or there to help us out...and always at the right time? Or those wonderful people who offered us or our kids amazing opportunities that we would not have had otherwise. God's timing.
So now here we are in Lancaster and I am again looking for my calling. Unlike Fort Lauderdale, I have had a few different possibilities land in my lap. So all I have to do is wait and pray until God shows me which path to take.
Life may give you challenges, like not being able to pay a bill at the end of the month; but if you are doing what God wants you to be doing and you are walking down the path He has chosen for you, it will work out. Just have faith. It won't always be easy - it can be frustrating, you can call out and feel like God's not listening - but the saying is true...in God's time...it will all work out.
One day...after we close on our house and after I start working and we are settled in to our new life here in Lancaster, I hope that we can pay it forward and return some of the kindness that we have received. I was reading the birth story the other day and it had never occurred to me how many angels were in that story...Zechariah's angel, Mary's angel, Joseph's angel, the shepherds' angel(s)...they were all there to make sure everyone knew what was going on and to reassure them that all was good. Then Noe told me of an "angel" that helped his family once in Peru one Christmas Eve (he tells the whole story in the devotional the church will give out for advent :) There are real live angels all around us. We have experienced many and I thank God for it. If we had never been put into the situations we were in, then we would have never known what it felt like to need and then receive...to want for something and then be blessed with it. And if we had never known the social difficulties of living in a society that is money-driven we would have never learned how to be sensitive to those that don't have as much. God has probably used you as an angel for someone else and I'm sure you can think of a time when angels have helped you. Have faith that whatever trials you are going through will work out - maybe not how you planned or even what you wanted - but just be patient and trust in the Lord.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5
Going through difficulties and trials will enable you to feel sympathy and to help others who will also go through them...and possibly without the faith that you have. You can be the light for them that brings God's joy and peace to their lives. Through your trials you can be an angel to someone else :)