(Please find Part Two here.)
I knew it as soon as the Bible instructor told us to turn to the book of Joshua. Knew exactly what verse I’d end up reading, even before we’d started reading.
He wanted each of us to go around the table, read a verse or two, then pick up where the other person had left off.
A couple of people went before me, and I waited with an expectant grin, knowing what was coming before it came.
When it got to me, the smile about split my face, making me want to laugh, to shout, to dance with joy; the presence of God as real and as strong as though He were sitting next to me.
I read it reverently, knowing the power behind these words:
“‘Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.'”
A verse I could have repeated from memory.
The exact verse the Lord gave Dad all those many months ago as he sat in his recliner and the Lord had whispered to his heart: I want you to go.
And here we were.
What were the chances the Bible instructor would choose the book of Joshua to preach on that night? What were the chances I’d sit in that exact spot, to read the very verse my family had clung to the way a sailor hugs a mast in the middle of a storm?
Slim, for sure. Surprising? Not a bit. Coincidence, maybe.
But highly unlikely, considering the sheer amount of “coincidences” it had taken my family to get to this point. 😉
All I could do was marvel.
How had I gotten to this place?
Sitting in Texas, enrolled in a Bible School, reading aloud the very same verse that had brought us here in the first place.
Oh, the mysteries and wonder of God!
Last post I wrote, I shared about some of the struggles in moving. When God’s promises seemed so very far away and how easy it was to doubt.
I shared about how Dad started feeling discouraged in his workplace, how defeated he felt.
Yet even in that God fulfilled a promise.
To keep himself following God when the going got rough, back in Colorado Dad would go to his recliner many times to clear his thoughts and listen for the Lord’s voice. And the Lord strengthened and encouraged him many times, speaking things my dad would write down.
One of those times, God told him that he would become a manager in Texas, getting to exchange the work clothes he’d always worn for dockers and dress shoes instead. Here’s the very paper he wrote it down on:
A year and some months after that promise, Dad did become a manager!
It soon became clear though that it was not something God wanted for Dad long-term.
What He’d said had been fulfilled–Dad was now manager. But it was time for something new.
And that something new was, “Time to find a house, and get ready to leave this job because I’ve got another one for you coming up soon.”
Whew, okay! Here goes.
Not what we were expecting, but then again, not all that surprising anymore, God doing/saying/asking things that were unexpected.
But back to another promise. Remember my dream, the one with the house on the hill and big windows? How I dreamt of me and my parents in the car, and the conversation we had?
It came true exactly the way I dreamt it. Every detail.
Who was driving, what was said, the house on a hill with big windows.
But my parents put in a bid on that house…
Ouch. That, for me, was one of the most devastating blows.
It was a beautiful, beautiful house. We all fell head over heels in love with it, were sure it was the one. Seemed absolutely perfect after we’d been searching for months for the perfect place. And it matched my dream completely.
Why, then, had this one not come true in the same way that my dream about the judge had?
I didn’t know. Still don’t completely understand, to be honest.
And trust me, it took me a little bit to rebound from the disappointment of that. But after a couple of days, I realized two things:
- The dream had come true, exactly as God had shown me, which meant God had still been faithful to His promise. He’d never shown me in the dream us actually moving into it; just what had happened–Mom being excited, thinking we’d found “the house.” I was the one who’d assumed it meant we’d be moving into it. There was no error on God’s end; if there was anyone to blame, it was me for misinterpreting what He’d showed me happening in the future.
- But why would God do that? Show me something that got all of our hopes up, then take away what was everyone’s “dream house”? It seemed unfair and cruel, really. It didn’t make sense. But once again, a choice rose before me: Trust God’s character and infinite goodness, knowing that God is love and nothing He does or allows to happen can ever come from a place except love, or accuse and doubt. No, the situation didn’t make sense to me. But who is the created, and who is the Creator? Once again, I was reminded of another time where it didn’t make sense, and how wrong I turned out to be to doubt the very One who’d made me. Who died on a cross for me. So I’d release the disappointment, the need to understand. I’d accept this turn of events and I’d trust Him once again.
So the search went on.
In June of 2016, my parents at last found and bought their dream home:
It wasn’t on a hill, but the Lord knew what he was doing, because to be on a hill meant to be in the country.
To be in the country meant to be miles away from town, the church we’d started attending, and my niece and older sister. (Yep–the Lord helped them find their very own place, too!)
And wouldn’t you know, this home?
It had some really big windows.
Because this home was so miraculously under budget (another story for another day!), Mom got to design and remodel everything just the way she wanted, with a kitchen to die for and beautiful wood floors. Something my parents had never been able to afford to do before.
With the Lord’s prompting, Dad quit and got another job, one without all the stress and drama of the one before. (Although the one before served its purpose… without it, my parents could not have qualified to buy their dream home.)
My niece started a new school year with a teacher she absolutely adored, made some new friends, and started making A’s and B’s in every class.
As for me, I started finding my niche, ending up for the first time in a job I totally loved and enrolled in Bible School, a dream I had long ago and never thought I’d see fulfilled.
Probably one of the greatest things of all…
My younger sister and nephew moved to Texas!
Just writing that, I cannot tell you how much emotion and memories it brings up for me.
God is so good. So faithful to His promises!
Having to follow God, knowing we’d leave them behind, I don’t even know how to tell you how hard that was. I remember the absolute pain and fear and sacrifice it took, an actual moment where I literally imagined handing my nephew and sister over to God, and telling Him I trusted Him to make everything beautiful in its time. (If you haven’t already, read about it here.)
And He did.
I handed them over not knowing what would happen, and oh, friends… He handed them back to me! There are no words.
For Rachel and Boe, they, too, love it here and this last Christmas, surrounded by my whole family and in our new home, I heard something I never thought I’d hear my sister say: “I just want you guys to know… there is nowhere else I’d rather be than here, with all of you.”
Please don’t get me wrong and hear me when I tell you–we’re still bumbling around, trying to figure things out. We still miss Colorado often, and there are things that God is still working out that just don’t make sense yet.
But I believe He will work them out. More than believe–I know.
Because He’s done absolutely more than I could ever ask or imagine. Time and time again proven Himself faithful. More than worthy of our trust and obedience.
Following after God, oh, trust me–it can be hard and messy, with highs and lows, and plenty of mistakes on our end.
But it’s worth it. And His grace is enough.
Almost three years ago, February 16, 2014, God told a man to move himself and his entire family to Texas, to watch and wait to see what He would do.
And He did so much more than could ever be written about.
My family would be the first to tell you, we don’t know it all–would never claim to, and struggle daily not to try to.
But here’s what we do know: we know of a mighty God who loves His children with a mighty love, and as for me and our house?
We will serve the Lord.
Footnote: Below is a song Dad would often sing from the computer at home when he got discouraged about being able to move his entire family to Texas. The lyrics say:
“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders,
Let me walk upon the waters,
Wherever you would call me.
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander,
And my faith will be made stronger,
In the presence of my Savior.”
A little while after arriving in Texas, we were able to attend a concert with the very group who wrote this song. The song Dad used to sing privately with tears running down his face in our living room, he now got to sing with 8,000 other people, in the very place the Lord said that He would bring him.
Praise you, Jesus!
Find it here.