There is a popular phrase in our culture that says, "I'll believe it when I see it." Our entire lives are based on the tangible, on trusting our selves, our instincts, and our sight. It's a tiresome way to live, this utter dependence on self. As a Christian, I have seen the necessity of changing that phrase around - "I believed to see." Believing (faith) results in seeing (fruition) which naturally results in more believing! I had another moment of fruition tonight, and it made me laugh with tears of joy and gratitude in my eyes. I started thinking of all the ways that my faith has resulted in sight and I wanted to chronicle some of them.
"I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation." Psalm 40:10
For over two years I have held other jobs than that of midwife. I have been house cleaner, nanny, seamstress, the go-to gal that would do just about any job offered to her. I won't say that I didn't get weary of needing to do other work than that which I loved so well, but I came to the place where I could honestly thank my Father in Heaven for each time income came my way, no matter how menial the source. Whether $10 or $100, I learned to say, "Thank you Lord" every time I was handed payment. It became a place of peace and simple gratitude.
Last year, I wrecked TWO cars in 2.5 months' time. Then I was told that my "new" car possibly had a cracked head, and even to a car novice like myself, it was the knell of doom. I will never forget sitting on the curb at my mechanic friend's apartment complex, crumpling up on myself, rocking back and forth, hurting too much to even cry. I was at the end of my rope. How could this be happening?? I bought my cars with cash, lived oh, so frugally, pinched and scrimped to got by, and where was my break? Aren't we supposed to get a break??
Then that still, small voice spoke to my heart, and I unfolded my agonizing self, sat up straight and said, "You're right. You have taken care of me before now, you will continue to take care of me. My life isn't up to chance, but is safe with You." My storm didn't seem to be over, but the storm inside my soul was quieted. As it turns out, there was absolutely nothing wrong with my car...
"I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." Psalm 27:13
An entry in my calendar, dated September 13, 2010, says, "Quit jobs. Started praying. :)" God allowed some doors to close, removing great stress out of my life. There were moments of trepidation, as the job I had walked away from was my bread and butter, but I trusted that all would be well. I began looking for another part time job to help support myself. Fear entered when I was told that the resume I had produced (with expert help, I might add) was all wrong - lacking in this, had too much of that, and for heaven's sake, it shouldn't have my picture on it because those always get thrown in the trash!! It was especially difficult as I had JUST faxed off my first resume. But I went to sleep that night, content in the knowledge that GOD was the one that would provide, and if that resume was what he wanted to use, then it was going to be good enough! I sent one resume...to one office...and was called the very next day for an interview. Although that job didn't end up being the right fit, I smiled through the whole process, knowing that my God was in control.
The days after that have been some of the busiest I've had in a very long time. Every day brought a chance to trust. Every day, my needs were supplied. Several babies were born...a box of food from a dear friend and client showed up on my doorstep...I was given leftovers from church dinners...friends invited me over for meals and snuggle time with their babies...I taught piano lessons to more students...my best friend shared out of her abundance, including a box of barley - I had just used the last of mine and was regretful over that fact...a client payed me more than was owed out of gratitude for the long days I put in during their birth...a fellow midwife shared her fee with me after we had gone through a difficult birth together...my rent was lowered due to a prior mistake on the management's part...another friend called me out of the blue and had me do a dress alteration job for her, paying me more than I asked...a soon-to-be-friend asked for weekly help with children and home...a great big box of apples was given to me as a thank-you gift...a friend slipped a carton of the special milk I buy into my car for me to find, and she didn't know that I had been out of milk for a couple of weeks and was wishing I had some... The list goes on an on.
A couple of weeks ago, one of our assistant pastors preached and told the story of when he was a college student, needing to do a load of laundry. He was $0.25 short of having enough change to operate the machine. Out of faith, he loaded his laundry into his basket, and prayed every step of the way, presenting his need to the Lord, asking him to provide. No quarter...until he opened the lid of an empty washing machine. A quarter. It might seem like so little, but in the need of the moment, it was great, and God provided. Pastor Matt used this story to challenge us to lay our needs out before God, asking him to meet them, trusting that he will. The story in the Bible about the widow woman and her barrel of meal wouldn't have the same impact if she hadn't gone to the barrel over and over again, always trusting that there would be more there. "For thus saith the LORD God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail...And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah...and the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD." I Kings 17: 14-16 He asked us to think of what our needs were and to give them to God. I thought, and it struck me...
We had revival services coming up, and I was the pianist for the week. How was I going to pay for the extra gas needed for the meetings? In the quietness of my heart, I asked God to provide, however he saw fit, communicating my concern to him. A moment later, I went to my place at the piano, and when the service was concluded, came down to collect my belongings. A friend beckoned me over..."My husband and I would like to fill up your car for you. We know that gas is a big burden, and we want to help you get to the revival services." My heart was in my throat as I thanked her, hardly even able to do the "proper" Southern thing of protesting gracefully lest we seem presumptuous...no, this was my God, choosing to answer my prayer, and so quickly. It didn't matter that my almost-full tank prevented them from adding very much. The amount wasn't important. What WAS important was seeing my Father in Heaven care for me in such an obvious, immediate way. I was awe-struck.
Last weekend, I rode with a midwife friend to our midwives business meeting, and on the way back was telling her that story, wanting to encourage her (and myself) in the telling of it. If we will trust him, he will provide for us. It doesn't matter that we can't see into the future, or that the coming months look strained. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills! No sooner were those words out of my mouth than we pulled into the parking lot where I had left my car overnight...to find it egged, and half a tank of gas GONE. All I could do was shake my head at the senselessness of it, wondering a little at the timing of my words of trust and the finding of my poor car's condition! Not only did $20 get slipped into my pocket later that night, but a brand new client called and hired me as her midwife. Once again, God provided!
Today, before leaving the house, I put one of my standard meals in the crock pot - a chicken breast doused with some kind of sauce, left to cook while I was away. For the first time in awhile, I used some Italian dressing that had been given to me, noting, and remarking out loud, that it was almost out and I hoped I would be able to get more. I vaguely asked God to supply it. The prayer was more a fleeting thought than a conscious one. Tonight while talking to a sweet lady traveling through for the week, she began to run down a list of things she had to share...need hangers? Sure! How about a bath rug? Wonderful! Do you like salad dressing? As a matter of fact, I do. Are you already ahead of me? I didn't think much about it until on the phone with my mom later, and I told her about cooking the chicken. A light bulb went off..."Ronda said she had salad dressing for me...I wonder what kind it is." I quickly dug in the bag, then started that choking, tearful laugh of joy. Yep...a bottle of Italian dressing. Once again, my Father delights to give to his child.
I know this is long, and quite an aside from the usual things I post, but it's my life. I just had to share. Just had to let the world see the reality of my God and his love for us. It's not a fable, it's not happenstance. It's a real God meeting our real needs in very real ways. His timing is perfect, wonderful. His love, unsearcheable. It all started with, "For God so loved the world..."
"For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen." Ephesians 3:14-21
For your care in my past...
For your blessing in my now...
For your vision for my future...
Lord, I thank You.