what a difference a year makes…

Posted on April 11, 2009

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When I was in middle school, I remember my mom walking into the room I shared with my sister & sitting us down to talk about the importance of devotions. She had two spiral notebooks in her hand, and she handed them to Christina and me.

“These are to write your letters to God” she said, “anything that is on your mind – your hopes, your dreams, your fears…he wants to hear it all.”

And so began a long journey of many, many notebooks filled with tears & joy & pain & worry…and no one set a better example for me than my mom. Every morning she’d stake a spot at the kitchen table with a Bible & her notebook. Writing & reading. It was her escape – her refuge.

Because I have so many, it’s always interesting to go back and see what was going on months/years ago & where God has answered prayers or shaped me to understand his will a little more. Like tonight.

I keep my journal on our kitchen table. It’s almost full with thoughts & prayers from the past year, and tonight at dinner I took a look at my entries from last April. It’s amazing what all can happen in a year.

Last year? We lived in a one bedroom apartment & daily I was being “squeezed” – I wanted more space. We happened to be looking at new houses – ones that were in the process of being built or had been recently finished & came across one that fit everything we were wanting. A huge backyard, great kitchen size, massive closet space for all of my clothes, a garden tub, wooden floors, and the clincher – an LCD flat screen TV already mounted on the living room & master bedroom walls. Score! We thought we had found it. The house was for sale by owner, so we swapped information & decided to sit on the offer for a couple days.

We waited a couple days too late.

Before we knew it, days turned into weeks turned into months. We had the guy’s e-mail, and we had been communicating with him, but slowly – we withdrew without even realizing it. And this wasn’t the first time something similar had happened. We found numerous houses around this time last year. It wasn’t hard. Prices were steadily dropping & people were becoming desperate. But, because of our lack of down payment, we didn’t feel comfortable taking out so much on loan. We never had complete peace. Doors kept shutting for no reason, so we stuck with our one room apartment & I mumbled under my breath & wrote countless entries in my prayer journal asking God why it was so difficult for us to find a house.

Well, looking back – I now know the answer.

Since last April, Russ & I have moved into a two bedroom apartment and are about to move to a completely different city. So, in the span of one year, we will have moved twice. If we would have bought that house – if things would have worked and if we wouldn’t have paid attention to the signs – so many things wouldn’t be happening.

1. We probably wouldn’t have gone to Lake J this past summer. This seems of no consequence, but this is the moment where God began to break Russ & me simultaneously. He had always worked in our lives – but this camp began a process of wrecking & healing & pruning & blessing we never would have experienced had we moved.

2. Our relationship with our “daughter” wouldn’t have been fostered as much. Because of Lake J, our senses were heightened. You know when God moves? How suddenly every conversation, every moment becomes an opportunity? Yeah. That was this past summer. And, after our girl accepted Christ, we were immediately pulled in her direction. Late night conversations on facebook chat led to deeper conversations in person which led to horrible & gut-wrenching family secrets shared…all of this built an incredible relationship of trust and faith that God would provide. I’m not saying if we had moved our relationship with her wouldn’t have been as special – I just see a direct correlation between our trip to North Carolina, her salvation, and our soon-to-be family without the blood-ties.

3. Russ & I wouldn’t be moving to Austin. This one is simple. With a house in this market…packing up and moving is almost an impossibility. Could God do it? Absolutely. Would we be willing to step out on faith with such a comfortable way of life behind us? Honestly…I don’t think so.

Here’s the thing. I know what it’s like to veer from His plan. I’ve done this countless times and His will ALWAYS wins. Always. This is why He is sovereign & never changing. However – I challenge you to take a glance back at the past few months or years and see where God has protected you from a seemingly good opportunity – and in the process – blessed you abundantly.

A year ago today, my biggest concern was winning the deals on ebay for NineWest shoes & trendy bags. In the back of my mind, I was constantly looking for houses. For decor for my new house. For curtains & dishes & furniture & well, stuff.

Since then, I have been broken over the fact that I once owned 40 pairs of shoes. Really? 40 pair?
Since then, I have given away countless bags of clothes – my once gigantic closet full of clothes I never wear seems bare.
Since then, I still stop & drool at cute pairs of shoes or cute clothes. I still walk into Pier 1 & wish that I could have those curtains & these dishes & that kitchen decor. But I can’t do it.
Because since last April, God has continually wrecked my way of life. If pure religion is recognizing orphans & ministering to widows, why should my time be spent on building my own earthly kingdom? Why, in His precious name, do I “need” another shirt when it was probably manufactured in a sweatshop where the workers aren’t even paid a dollar a day? I can’t do it. Not bearing His name.

A lot can happen in a year. Perhaps this is why some people have begun to label Russ & me as hippies. But one thing I’ve come to learn is that when God shatters your worldview, nothing is left except for what He wants you to see.

And when you see what He sees – prepare to be broken. Prepare to be different. You know, a radical.

Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless & loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world. James 1:27

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Posted in: Faith, Prayer