Saturday, February 11, 2012

Follow ME

There are some lessons in life that I think I am destined to have to learn over and over. But here in a faith filled moment, I want to declare to you the goodness of the Lord as I have seen it, quickly, before I am tempted to doubt again. The topic is: Money, and following the Lord’s leading.

Malachi 3:10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the LORD of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.

My human response to this verse: Do I have to? Are you sure you meant me Lord? Cause things are kind a falling apart around here and there isn’t much to go around… Isn’t it the thought that counts? Cause trust me if I could I would….

In September of 2010, Matt and I looked around ourselves and realized that we were striving. And more and more the Lord was laying it on our hearts that we needed a change. Having moved all the way to New York to pursue Matt’s lifelong dream of attending seminary we were a little shocked when the Lord made it clear that He had actually finished what He took us out there for and it was time to go back.

So it was with hope in Him, and yet no little amounts of confusion (with a hint of disappointment) that we moved back to California, and into Lynne’s house (Matt’s mother). With 5 unfinished debts. With a husband whose health was declining, finally coming to a point where he could no longer work.

When we arrived in CA we had nothing left. And our first few weeks were full of the thoughts of “well what now?” We had not yet found a church, but Matt came to me one day saying he felt that we needed to tithe anyways. I reluctantly agreed (“ya, ya, ‘test me in this’ blah blah blah…”). So we tithed to a mission that we keep up with and pray for. That was Friday.

On Saturday we were visited by some longtime friends of Matt’s who I had never met. They were a sweet couple who love the Lord, and who know pain, and therefore they had been praying for Matt and me for some time. Judy, the wife, had started a mission of her own. Gathering together with a group of women who love to knit, they sell their creations to create funds that they can send off to whomever they feel led. They call themselves the Knit Wits. And after telling us about the group, Judy handed us a hefty check. 24 hours before, I did not know this woman existed, and Matt barely remembered them from long before.

A few weeks later we were given two hundred dollars from some friends that I did know. It came with a sweet letter of care and hope. But a few days later, when yet another friend was telling us that her car had broken down and she had no idea how she would pay to fix it, I realized that my heart was telling me to give that money to her. No, MY life is bad. No, obey the Holy Spirit. When I shared with Matt how I was feeling, he amazingly replied “I know, I felt that we needed to give it to her also.”

Then the Lord laid something else on my heart. My home business had become a source of anxiety, discouragement and frustration for me. It was no one’s fault but my own. As I fought to make it happen, I was shaking my fist at the Lord, saying “Fine! You won’t do it? I’ll do it myself cause I’m tough and I can work hard so is this what you want? Me to do it all? Fine!”

Then, quietly, as He always speaks, He began saying “Stop it. Just stop”.
“What stop my attitude?”
“For sure…and stop striving”
“You mean stop working?”
“You’re crazy”.
“I’m God”
“I’m going to look stupid and foolish”
“That’s not what you need to worry about. You need to listen to Me.”
“So then what do I do?”
“I’ll provide for you. You love people, and that is why you liked that job at the beginning. You love to talk with people and serve them. That’s what I made you to do. So just do that.”

So I did. And letting it go hurt.

Matt and I were part of our church’s VBS, and I began volunteering at our Church’s Preschool. I also started watching my neighbor’s daughters for a few hours a week. I let them choose what they could afford to pay.

We are cracked, earthen vessels. When the Lord puts His treasure in us, it should pour out. Whether that means His love and glory, His care for others, or even the money that really belongs to Him. He will fill us back up, and to overflowing.

During this time I also started to run. Literally. Which is weird cause I hate running. But I have found that it is a great time to talk with the Lord. On the way up this one hill, right when I feel like my lungs are about to give and Rebecca is going to have to drag me home, I get real honest with my Savior. And it’s not always pretty. But neither is running.

It was during a run one day that I told the Lord a few things. It started with “God I am trying to do this, but it is hard. I feel alone. I feel drained. I’m trying to trust You, and serve You, and serve my family, and read the Bible, and be a good mom, and and and!” But He said nothing. A few minutes later I said “And another thing! How come I suck at running? Seriously! Why am I even doing this? I don’t feel any different! I’m trying to be healthy so that I have energy and I just don’t think it’s working!” This time He did answer.

“Corrie, I delight in you. I like you. And by the way, you are over-striding. Take smaller steps. If you can’t run the whole trail, just walk it for a while. Do what you CAN do, and let me TRAIN you to do more.”

Oh Jesus, how do you do that??? He had just answered BOTH of my questions. How do I go on? Where do I get my strength? Answer: Slow down, and do what you can. Do it diligently, but don’t beat yourself up, allow grace to cover you.

A few weeks later running up that hill I blurted out a few more things. “Jesus. Help. I can’t see the end of this path. I just need to know that You can see it.”

“Oh I see it. And I am already there. AND I am here. Right here running with you. Crying with you. Holding you up when you list to one side or the other. I’ll run you there.” Such comforting words! I craved more…and running was becoming a habit.

Several days later I said “Ok, I trust you. But I’m sorry, I need a sign. Please show me that you are there at the end of the trail!”

That day He said nothing. But when we were done with the run, we met up with friends at the park for a while, and then grabbed the mail as we headed home. As I flipped through the pile, a familiarly sized, taped shut envelope fell into my hand. Several weeks before Matt and I had received an unmarked envelope filled with 20s and only a simple verse written inside. We were completely blessed by it, but never expected more. It turned out to be the first of 6 or 7 of these envelopes. All written in the same hand, with similar and incredibly meaningful and poignant verses written in them. Receiving these letters never got old.

(I hope whoever sent those letters has been blessed beyond measure. And if you read this one day, please know that your example of selflessness and generosity has humbled us, and brought us closer with our Lord.)

In November, after 5 months of learning to trust the Lord, He provided me with another job. One where Rebecca comes with me, and loves it. Where she has friends who treat her like a sister. Where I get to serve children and laugh and play with them and delight in each of them. Where I get to mentor young adults as they learn to serve the Lord too. Where I come home, sometimes with a headache, but always with stories of their silly antics and how they bless me.

In December, before I had actually started my job, the World Vision Catalog came. It’s the one that has pages and pages of pictures of bunnies and goats and cows and school supplies, and shows how a chicken can turn a family’s life around. I am not usually a crier, but this magazine made me cry, and that was a good indication that I needed to take action. When I told Matt that I had cried he said he had too, which really wasn’t news to me…Matt’s a *crier (*printed with permission).

So then we deliberated…do we give now, or after Christmas when maybe some gift money has rolled in? If we do this now, we probably won’t be able to afford gifts for each other this year. Maybe after my first paycheck? Or maybe??? But the pressing of the Holy Spirit said to do it now.

Matthew 19:29

And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.

I’m not going to philosophize about the first part of that verse. It looks tricky. But here are the facts:

We gave $50. We bought some bunnies. the. next. day. we received a notice in the mail saying that though we had previously been denied state disability, we actually were granted disability and would be receiving a check for back pay from the time we had applied until December. Then another one of those taped up letters arrived a few days later. Then a friend said the Lord put it on his heart to give us a gift. Then Lynne’s coworkers, who choose a family in the community to lavish Christmas on every year, chose us. And a basket of goodies, toys for Rebecca and gift cards to all our favorite grocery stores arrived. Then our family, who are always generous to us, were characteristically generous. By Christmas Day we had 100 times the amount we had given.

He is GOD. And He is still doin’ His thing. He will never change.

~ Love, Corrie

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