Almost 3 years ago, my husband and I first moved down to Middle GA to start our little homestead. It was a joint venture with family that imploded and exploded and, all in all, left us wondering what our next move could possibly be. [Incidentally, it is possible to be “unequally yoked (2 Corinthians 6)” even when dealing with other Christians. When you are aligning yourself with folks who believe differently, such as cessationist versus not cessationist, or who have different priorities than you and different goals for your joint endeavor, messes can ensue in more ways than you can possibly imagine. Especially when one of those groups is dependent on the other and Proverbs 23 comes into play. Communication breaks down, unspoken or even verbally-denied-but-still-present expectations go unmet. Accusations were thrown around and every defensive bone in my body — anyone who knows me knows I have quite a few — wanted to scream our defense from the rooftop, but I kept hearing in my spirit, “As a sheep before His shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.” We were not completely innocent, as much as both parties ultimately wanted to glorify God, there were sinful, selfish hearts winning out over those motives from time to time on both sides. Boundaries were taken for granted, for our part, and that was disastrous. All of that to say, when you are placing all your eggs in one big basket, make sure that it is God’s basket and that you are partnered in the right way with the right people].
January of 2013 found us starting over, in the same physical location, knowing that any success was going to have to come through God’s hands. We had no (or at least extremely limited) resources and still high hopes for what we might see. Right away, we saw struggle. We had carefully crafted a chicken CSA through our meat birds that we hoped would sustain us, and in one fell swoop most of our flock was destroyed by predators, on the same day that we were hosting a “House blessing” party where we invited members of our church worship team to our house to consecrate that space anew. At every turn over the course of the last year, there were preachers and speakers all prophesying blessing over our lives, and it seemed as though every word of blessing was followed by loss of livestock, broken down vehicles, and broken appliances. Jeff miraculously got a job, and even though we were not spending extravagantly, the mere fact of needing gas for him to get to work meant that somehow we felt like we had less money than when he was not working. Where was the provision? Where was the blessing? On top of that, Jeff’s job was an overnight shift, and his health, which we had worked ridiculously hard to improve over the last year and a half leading up to his employment, started to decline. Back to a constant rotation of sinus infections, digestive issues, and exhaustion. The straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak, came when our well stopped working. First the pressure tank, and then the overworked pump.
After a little more than a month of this, I went on a trip with a good friend to attend the New England Prophetic Conference at New Dimension Church in Providence, Rhode Island. Another good friend (and future co-author and co-blogger) knew I needed to be there, and that something pivotal was going to take place there regarding the future of our own ministry, Made 4 This Moment. Every single thing that could possibly go wrong leading up to leaving for the conference did go wrong, which really only seemed to confirm the necessity of my attendance. Finally we got underway. The conference was amazing, I learned a lot about operating in the prophetic and stewarding my spiritual gifts, but this post is not about that (sorry, more later?). On the last day, Sunday, as a visitor attending my first Sunday service at NDC, I went forward to the visitors area to receive ministry from the prophetic team, and I was blown away and challenged by everything that transpired.
For those unaware of what moments like this are made up of, my name was called and I was brought to a woman I’ve never met before. She asked no questions about me, she simply prayed with me for the Holy Spirit to be present and to minister through her. She proceeded to tell me that even through I have been through so much that has made it hard to believe, I needed to not give up. I needed to believe, because my double was coming (double portion, double recompense instead of your former shame). God IS going to come through, I needed to hold on, and I needed to believe. I was weeping. We have been through a lot, and it seemed like every time someone told us good WOULD come out of it, we went through even more. You get to a point where you’re sitting there in the congregation pleading silently, “Please don’t have a word for me, I don’t think I can take it if one more thing breaks.” And the last thing to break was me. Weeping ensued, as I previously mentioned, and in the midst of the flood I did find encouragement. I just had to hang on to God and to His promises.
There have been a lot of needs on our prayer list, some of them actually forgotten by me in the wake of more pressing needs, but none of them forgotten by God. There is a dear woman in our congregation with a spiritual gift of giving. I am pretty sure God has used her to clothe at least half of the church. You just see a certain ensemble and know, “I am pretty sure Sister Phyllis picked that out.” She has a very distinctive eye for what will look good on a person, so I guess that God has gifted her not only with generosity, but with a keen fashion sense, as well. I knew to be expecting a package, and I had just assumed it was probably clothing. I got home from the conference at 4:30 in the morning on Tuesday, and saw on our table a twelve piece stainless steel cookware set. two years ago, when we started the GAPS diet, I learned that metal cookware can “trap” gluten when gluten bearing foods are being cooked in the pans. This gluten can remain hidden in the metal for years, despite rigorous washing. I could not afford new cookware, so we used what we had before we went grain/gluten free and just prayed that God would protect us from cross contamination. Onto the mental prayer/wishlist went “new cookware,” but I certainly didn’t expect to see it happen before we saved up enough to take care of the more emergent needs we were dealing with. I’d been back in my house less than 30 seconds when I saw first-hand that God does delight in meeting our needs, and He has no concern for what other prayer concerns we think are prerequisites. He can meet any need at any time, I do not need to have running water in my house before I can have my old cookware replaced with something brand new and uncontaminated.
This was a huge blessing, and yet I still found it easy to be discouraged. I woke up the next day to find that everyone in our household who had been sick (Jeff, Joshua, me) and seemed to be getting better was now newly sick, and that the kids may have been glad to be back home, but they certainly were not thrilled to now have to readjust to the routines they were missing so much. Life was not looking like I thought it should, money for the basic needs for that week was tighter than I hoped it would be, and I was discouraged. Looking back, all I can think is, “Ye of little faith. God just answered a 2 year old prayer through a wonderful sister in Christ, and you’re still reacting with the old fear and worry mentality. The icing on the cake was finding out that our food stamp benefits were again reduced, and feeling like I’d been punched in the gut the moment we got the news. Instantly (after the gut-check), I felt convicted. “God has said He will supply all our needs, and here I am worrying about the first need that comes up. I should just look at this and know that if the situation is getting worse, that means that God wants an even bigger display of His provision for an even greater harvest of glory for Himself.” And so I encouraged my heart to believe. I walked around for days repeating Scriptures to myself. “Why are you downcast, O my soul, put Your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him.”
A few days ago I was coming home from my weekly farmers market trip and I saw a man in our driveway. He knew my husband through the Celebrate Recovery group he (Jeff) leads, and wanted to take a look at our well. I showed him, then went in and woke Jeff, who returned with the news that this man wanted to fix our well. The next day he took Jeff out to get the necessary parts, and then today they fixed it. Two months without running water, and I am still in shock at the wash being done in the other room and the ability to just wash my hands right away while making the burgers we ate for dinner tonight. And today I learned that there will be even more cookware added to my set. And a referral from our son’s pediatrician that she said we wouldn’t hear back on for some time, they called to start us in the appointment-making process LONG before we expected them to. The past four days, it has felt like a parade of miracles, a parade of blessings. And I know God is not done yet. There are still other needs on our list, and still other words we are waiting to see come to pass. I know He isn’t done. But now, instead of feeling daunted by the as-of-yet-unmet needs on my list, I am encouraged by them. God is going to provide. Not because I am particularly deserving. Not because I said any special magic words when I prayed. Not because I put money in the offering plate(although we do tithe regularly and outside of our tithe if God says to put something in the plate, we do. He does say He blesses giving and we do follow those principles of sowing and reaping), none of these things are reasons why God is going to come through. God is going to come through because it is WHO HE IS. He is Jehovah Jireh, The Lord who provides), Jehovah Rafah (The Lord Who Heals You), Jehovah Nisei (The Lord Our Banner). It is who God is, and God does not deny Himself. We have been through a lot. Just when we thought we couldn’t take any more, more was dished out. And the wilderness we have been walking through was dark, and did indeed make it hard to believe. But the day is breaking. We area walking in the Light of Day, and though we are not totally “out of the woods” yet, we know that God is walking right beside us, meeting our needs, holding our hands, showering us with His incomparable love and His provision. Now, in the light of all that has transpired, it is much easier to see obstacles as opportunities for God to work miracles.