I made a half-hearted joke on my personal Facebook page today.
I posted it jokingly. But, I’m a little ashamed to admit, I meant it. I did want God to hand me the answer to my problems right there in the aisles of a grocery store. I did imagine myself running into a long-lost friend or acquaintance, and it being like God handing me a beautifully wrapped gift. I wanted a tangible answer, right then & there. What I got, however, was a cart full of groceries & a whole-lotta nothin’.
I haven’t blogged here in a while. I’m ashamed. I blame the devil. I let him into my spirit for a while. I let his schemes, and his road-blocks, and his trials, hinder my quest to advance the Kingdom. I let him wreck my quiet times. I let him steal my joy. I let him into my relationship with Jesus. And, you know what? It’s been showing.
A lot has been thrown my way lately. We’ve had some financial set-backs. A while ago, my husband & I decided that we weren’t really being very good stewards of what the Lord was entrusting us with. So, we decided to do something about it. We knew that we spent a good deal of our income toward eating out. It is truly a weakness for us. So, we decided to stop. We decided to intentionally make smarter decisions with our spending, to not buy things just because we wanted them, and to get a better handle on our finances. And you know what? We came under attack y’all.
First, we were hit with bills that we struggled to pay. Our electric bill doubled. Our water bill doubled. We decided we’d be more cautious about these things.
Then, the enemy brought out the big guns. We received a bill in the mail for a toll violation from our recent vacation – $65. To make a long story short, we made a poor decision while vacationing & didn’t stop at the toll plazas. According to the signs we’d seen, we thought we could go online & pay our tolls within 7 days of using the highway. Our misunderstanding cost us greatly, because about a week later another toll violation came in the mail – this time, to the tune of $400. I literally cried.
But you know what? The enemy wasn’t done with us yet. Then, sickness hit. Snotty noses, coughs and ear infections led to doctor visits, which led to deductibles. The baby had a lingering ear infection. We’d already treated it with a round of antibiotics, so the doctors’ next solution was ear drops, of course …. $190 worth of ear drops.
A week later, my husband received a phone call from a debt collector. When I quit my full-time job, as one of our ways to cut back we’d decided to forego our satellite service. When he’d called to disconnect, he was told that our satellite boxes were obsolete, and the company therefore did not want us to bother returning them. Now, months later, our friendly local debt collector had a bill from said-satellite company in our name, to the tune of $250.
I felt in over my head. Friends, I work 12 hours a week. I don’t have this kind of money.
But guess what? That enemy…he still wasn’t done.
When I made the decision to leave my full-time job and go to work part-time in order to spend more time at home with my kids, we really struggled with what we would do with the baby while I was working. The decision meant cutting my income in a third, which left us far from able to afford daycare. A sweet friend who only worked weekends offered to watch the boys when I needed help. Her fee was virtually nothing, which I struggled with at first. But, you know? So many people have told us to accept the blessings God sends our way…so we did. And it was a great arrangement for 4 1/2 months. But last week, the enemy sent another cannonball my way. She had been offered a management position during the day at her place of employment. Which meant, effective in one week, she could no longer keep the boys. As happy as I was for her, and as exciting as I knew this was for her career, it made a knot in my stomach. It changed everything for us.
Will I be able to find someone else that I trust to watch my babies? Will I be able to afford what they’re worth? Is there any way I could afford daycare & still have money for feeding our family? How can we possibly make ends meet if I can’t find someone to watch the kids and I have to quit my job altogether? Will I have to go back to work full-time again? Why did I even think I could quit my full-time job in the first place, when it means I can’t even afford medicine for my sick child?! What kind of mother am I?!
My brain hasn’t quit reeling since I got the news. I’ve stressed. I’ve beat myself up. I’ve played over every worst-case scenario in my mind. Then, I prayed. I confessed my worry, I sought His forgiveness, and I “gave” it to God. I use “gave” so loosely, because really….honestly….I didn’t give anything to Him. I kept holding on to all that worry and anxiety and frustration. I have been holding onto it for days now. I’ve struggled…because HOW do you give something like this to Him? If I just let Him handle it, how will I ever solve the problem? How will I find a solution – somebody to keep my baby? (Side note – I won’t…not alone!)
So, today, I prayed that silly little prayer in the Wal-Mart parking lot. And, friends. I truly, half-heartedly expected God to hand me that person. And when I left, and He hadn’t answered, I saw how silly, and petty, and trivial I’ve been.
Praying for a chance encounter in Wal-Mart? That’s the easy way out.
Why am I experiencing all this trial? Why is everything hitting us at once? Why have I had to spend all these days feeling like I’m drowning in life?
You’re probably wondering by now why in the world I’m telling you all this personal junk about my life? Because I think it’s crucial for you to understand where I’m going with this….this verse came to mind.
“And He saith unto them, “Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?” Then He arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. – Matthew 8:26
When I started writing this, that verse popped in my head. However, I didn’t remember it word-for-word. When I looked it up, I almost laughed out loud. God has such a sense of humor. Why? Because last week, when we felt knee-deep in the middle of our trials, my husband had sent me this verse.
“They reel to and fro, and stagger around like a drunken man, And are at their wits’ end. Then they cry out to the Lord in their trouble, And He brings them out of their distresses. He calms the storm. So that its’ waves are still. Then they are glad because they are quiet. So He guides them to their desired haven. Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness!” -Psalm 107:27-31
Friends, when we feel out of control, struggling, like we’re drowning in life….GOD! He is our calm!
I realized something today. That all this struggle. All this storming. It’s been attacking me since I’ve let my grip on Jesus’ steady hand slip. Since I’ve stepped away from glorifying Him here on this blog. Since I’ve let brushing teeth & changing diapers & doing laundry take priority over my time with Him. Since I’ve put worldly things first.
It is so crucial that we put Him above everything, anything, else. Because one finger lost from His grip, gives the enemy something to grab onto!!
Now, you probably think I’m writing this because God gave me a solution & I want to sing the praises of how faithful He is. I’m not…not exactly. He hasn’t given me a solution yet. I have a no-longer paid off credit card, and no idea what I’m going to do with my children in a few weeks. But God…He IS faithful.
Today, I started re-listening to a sermon series our pastor preached a while back. It was such a timely reminder for me!
“Temptation is not always being lured away or enticed, like lust…. Temptation is any pressure that is put on your flesh. Trouble is tempting. Trials are tempting. You say, Tempt me to do what? QUIT!”
“The pressure put on your flesh, and how you respond to that pressure, is by itself temptation. And we’ve been tempted through trouble to do a lot of things that are outside the will of God because we were in trouble.” – Pastor James McMenis, Word of God Ministries
Trouble has tempted me. Tempted me to give up, tempted me to question my decisions, tempted me to question myself as a parent and even as a person. But, now I know how I must respond! Lock all ten fingers around His steady hand…and hold on for dear life.
So, here I am guys. I’m here just to be brutally honest with you, and hope & pray that you will take something from all this trial my household has been experiencing. And also, I’m here to state for the record……the devil will not win this battle!
As for me and my house, we will serve (and keep our faith in) the LORD.