The morning of Sunday, November 30th, emotions were hitting me hard. This was the final day of my lease and I felt God was asking me to leave my apartment trusting him. In the previous two blogs I discussed the prayers, visions and conversations I had with different people leading up to this day. I still felt this was God, but the moment of reckoning was so close, the moment where I found out WHAT was going to happen was so close. What WAS going to happen? Did God want me to go minister in a homeless shelter? I would. I could envision this. I would go minister to broken women in a homeless shelter. I would do this thing Lord.
My home fellowship coordinators often offered an invitation for me to stay at their home when they were out of town. The husband knew I was challenged by my roommate and thought I might appreciate a break from that atmosphere. Another gal often stayed and took care of the family dog. As I left their house that final morning, I was fighting back tears trying to hide my distress from the gal dog sitting and another believer who had stopped by with breakfast sandwiches.
I called the homeless shelter to find out what the next steps were. The woman at the shelter encouraged me to call back later in the day in case I did find somewhere to stay. I went to put some gas in my car tank. As I turned off my car, I received some very specific instructions from God on how to proceed. I was to first go into the gas station and show my loyalty card and provide payment. I did this and then when I got back to put the gas in my car, I tell you, I really felt like the Lord told me to leave what I had paid for the next person.
I was not happy. I was super upset. I had almost no money left and I had just put a substantial amount of that toward getting some gas and now he was asking me to just walk away from it?! How could God ask this of me? Couldn’t he see all that I had done and was endeavoring to do to follow his leading and be obedient to him?!!
Oh, I was so emotional as I pulled out of that gas station. And then, just then, as I was so hurt and disturbed, a song that I had heard the night God had urged me out of Columbus and closer to the church in Tipp back in September, that I had been powerfully inspired from, but completely unable to find in the intervening two months came on the radio. I can tell you now that the song that played was the song by “for King and Country” entitled “Fix My Eyes.”
These are the lyrics that streamed through my speakers as I pulled away from the gas station – “Hit rewind/ Click delete/ Stand face to face with the younger me/ All of the mistakes/ All of the heartbreak/ Here’s what I’d do differently/ I’d love like I’m not scared/ Give when it’s not fair/ Live life for another/ Take time for a brother/ Fight for the weak ones/ Speak out for freedom / Find faith in the battle/ Stand tall but above it all/ Fix my eyes on you/ On you/ …. the road less traveled is hard to walk.”
And as tears were streaming down my face the Lord showed me how in incident after incident I had done these things, how I had taken time for others, how I had fought for the weak ones, how he was asking me to give when it wasn’t fair. He showed me how the farther in I went and the more it felt like it “cost” me, that I didn’t quit, that even
the night before I had been prepared to give up what I knew to be my last night of sleep on a mattress for someone “weak,” and how I had obeyed what I felt him asking me at the gas station which was to give when it’s not fair. Those funds were returned to me, and today, I feel that was part of the specific instruction he gave me on going in with my loyalty card and making payment first, but for me, when he asked me to “leave it for the next person,” I was giving up my right to what I paid for.
I get how reading this it may seem that I must have been imagining so much of this. Writing this close to three years later, I can barely believe some of this as I write it – and I lived it! I recognize how fantastical, how incredible, how all-out-unrealistic it must seem that God was doing and working all these things – and I don’t mean that there aren’t points and things that perhaps were random and I mistook them, but there were so many things for so many months that God was working and leading me to and if I hadn’t seen him show me the unknowable and lead me in the unseeable for all those months, I couldn’t have, wouldn’t have done this. And even the parts where maybe I misunderstood, he did amazing things to bring it all together for my good. But I don’t believe I was just randomly foolish and God caught me. I so cannot record all the verses and promises and images he promoted in my heart and my spirit to help me do this.
I decided to stay that last night in the apartment on the floor. I was scurrying about cleaning, bagging up trash, identifying the last items to actually take with me in my car. I had seen a clear picture of me driving away in my car with a suitcase, some boxes and a specific painting in my backseat. I will tell you I ended up leaving with a lot more than that, but I still left with very little!
As the day passed and the evening began, I knew I did not have the strength to take the final loads to the trash. Reaching out to God, I said if you want me to ask for help, just tell me who. One name came to my mind. Don. My home church pastor. I texted him asking if he could help me. He was one of a few who actually knew what I was doing. He was driving his family back from out of town and said he would be there at 6:30 a.m.
I slept on the floor wrapped in blankets and pillows, awakening frequently and rushing around the apartment finishing dozens of last minute details. It’s a blur of prayers and tears and praise and pictures still impressed upon my heart. At 6:30 a.m. Don arrived with his window cleaning business partner, Daniel. Daniel was a quiet man who asked no questions about what I was doing other than confirming what was trash and what was to go to the car. I wasn’t sure what Don had told him and I had no energy to try to explain my actions.
About 7 a.m. I pulled out of the apartment complex with my car more full than I had planned. I went to a drive through and got a little breakfast and a coffee before taking a nap in my car. After that I headed to the library and applied for a job. As I was driving away from the library it was about 2:00 in the afternoon when Daniel’s wife, Darlene called me. She very sweetly asked me what was going on. I honestly cannot even remember what I told her! What I do remember is that she was incredibly gentle and kind and said she didn’t want to interfere with what I felt God was doing, but that I could come stay with them.
I was so tired at that point. She and her husband were both at work, but she told me how I could myself in. She told me which bedroom I could go into. I headed over and crashed hard. For the first two days I really debated about whether to stay – was this was what God meant? I wasn’t sure, but finally, I decided to stay.
There were two adults living there – Daniel and Darlene, and Darlene’s mother was preparing to move back into their home. In the previous blog I wrote about how God and I talked about living situations. I told him I’d like to to live in a house with two to three other adults. I told him I didn’t want to be responsible for the maintenance. All of this fit that description. Additionally, as I stayed I learned that Daniel and Darlene had been facing a dilemma that they had been unable to find a solution to. A scenario they had racked their heads trying to come up with an answer for and that my arrival helped to alleviate. Later Darlene described it as God sending supernatural help.
I also learned after I arrived that Don had been telling Daniel for weeks if not longer that he should consider inviting me in to help with their situation. There were so many amazing, unique, special details that God arranged in the most beautiful way. Darlene even bought my favorite toilet paper! One night she sweetly was describing how she felt about toilet paper and her number one favorite brand and her number two favorite brand. I sat there staring at her in disbelief because I felt exactly the same! But I had never told anyone my thoughts on toilet paper!!! Darlene said, when you share your testimony, make sure you tell about the toilet paper.
As I had been letting go of my belongings, time and time again when I felt hesitant and nervous and unsure, I heard God say to me that it was okay and that I wouldn’t need it. When I came into Darlene and Daniel’s home, everything was abundantly supplied. One of the early days as I was settling in, I was walking around the kitchen, opening the cabinets in the kitchen and taking in the sheer abundance and prosperity of the home. As I would open those cabinets I kept hearing a dear friend’s voice play over and over in my mind on a sweet refrain, “There’s always more with the Lord!”
And the mattress that I was now sleeping on? Oh my goodness! It was the most comfortable mattress I’d slept on EVER. Bigger, better bed in a bigger, better home. Throwing away the mattress, giving away most of my things, I felt like I was giving up so much, and I was giving up a lot, but God is always going to give back so much more for whatever we “give up!”
I realize the last few years that walking out for Christ involves having a lot of people I have loved and respected not understand what I am doing. It has meant that a lot of times it isn’t beneficial or proper for me to even try to explain certain things God’s leading me to do. It has involved letting go of a lot of relationships that were important to me. But I also know that I am so much more alive and working out my salvation and working to fulfill my God-given purpose now more than I was all those years that I looked more sane and presentable, all those years that I felt like a lost husk of a person who had a dream somewhere back along the way that got lost. I thought my dreams and visions got lost, but not really, because God showed me he just held them for me the whole time I got deterred, keeping them safe and growing interest on the dreams of my youth that disappointment and heart-break had stolen away from me.
After moving forward, week after week, day after day, letting go of pretty much all my physical possessions and believing that God was engineering this thing and having him TOTALLY catch me and sustain me, I was so thrilled! I was rejoicing and magnifying God and so happy to show how he had performed on the promise he gave me. I thought everyone around me understood what I was doing. I thought everyone around me would rejoice at what happened. But while some people rejoiced and were excited for me, many others thought I was foolish and that God saved me in my recklessness. At the time it cut me deep. I really was shocked that folks who had been around me for a couple years saw my actions as so thoughtless and frivolous when for me it had been completely the opposite. I had poured more time and energy into this incredibly intentional step of faith than anything I’d ever done in my life before. But it taught me how my walk has to be between God and me. I can’t wait for people to approve or even understand how or what God is working in my life in certain scenarios. I did tell a small circle who who supported me and believed in me, as well as a couple who carried great fear for what I was doing. I do know about the wisdom of good counsel and I did reach out to several people including two pastors.
And just as the Holy Spirit seemed to be super-amplifying the verses about going with nothing extra prior to my walking out of my apartment, afterwards he highlighted some different verses.
Luke 22:35 Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?” “Nothing,” they answered. V36 He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.”
God was letting me know that I wasn’t to live in that state of letting everything go forever, but now I was to move forward and determine how to stake out a new life.
In the years since I have been able to see how this enormous step of faith and obedience freed me from the bondage of stuff and how it positioned me to be able to move across country six months later. I could never have made that move or done what I needed to do the next few years with all that stuff holding me back and holding me down. It wasn’t easy, but it was amazing and writing this today, I’m honestly still in awe of what God did for me and how he brought me through. He is so faithful and he will bring you through your trials too! Trust him! Open your heart to him! I won’t tell you it will be easy, I won’t tell you it will even all make sense, but I will tell you, if you trust him and follow him, he will make sense out of it for you and bring you into good.