Tuesday, October 16, 2007

My Own Personal Desert

This is at least partly in response to BigMama's post here:
But make no mistake... this topic has come across my path so many times in the last few days that I know God wants me to blog about it. It's a bit of a story, so if you don't have time for it now, come back later. Otherwise, grab a snack and settle in. =)

As I've said earlier, this is my second layoff. My first was in February of 2002. Robert, my sweet hubby, had been laid off in July of 2001 -- right before 9/11 kicked the economy in the teeth -- so my layoff was enough to hit the big red financial panic button. My company did the usual charming thing where they suddenly gave me a nasty review (during which I made a couple of ungracious comments aimed at my lunk of a boss's boss, who I held responsible). When my boss -- a really nice Christian man -- had to do the dirty work and actually lay me off, I think he was more upset than I was.

Thus began a four-year odyssey of job hunting for the two of us -- and thank God we didn't have to spend forty years in our desert! We both worked contract jobs, temp stuff, anything we could find. I waited tables for a while toward the end. Robert dug ditches as part of his duties for a general contractor at our church.

But you want to know how faithful God is? We still have our house. We never had to sell a car (or anything else for that matter). We were never even late on a mortgage payment. There were several times we were nervous, but something always came through on the last possible day for us -- a temp job, a contract, some sort of manna from the sky. God also proved to us during this time that he is, as my pastor has said several times, the God of 11:59. He tested us over and over: how far do you trust Me? Will you wait to make sure I will provide for you? We did, and He did. Every time. It wasn't in our time, and it wasn't always what we had in mind, but we had a roof over our heads and food to eat. I had to remind myself of Matthew 6:28-34 a LOT:

28"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

There are several nifty little money stories during that time that I remember well. One Sunday we were away all day doing church stuff and came home to find $200 in cash in a manila envelope duct taped to our garage door. One Wednesday night, someone put an envelope in the offering with my name on it. A very puzzled usher handed it to me. There was $160 in cash in it. Christmas one year was looking pretty grim, and we'd told our two boys that they shouldn't expect much (they were old enough to understand). On December 23, we went to dinner with friends, one of whom was on staff at our church. They handed us $300 in cash that someone had given someone to give to our staff friend so that not even she knew where it came from. The point of all those, of course, is that the money literally was intended to have come from God.

Now that I've been laid off again, part of me is wondering why I've found myself back here again. Was there some lesson I failed to learn last time? Or is this one of those situations where some amazing thing will occur -- like I'll find another amazing job within a month or two and we'll get to keep the rest of the severance -- and God will be glorified? I don't know; I don't have those answers. God doesn't allow us to see around the next bend in the road, much as we'd like that. All I can see is the next step or two that I need to take, and I'll follow God that far and wait for Him to show me the next step or two past that.

I guess maybe that's what this season is for. Ya think?

The last time we were in this spot, we were looking every month at, "Do we need to put the house on the market?" And my honest take on it was that it's God's house -- He's just letting us live in it. See, I got through my BSEE (whining and crying and begging Robert to let me change my major weekly) by motivating myself by looking at houses. After looking for four years, I knew exactly what my dream house looked like. When I walked into it during my last couple of weeks of school, I knew within five minutes that this was "my" house. During those four years in the desert, I held this house with an open hand, saying, "God, this is Your house. If you want it back, say the word." He never did.

This time around, Robert has pointed out that the first thing to go will be my beloved dream car (on which we are still making payments): a 2005 350Z convertible. Y'all, I love that car. The way I ended up with it is another post, but the short version is that we went to buy a second Maxima -- it was time to give mine to my son to drive -- and we ended up with the Z. One day I was driving to visit my sister in Dallas and saw a Maxima on I-35, and I thought, "those are such pretty cars!" And about as clearly as I've ever heard God speak, He said to me, "Yes, but I wanted better for you." It made me cry then, and it makes me cry now -- and I'm not a crier.

But you know what? If God wants my Z back, he can have it. It's His. He blessed me with it in the first place, and He knows how much I've loved it and been thankful for it. He's my Father; He adores me and has my very best interests in mind. I'll leave that choice up to Him.

Life is too short, and God is too precious, to consider looking at it any other way.

1 comment:

Melissa May said...

What a story, Lisa! Thanks for sharing it. : ) God is so good.