About a month or so ago, God brought a dear and beautiful sister into my life. Her name is Rachel. God has done an incredible work in my sister's life. He has brought her out of a cold, dark pit and into His glorious light! O gracious Father, indeed You are kind to shine Your face down upon us!
If you have read my previous BLOGs, you know that my heart has been in great despair and sorrow this summer. Yet, the Lord has been kind to revive and uplift my soul, especially through His Word. One specific area that He is increasing and training is my faith. At first I thought He was teaching me about faith in trusting Him with having more children, but quickly God has stretched this into something far greater. He is teaching me to live a LIFE of faith - in ALL areas. Hebrews 11:6 has made such a profound impact on my life this summer:
And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.
Let it be known, in September of 2007, God began calling me to greater faith. By His Spirit, He began leading me down paths that were always there, but never seen. And this is where my friend, Rachel, comes into the picture. “Come and see the works of God”, and let me boast of His great mercy and power!
Before going on our summer vacation, I was skimming through Craigslist, looking through the "WANTED" section. I remember running across an ad asking for food and drinks. I did not respond. I thought that folks would surely see this cry for help and come to the aid of this family in need. We left for Corpus Christi and I was haunted all week by this need. Did anyone ever help?
When we got back home I decided to contact this family and see if they had received any assistance. Sadly, no one had helped. I was heart broken. I immediately got together some food and with great fear and trembling, Lydia and I ventured out into the unknown. I was terrified. Physical pain and emotional "baggage" had kept me at arm's length with people for such a long time. A part of me had become too fearful to serve and love anymore. To reach out into "the unknown" was difficult for me. I was comfortable in my safe, little world, and numb to the pain and poverty around me.
But do you know that I after we delivered those groceries (being as scared as I was), God changed my heart? I was no longer fearful. God began working in me a heart of mercy and love outside of my small, shallow world. After that day I began contacting every person I saw on Craigslist who had a need. I must have contacted over 10 families all in one week. And with all of them I assured them that their needs would be met. I remember thinking one day, "What if we CAN'T meet all these needs?" But God crushed those fears in the days ahead.
One need I responded to was a need for clothes. I kept asking this lady if she needed anything else, and finally she admitted that she also needed some food. BJ and I gathered some clothes and food (through the church) and proceeded to this woman's house on a Monday night. My life (and her life) has forever changed since stepping through her front door.
This is where we met Rachel and her precious daughter. When we entered her apartment is was completely bare. There was nothing. She gratefully invited us to see "her stuff" in her bedroom, and all that she had was a blanket to sleep on, a pillow or two, and a few other random items. She had no beds, no furniture, no food, no toys, no shower curtains or bath supplies - nothing. As Lydia and her daughter played, BJ and I were able to spend time getting to know the heart of our dear sister. How beautiful! After about an hour or so of talking and praying, we told Rachel that we would be back the next night and that we were going to believe God to provide for her every need. We left trusting God to provide a house full of furniture, dishes, bath items, food, clothing, and two months worth of rent.
And do you know what happened?
The next night, we had a caravan of cars, trucks, a trailer and a Hummer, heading over to Rachel's house and God blessed her beyond her wildest dreams. How I wish you could have seen and heard the excitement that night - not only with Rachel, but the WHOLE church. In less than 24 hours, God used our church to funnel His great mercy and love to Rachel. In less then 24 hours we were able to round up a house FULL of furniture, toys, clothing, food, gift certificates, bath & hygiene items, and $950 in rent money. Isn't our God so good? And do you know that within the next few weeks, Rachel would receive more money and even a car?
I have been so humbled to see how God has provided for Rachel, and for many other families we have reached out to. My faith has been stretched and pulled. He has called me to give away so many things that I held so close - my time, my money, my possessions, and my heart. And honestly, it has been painful. I have not always wanted to give it all away, but God has been kind and patient with my sinfulness. And I am learning that when I submit to God, deny self, and follow Christ - I am filled with greater joy. O, to TASTE the sweet, sweet joy of obedience and faithfulness!!
But - I have saved the BEST bite for last! When Rachel received all this "stuff", she knew who to praise. She praised the name of Jesus! With shouting and tears of joy, she proclaimed the goodness of God. A few weeks ago, Rachel stood up in front of our church and shared her testimony of what God had done in her life these past couple of months. How I wish you could have heard her . . . O, the goodness and mercy of God upon her life! She wept as she talked about the impact of a single dish, a bed to sleep on, or even a simple bar of soap. She challenged the church to look beyond ourselves and to see and help those who are hurting and who have nothing . . . You see, my friends, they are out there. Everywhere! We just have to open our eyes, our spiritual eyes, and see them . . . With a heavy heart (full of joy, and yet full of sadness), Rachel revealed that before we came into the picture (before my little email that I wrote in faith), she was wanting to kill herself so that her daughter could have a better life. The only answer she had for her despair and their empty bellies was death. But now she is living in the light and JOY of Christ Jesus!! God heard her prayers of despair, and used a small, simple ad on Craigslist to shine forth His love and grace!
This summer I sat in fear and sadness after having my surgery. I wondered if we would ever have anymore children. Would God allow us to leave foot prints on another child's life? Could I find the strength to step out in faith believing that God's will is more glorious than what I dreamed my life to be like?
The night Rachel shared her testimony God revealed something wonderful to me . . . Through the death of "self" God brought life and hope to a family. Through FAITH-fulness, He allowed us to be apart of His plan to save a child's life.
How I pray that you see the GLORY of God through this post in both mine and Rachel's lives. God has changed both of us for His glory and His fame!
"For we walk by faith, not by sight!" II Corinthians 5:7