In my last blog post I shared about an experience my family had with God after realizing the home we had purchased and extensively renovated was (despite its deceivingly fully-updated aesthetic) uninhabitable. Up to that point, we had spent months and countless dollars replacing old systems and investing in improvements that could largely be considered cosmetic. So, when some wood paneling was removed in the basement (a last step, weeks before we were scheduled to move-in), followed by some mold-encrusted drywall, we were floored to discover there was nothing holding the house up at all. The wood frame had been completely eaten away due to water the house had been taking on since the very day it was built.
After emergency steel beams had successfully been installed to secure the house from falling down and we had a chance to catch our breath, we asked the contractors, “Why? Why would such a relatively young house (that had otherwise been built like Fort Knox) be in jeopardy of effing falling down?” And the answer was simple. “Because the wooden frame had been built below grade.”
After a considerable amount of education on the “rights” and “wrongs” of construction practices, I came to learn that a home (especially one with a finished basement) must be constructed of concrete past the point where it rises above soil level… or else, no matter how well-built it was otherwise, it would sink as heart-breakingly and unexpectedly as the Titanic. For those of you who don’t know the kind of havoc taking on water can wreak on a home beyond the expected slow rot… it also creates the ideal environment for termites to feed and breed, and a playground the likes of Magic Kingdom for black and other deadly molds.
Those who know me best know that for as far back as I can remember, God has had a unique way of speaking to me through numbers. Three’s to be exact… and, the more of them, the better. So when I originally saw this house online prior to purchasing it, and saw that the square footage was listed 3,333 SF it was as if the heavens opened up and God spoke directly and joyously to me “This, my daughter, is the home I have chosen for you. Go forth quickly and buy it!” So when I happened to do the math and discover the house was also 33 years old, I was not surprised in the least. It was confirmed and I was thankful we had finally found a home after many months of looking… one that was specially chosen for us by God. And, since God was leading the way, no doubt we would have a perfect renovation that cost half of what we budgeted and half the time to boot. Right?
Wrong. Throughout the Bible, God gives His people many wonderful and astounding promises. Salvation. Hope. Peace. Eternal Life. I could go on and on. But never-the-less, God’s word is clear: along the way we will all experience suffering and pain resulting from our inevitable rendezvous with a little thing called trouble. Or more accurately stated… blessings in disguise. Jesus tells us, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have come to overcome the world.” –John 16:33
While I admit I was initially shocked and confused when I learned of our predicament, I quickly learned that “easy” is not always the way God works. But over time I realized, an “easy” journey would have missed the point entirely by diminishing God’s perfect plan for us of seeking Him intimately and witnessing His amazing (read: mind-blowingly supernatural) way of delivering us out of our wonderfully impossible situation. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:8-9
This experience brings to mind another one of my favorite stories from the Bible about Gideon. Gideon and his fellow Israelites were given into the hand of the Midianites and therefore living an excruciatingly hard life that was devoid of God and His ability to abundantly provide for them simply because they had abandoned Him and His teachings. It wasn’t until Israel had nothing left that they finally remembered Him and called out to Him for help. And you want to know something cool? Even after years and years of their rebellion, which even included the worship of false gods, God immediately heard their cries and came up with a plan to save them.
God sent an angel of the Lord to Gideon saying, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” But Gideon, who was interestingly enough born out of the weakest clan of Israel, quickly questioned Him asking why, then, had all the bad stuff happening to them. Gideon said to Him, “Please sir, if the Lord is with us why has all this happened? And where are all His wonders that our fathers told us about? They said, ‘Hasn’t the Lord brought us out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to Midian.”
God responded simply by telling Gideon that He had chosen him, the smallest and youngest in his family, to save Israel. “But Lord, how can I save Israel?” Gideon asked. And God gave him and all of humanity the golden-ticket answer wrapped again, in love and lots of Biblical promise: “I will be with you,” the Lord said to him. And with My help, “You will strike Midian down as if it were one man.” -Judges 6:11-16
The Bible says so much about the power that is readily available to us and within us, if we only call out to God and pour out all of our love, hope, and most importantly… trust into Him.
In closing, I want to leave you some verses to consider this week about God’s immediate availability to all His children, especially in times of trouble. And I challenge you to never forget that at His core, God is many (read: beyond infinite) wonderful and miraculous things. It brings me so much awe-filled gratitude when I ponder the unbelievable fact that the mastermind Artist and Scientist and Engineer and Doctor… (this list could go on indefinitely) behind the Creation of the universe and every living thing within it, is also at His heart a fierce and powerful Mother Hen, who will fight any enemy (even to the death), who jeopardizes the welfare of His beloved (and cherished even beyond our wildest dreams) baby chicks. Even though they, just like us, are fully incapable of achieving even an ounce of flight without Him.
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” -Psalm 46:1
“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” –Exodus 14:14
“For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed: for I know who I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.” -2 Timothy 1:12
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord had anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.”-Isaiah 61:1-3
I invite you to join me back here next week where I will talk more about Gideon’s story, while exploring every small child’s favorite question… the illustrious and elusive “why”. In the meantime, if you find yourself in an impossible situation this week… the cancer came back, a foreclosure letter came in the mail, or you fear the child is past the point of saving… for whatever reason you find yourself without a drop of heavenly water to make lemonade, in the spirit of Achsah herself I urge you: Keep Calm my brothers and sisters, and Go Saddle Your Donkey! “To Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us.” –Ephesians 3:20