I hope you've surrendered some things (laid down your Isaacs as we've been referring to them in our group) and drawn closer to Christ this week! We've had some powerful testimonies in our group stemming from Tuesdays question, "Reflect back on a time when you put God before your own needs. How did He come through for you?" It never ceases to amaze me what God can do when we lay our lives at His feet. But to truly know Him takes complete surrender and sometimes (often times) risk on our part. I love the way Jennie Allen puts it in her book Anything:
"The only exercise that works 100 percent of the time to draw one close to the real God is risk....To risk is to willingly place your life in the hand of an unseen God and an unknown future, then to watch him come through. He starts to get real when you live like that....It is a life fully surrendered to an invisible God whose agenda for my time here is contrary to my own, a life very different from the same, comfortable one I was creating."
I've never found it in my Bible where God says trust me with this one area of your life and I'll bless you. It's all or nothing! This week we studied about a widow woman who did just that. She found herself in a drought with a young son to feed. Elijah came to her asking that she bring him some bread. Her response was she had nothing left but just a small amount of meal and oil. She was about to make that for herself and her son and then they would die. Elijah told her to make his first. She followed God's will and the scripture tells us
"And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake by Elijah." (1 Kings 17:16)
There's not been enough times that I've trusted God completely with my life, but I wanted to share with you all how He came through for me when I did! This almost empty cheeseball bucket is my barrel!
At the time our first daughter was born, I was our main source of income. My husband was working with his Dad when he could and working on building our home, but I was the one with the secure, insurance holding job. He had given up his job so that we could come back home and start a family. Since I was working, he was the one at home with our daughter for the most part. Then we received a phone call one day asking if he'd be interested in teaching science. At that time he was still looking for a job in meteorology, but to my surprise, he ended up taking the job.
My husband and I had always felt my place was at home with our children while they were so young. Not only did I feel that way, but I truly felt that was God's will. I was a little disappointed when I realized the job God had sent was about 1/3 of the income we were hoping! I didn't see any way I would be able to stay at home. So as we discussed it, my husband said, "If you can come up with a budget that will work with my one salary then you can quit." Believe me I tried everything I could think of, even cutting luxuries like Direct TV and internet, and it still just didn't work. We barely had enough to cover the bills, much less buy groceries, gas and other necessary things.
I prayed as much as I've ever prayed over anything and God just kept showing me in different ways where I needed to be-at home. It worried me because it wasn't just our lives we now had control over but another one to clothe and feed and I sure didn't want her to go without! But as I continued in prayer God showed me she didn't need cute clothes, or a ton of toys, she needed a Mom at home to nurture and care for her. My husband finally said if I really felt like that's what I needed to do, then go for it. So I went to my principal to turn in my notice. She was shocked and asked if I was sure. She ended up being very gracious and talking me into just taking a year off instead of quitting, just in case. Already I felt God was giving me some grace!
I'm not going to say the next few months were easy, but they were such a blessing! There were days I can remember at the end of the months, my husband would need some gas money to get to work and I'd go to this bucket and there wouldn't be anymore than is in it now but there was always enough in it to get him to work! Sometimes when counting it out and taking it to him, my faith was weak and I'd think well that was all that! But then the next time I went to it, there it would be-just enough! After that had happened a few times, I began to KNOW it was going to be there! (The more we trust in God, the more He proves Himself to us, the easier it becomes.) It wasn't much longer after that God provided a way for me to make enough money from home for us to be able to live a little more comfortably. At the end of the year, I still didn't go back to work. Now here we are 5 years later, 2 more kids and He's still providing! I've held on to this bucket as a reminder of how He always will!!
I can reflect back upon a couple more specific times I truly surrendered my life to God and I can tell you they have turned out to be the absolute, biggest blessings in my life! I can't begin to imagine by life, had I of held onto my own selfish control and missed those parts! Much like the widow woman, I'd rather live on His grace and miracles than my holding on to things any day! I've come to realize that when we go as far as we can, that's where He picks up and really works in our lives. And it's in that time of need and dependency that we truly come to know Him and trust Him more and more.
What about you? How has God come through for you when you fully surrendered? I'd love to hear about it!