Someone very close to us recently said that we would have a Hall of Testimony, a wall filled with framed pictures and such testifying the wonder and miracles that God has done for us and through us. In the midst of the storm it is so easy to forget that he is still with us, we forget all the miracles that have happened in the past, all the ways he has provided. All we seemingly get stuck doing is getting trapped in the minute present, screaming and wondering what will become of us?
Well, not again. Not this time. When we returned home all of our stuff remained in storage and we had no house to return to. We stayed at a hotel for the first night and then, through Airbnb.com found someone subletting a room on 30A. Wonderful. They liked us, we liked them. They offered us a sweet deal, a fair monthly rate for the rest of their stay here. They were snowbirds and would finish their lease at the end of February. On top of their offer they allowed us to pay by the week, foregoing the sudden expense of first months rent up front. We have been very blessed by them.
A couple weeks ago we began looking for our next place with less than 14 days until forced departure. We were finding properties, two bedrooms, one bedrooms, but it didn’t matter, we didn’t have the money. Additionally, even given the fact that I had returned to my restaurant job…I was getting many shifts and what I was getting wasn’t paying for much, rent and groceries, no other bills…bills that were two months behind. “I thought I was free.” I would think. “How could I have grown in faith and truly believe He provides for us and yet still here I am unable to pay my bills.” Where is the balance between wisdom and faith? Faith says just believe and he’ll provide, wisdom says do a good days work, plant your seed and you’ll produce a crop.
And then came a phone call. Her mom was cashing in an old policy, one she’d already done for her other children. A few thousand dollars was on its way. “What?! We can afford to get a place now!” The process would take a couple weeks. It would be cutting it close, but it would be here.
Then came another call. Something went wrong, it’s going to take another week.
That was too late.
Rentals started disappearing from the market as Spring Break neared and the last week of February arrived. Our roommates were wondering what we were going to do? We didn’t know, but we were fighting our doubts and our fears, believing that God had come through all those times on our Hope Tour and all the times before. I kept reminding myself of when we left our place in Rosemary Beach. We were broke then too, had just returned from our makeshift honeymoon, and packed up our cars to the brim. We had nowhere to go. We went the only place we knew to, our home church. As always it was welcoming and comforting and then…a friend told us of their place, they had moved out, but the lease was paid and open for another month. We could stay for free…starting that very night. Incredible.
February the 25th, our roommates tell us that the owner of the property had not received any reservations for the first week of March, we were welcomed to stay another week. Thank God. We continued our search for a place. Our friends were in constant prayer for us, one directing us towards a vision he had of Seaside. “Seaside?! One of the hottest vacation rental markets in the area with million dollar homes. Just how is that gonna happen?” Then, I remembered Rosemary Beach. How did that happen? How did I find a monthly rental there for under $1,000? God, that’s how. I asked for my hearts desire, I prayed, I believed and then I went looking for it. I asked their rental agency. One man was very polite, one lady literally laughed in my face at my incredulous and ridiculous request. I breathed fire out of my nostrils at her. Well, at least in my imagination. I was determined now. I sat with my coffee and went about my day, believing in where God had led me.
And then came a phonecall. “You’re not going to believe this.” Try me, I thought with a smile. Somehow a carriage house had never been publicly listed for rent. It was $950 all-inclusive. I looked and I signed the lease, not really sure how I would even pay for that. When I went to work that day my boss sat me down and offered me a promotion. Right at the last minute.
And yet in the last few days, I’ve been up, down, here, there, hopeful, depressed, angry and so on. I went to Seaside and prayed, I went looking for the things I saw in prayer, went left when I felt left, but to seemingly nothing. I asked everyone I knew to ask, but nothing. This time it seemed different. In the course of 12 hours I had prayed for a place in Rosemary Beach and then been shown it, the next day signing the lease. This time has been longer, different, much more challenging. I’ve done everything I could think to do, but nothing has shown itself. Still no home.
I called a local apartment complex. They still have a few units, but still the rent seems impossible to pay. We’ve already made that mistake once. What we need is a miracle, a divine intervention of God to provide a place in this area that isn’t a hole and yet is affordable or free to us. I struggled even asking Him, my loving Heavenly Father for his provision, stuck in this lie of a mindset that I’m not worthy of his abundant generosity. Thank God for my wife who sees these things and has the courage and patience to help me out of dark places. Jesus has made me, all of us who believe in him, absolutely worthy. I was asked what I really wanted. I wanted to see the miraculous, I wanted to experience yet again his incredible provision, but this time I wanted him to pour out on me like never before. I wanted it to be more than just my side of the equation, I wanted him involved on the other side. I wanted someone to come to us, saying that God told them to let us stay at their house in Seaside (or wherever it is) for free. I want a testimony to share with people on Gods incredible love, a real life, this just happened, I’m living proof kind of testimony.
So, I prayed and asked and went seeking in Seaside again. Again, I found nothing, in fact, felt less from the Spirit then before. I was so exhausted by the time I returned home and my stress was rising. Tonight, it peaked. I let my frustration loose, my confusion and my pain. I asked my wife to come with me to pray outside. It was cold and wet. When she hesitated showing her discomfort I responded…very poorly. She went back inside. (I would have too.) I marched around for a minute, went inside, let the steam rise and then broke. I can’t stand her to be mad at me. I prayed to God. “I just wanted her to follow me. I didn’t want her to say ‘wait, I need to change my shoes’ or anything like that. I didn’t want her to care if her feet got wet and cold, I just wanted her to be there beside me, willing to suffer a little, sacrifice a little, just to be there with me, because she loves me that much.”
The moment that last word came out of mouth was like I had heard Him say the very thing to me. “I just want you to follow me, willing to suffer, just because you love me.” I repented to Him and then went upstairs to my wife, preparing for her anger and hurt. I found her smiling in the bed, and then she was laughing. I started laughing. “Why are you smiling? You’re supposed to be very angry.” She told me that she couldn’t help it, that it was the Spirit. I apologized to her, she apologized to me. I told her what happened in my prayer.
The thing is…I refuse to give up. I refuse to get so far and then give up, trusting in myself to take care of myself. The few thousand dollars arrives tomorrow. I think I had been deceived, thinking “Well, now I don’t need God.” Wrong. Originally, I had planned to turn in our application to that apartment complex in the morning, even though I have had dreams that seem to tell me how much I would regret that. All the times I’ve prayed lately, prayed for an answer, to know where the next place is…an answer was never given, but I was always comforted. It is as if He is saying “I will not give you the answer, because I want to keep you outside your comfort zone, to grow you. You only want the answer because it gives you a sense of control. If you are following me, you are not in control.” I could see the people at the base of the mountain, Moses at the top, their patience waning thin. So instead of waiting on God, they built their answer with their own hands. I will not make this mistake.
We will not give up, even knowing we have to be out in 4 days. We do not know where we are going, though I do hope it is someplace like Seaside, if not Seaside itself, if not just for the place itself, but for the seeming impossibility of it all, so that a picture of a beautiful coastal house can hang in a frame on a hallway for years to come, showing the glory and goodness of God. I wanted to make our story public now, so that no matter what happens, the truth is revealed and soon maybe the rest of the story. Godspeed.