Then the questioning started. What in the world were we thinking? How can we do this? We have no extra resources. No extra time. Should we downsize? Should we move? Did we really hear from God or was it our own voices?
In a few short weeks doubts and fears plagued me. I kept wondering if this call to serve was even real.
A few weeks later, sitting in church on a Sunday morning, we heard the wind whistling and blowing outside. We knew there was the potential for bad weather, however, we didn’t expect a wind storm to wreak havoc on our entire city.
We barely made it back home that morning. Downed power lines and fallen trees forced traffic to be re-routed. The damage was quite extensive all across Owensboro. Many were without electricity. It would take weeks to truly recover and clean up.
We lost power for only three days and managed okay, but we were literally in the dark much of the time. Candles and a couple of flashlights helped. During this trying time, I continued to think about the ministry. And wonder. And question.
During the three days we were without power, a friend stopped by to pick up a poster I had borrowed for a pro-life display. It was stuffed in a cardboard tube. When checking to ensure the poster was intact, I discovered a note. A single sentence was scrawled across the paper,
Don’t doubt in the darkness what you’ve been told in the Light.
Wow. What a confirmation…while we were very literally in the dark! So, I mustered my faith and no longer doubted the call.
* * *
What we first thought would be an immediate response, immediate activity, immediate ministry turned into a very long, and often painful, journey of faith. It involved much surrender and humility, much obedience and trust. Through it all, there was growth and maturing, because along the way there was also much fear, pride, disobedience, anger and tears.
Over the last several years we have experienced abundant blessings and numerous challenges. We’ve seen God’s hand mightily upon our family. If not for Him, His love and grace and tender mercies, I, for one, would not be standing.
After that fall of 2008, our family walked through some very dark times. Relationships that were once easy and fun, became difficult and destructive. Friendships were lost. Emotions were raw.
Some experiences are simply to painful to speak of in detail. Only by the grace of God did we emerge intact. Only on our knees did we emerge stronger than before.
In December of 2009, I took a full time job and split my time between a home office and a corporate office while continuing to home school. During 2010, finding balance between full time employment, home school and other responsibilities proved daunting.
Significant health concerns arose for each set of our parents during the next few years. In the fall of 2011 after a brief hospital stay and surgery, we lost Allen’s father. A few months later, in the spring of 2012 my father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Thankfully, it was caught early and surgery was successful. However, his recovery was long and there were complications and set backs.
Over the next year, Allen’s mother unexpectedly passed, I lost my job, my brother got divorced, my mom was diagnosed with severe Rheumatoid Arthritis and my dad started chemotherapy treatments, which eventually put him back in the hospital.
The thought of ministry was the furtherest thing from my mind. Just surviving, emotionally and financially, was about all I could manage. I moved through my days in a haze, schooling the children, running errands, keeping the house, praying for employment, seeking respite but finding none. I had started out clinging to the Lord, desperate for His presence and His Word. But now, as my family walked through such heartache, I just wanted Him to right the wrongs and mete out justice. When He did not respond the way I desired, I became angry.
Our pastor preached from the book of Ruth one Sunday. He spoke of Naomi and detailed her life, her losses, her despair. She was bitter. I could relate. I could really relate. I, too, was bitter. And angry. And out of patience. I lacked courage. And faith. I wanted God to make right all that was wrong. I knew that He could. I wanted to believe that He would.
Eventually, very, very slowly, I found my way back to Him. It wasn’t overnight, but I did put one foot in front of the other. His Word became my air once again and it was balm to my heartache. I breathed Him in…and out…and in and out. Even though I was still struggling, God reached down and embraced me. He was, for me, at that time, El Roi, the God who sees me.
And still. I waited. And wondered about the call.