Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Way of Rescue

 
 "Savior, he can move the mountains. My God is mighty to save. He is mighty to save."

I love this song. I loved it three years ago, too. I've always sang it like I meant it.

Three years ago, Cory and I both had well-paying jobs. We had fantastic medical insurance (though we found it terribly unfair that dental x-rays were our expense.) We lived in our dream home and shoveled extensive money into renovating it into something truly beautiful.

Each night, we climbed the stairs to kiss Ruby's cheeks then crossed the hall to kiss Calvin's. They were happy kids and Calvin's illness seemed to be fading away.

We made plans to add Silas to our family and paid for him with cash. We flew to places like Jamaica and Dominican Republican each summer and left the kids with the Grandmas.

Of course, we did "good" things with our money, too. We wrote out tithe checks (we didn't wince), we sponsored 2 Compassion kids. If a friend needed help, we helped. We were happy to help. We never thought twice because we didn't have to. Our giving was joyful, but it was also painless.

We didn't think of ourselves as "rich", mostly because we drove cars from the 90's and didn't have cable tv. But if I wanted a new purse from TJ Maxx, I bought it and $300 for an impractical but stylish lamp didn't seem unreasonable.

God was good, but He certainly didn't move mountains for us.

We moved them ourselves.


Then, one day, we woke up sick to death of all of it. It started to not make sense to live so wholly for ourselves. We craved a little risk (we feared it, too.) We started to tell God that we would do what He asked of us and braced ourselves for what happened next.

Here's what happened next:

I lost my job.
Cory lost his job.
We brought Silas home.
He wasn't happy at all.
We put our farm on the market.
It didn't sell.
Most people didn't understand us.
Some people abandoned us.
Cory got a new job - his dream job.
The medical insurance was sub-par.
Our house finally sold.
Calvin's illness advanced.
We moved into a little rental.
We paid out $13,000 in medical bills over six months.

God saved us by helping us let go of a home and lifestyle we loved. He saved us by allowing us to feel abandoned so he could be our friend. He saved us with a flimsy insurance plan that pays for almost nothing so that we could watch him provide. He saved us through the heartache of our littlest child. He saved us with scary words from the doctor.


He saved us from ourselves and once we started to get out of our own way, there was so much more room for Him. He didn't feel so theoretical, suddenly. He became as real as the couch I'm sitting on, as comforting as these pill-balled pajama pants.

It's not how I pictured it when I started asking Him to move in me. I thought moving would mean butterflies in my stomach, not tears in my eyes. I thought we would send more money to orphan relief and less to Memorial Hospital.

I wouldn't have chosen this, but that's the lesson for a control freak like me. It's not about what I think is best. It's not my $13,000, so what do I care? He has saved us by stripping away many of the things that insulated us from Him.

Tonight, I'm going out to dinner with Cory. I'm stopping in at Old Navy and I'll probably buy a shirt. We've decided that our life will be enriched if we pay a little extra for the flooring with the beveled edges.

We haven't abandoned all of the trappings of this world. We still have too much. We still want too much. We're greedy, sometimes. We focus on all the wrong things.

But in daring to live differently, even when the picture was blurry in the middle, God has taken the opportunity to really save us. We have witnessed his might. And we're all wide-eyed wonder.

66 comments:

  1. oh, i love you and your point of view and your candor and i wish we were neighbors. do i sound like a stalker? i'm not...i promise.
    good honest stuff.

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    1. I have the heart of a stalker, myself. No worries there. :)

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  2. singing that song with you! and weeping.
    true for me, too. rescued from myself, just about daily.
    gracious, i have miles to go.

    he is good. love you, thanks for this!

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  3. I completely understand and have experienced much the same. Your writing encourages me greatly.

    And I hope you found a fabulous shirt.

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    1. Me, too, and I hope it isn't striped. I think you over-stripe, but don't take my word for it b/c all my dresses are vintage polyester.

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    2. Over-stripe? Nevah! Impossible!!

      I'll have you know I'm striped up as we speak. (Though the shirt I bought was black. What's happening to me???)

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    3. I'll tell you what's up with that black, and I ain't kidding even a little bit. I was thinking NO STRIPES so hard in my sad, little brain that you done went and bought a black shirt like I. always. do.

      You channeled me. I had no idea I was so powerful.

      I need you to pray for us over the next few days. Cade's testing for his Black Belt on Sat. We're having a big reception, after. I'm a big, fat jumble of nerves.

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  4. This song makes me cry when I'm having a bad day! I am reminded of how good he is... and I know he is watching out for you! Thank you for reminding me of beautiful little moments lady :)

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  5. He never works in the ways we think He will, does He? Sometimes those kind of 'move me Lord' prayers scare me, but I am learning to trust Him even in that.

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  6. I like when you use your words in this way.

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  7. This is wonderful. Powerful. Real. Now time life and a testimonial of God's provision and faithfulness. Should we choose to follow him with all our heart.

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  8. I have this prayer that I pray...sounds silly...weird...not normal when I type it out, but in my head it sounds just right to say to my God. It is said when I open my eyes, when I crawl out of bed, when I fry scrambled eggs in the morning, when I put the key in the ignition...it goes a little something like this..."dear God, please don't let me be stronger than you today." Now...I am well aware how silly that sounds as I am so far from His strength that it makes me chuckle as I type this. But that short phrase is my way of trying to put myself in my place, asking him to do just that, to make it perfectly clear yet AGAIN, that He has got this...I don't. It never happens like I think it will. It always sneaks up and surprises me. And it scares me every time I pray it. I wince a little. Look around to see if a tire will fall off the car or something so he can teach me a life lesson. And yet I know that even if one wheel comes zooming off my car, he will somehow get me where I am going with only three. I love that. Hang on, He has more spare tires then you can imagine.
    p.s. It is physically impossible to "over-stripe." Stripe on I say!!!

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  9. forever author of salvation, He rose and conquered the grave...

    we too have never felt more vulnerable. it's so important to share it out loud. There's so much power when we are weak.

    thank you. so much life in your words.

    His light shine upon you, and give you (sweet) peace.

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  10. Those are dangerous words.......you pray something like that, and it is only the beginning. I am serious. It sure is nice to read what he has done in and with your lives, but, through experience he has barely touched the surface. All this is good of course. We sheep, we like to think we know, and how could there possibly be more? I am not being mean, critical, or judgmental in any way shape or form.... I just know, that God takes those prayers really serious. Then we start praying other stuff, good stuff, deeper stuff, and lets just say that song Refiner's Fire....it is for real.1peter 1:7

    These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold--though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

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  11. To pray that prayer, then to list the events following the pray and to testify to the grace of God...well, let's just say you have blessed me with your testimony. Moved me to move.

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  12. I love this post. It is so true. Our life is not fancy or overdone. I almost typed that it's not "easy", but I stopped myself. Because it is. We have just enough - which is really much much more than most people in the world have. And every time I start to feel down about our "small" little life, God reminds me, gently, that it's not small at all. It's blessed, and He's providing. Every. Single. Time.
    Beautiful. Thanks for putting it to words.

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  13. 'it's not my $13,000, so what do i care?'

    all of this reads like poetry, but that bit right there snagged me this morning. i think i'll carry it with me today.

    (and your thoughts here remind me of my fav-o line from my fav-o song: 'so take my very life away as long as i get Him.')(i'm a little bit trembling to find out just exactly what that will mean.)

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  14. Thank you for another beautiful, uplifting and encouraging post.

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  15. Thank you for sharing this--most people don't talk about the stuff that isn't fun to go through--the stuff that shows others that we don't "have it all together." It can be especially hard when you remember that this is what you prayed for and the trials are simply God answering--shaping you into someone who looks more like him than yourself. I treasure your honesty and don't feel so alone in my trials.

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  16. Good stuff! Your honest moves me... we're there, only not there with you but there where we've been saved from much of the trappings and yet, I still struggle when I see what I "want" and can't have. Thanks for this post... it's reminded me of what I've gained instead.

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  17. You are so very brave. I will admit, I don't understand how you could give up that gorgeous farmhouse. But I don't have to understand. I can just be in awe of what you are doing and respect you all the more for it. I have had a lot of conversations with my friends about you and your journey and whether or not we could do it. I would love to say I could. I'm not so sure.

    I am really struggling with "coveting" lately. I want things that I can't have. A bigger house in the suburbs, an overseas vacation, etc... I could have them, but we would struggle financially. We have all we need. I know this. And I have extra to give. And I don't. Not like I should. You are an inspiration. One of these days, I am going to hop in my car and come find you so I can hug you.

    Now that I sound like a stalker, I am going to sign out...:)

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  18. Amen. That's all I have to say about that.

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  19. I can not even respond to this because: a) It hits far too close to home. and b) I can not see through my tears.

    Brave, brave girl.

    xxoo

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  20. "He has saved us by stripping away many of the things that stood between us and Him." Even though my life looks different from yours in many ways, I get this. Seven years later He is still stripping me of everything this control freak "expected" life to be like. Nothing has gone as "planned," but my faith is growing, even when it hurts.

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  21. Thank you for your words and your willingness to share.

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  22. Giving up control of our lives is such a freeing (not easy, but freeing) once we get started. I'm so blessed, as always, when I stop by here to visit with you a spell, Shannon. "Day by day and with each passing moment..." Praying for your sweet family, my friend.

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  23. So many sleepless nights, I sing that song to myself. And I know it's true. And I know, sometimes I'm not going to like the lengths God is going to go to in order to save me and those I love. It can get ugly when God saves control freaks from ourselves. Beautiful ugly.

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  24. Thank you for being that blessed open book----your life, God in your life, changes my outlook---

    I went to sleep with that song in my head because of your sharing and came back on here this morning to specificially reread this post.

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  25. "Well said!" to the Ren from the Unicorn as they grabbed their harps and frolicked off into the sunset singing songs of yester year while looking onward to the new journey ahead...

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  26. These are all the thoughts I've been trying to express myself but haven't been able to put them all together. We haven't gotten nearly as far as your family has in this journey and sometimes I stumble around with my words when I tell my husband what changes I want and need to make. These are exactly the words I am looking for...thank you.

    Don't think He hasn't noticed how far you have stepped aside....

    xo Sarah

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  27. "How can I come to the end of me, and somehow still have all I need" - Fall Apart by Josh Wilson

    So proud of you, in all your hot mess-ness. Glad to be journeying with you!

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  28. We all want pretty things and that is ok. My husband and I went through something similar a few years back, and slowly but surely are getting back on out feet. We are actually moving back home to the town we grew up in. it feels s right it is scary. I am ready though, because I know God has something great planned.

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  29. When we were going through a wasteland... healthwise, relationship-wise, money-wise- and there seemed to be no oasis in sight...we felt like giving up and giving in HE rescued us. The verses I clung to during that time were from 2 Corinthians 1:8-11. (I knew we had people praying for us and to this day I know they share the joy of answered prayer!)
    "We don't want you in the dark, friends, about how hard it was when all this came down on us in [Asia province.] It was so bad we didn't think we were going to make it. We felt like we'd been sent to death row, that it was all over for us. As it turned out, it was the best thing that could have happened. Instead of trusting in our own strength or wits to get out of it, we were forced to trust God totally—not a bad idea since he's the God who raises the dead! And he did it, rescued us from certain doom. And he'll do it again, rescuing us as many times as we need rescuing. You and your prayers are part of the rescue operation—I don't want you in the dark about that either. I can see your faces even now, lifted in praise for God's deliverance of us, a rescue in which your prayers played such a crucial part." (This is from the MESSAGE.)

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  30. Beautiful. Thanks for the reminder.

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  31. I totally get this. I'm coming out of my stalker mode. (oh how I longed to comment on the teddy bear dish towels but I was lurking on my phone!)

    I have had the same exact experience, only different. God saved me from myself...he gave me more money in the process and less control. No control. And then I realized I didn't even care about money, I cared about control. And I didn't have any.

    But God...
    did.
    And I decided to trust Him.

    I know it's been a hard road with people throwing their two cents in about selling the farm and such, but I think i understand why you talk about it, why you get excited about it. It's amazing to ask to be saved and then have God deliver. He loves us! he loves us!! He doesn't want to leave us where we are!!
    Shout it from the rooftops girlfriend.

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  32. I felt every word of that. You are a gifted writer. Thank you for sharing! Its really nice to feel like someone in this world feels like I do.

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  33. Your words are perfect. Thank you for writing.

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  34. I'm glad that you don't think we are stalkers, hah.
    I think we all feel so close to you because you are so real. Your openess about your life and your walk with the Lord. You really would make a wonderful minister......your words are incredible. I am glad to follow you on your journey.
    Is Calvin doing okay?
    So excited for you with your new home.
    Pick out something smashing at Old Navy. I hardly ever buy clothes.....but when I have a new top it makes me feel sooooo good.
    XO

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  35. Convicting to the gut. Um, thanks? (No, really, thank you for sharing honestly -- it's just the truth and if it works to expose my heart, that's not your fault.)

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  36. For anyone who has been reading and wondering why you're doing what you're doing....this is a great read. It's so honest and puts everything out there. Thanks for sharing and for taking us along.

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    1. Thanks, Karen! I forget sometimes that my new readers might be thinking "HUH?" about all of this. If you click on the "Our Adventure" category over on my sidebar (and read from reverse!) you'll be able to see the whole thing unfold.

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  37. I love your story. I especially love that it has a "to be continued". I can't wait to see what else God does with you and through you. He is truly Might to Save. btw that's one of my favorite songs too. ;-)
    ~FringeGirl

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  38. I have been feeling the need to purge all of our "stuff" for sometime but have wanted God to give me the plan first, I like control too:).
    This week though I decided it is time to let go and let God have his way! We put our home on the market, not knowing where He will lead...but feel led we do!!
    In my time with my Lord this morning, I was reading A.W. Tozer "The Pursuit of God" in chapter 2, "The Blessedness of Possessing Nothing" he talks about Abraham allowing Issac to have the place in his heart that only God should have. "Abraham had concentrated his all in the person of his dear son, and God had taken it from him. God could have begun out on the margin of Abraham's life and worked inward to the center; He chose rather to cut quickly to the heart and have it over in one sharp act of separation. In dealing thus He practiced an economy of means and time. It hurt cruelly, but it was effective." He will not share his rightful place with another being or "stuff", I so want Him to reign in my heart, soul and mind! So we are on our journey to let go and truly possess nothing in our hearts except what He wills for his glory!!!!
    P.S. I am a salsa addict too;P.

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  39. I needed these words today. Thank you!

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  40. OMG - totally 100% get this - been in that season myself - not in the exact same way - but in similar ways! am still there actually!

    i love how you wrote about and expressed how it feels!

    you are Amazing!

    xoTiffany

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  41. It's funny how even when I let go and let God, I still think I know what that should look like. And then when my new "unplan" looks totally different than I'd planned, I'm wondering, "is this really you Lord?!"

    Um, I meant you could s t r e t c h me, not split me wide open...

    I think one of the reasons you might feel abandoned is that people are afraid that God will get the big idea they're in, too. :) But the crazy thing about this new wave is that it IS contagious. It might take a lot of time, but you might run into those same folks again before you know it.

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    1. ps, my guess was grey...black is close. ;)

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  42. i wish i could type the long sigh of total understanding that i just let out.
    i get it all.

    praying those prayers hardly ever look like we think they're going to.
    it's hardly ever easy and beautiful....praying for God to move in me usually means there's a funeral of sorts where more and more of ME dies. sure. that's beautiful in a hard, painful, lots of tears and gnashing of teeth sort of way. but, it's not the beautiful that i ever imagine it will be...except, somewhere down the road, when it eases up just a little...i recognize small changes in me...in my mind..in my heart....and i decide again that it was totally worth it.

    and i set out to pray that prayer again. more of him...less of me.

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  43. we live such parallel lives, though I think in our case we weren't as eager to have less...we were just moved that way. God asked and we said "ok" and then I whined about it. A lot.

    It's amazing to me. The stories of how lack brings us closer to Him...and yet we fear it so.

    I love this beyond words.

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  44. Dear Farmgirl/Rentalgirl, I couldn't write last night, to many tears to wipe away. Moved to prayer, and just needing to look at my heart. I have so little, and never have lived a life with having what I might want. My faults lie in my resentments of those who do. My tears come from knowing this about myself, and though I never let it be public my heart aches with this self-knowledge...

    Your gentle honesty is one of the things I love about you the most.
    ~G~xo

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  45. oh my. your story is powerful. it's almost like you are telling your story but at the same time putting words to mine. only i don't think i trust Him like you do. you prod me on. love you.

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  46. You make my life better. I am so grateful I found your blog / your words.
    I am way out here in the mountains of Utah..what a blessing to have your words. Thank You, Kaye

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  47. I couldn't love this post any more. Our story is just so similar, and I love hearing your heart and watching God move in our lives and teaching us what it means to truly surrender to Him in every single aspect of my life. Even if my son had to get sick and we had to move to the inner-city to learn it!

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  48. Preach it, sista! Ahhh, God moves me through your authenticity and heart. Lovely, lovely post.

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  49. Your words faithfully leave a gentle yet sobering residue in my heart like no other. You inspire and are the "me" I prayerfully strive to be!

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  50. Can I just say, I like you! You make me feel full and real. Thanks for sharing this journey with the gawkers!

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  51. This, these words you've written, are gold, girlfriend. Way to allow God to scoop you out like a big ole melon and fill you up with all his goodness! He never said it wouldn't hurt, did he? I think when Christians share their stories of following God, and the pain that often accompanies the growing, miracles happen and unbelievers believe. You keep me lifted up - and so does your salsa. My children practically drink it and my husband now believes I am some kind of future Food Network star. So, thanks for all of it!

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  52. Amen! Amen! AMEN!

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  53. hi! brand new reader here and i'm already hooked. about to go click on "our adventure" and can't wait to read.

    i've prayed for God to move. and i could have destroyed when He did, except that He was right there, healing and strengthening and comforting and holding. i have never known Him more intimately, and i have never been the same. He truly became my everything. but now it's many months later and i'm gotten comfortable with the new normal. i know i need Him to work even more. still more brokenness, but i'm afraid. i'm thinking about all the other things He could do to me. fear has made a nest in my heart and it's ugly.

    all that is to say, thank you for sharing this because i need to ask the Lord to move again. and you've reminded me how sweet it really was to be broken and rely on Him for my very breath. so scary but so necessary.

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  54. up all the okayed type of Isabel Marant Boots and shoes with all the ideal attire surely nothing possibly will collaps ttuuiiiooooppyttisabel marant sneakers

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  55. thanks for not letting my squelch that voice in my head that screams for attention. its so much easier to drown it out with stuff. thanks for being real with us.

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  56. Thanks for this! I needed to hear this.

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