For You, Lord, bless the righteous one; You surround him with favor like a shield." -Psalm 5:11-12
I'm sitting here while a blanket of snow is falling quietly outside, thinking about what The Lord has done and is doing in my life. This past weekend I was at a weekend conference for young women at a church in town. I almost didn't go. Why would I give up my weekend to sit with a bunch of women and hear a bunch of things I probably already knew? Somehow The Lord would not let me say no, even though most of my friends were not going. So I said yes. And I am so glad I did. Today, I'm not going to write about my experience at the conference, though I'm sure I will soon. Today I am prompted to write some of what God has brought to my mind as a result of the conference.
As I wrote at the end of 2013, a lot has happened in the year and a half that I wasn't writing. While I felt no need to recount it all at the time, I was sorely mistaken. God wants us to remember what He has done for us, and I don't want to rob Him of the glory for what He has done in my life. I want to boast about Him. To brag on The Lord for a bit.
I have to be reminded about the Lord's provision a shameful number of times. At the times I am waiting for the Lord to provide, He has to remind me of the divine ways He has provided for me in the past, to keep me from whining about the present (impatient much?) and to continue in hope and dependence towards the future. He has provided oh so clearly and beautifully my whole life, the fact that I still doubt is ridiculous.
One thing that I will say that I gained from the His Proposal conference last weekend was a renewal of hope and of my dependence on Him. I have in some ways prided myself on not speaking on this topic, but while I don't want to dwell here, the label on this season of my life is "single." Now I can fill my life with all kinds of wonderful things and people. I am good at that. No one can accuse me of not having a full life. But at the end of the day there is still this slight ache and a feeling of missing something. I'm not going to open a can of worms here, but what I heard from the ladies at His Proposal and these reminders the Lord gave me leave me confident that my Lord is a God who provides, Jehovah Jireh.
So let me share about this past year and a half...
I moved back to my small hometown of Florence, SC basically in August of 2012 to look for a job. I had no intentions whatsoever of staying here after years in Atlanta and West Palm Beach. While I knew I needed to start my career, my heart is not to be a career driven woman. More than anything I want to start a family, and Florence is not exactly crawling with young, Jesus-loving men. In fact, church was another issue. I had learned so much about the Lord in my time away that I could not imagine going back to my home church. It did not fit me anymore and was an invitation to complacency. But almost all of the churches here are dead, dying, or well not for me. So I just knew that a larger, younger, bustling city would be the right move for me. Only I had to find a job.
It's not easy to find a job these days, and my profession makes it even more difficult. I had a job offer in Florence within a month of being home. But I had barely begun to look elsewhere so I turned it down. Trying ever so hard to leave this town.
Enter Rachael. Within my first couple of months home 2 people had told me about this girl who had also just graduated with a counseling degree and was looking for a job. They thought we would be great friends. Spurred on by the Lord I made a call and then another one, which led to an awkward voice mail message, which led to instant friendship. It was all God. She was my first new Florence friend, and the true beginning of a brand new life here in Florence. I was so grateful.
After Rachael and I's first lunch together, we had both wanted to find a church to get involved in and were both excited to go looking together. For two months we searched, not excited about anywhere. Then, it's as if a church appeared out of no where. A tiny church had opened on the other side of town, pastored by a man I knew and thought highly of when I was in high school. I knew the first Sunday that was it. I didn't know a soul, but I threw my whole self in.
Some of you have read my exhausting stories of my previous church failures and successes in Atlanta. Be prepared to have your mind blown...In less than 1 month I knew more people at that church than I did at both Atlanta churches in those 3 years. I'm not talking about people I met once and then forgot. There were probably a hundred of those. But this was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. God. All glory to God.
Then I got involved in the youth a month and a half after starting at that church. And met my second new Florence friend. Our hearts beat as one for the teenage girls at our church, and we were together almost nonstop.
All the while I was fighting my hardest to spread my wings and fly far far away. It doesn't sound like I was, but the Lord had clearly told me that my life was not on hold while I waited for a job. I didn't get a "Get out of church free" card or a "Get out of serving" card or a "Spend all your time on self" card. Many jobs waved hello and quickly goodbye to me, and I rode on an emotional roller coaster for months upon months. But I wasn't allowed to get off even when I wanted to, because I was single and must have a job.
It wasn't until March that I finally surrendered. It was when I realized that I was just as scared of leaving Florence as I was of staying in Florence that I decided to go back to my first job offer and beg them to consider me again. It was not an immediate yes and there were concerns that I would not be able to have insurance. I showed up for what I thought was an interview or to discuss what they could offer me (expecting less than before). I showed up and they just started talking about when I would start and logistics. They offered me more money than they had previously and insurance was covered. It was a dream. Seriously, it was more than I ever could have possibly asked for in a first job, and I get to work within my specialization. It was God.
All that remained for the start of a brand new life here was to be out of my parents' house. My youth leader friend started inviting me over to this girl's house every Monday for a dinner get together. There were four of us and we really enjoyed each other. The girl was looking for a roommate and after six weeks of getting to know each other we decided to be roomies! I was terrified the moment I said I would move in, because I had just started my new job, I didn't have to pay rent at home, and home was comfortable. But again. I just knew somehow that it was right and worth taking the risk. God knit it all perfectly together.
Honestly, I put a lot of effort into a lot of things the last year and and half. None of my striving is what brought me my whole new Florence life. I did things. Yeah. But I cannot deny that God orchestrated all of this. It has been exactly what I needed. Every single time.
So here's to Jehovah Jireh. My provider. Your grace is sufficient for me.