As I lay in my bed last night trying to figure out what I should write this morning, my daughter came in to say goodnight. We are expecting a major storm here today and so we are all a little nervous. Before she left my room, she spent a few minutes saying goodnight to Belle, our little white dog. And then she said, “When the winds start to blow and the rain comes rushing down, hug Belle extra hard, ’cause she’s scared of the storms!” She was being silly, but her words struck a chord inside. I knew that God had hugged our family extra hard this year and it was time to tell you about it.
Nine months ago, almost to the day, we made the decision to leave the church we had attended for twenty-five years. I am not going to go into why we made that decision, as we love the people at that church very much and certainly wish them no ill will. But we both knew that God had made it clear: we were to move on. We had poured our hearts and souls into that church and it is probably the hardest decision we have ever made. And around us, the winds started to howl and the rains came rushing down. We felt alone and adrift.
We ended up settling in at a large church and decided to just sit back and take in the teaching of Pastor B. He is a godly man who teaches in such a way that all of us not only learn a lot, but also enjoy it. But each Sunday, we would go to church and sit down to listen. After the service, we would get up and we would look around. No one cared that we were there. We didn’t matter. And, lest I give the wrong idea here, let me be clear: our new church was very friendly. They really were. It was just we went from being surrounded by what felt like a comfortable family to being surrounded by strangers.
But then God did something amazing. He brought a family into our lives that truly wrapped their love and care around us. I am not sure they will ever know how much God used them in our tumultuous year. When we were in our loneliest hours, we clung to them. They probably got sick of us always making a beeline for them after any church service, being so thankful not to stand so conspicuously alone.
And slowly, but surely, God did amazing things that came out of our obedience to Him. I would like to share just a few with you.
When we left our church, one of our secretaries for our business was our old pastor’s wife. We knew when we made our decision to leave, that we were probably going to put our business into an upheaval, as well as our lives. And, a few weeks after we left the church, she handed in her resignation. We had a crazy, terrible month and then God, as He often will, stepped up and provided a wonderful woman who we heard about through a family in our new church. The story of how she came to us and how the situation was perfect for her, as well, is almost…well, miraculous. It could have only been a God thing. She has been such a blessing to us. And then, as if that wasn’t enough, God gave us an extra blessing by bringing her hard-working nephew (also a member of our new church) to work for our company a few months ago. We would have never met either of these employees if we hadn’t switched churches.
Another really cool thing God did was orchestrate an almost instant friendship. I had spoken at a Moms’ Group at a local church last spring. As I spoke I talked about some hard things and mentioned that I had recently switched churches. After I was done, a lady came up to me and told me how much she had appreciated what I had said and we chatted for awhile. I had a feeling we could be friends. And then we realized that we now were going to the same church. Over the course of a few months, our friendship has grown and she has introduced me to several other ladies at the church. All because I “happened” to speak where she “happened” to be.
I also have a dear friend who has supported my blogging for awhile now. She is such an encouragement to me. Her husband and mine have become friends, as they both are in the same business. We knew this family because our kids go to school together and lo and behold, this family goes to our new church, too. We have so enjoyed getting to know them better.
And, finally, I want to share with you how I have prayed for my children. That, by far, was my biggest concern in switching churches. And so I prayed. A lot. And God has answered in big ways. Oh, it is taking time, as all friendships do, but I can see friendships that are starting to blossom for each one of them.
I am humbled and oh, so thankful.
And, so, God has stepped up to provide for us in ways we could never have foreseen. The rain came rushing down and He hugged us extra hard. He provided for our needs, and even a few wants, as we stepped out in obedience into the unknown.
God is so faithful!
And, so, may I leave you with this? Don’t ever let fear keep you from obeying the Lord. Yes, you may end up in the middle of the field with the wind howling about you and the rain rushing down in a torrent, but that is when God hugs you extra hard.
Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I hope in Him!”