$200. That’s how much we had to our name August 1, 2014. Rent was due and we were a long way off from the $1800 we needed to stay in our apartment another month.
We didn’t get to that place overnight. It was nine months in the making (sort of like growing a baby. The next few months would end up feeling like protracted labor in my soul). When My Man received the last paycheck on the last project he had back in October, he didn’t have any other jobs in sight. And we had a four month old baby.
I have to chuckle now reading my journal entries at the time. I wrote of “while knuckled faith” that October, about this being our moment of stepping out of the boat and living with everything surrendered to Christ. All while we still had money in our bank accounts and a healthy stock portfolio. But surely God wouldn’t ask us to spend all that as well. How….irresponsible!
If I had known that fall of 2013 what the next year would entail, and all that God would ask us to surrender, I would have snapped under the weight of it.
But God is so gracious. He prepares us for steep inclines in our walk with Him through slow conditioning. He never asks us to do today what He first needs to teach us tomorrow.
Over the last 12 months we moved 17+ times. Everything we needed fit in two cars, with most of the day-to-day belongings confined to a suitcase per person. My daughter has slept in a pack n play for nearly a year, the only constants in her life being her bed, her dolls and her blanket.
Home has come to mean people rather than things. Where the three of us are, there is home. Sometimes that has been in a hotel room in West Los Angeles for two nights, other times it has been the couches or spare rooms of generous friends.
After a year of nomadic living, it seems strange to put clothes in a dresser or consider staying in one place longer than a few months. This past year has been the hardest year of our lives in every aspect. It has also been our greatest year, full of watching God move in breathtaking ways, seeing prayers answered time and again and humbling realizing the work that God has gently been doing in our own souls.
I would not trade a single moment.
I would not trade crying on the floor of yet another friend’s apartment, with my daughter sleeping nearby, asking God what in the world He was doing.
I would not trade the endless dragging out of suitcases and setting up of a temporary home, if even just for 3 days in one place.
I would not trade the standing in line at the welfare office or the embarrassment I felt in the check-out line trying to use my Women and Infant Care Government checks (WIC program).
I would not trade the countless times we had to ask people for help, dependent completely on their generosity, with nothing to offer in return.
I would not trade this year of the tears, frustration, uncertainty, and constant moving because then I would have to also trade what God has done in my heart, in my marriage, and in my faith.
People have looked at us with pity in their eyes this past year, their sympathy barely masking their true feelings- how grateful they are not to be in our position, silently begging God to never do that to them.
I have come to see that this year was not God picking on us, was not God punishing us for some irresponsibility on our part or lack of obedience. God called us out of the boat and into the deep waters of faith because He loved us.
God beckoned us beyond our comfort zone, asked us to surrender our earthly comforts and gently pried open our clenched fists because He loved us.
He was not satisfied to leave us in a mediocre, comfortable, or predictable faith, choosing instead to draw us to a point of daily, sometimes moment to moment, desperate clinging because He loved us.
A year of living without a permanent address, at the mercy of God’s grace and the kindness of others has humbled me, has redefined what is truly needed to live and thrive, and stripped me of any pretense that I can successfully control my life. My joy has been forced to find it’s rooting beyond circumstances, beyond things, beyond people and places and in the only certainty of life….Jesus Christ.
This is what I pray my girls will learn earlier than their parents have. That they will cling to and rest in the knowledge that a life lived ruthlessly trusting Jesus, whatever the ask, whatever the cost, is a life well lived. That to be truly alive, you have to first be willing to lose it all, to walk out on the water so far that the only thing standing between you and drowning are the arms of Jesus. Once you taste of deep water faith, you cannot imagine how you lived any other way.
This last year was the hardest and the best. We cry to God to never let us slip back to comfortable, to keep calling us out beyond what we can handle so we grasp hold of more of Him.
For what is a life worth living if not at the edge of faith, seeing heaven play out daily?