He’s Still Working…

30 Aug

My paychecks from a full summer of working finally came.  I didn’t strike it rich, but I was finally able to catch up on bills (and buy groceries.  Those are nice to have.)

About a week before my lease ended, God opened a door for me to live in a community setting with a really great Christian couple until the end of October.  He was showing Himself faithful, granting me the things I had so frantically prayed for.  

There was still the question of a job.  And David.  Did God want me to let go, or was He working in ways I could not see?

I prayed for a sign.  I asked God that, if I were NOT to marry David, that I would run into him in the next week.  I had just interviewed for a job in David’s area and viewed a potential apartment (this was before I had finalized the place where I am living now), so it was likely that I would travel that way in the next few days.  God could easily arrange for us to bump into each other.  I also asked if it WAS God’s plan for us to marry and I should be praying/planning accordingly, that I would find out that a loved one was having a baby or adopting.  

A day later, I reconnected with a couple I had served with on the mission field and learned they had a beautiful, healthy baby boy (after dealing with secondary infertility while I was on the field with them).  Was this God answering my prayer in an above-and-beyond way- if I had found out they were pregnant, I would have rejoiced, but I would have also feared they may be in for further complications.  No, even before I prayed, God had already given them a son.  Then, at the end of the week, I learned a summer-school aide was pregnant.  I hadn’t had a chance to get to know her well, but I know that she and her husband know and love Jesus.  She could have been assigned to a different classroom and I could have never met her, we could have missed the five-minute conversation in which we discovered our common faith in Christ, or I could have missed the moment when she casually mentioned being pregnant…but only God could have caused those brief details to fall into place.  Between these two miracles, there was no denying that God had to be answering my prayer.

So, I continued to believe that David is the one God has chosen to be my husband.  I continued to pray for him.  One night, I peaked at David’s facebook before going to bed- it still read, “In a Relationship with Jenny.”  Later, I woke up in the night with a frantic, overwhelming urge to pray for David and Jenny.  I prayed, furiously.  I prayed that God would protect them.  I prayed they would be spared of heartache.  I prayed that David would have the strength to seek God above all else and not be drawn into any sort of temptation- physical or emotional- with Jenny.  In my mind, I resolved that if David did go “too far” with Jenny and God later brought him and I together, I would forgive as Christ forgave- but I still prayed that David would be spared from yet another heart-destroying relationship.  In the morning, I looked at his facebook again (I know, I shouldn’t do that!!) and saw that his relationship was no longer listed.

Well, social media isn’t the Bible. Anything could have happened.  He or Jenny might have simply decided the world didn’t need to know their relationship status.  Or…maybe there was a reason I was called to pray so fervently the night before.

I prayed for one more sign a few days later.  This time it was nothing specific…Just something, anything, that would affirm that this was from God and not my own imaginings.  I prayed that the sign would come before noon the next day.  

At 11:48 the next day, I received a phone call offering me a teaching position in the next suburb over from where David lives.

The job offer in and of itself was cause for rejoicing.  I called my dad and we offered a prayer of thanks together over the phone, and then texted the couple I live with (who have prayed for me throughout my entire job search), before making the big “social medial” announcement.  In the back of my mind, it seemed so clear that this was a double-answer to prayer.  

I had already been looking at churches in that area, and, regardless of what happened between me and David, the church he attended seemed like the best fit.  Small (I have nothing against big churches, but I personally prefer smaller ones), contemporary without being showy, the same denomination as the church I attended (and loved) in my hometown, and the sermons I listened to online where deep and powerful.  I finally decided to send David a short message telling him I had been offered a job and was looking for a church in the area, and planned to visit the church he attended on Sunday.  I added that I knew he would have his son and possibly his girlfriend with him, and I understood if he didn’t feel comfortable talking with me.  

He replied instantly, “I’m not with her anymore.  And I’d like to see you, but enjoy the service if I don’t get a chance!” 

Of course, he wasn’t there Sunday morning.  I loved what I saw/heard- beautiful, Christ-focused worship, solid sermon, friendly congregation- I just hope David meant what he said and didn’t skip out Sunday to avoid seeing me.  

On one hand, he’s out of that relationship- and, apparently, God called ME to be the prayer warrior for David when it ended.  On the other hand, I don’t know if I can trust what David says- he talked about “wanting to catch up again sometime soon,” the last time we saw each other…followed by months of silent treatment while he dated Jenny.  Maybe he thinks he’s being nice and protecting my feelings, but it really just causes me a headaches and confusion.

God seems to be giving me so many signs that He is at work here, and that He has spoken to me.  Still, every spark of human logic tells me that it’s impossible, that David no longer wants anything to do with me and our relationship is forever shattered.  

Someday, I’ll know what’s really happening here.  Even in the midst of all my confusion, He is still working all things together for my good!

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Even When I Can’t Feel Him…

16 Jul

Life is wearing me out.

The job search is fruitless.  I am licensed from a prestigious university to teach one of the most in-demand content areas, and hours of applications and interviews have gotten me nowhere.  It’s only been two months since I finished school, but the hiring season for teachers is short.  If I don’t get a job by September, I will probably be stuck either subbing or working a non-teaching (potentially minimum-wage) job to make ends meet.

Something is physically off in my body- I don’t know what, but I have no energy and food has no appeal to me.  Sometimes I force myself to eat and it feels like torture; other days I avoid the discomfort of eating and deal with the low-blood pressure, dizziness, and headaches.  I can’t win.  It doesn’t help that allergy season is in full swing, so I’m already drained and miserable.

My finances are a mess.  I took a summer job waitressing at an event hall, but things are slow in July.  I also have a position teaching summer school, but I found out today that we won’t be paid for several weeks.  Just paying for gas to drive to school until then will be a nightmare; I don’t know how to pay for rent and groceries.  I have bills coming due and I’m not sure how I’m going to pay them.  I know my parents will give me money if I need it- but, I’m 28 years old.  Can I please be done needing my parents to take care of me??

Yesterday I peeked at David’s facebook to see how he was doing…and it said, “In a Relationship with Jenny.”

Wow.

Eight weeks ago, David and I met for coffee and he told me he hadn’t had a date since we broke up.  He said he had deleted his online dating accounts.  He told me he just wasn’t at a place in his life where he could have a relationship right now.

Apparently that all changed in eight weeks.

He and I spent almost eight weeks talking online before our first date.  We dated for another six weeks before breaking things off.   Maybe I’m being harsh, but I don’t believe he would move that fast.  Of course, being the secure, mature, single woman that I am, I peeked at Jenny’s facebook and pinterest- I see a few traces of a Christian faith background, but I see some other things that make me question it all.  I know, I know, you can’t judge someone without knowing them, but still…

And complete silence from David.  Now I know why he kept canceling and asking to reschedule the last time we hung out.  Now I know why he seemed distant.  Apparently his definition of “friendship” is “hang out in the sidelines of my life until I meet someone else.”

Does this mean the times I thought I was hearing God’s voice were false?  Have I really been a Christian since I was three years old, and still, at age 28, am hearing what I want to hear instead of God speaking to me?  When I begged God to silence the things I was hearing/thinking unless they were from Him, did He just sit back and allow me to wallow in confusion?  Or did I miss something??

If I DID hear God voice and I truly am to be married to David, what is going to come out of this?  I feel stabbed in the heart- unless there is something huge that I don’t know about, everything with David has been false.  The reasons why he broke up with me, the wanting to stay “friends,” the lies about not seeing anyone else or not being able to have a girlfriend right now.  Even if there is some huge misunderstanding here and he and I are able to work through it, either he or Jenny or both will get hurt.  I am so angry right now at David for lying to me and messing with my heart this way- but I don’t want to see him go through more heartache.  He’s been through enough.

God, I know You are still present, still at work when I cannot feel You.  I know You will somehow bring glory to Yourself in all this, and I believe I will come out of this season more like Your Son.

I just hope it’s short-lived.

 

I Give Up!

6 Jul

I can’t put any more energy into this.

I can’t handle trying to figure out what I need to do to end up with David.  

I can’t handle rehearsing every single possible conversation I might have with him in my head.  I can’t analyze the ones we have had trying to figure out what’s really going on.  I can tell when the things he’s telling me don’t add up, but I can’t handle trying to figure out if he’s lying, confused, or just having trouble keeping all his facts straight because he doesn’t have as detailed of a memory as I do.

I can’t send him a text and wait a month to hear back from him; I can’t schedule and reschedule and reschedule times to hang out with him because he can’t “remember” the times we’ve planned.  

I can’t look past job openings in other areas far away from him because I think God told me I’m supposed to be married to him.  I’ve applied all over by him and no one has hired me.  I need a full-time job this fall and God knows that.  

And, this hasn’t happened yet, but, should a great, Godly man try to pursue me, I can’t reject him solely because I’m carrying a torch for David.  

God, I still remember that moment when I felt that voice in the back of my mind telling me I would be married to David.  I desperately want that to be Your voice.  I don’t want to realize that I’ve known You since I was three years old, and now, at 28, I still can’t discern Your voice from my own imagination, or the voice of the enemy.  I desperately want to look back at the moment years from now and be awed by the way that You fulfilled a promise to me.  

But I don’t think You WANT me to worry or take any sort of action right now- You just want me to wait…right??

Lord, if there is some step that I need to take, please show it to me.  Otherwise, I’m just going to sit and wait for Your plan to unfold.  The glory is all Yours, anyway.

A Season of Confusion

28 Jun

God knows my hearts desires.  He says that He will give me the desires of my heart if I delight myself in Him (Psalm 37:4).

My heart’s desire was to return to my hometown after completing my time on the mission field- not to move back in with my parents, of course, but to set up my own place, be close to my friends and my parents, and continue to be part of my church family.

But God didn’t lead me back there; He brought me instead to a huge city to attend graduate school at a big-10 university.  I’m only three hours from home, but sometimes it feels like a foreign country.  I thought I would only be here for a year, but, as of right now, the job market looks better here than back “home.”  At least there are openings to apply to here; there’s nothing even open back home.

Why did God lead me here?  I have a church and a great Bible study to attend, but neither compare to the worship, in-depth studies of the scripture, or fellowship that I had at my church back home.  I’ve had chances to briefly share my faith with a few people, but it’s been no more or less significant with opportunities that I had back home- maybe even less, since I don’t feel like I can invite those people to my church, given the distance they would have to travel.

I thought I knew the answer: God lead me here to meet David and marry him.  But now, it seems impossible and illogical.

David and I hung out a few weeks ago…it wasn’t at all like the other times we’ve hung out or talked, before or after breaking up.  Things just felt…off.  Granted, it turned out he had come straight from a dentist appointment and wasn’t feeling 100%, so that partially explained why he seemed a bit disengaged.  But it was some of the things he said, too…he asked me at one point if I had been doing all right with eating enough (I told him when we first started dating that I had been through an eating disorder as a teenager) and then added, while looking me dead in the eyes, “I just don’t understand how Satan is able to convince you that you aren’t beautiful.”   Ten minutes later, he was saying how he had seen “red flags” with other girls he had dated but then quickly added, “I didn’t see any with you, Laura.”  Well, if I’m so beautiful and you see zero “red flags,” then why am I sitting over here in the friend zone?  He’s even changing his story- at first it was that he wasn’t feeling the chemistry or connection (of course not, we only went on five dates!  Anything he would have felt so soon would have boiled down to fantasy and infatuation!) and now it’s just “where he’s at in his life right now.”  He’s too busy for a relationship- well, he’s 29 and his son is 11.  When does he think life is going to slow down??  And if he doesn’t want to marry a woman drastically younger than him, how does he expect to have more children (which he said was his desire when we were dating) if he plans to put marriage off for several more years??

A few weeks ago, I was called for a job interview in the exact suburb where David lives.  I was thrilled- I have been applying all over for jobs and finally, an interview!  The job seemed like the perfect fit, and, surely, if this job were the one door that God had opened for me, David would see that this was from Him.  I was called back for a second interview…and then received a rejection email a few days later.  One other candidate, and the position went to him or her.   This felt like a repeat of the whole “March 15th” experience- thinking that surely God was opening a door and all the details where coming together, and then watching it inexplicably fall through.

Maybe I’m wrong.  Maybe I never heard God telling me that I would be married to David in a year or that I would be married at all.  But then, why did He not silence that voice in the back of my mind when I asked Him to?  When I shared my thoughts with Lisa and Sarah, why did He not urge THEM to tell me to rethink this (they would have done so if they had felt prompted to…right?  These are two of the most Godly women I know.  Surely they wouldn’t tell me what they think I want to hear??).   Why have these little things come up and then fallen through so suddenly??  Is God teasing me?  No, He doesn’t tease because He can’t lie; it goes against His very nature.  Is He trying to show me that cessasionalist theology is correct and He doesn’t speak to us anymore?   No, nowhere in the Bible did He ever say not to listen for His voice past a certain point, and I know He has spoken to me in the past.

I know who God is.  I know He is good, He is sovereign, and His promises never fail.  I know that I cannot claim anything as His promise unless it is written in the Bible.   But, right now, He is taking me through one of the most confusing seasons of my life.  I can only wait to understand what He is doing.

No Substitutes Accepted

18 Apr

One question I have asked many times over the past few months has been, “If God intends for David and I to be together (which I still believe He does), than why are we apart right now?”

I know the answer: God has work to do on both of us.  We are both being refined individually.  

I am in a one-year graduate school program that grants me a license to teach public school and brings me within a few credits of an M.Ed.  I entered this program with experience as a private-school teacher and an adjunct college instructor, but some of my classmates have come from completely different career fields looking for a change.  This program trains ALL of us to be qualified teachers in one year- needless to say, it has been an intense year for us all!  

God has given me grace far beyond what I deserve this year.  He has lead me to a good church- I haven’t been very plugged in due to my lack of time, gas money, and uncertainty as to how long I would be in this area- but I still look forward to the worship and the preaching every Sunday.  I am involved with the graduate chapter of Intervarsity here on campus and have been blessed by the fellowship of several wonderful people, including Sarah.  However, my personal time with God has been an uphill battle.  Even when I have finished my schoolwork and lesson planning, or when I have just reached my limit and can’t go any further, it’s a struggle to pull out my Bible or my prayer journal and spend even just a few brief moments with God.  If I have any energy I want to do something brainless, like scroll through pinterest or walk down to the gas station for a candy bar.  

I feel like God should be striking me with tragedies and crisis or letting me spiral into a pit of depression to get my attention- but He hasn’t.  As I said, He has poured out so much grace and mercy on me this year, I am without explanation except to say that He is good.  Even so, my spirit has felt the effects of spiritual starvation- I miss the intimacy and awe that I experience when I am consistent in my quiet times.  I have seen God working through me as I have had opportunities to share my faith with classmates and mentor teachers, but I wonder if those conversations could have been further in-depth if I were more in tune with Him.  

Today I talked with a few classmates about how we have been living off of coffee or diet coke to find the energy to keep going.  The problem is that, while the caffeine wakes us up for a few hours, it also leaves us jittery, prone to “crash,” and, worst of all, it kills our appetite for healthy food.  I sat in our night class earlier this week awake enough to focus on the lecture, but writhing with discomfort- I knew my body was protesting being bathed in caffeine and practically nothing else for so long.  Diet coke or coffee trick me into thinking I’m satisfied, but leave me lacking the nutrients I really need.

David could have had the same effect on me this year.  I would have made time for him (sadly, I know I would have, even if it had left me with less time for God).  We would have talked about our faith and prayed together.  He would have affirmed and encouraged me.  He would have listened to me vent and given me a shoulder to cry on when I was stressed out.  I might have unconsciously used him as a substitute for intimacy with God…and, I probably could have ridden on it for several months, possibly into our marriage.  And eventually, the discomfort and the craving for something real would have set in.  I would have been unfairly disappointed in David and probably far from God.  

There are many reasons why God has kept me single through this time, but I feel this is the most prominent.  I am being reminded that there are no substitutes for Him.  He is where I put my hope.  He satisfies me.  No one else can be substituted for that role in my life.

Nothing…or just not what I expected??

4 Apr

The Thursday before the 15th, I messaged David to see again if he’d like to meet up sometime.  He replied instantly, “What about Saturday?”

Whoa.  Did he just voluntarily suggest Saturday, the 15th, the date I believed God had laid on my heart?  Was everything about to come together before my eyes??  Was God about to not only grant me my heart’s desire- to be with David- but also show me that He was so real, so personal, that He held the smallest details of my future in His hands?

I told David that I would love to see him Saturday, and he said he’d get back to me Friday night with a time.  I messaged Sarah right away and told her what was happening; she promised to pray for me and couldn’t wait to hear what happened.  “I needed to hear this right now!!” she added.

Friday night came- and David and I discovered we’d had a mis-communication about our schedules.  “Well, maybe we can make something work; I’ll text you tomorrow,” he told me.

Saturday morning I woke up with an urge to pray for David on my heart.  I decided to text him and let him know he was in my prayers, regardless of whether or not we would see each other- as I was typing the text, I remembered the whole significance behind this day.  David would have been married today.  It was my impression that he was the one to end the engagement- he just kept seeing more and more evidence that his fiance wasn’t who he had originally believed her to be, and that she certainly wasn’t the kind of woman he wanted in a stepmother for his son.  I prayed harder, asking God that, if David were dealing with any grief or regret today, that He would be near to him.

Around 11 that night I heard back from David.  So sorry he hadn’t spoken to me all day, it had been a long day and he was “dealing with some things,” but he appreciated my prayers.  I texted back that I would continue to pray.  My heart and my mind were spinning.  Was David dealing with the after-affects of his canceled wedding day, or had something else come up?  And…what had just happened??

Maybe the whole “March 15th” had been my imagination.  But then, would God allow everything to line up and then fall through??   It wouldn’t be atypical for me to message David saying, “Want to get together sometime for coffee?” and then not hear back from him for a week or two- it seemed that surely it was God who caused him to respond instantly and suggest Saturday.  Why would He do that?  To mess with me, to remind me that the future was His business and not mine??  No, the God I serve is not the passive-aggressive god of cultural-christianity, the easter-bunny god who hides things just to drive us crazy, or the prosperity-gospel god who backs out of His promises because our faith wasn’t enough.  No, I serve a God who keeps His promises and does what He says He will do, and nothing- our human weaknesses, circumstances beyond our control, the attacks of Satan- can stop His plan from going forward.    If He says it will happen, it will.  If it doesn’t happen, He never said it would.

But what HAD just happened here?  Had I just imagined Him telling me “March 15th”?  If so, was all of this- marriage by November 2014, to David- an entire joke, as well??  Or, had He done something after all, and I just can’t see it yet?

I texted David a few more times over the past few weeks, but he didn’t respond until this week when I asked how he was doing and told him I was continuing to pray for him.  “Hey Laura, I’m pretty rough but I appreciate the prayers,” he said.  My heart is constricted with worry for him- is he still broken over the canceled wedding?  Or is he dealing with something worse??   I pray furiously for him, but it feels like I’m crying out to the ceiling.

And I’m left wondering what’s really going on.  Every time I pray about David and these impressions upon my heart, I seem to feel affirmation- I see the parallels between this and the other times God spoke clearly to me (when He called me overseas).  I feel that He is revealing truths about my relationship with David to me (more on that in a future post).  I distinctly remember the moment in January when I felt that voice, out of nowhere, telling me, “You will be married by November 2014…to David.”  I have liked a lot of guys in my lifetime, but never have I experienced anything like this.   I was raised independent fundamentalist, with the mindset that God doesn’t speak to us anymore.   I had a few people tell me that my call to the mission field might be “Satan putting that desire in me.”  Um…first, how on earth would the devil be capable of telling someone to go spread the gospel??  And, second, if God doesn’t speak to us, why would Satan speak to us?  Is he more powerful than God (rhetoric question)??    On the other hand, there is the other extreme that I see in some churches/denominations, where people believe every little thought is a deep revelation from God- or, rather, if it’s something they want to hear, it’s from God.  I hear stories of women saying God has promised them a husband and twin babies and now they are angry that He hasn’t kept His promise, or saying that they are destined to a certain man but don’t understand why he won’t return the texts or phone calls they are bombarding him with.  Where is the line?  What does it really mean to hear my Shepherd’s voice?

…Saturday…?

10 Mar

I met with Sarah for coffee earlier this week- she is the one person I feel I can share every detail with.  I probably would tell Lisa, too, if we could discuss it face-to-face, but sending her these stories in a facebook message or text just doesn’t feel right.  

I told Sarah my feelings that something would happen this month.  I told her I had texted David to see if he’d like to do coffee sometime soon, but hadn’t heard back from him.  We prayed for David, for me, and for Sarah and some of the things God has been revealing to her.  I mentioned in the course of our conversation that I wasn’t sure, but it was my impression that David and his ex-fiancee would have been married on March 15th of this year.  “Wouldn’t it be crazy if that was the day God did something?” said Sarah.  Yes, it would be crazy.

However, afterwards, when I had returned to my apartment building and was waiting for the elevator, I felt that voice again- and this time it was telling me, “March 15th is when it will happen.”

I frantically tried to squelch the voice- this had, HAD to be me imagining things after my conversation with Sarah.  I silently cried out to God to silence it, I took authority over the enemy in the name of Jesus- but, still, it was there.  March 15th.  

This morning, in church, as I sang the words to “The Great I Am” at the top of my voice, with my hands lifted, it came at me again: March 15th.  Be prepared to give Me the glory on Saturday, when My words come true.  Surely, Satan would have fled the church service and the powerful worship that was taking place- he wouldn’t be there whispering these thoughts to me, would he??  Was my own imagination so obsessive that, even during a time of worship, I would hear what I wanted to hear??

I came home from church and turned my cell phone on…and there was a text from David.  Sorry he hadn’t responded sooner; would I still like to meet sometime?  I replied of course, here was my schedule…what worked for him?  He hasn’t replied yet.  Will he say, “let’s get together Saturday for a bit?”

I arrived at Bible study tonight to find two visitors- Mikella, a potential grad student who had been visiting campus, and Sandra, her mentor who had accompanied her.  They made a delightful addition to our group and joined us for prayer at the end.  As we were saying goodbye, Mikella turned to me and said, “Laura, as we were praying, I felt as though God wanted me to tell you that your are precious to Him!”  

Touched, I thanked her for sharing and told her it was funny; God had been teaching me a lot about listening to His voice as of late.  “I was going to ask you that, if God was speaking to you lately!” she exclaimed. 

“Well…I don’t want to share details just yet, but I think He’s been telling me something, and I’ll know for sure by Saturday if it’s from Him or not,” I told her.  

Saturday.  Five days.  I’ll know.  

I desperately want this to be from God.  But, regardless, I am precious to Him, and He is worthy of my worship and adoration.  On Saturday night, I will be praising my Lord and Savior, whether it is hand-in-hand with David or a quiet, broken hallelujah.