Just the other day, I was asked by an acquaintance whether or not our family would be staying where we are for the winter. I answered that I wasn’t sure. She didn’t know what I meant, so I tried to explain: everything God has provided to us we have returned to back Him to control. The look on her face was priceless; she had no idea what I meant, and I had to elucidate, explaining that we are His, and all we have is His, and when He wants us to move, we move. Where He wants us to serve, we are able to do it. We have been led by our awesome God to be His hands and feet without current trappings of permanence.
There is a church in Houston, Texas called Hope City Church - pastored by Jeremy Foster. God led us to be introduced to their sermon podcasts and we have listened to Jeremy on a regular basis for the last few months. Hope City has been referred to as “the fastest growing church in America.” I have never before been so compelled to listen to and long for the movement of God in community. I have long waited to attend a church where the Spirit of God is moving and on fire. I have NEVER, in my 37 years, attended a church that meets those criteria (and I’ve attended a LOT of churches). I’ve grown heartbroken at the lack of fire, the lack of God’s heartbeat in those who claim to love Him. The majority of churchgoers I’ve ever known have chosen to live in the Kingdom of God on Sundays at church, but every other hour is lived in quite another kingdom altogether. I’ve learned that just because someone says the right words and attends a church service doesn’t mean that they intimately know or love the God the Bible talks about, or even care to consider following the instructions He gives in the love letter He has written to us.
This life our family lives now, this freedom we have to pick up and go where He directs us, serve who He leads us to, to spend more time together than we ever have, to be closer than we’ve ever been, all 6 of us, is the most liberating and peaceful life we’ve ever experienced. And every need is a constant reminder that our God has a plan for us, and the road He planned for us was never meant to be the shortcut - He has us taking the long way home to take advantage of the most opportunities to shower others with His love and grace. All He has led us through, Baier’s past as well as my own, has been for the primary reason of showing the contrast between where we came from and where God has led us despite it. All He has done in our lives equips and qualifies us to reach out to others with pasts that are similar, to reassure them that they are not alone, and to show them that the One who created them is the best at bringing beauty out of messes.
I am an artist, and there is nothing more appealing to me than the beauty in our world. To me, there is nothing more beautiful than seeing the contrast in something ugly becoming beautiful. That is my own story- I was abused as a child and do not remember who it was or what was done to me, but I do bear the scars of emotional abandonment and immense shame over things that were not my fault as a child. And yet, as an adult, I was faced with moving forward and growing toward my God and healing, or continuing to pick at my emotional and spiritual scabs and never let them heal, to control my world because I remembered past situations I had no control over. I learned to let go of the control and hand over myself and all I am to the greatest Artist in the world. He has made me beautiful when all I saw was my inadequacy.
And not only has God changed ME, but my husband has been transformed - he is now a more godly man and husband than he has EVER been in his life. He is a complete 180° about-turn from the man I married - an angry, controlling, opinionated, frustrated, impatient, emasculated, immature individual who I constantly fought with. He is the hardest worker I’ve ever met, and there have been many late nights we’ve shared and agonized over why God wasn’t allowing certain things to work out. But when it came down to it, we trust Him, and we aren’t going to throw away what we’ve learned thus far just to do what seems responsible when He’s backed up His words to us by blessing us beyond comprehension, providing exactly what we need when we’ve needed it, and providing us joyous gifts out of nowhere.
Nobody will ever believe that relying on God 100% for every moment and every direction would result in a peace that is beyond reason and a greater purpose and joy in life, having fewer belongings and space than the average American, is amazing and incredible! He has provided us a place to serve others and care for our own horses, friends and neighbors who love us like family, and people around us who desperately need to experience the patient God who isn’t a mean ogre/control freak/abusive parent.
I’ve heard someone say that there are two types of responses to such a powerful God- some people are repelled and resistant because they are afraid to let God change their lives, and others are inexplicably and magnetically drawn to the representatives of a God who is REAL and ALIVE! We have seen both types of people, and we have seen God impact all of them.
Our God has taken care of us (just as he promised in Matthew 6:25-34) consistently for the past year and a half, and continues to provide for us every day in ways we cannot believe. There has not been one meal we have missed or one night we have been without shelter or appropriate temperatures. These things are not our responsibility, they are God’s, since God has called us to be missionaries to those He has called us to serve.
Baier and I are a team - but it was not always this way. Every day, my husband works harder now than he ever has in any past employment, and now he does it for God, not for a paycheck. He is exhausted every day because he is consistently and constantly serving others and his family, as a personal representative of our gracious God. He gives more than he takes. I can only aspire to be as selfless as he is. I homeschool our 4 kids and help care for our animals, all the while working alongside my husband to help those we have been sent to serve where we are. We have a savings plan worth far more than money or this world can compete with, and a faith this world doesn’t understand.
Our needs are a gift because we are constantly in contact with our God, leaning on Him and communing with Him, reminded that He has purposes we cannot see. He is our Hope.
I want to share with you a quote that was in my email inbox today from a weekly devotional by Tony Evans:
“If ever there was a hopeless situation, Paul was in it. Paul hadn’t done anything to cause it. In fact, he had followed God’s leading straight into a place of despair.
If you share similar feelings today, you are in good company. The apostle Paul was a man who served God, knew God and pursued His calling at all costs. That should demonstrate to us that a life of service to our King doesn’t guarantee a life without difficulties, sorrow, or sacrifice. In fact, the opposite is typically true.
God sometimes allows situations in your life to appear hopeless because He is trying to direct your focus onto Him. You may feel like giving up because you can’t seem to fix the situation that you are in, and no one you know can fix it either. All of your human resources have been depleted. But Paul reveals a very key principle... “…indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead … He on whom we have set our hope,” (1 Corinthians 1:9-10).
In order to take Paul deeper in faith, God put him in a situation that his resume, abilities, and connections could not change. Why? So that Paul would learn to trust God even more so than he had done thus far....
See, if you’re not dying or in a situation that is dying—whether it’s relational, financial, emotional, or other—you will never know what it is like to experience a resurrection. If you don’t need one, you won’t see one.”