I looked out of my kitchen window in the early morning light, there seemed to be stillness everywhere except the sun that was faithfully rising above the horizon. I, still sleepy-eyed, and my mind with nothing better to do led me down memory lane. And in contrast to the light outside, my first early morning thoughts were shaded in dark from past hurts and pain. And from that dark place, my life’s movie began to replay in my mind… and I cried. I cried for the suffering that life brings, the hurt others can cause, I cried for the brokenness. I cried for anyone who has experienced the depth and despair of such pain… and then I prayed. I prayed that their stories would end up like mine, able to leave the hurt behind as waters gone by. That they would look ahead to shores of hope, that peace and healing would come up over their horizon. And then I continued to journey in my memory, seeing the good and the bad intertwined…
hurt and healing
chains and freedom
destruction and restoration
poverty and provision
grief and hope
mistakes and grace
suffering and mercy
pain and purpose
Darkness and light together, life beholds both, leaving us looking back on beauty and ashes. Just as I was able to behold the beauty of today’s sunrise in contrast with the night sky fading, I was able to see the beauty that has risen in my own life from every dark place, which left me again thanking God for bringing us through every trial. And looking back on the past year I basked in the reminder of God’s goodness, his divineness, and his sovereignty…You see it’s in this place, at my kitchen window where I find my latest testimony of his presence, his love, and grace.
It was April of 2019, the air outside was cold from winter holding it’s grip when God began to stir in my heart and show me that we were going to move. At the time, this made no sense, we were content. God had already answered our prayers and brought us to a good home. I couldn’t shake his Holy Spirit leading me though, telling me that we needed to pack. So, on Easter, I found the tiniest brown box ever and packed it. That’s all the faith I could find right then, but God took it and continued to lead us in the days and months ahead; giving us more courage, faith, and confirmation with every step we took. Throughout the summer, in between swimming pools, playgrounds, and popsicles, we managed to clean out our closets, the attic, and the garage. We took trip after trip to the landfill and thrift store. We let go of anything we no longer needed or wanted to take to our next place, wherever it was. We lightened our load, anticipating what God had on the other side of our obedience. And by late summer we began to look for a new home, knowing and believing that God was leading us to a spacious place, and knowing it would only be possible with his help. We couldn’t make a way, but he would, so we did what we could…believe and pack. Before we knew it Thanksgiving was approaching and everything that wasn’t absolutely necessary to living was sitting inside boxes in our cleaned out garage. It was during this time that God did a financial miracle, every obstacle was overcome, what was taken away from us returned to us just as he said it would. Weeks later, heading into the Christmas season, God led us to discover a home, a home with wide-open skies… a spacious place. I was hesitant, I just wasn’t sure if it would work, or if it was the right place. But God… Even in my doubts, I couldn’t escape the conviction of the Holy Spirit that this was where we were supposed to go. As things fell into place by God’s grace we moved, not to where I was expecting, but to the place God so lovingly picked for us. God’s timing was perfect. Our move took place in early February; in the middle of a snowstorm, before coronavirus memes began popping up all over Facebook, before schools closed, and before we were ordered to stay home. And I can’t imagine a more wonderful place for our family to be right now. We’ve got kittens to love on, chickens to care for, and skies to gaze upon morning, day, and night. We also have plans for this place, hopes for dreams to come true. My children have been so blessed here, and I have God to thank for that because without him and his leading we wouldn’t be here. Any difficulty we went through in the past pales in comparison to the blessings we have found on our journey. And every trial has made us appreciate this place a thousand times more. The Bible says that “he gently leads those that have young” (Isaiah 40:11). In trials, God has always stood with us, sustaining us, and from the moment I knew God was leading us out of our old home, we were never rushed. God gave us enough time to doubt, have faith, declutter and pack it all… and we got here right on time.
Not too long ago, shortly after moving, Romans 8:28 kept coming to me time and time again. This morning, after I abandoned memory lane, I was reminded that God absolutely causes all things to work together for our good. We tend to see things as either good or bad, but God sees it altogether, and when he’s finished it’s all good. The goodness of God may be hard to see during seasons of uncertainty and darkness, but if we hold fast to faith, wait, and keep our eyes on Him we will see the light rise in the night sky and his love bring everything together for our benefit. God’s promises are our reality, he never leaves us or turns away from us. He has good plans for our future. I’ve learned that the pain becomes our healing, and our healing a testimony, to ourselves and to the world around us that God cares and he loves us. God is so good, his love will not let him be anything else. In times of trouble, and joy, his banner over us is always love. And that’s where I find myself again today, covered with his love. I see it in the sunrise and wide open skies, I see it in the smile upon my children’s faces. I see it in thankful hearts. I feel it in the peace and in the hope we have. And if we ever find ourselves again in the shadows of darkness I know that the night won’t last forever, and in time the sun will faithfully rise, shining a million times brighter than we can dream or imagine… and always over us will be his love…
The day we moved we discovered this place, our new home, had been named Bethel
“When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it. He was afraid and said, How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.
Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. He called that place Bethel…”
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”