“Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea And a path through the mighty waters, “Do not remember the former things, Nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness And rivers in the desert.” – Isaiah 43:16,18-19
“Trust and obey, there’s no other way,” goes the old hymn. The word “Trust,” is something that is probably the more difficult of the two commands mentioned in the song. Its definition, “reliance on the veracity, integrity, or other virtues of someone or something; religious faith,” from Old Norse traust “help, confidence, protection, support.” Trust is a word that confides in our ability to depend upon something greater than ourselves, and as such, is often difficult to understand or appreciate when it comes to fruition.
In the last year, I have been witness to everything from loss of loved ones to the utterly inexplicable. I’ve felt the presence and heard the voice of heavenly beings, more than once. In that timeframe, the path upon which seemed to be my true calling suddenly took an unexpected turn, altering the course of everything I had come to know and trust, into a wilderness where only faith could sustain a being. Again and again, I sought protection and support from the only place I knew; the Word of God.
He never let me down.
Living between one’s past and the future allows for reflection and projection, something else I experienced in the span of 2016. While still moving a farm from one place to another, we continued to settle into the life that was new, serving at the Trail of Faith. There at the Trail I found more and more calling to help those in need, those seeking God, and guidance from a place that was so aptly named. There I learned how to pray over those making their pilgrimages to a place they had only read about. Some had studied up to the point they came wanting to gain a better perspective, to walk the literal trail of faith. Each time, each new visitor, I found God teaching and leading me in ways I had never thought possible. There were the discoveries of new friendships and with those, a new feeling of trust in knowing that serving Him was the right path.
Then in the midst of what seemed to be the perfect path, my father became gravely ill. Once again I was reminded of those Godly circumstances that provided me the ability to see him before he passed. There is no greater gift than knowing God had given you the chance to hug your mother one last time, or to kiss your father goodbye, but each step of the way, that was my blessing. As I walked out of that hospital room, I knew we’d not see each other until we reach that Glory land above, and so it was. On our way home from the funeral, my sister and I received confirmation that all was right when we saw the most unbelievable, color-filled, double rainbow like none we had ever seen before in our lives.
Another blessing, another circumstance unexplained.
Even while those daily life lessons were being served, both good and sorrowful, He was at work on the next road into a wilderness not yet imagined. Every time my family would ask questions as to how, when, and where, I would ask them to patient and wait, for in time, all of their concerns would be answered. It was in these moments, soon after their questions, I found myself alone with Him, praying and listening for more.
There were times of darkness that filled us with doubt. In the waiting, there was learning. It was all part of the path that was chosen; each subject to the other.
Yet, each time He spoke, I listened. Each time I asked, He answered.
There were was the day we didn’t have enough money to buy food until the next paycheck, and with only a half-a-gallon of milk left in the fridge at the house, I silently asked God for help as I went to the Trail to open up that morning. There was nobody else that new our dire straits; nobody else had been told how close we were to going hungry; nobody. As I opened the door, there sitting on the podium as I walked in was a single white envelope with my name scratched on it, almost illegible. I picked it up, curiously and opened it. Tears filled my eyes as I dropped to my knees.
There inside was $40 cash.
God once more answered prayer.
“Knock and the door will be opened, ask and yea shall receive.”
This was just one of many Godsends that we experienced as we learned to trust and obey. Brothers and sisters from all over came to our time aid in our time of need, again and again. This in itself was difficult to understand and accept. We had to learn a whole new paradigm of life, how to receive.
Continually each day, prayers would be lifted up for guidance. One specific prayer that seemed to go unanswered was for Him to find someone to buy our old farmstead. But like all things asked for, one must consider God’s time. For us, in what seemed an eternity but in reality was blinding speed, our home of over twenty years finally sold. It was a bittersweet memory, even now. Looking back, it was when things began to move faster than one could conceive; at God-speed.
In a blinding fury, we cleaned, mowed, and moved the last vestiges of a lifetime in a matter of two weeks. We had moved from the reflection to the immediate. As things began to move along, we still didn’t know where we would finally end up living.
Prayers continued to be lifted up, for we still were housed in a temporary shelter, we affectionately called, “The Shack.”
Then one day we found ourselves driving toward the area of West Lenoir, I wondered why. Deep inside it felt right even though it didn’t seem logical at the time. After all, we had been through; I knew it was a God thing. Again, His will would be done in time. There, through one unbelievable circumstance after another, we found a new home that would soon be our next step in the journey. There too we found new friends that would someday become our neighbors, as well as a brother and sister in Christ.
Something else I learned through the course of the year, unbelievable circumstances are more easily called “Miracles.” In all honesty, we are afraid to use the “M” word for fear of non-believers accusing us of believing in fantasy. “If they could only see what I’ve seen,” I think to myself, “then it wouldn’t be such a stretch of the imagination.”
After the sale of our farm and the purchase of our new home, we had moved from the reflection into the projection of time.
Then came the closing of the door we never saw coming. The loss of funding for my position at the Trail, and then the search for the next “What.” For nearly ten years of my last 23 years at Nortel/Genband, I had feared losing my job and to have to find a new one. We never thought it would happen after we had given everything up to live for our new life.
But alas, here we were.
Faith took on a whole new level of trust.
Once more, when it seemed like all would be lost, the unbelievable transpired. After three weeks of looking for jobs, filling out an untold number of applications, there had not been one phone call, not one interview. One morning I awoke to scripture that read, “Today will be the end of your suffering, your trials will cease today.” That afternoon came the first phone call. Then in a matter of 24 hours, God speed once again took over. Before I knew it, I had two job offers and was quickly hired as a High School Math Teacher in Boone, NC. His plan had been fulfilled. The realization dawned on me that the move to our new home’s location allowed for a commute to the new job that was manageable instead of inconceivable. God’s hand was in it every step of the way.
In the beginning, the story seemed like I was moving to a place where I could share God’s word from the mountain; the mountain being the Trail. Before I knew it, I was serving Him from the mountain top, but in a way, I had never imagined.
Every day, new doors open to places I never saw coming. Each day I pray for strength, guidance, and wisdom. Every day God answers prayer.
God will make rivers through the deserts and roads through the wilderness if only we trust in Him.
It has been a year of untold highs and lows, but in the end, it has been a year of serving our Lord, and for that, I couldn’t ask for more.
Thanks be to God.