Thursday, December 23, 2010

If You Are Waiting, He is Working!

     It was an interesting journey from living an average life in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma to being church planters in Helena, Montana. I questioned the timing of the chain of events but in the end, God blessed me by how he had worked out His plan and His purpose in His perfect timing. When we knew that God had directed us to go to seminary, we immediately put our home up for sale. I had heard many times about how people who went in the ministry or to the mission field would put their homes up for sale and it would sale in 24 hours. I expected the same thing to happen to us. It did not. We needed to sell our home before we could leave for seminary. It took us nine months to sell the house. Then we lived with Dwayne's parents for three months,waiting for the next semester to begin. Dwayne finished seminary in two years and four months, We then moved to Helena, Montana to be church planters. We arrived with no place to live. Rentals were very difficult to find and the cost of homes were beyond our means at the time. We were not able to find anything before we arrived but within 24 hours we were able to find a brand new, three bedroom apartment in a fourplex. At that moment, our neighbors were a couple from Connecticut and a couple who were church supporters from Tennessee, helping our sponsoring church. I will never forget Dwayne and his new friend Dave, who was the pastor of our sponsoring church, moving in our furniture and boxes. As soon as the last box came through the door, Dwayne kissed me goodbye and they left for a state meeting. I felt a little lost in a new town, in my new apartment, alone with my two children and my boxes. It was only a week later we began to get a glimpse of God's plan unfolding. We were really struggling as to how we were going to do music in this new church we were beginning. We figured we were going to have to use CD's and a player. One day a man showed up to look at the apartment down stairs. He had driven all over town to find a place to move his family from Texas. He immediately rented the apartment. As we were talking to him, we found out that his wife played the piano, they had a keyboard, and they had worked with church starts before. Had God just dropped a miracle in the downstairs apartment? The answer was yes! They helped us with the music for the first six years of South Hills. They became great friends and extended family. We not only lived together for one year in the fourplex, we rented a new duplex in Montana City and we both moved there and lived side by side once again. Our children were best friends and our families ate together at least five nights a week. One day as we were discussing how God brought us together, they told us that God had told them they were suppose to move to the mountains and help with a church. They had to get some debt in order and sell a home. The process took them three and a half years. The exact time it took us to sell our home, move to seminary, and finish Dwayne's degree. When the three and a half years were complete they felt it was time to move. They had no idea where. So Bob just got in the car and took off for Colorado to follow God's leading and find the place they were to move. He drove all through Colorado, and then Wyoming, and ended up all the way to Helena, Montana. When he drove into Helena, he knew it was were they were suppose to move. He was a car salesmen and stopped by the local dealership, though they said they weren't hiring, he filled out an application. They hired him before he left their lot! All he needed now was a place to live. He found a few houses but there were people before him on the list and even though he offered the landlord six months rent in advance, he wouldn't go out of order and rent to him. He happened to be driving by the new apartments we were living in and saw the for rent sign, rented the apartment, and drove back to Texas to get his family. They moved in below us two weeks later. The whole time I was questioning God's timing, He was working out his plan. He had to coordinate two families' paths of obedience with a church that was ready to sponsor a church plant. How frustrating it must have been for Him when I would question whether He had forgotten us because His timing just didn't make sense.
     Elizabeth must have felt the same way. She had prayed for years to have a child and endured the disgrace of being barren. She had given up hope as she was an old lady. Her husband went to the temple one day to perform his service as a priest and when he returned he couldn't speak. He must have written it all out to her about how the angel told him they would have a baby. Sure enough, very shortly she was pregnant. Her disgrace had ended. Her prayers had been answered. Zachariah had more than likely told her of the angel saying how great their son would be and that his name was to be John. If I would have been her, I would have walked around town everyday rubbing my belly, getting my revenge for all the things they had said and thought about her. However, she didn't do that. She stayed isolated in her home for five months. She must have spent that time pondering, praying, and seeking God. At the end of the five months, God's timing started making sense. Not only was God blessing her with a Child, a child that was going to lead the way for Jesus, the Messiah, she was going to be used as a support and encourager to her relative who was going to be the mother of her Savior. Gabriel used the fact of Elizabeth being pregnant to encourage Mary that God can do the impossible and when Mary needed to go away for a while, she went to Elizabeth. Elizabeth cared for and ministered to Mary for three months. When Mary entered into the room, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and John leaped in her womb. If Elizabeth had been pregnant at any other time she would not have been used by God to give birth to the one that would make others ready for the Messiah, she would not have been able to be an example to Mary of the power of God, she would not have been filled with the Spirit, she wouldn't have had the opportunity to be the special care giver to Mary, and she wouldn't have been the first person to call Jesus, Lord! God's timing proved to be perfect and so worth the wait.
     When you think God isn't listening and not doing anything, remember that just because you have to wait, or you don't see anything happening, or you are having to endure hardship while you are waiting, God is at work. You never know what He is orchestrating and how many players are in His orchestra. With Elizabeth, He had to wait until the world was ready for the Messiah, until Mary was old enough to be a mother, until Joseph was engaged to Mary, and then He started the chain of events of the birth of the long awaited Messiah by giving an old, faithful couple the child of their wildest dream. Not only had He heard their prayers, not only had He cared, but He had worked everything together in His perfect timing. If you are waiting, He is working!

Now after this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant, and for five months she secluded herself entirely, saying I have hid myself because thus the Lord has dealt with me in the days when He deigned to look on me to take away my reproach among men. Now in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee named Nazareth to tell Mary, "Your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is now the sixth month with her who was called barren. For with God nothing is ever impossible and no word from God shall be without power or impossible of fulfillment". ... And at that time Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country to a town of Judah and went to the house of Zachariah and, entering it, greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with and controlled by the Holy Spirit....And now have I deserved that this honor should be granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?....And Mary remained with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned to her own home. Now the time that Elizabeth should be delivered came and she gave birth to a son.
Luke 1: 24-26a, ,36-37, 39-41, 44, 56-57


Steph said...

It may sound silly, but I did not know that Elizabeth was pregnant that close to Mary....I am learning all kinds of new things. I love how you have put a real life experience so that we are more able to relate to the feelings and story. I told Jared about what you were blogging I get to continue my talk with him!!!

Donna said...

Sorry I'm late in responding to this post - and I hope this isn't too long. But I can't help thinking about how God was working in my life during this same time period when I was frustrated and completely heart-broken. I couldn't understand why He'd let me move 1700 miles from home, family and friends to go through divorce. But He used you and Dwayne and the church as a place of healing for me and my kids -- arranging for us to meet through an ex-sister-in-law in Oklahoma! I probably wouldn't have received that kind of healing anywhere else. I remember once sensing God ask me during a service, "You don't believe I'm good to you, do you?" I tried to shake it off as ridiculous only to "hear" the question in my spirit again. He was showing me my faulty thinking at the time, believing that if I held on long enough, He'd be good to me again. Imagine -- God not being good! One thing (among many) I learned during that time in my life is that God is good all the time, because He can't be anything else. He IS good.

Anonymous said...

Great insight from a fellow pastor in waiting, and great insight Donna as everyone feels like that from time to time.