The Lord often allows us to face times that are impossible. Because He is gracious and good, we have His holy Word full of stories of people who faced similar impossibilities. Many times in the last few years, I have thought of the Israelites soon after they left Egypt.
I picture them there in the desert, the sun hot and unrelenting on their faces. Wind whipping the sand against their legs and stinging their eyes. The elements they could handle; it was the vast sea before them that wouldn’t be appreciated right at that time for its beauty. Not with an army of Egyptians bearing down upon them. The sea had become the enemy. They felt trapped and in great despair. They had no idea what God was up to.
“Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness?” they cried to Moses (Exodus 14:11) They had watched as God displayed His great power in Egypt and freed them from captivity. But there they were, all odds against them and questioning everything they had ever been told of Almighty God. “Did He truly make a big show of His power and free them only to kill them in the desert?” they must have thought. It’s easy to judge their hearts, but we have the advantage of knowing the entire story. We know that after Moses said, “The LORD will fight for you while you keep silent,” the wind began to blow with purpose.
It blew all night and they watched — surely in complete, indescribable disbelief — as the sea broke in two and as water piled up on either side as if a line had been drawn saying, “Here is where you will stop.” Did the waters slam against that invisible wall? I’ve never seen the sea be still, so I can’t help but imagine a raging, whirling mass — contained by a powerful force.
Last April my family and I were able to take a short trip to the place where my soul truly found Jesus for the first time — Cannon Beach, Ore. I stood on the shore, staring out at the ocean, knowing that once we were home we would be facing our own personal time of feeling backed into a corner with no escape in sight. I crouched next to my children and pointed out at the endless water and explained to them that our God — mighty in power, full of love and wisdom and insight — created that sea. It obeys Him without question. If He wants to, He can slice it in half to make way for His people.
The trial we were about to face in any other circumstance could have been seen as a normal life change. We had to list our home for sale soon after our trip and find a one-story to make life easier for my husband, who has multiple sclerosis. No biggie, right? Except, as most of you reading this know, our market is crazy right now. Great news for selling, not so great for buying. As we explored our options, it became very clear that selling our home would most likely be very smooth, while finding a home that would fit our needs would be nearly impossible on our budget. We laughed at the price of our home — we couldn’t afford to buy it now. Our home sold in six days, much faster than our realtor was expecting. As soon as we had a verbal confirmation of our house receiving a full price offer, we hit the streets looking for our next home. In fact, we signed the official offer in the kitchen of the first of seven homes we looked at in two days.
I don’t believe any decision we’ve made in our years together has been more cloaked with prayer than this one. Our realtor is a believer and we prayed with him every step of the way — oh, how I recommend this, friends. As we looked at houses, I felt heavier and heavier. None felt right and I couldn’t tell if it was because I love our current home so much or if it was the Lord leading me. When we stepped into the final house — one we had been watching online, but had to wait to see — I knew. It was the one.
It was the dirtiest house we saw, so our kids think we’re crazy. It’s 700 square feet smaller than our current home. It is the worst house in the best neighborhood — isn’t that exactly what the HGTV Boise Boys choose for their projects?
I told friends and family who thought we should be out making offers before our house was even on the market that I wasn’t worried. My flesh was shaking, but my spirit stood firm in the knowledge that God would not abandon us. He had a home for us and no one else could buy it. We didn’t need to strive or worry. The home we’re moving into in just two days sat on the market for 48 days before we made an offer. 48 days. In Meridian. That, my friends, is the Lord.
So why am I telling you this story? Because we’ve been walking in uncertainty for the last two months and our merciful God has brought us into a place of safety. I seek to be the leper who returned to glorify God for his healing (Luke 17:15). He has allowed me to be witness to His mercy in many ways. As a young child I watched Him heal the grief of my parents after they buried four children. When my husband first became sick, He carried us mightily and was compassionate to us in our questioning. He has provided and sustained over and over again not only for myself but for many others. No, the answer isn’t always a miracle. Sometimes the trial includes a funeral. Sometimes we have to exchange the big, new house for a small, smelly one. And still, He provides, He upholds, He is worthy of praise.
No matter the circumstances, my friends — praying over a rebellious child, pleading for the healing of a loved one, bearing the hurt of an unfaithful spouse, asking for guidance and wisdom in ordinary life decisions — every circumstance that brings us to a place of total dependency on our Creator is holy ground. In that place He will make Himself known if we only watch and wait and trust.
“Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; yes, our God is compassionate.” — Psalm 116:5
Bethany Riehl loves to write stories and articles that explore the complexities of relationships and encourage readers in their relationship with Jesus. She joyfully serves in the children’s ministry at her church, teaches at a homeschool co-op, and drinks more coffee than necessary to keep up with her only-slightly-crazy life. She is the author of four Christian fiction novels and lives in Kuna with her spunky kids and very handsome hubby.