Life can change in an instant. Maybe your obedience to the voice of the Lord launched you into a new church plant within a matter of weeks. The speed of transition in ministry leaves you winded at best. Maybe you wake up startled to find your teen in trouble with the law, and now his world would be changed forever. The impact on the family is like nothing you have ever experienced before. Or you find out multiple family members and friends have been diagnosed with life altering diseases, various cancers and/or terminal illnesses. Maybe one of those is you, and on top of that, your insurance runs out. Maybe your husband lost his job and the whirlwind is more than you can handle. The unemployment is mistakenly denied, and your 401K gets caught up in a blackout period due to a merger. Fear of the unknown overtakes you and drives you to the edge of a legitimate nervous breakdown. Or maybe it could be that you got a phone call from your daughter’s teacher telling you she will not pass this year if drastic measures are not taken immediately. Maybe somehow your household of 11 seems to have dropped to 5 overnight which gives you a glimpse of what “empty nest syndrome” feels like. Or soon you notice that your son has several emotional breakdowns due to anxiety because he can’t understand change or even process moving...again. This is due in part because your landlord suddenly decided he needs to move back because of the effects of the economy and needs you to relocate your family in a matter of weeks. Or it may seem likely that a pet that you once loved has died without notice as a result of your mistake or lack of better judgment. Then there is the wedding that you are planning that seems to be approaching faster than a speeding bullet. Additionally, maybe the job that you are so grateful for is the same one that can give you massive heartburn in a split second. You are spread so thin, that when your closest friends need you the most you weep for days because there is so little that you can do to help aside from share the burden which unbeknownst to them almost breaks your back. Then you realize that what seems like years of all the added stress and struggles of life is really just the result of the first 6 months of 2012.
BUT just as life can change, so can your circumstances…all of a sudden. I have recently realized that God is a God of “suddenlies”. Not only is He IN the suddlenlies, but He MOVES suddenly. Light appears at the flick of a switch and so can the hand of God. Provision, favor and blessing can be given in an instant at His very command just as I have experienced this month alone. Monetary provision came from unexpected people and places and not once did a bill have to go unpaid. I even got a raise and a bonus when we needed it the most! But I would be lying if I said it was easy, all was well and peace reigned supreme.
Here’s a little deeper look into just ONE of our recent valleys…Lately, life had been coming so fast that my head began to spin. A new season was beginning, but it took me a second to see God’s hand through it or even at all. Jeremy went through another job transition beyond his control and had no prospects or interviews lined up despite his focused efforts. It was reminiscent of his layoff 5 years ago when we lost everything (car, house…you name it, we lost it). Yes, God restored above and beyond just like He promised. However, recently I found that though my trust remained bigger than the deepest ocean, my faith was smaller than a mustard seed. This would be the second job transition for us in less than a year! Nonetheless, I worshipped when I didn’t feel like it, trusted when I didn’t understand it and prayed when I wanted to curse instead. Just being real…
Then last Monday the 11th came and BAM! He got a call from someone requesting his resume; a phone interview was soon scheduled thereafter, then a face to face interview followed by a final phone interview with a VP…ALL IN THE SAME DAY! He received a VERY good job offer as a Branch Manager within 24 hours. Papers were signed a couple days later (only because he had received another possible job opportunity!), and he was to start training the next week. WOW…but then my anxiety and fear began to creep in. Was this too good to be true? Which job should he take? Is this a hasty decision? It sure felt like it. Doesn’t it normally take FOREVER (ok, maybe a month at least) to get hired ANYWHERE these days? Aren’t you supposed to take time to pray about it? How much time? Things were moving at the pace of a freight train!
We (sort of) had a peace to accept the offer, but I could not shake what I didn’t understand which was the SUDDEN change and rush of blessing. How could this be God? Maybe it was just a fleece to blind us. Maybe I’m overthinking it. But then again, I have always been taught NEVER to make a hasty or rash decision. Then I FINALLY heard God speak. I am sure He was more or less trying to SCREAM over the loudness of my thoughts, yet in a tender moment, I felt his assurance so gentle and strong both at the same time.
He spoke to me about His “suddenlies” and gave me the peace that I had been searching for that whole week. It was enough to calm me down, but I still had uncertainties. I should have made time to really study it and get in the Word two weeks ago when He told me to, but it wasn’t until last week that I decided to make time for obedience. I really wish I would have done that a few days sooner…maybe “suddenly” would have been more appropriate.
He reminded me of all the instances in the Bible where He moved suddenly without question. Scripture after Scripture and story after story, I was in awe. The word suddenly means “happening, coming, made or done quickly, without warning; unexpectedly occurring without transition from the previous form or state; abrupt: a sudden turn.” Did you know that the “suddenlies” of God are referenced over 40 times in the Bible? For example, Jesus calmed storms instantly (Matt. 8:26), healed instantly (Mark 1:31) and delivered instantly (Acts 16:-25-26). He also forgives and forgets in the blink of an eye. Heavenly hosts appear suddenly (Luke 2:13), and He will return suddenly…to name a few.
I regret that I did not at least partially understand this side of God until last week. As Jeremy has mentioned before, there are so many facets to God which is the very reason the angels fly around him saying, “Holy, Holy”. It is not because they are bored and have nothing better to do. It is because they are seeing a whole new side to Him with every turn they make. It is through their amazement and awe that they cry, “Holy”.
It’s funny because for so long I have prayed for God to move speedily, that when He actually did, I questioned if it’s Him because His timing seemed to be so inconsistent with my previous experiences. In reality though, it may have had nothing do with His timing but with the amount of time that it took me to respond and learn through the trial. I have been basing my fears of today on the history of my past circumstances instead of focusing on the blessing of being in the present. Sometimes, it is hard to realize that (in most instances) what we are going through now is different than what we went through then.
Some of life’s lessons are so simple, but we often make them so complicated. I guess that is the downfall of being human…or being me…maybe nobody else does that. Nonetheless, there are definitely a few things I have learned so far this year:
1. When in a trial, “how” you wait determines “how long” you wait.
2. Sudden obedience brings sudden breakthrough.
3. Your level of faith does not determine the result of your circumstances. It is the depth of your trust and the ability to exercise whatever amount of faith you do have.
4. In order for faith to manifest, you first must determine what you are actually hoping for.
5. Just as quickly as life seems to fall apart, God can restore it even faster. All of it. Just learn your lesson quicker. (I know…easier said than done.)
So, with that…(please excuse all my ramblings)…Bring on the SUDDENLIES! A new day is dawning and my faith is being restored! I can now stand firm and trust that the giants in my life can be cast down in an instant. Where’s that stone?!? I’m ready for battle and looking forward to the latter half of 2012 with great expectation. The tide has turned! Well, at least it has started to recede…still believing though!
NOTE: A couple days after this blog was originally written last week, God had another chance to show Himself faithful in the suddenlies once again. Story coming soon…
Here’s a teaser: Jeremy was stranded in Oklahoma because someone stole his car keys and his phone among other things. Then they threatened to come back and steal his car after they had already trashed it. With a little favor and Divine intervention, his wife saved the day. (I can say that since I’m the one telling the story.) Stay tuned…