Monday, June 10, 2013

Lightbulbs and maternity clothes

My sophomore year of college, God took my heart and wrenched it for the nations.  I began to see how much He loved the whole world, how His plan for redemption was bigger than Southwest Missouri where I grew up and than Northwest Arkansas where I went to school.  I had a burden to pray for the world like I hadn't had before.  As I prayed, I asked God what His plan for my future might be.  Was He prompting my heart to move overseas and build His Kingdom in forgotten places?

One of the things I mulled over that year was God as provider.  Was He?  All my life, I had been pretty well taken care of.  I grew up in a one-income home, and when I was young, I probably didn't realize how tight the paychecks stretched.  But I had never gone without my basic needs met.  As I read missionary biographies, I saw lives that ignored the economies of men and banked absolutely on God's economy.   George Muller would pray for his orphanage and a check would come the next day.  Amy Carmichael needed funds to rescue girls from prostitution?  She prayed, and God gave.  Hudson Taylor, Corrie ten Boom -- the list is large of these faithful ones who simply believed what God said was true.  No heavy exegesis needed.

I needed to know if I believed the same.  If God had a life overseas for my future, my resources would be much smaller than they were in the US.  Could I live that life of faith? Did I believe that God was big enough to answer that faith?  I thought about what I needed at the time.

The lamp in my little dorm room had a burnt-out bulb.  Well, there's something, I thought.  I prayed about it - sounds silly, huh?  I could have asked Mom for a lightbulb the next time I went home. I could have pawned one off my RD.  And it definitely wasn't an absolute need.  It was the first thing I thought of, so I prayed.  

About a month later, I returned one Sunday night to the dorm.  I had been gone for the weekend to my friend's home in Texas.  As I unlocked the door and flipped the light switch on, I gasped.  There, lined up on the floor (I still cry as I remember this) were lightbulbs of all shapes and sizes, ranging from long florescent tubes to bigger bathroom bulbs to the tiny 40 watt bulbs I needed for my lamp.  There were probably close to 20 in all.

A couple of friends had decided to prank me while I was gone.  They had removed all the lightbulbs they could find and piled them in my room.

But it wasn't just a prank.  It was God.  Answering me in a row of lightbulbs on dingy dorm carpet.  God proving Himself to a young 20-year-old heart, that yes, He could be counted on.  And not only would He give the small thing I needed, He would give abundantly more.

Obviously, I'm not overseas at this point in my life.  In the 8 years since I lived in that dorm room, God has opened doors I wasn't expecting.  Back then, I shouted to my college boyfriend (who was studying to be a pastor) that I could never be a pastor's wife in America!!!  Needless to say, we broke up soon afterwards.  But then, the road curved, and I married a man who had a burden for youth ministry.  For the last four years, I have been somewhat of a pastor's wife.  20 year old self, close your ears, because it has been in America.

God has taught me all manner of things in this land that I love, which is another blog post.  I do love America, but the thing about America - about the strata of America that I live in - is that it is pretty easy to forget who is the Giver.  I haven't prayed much about lightbulbs in the last few years.

We ended our current job in May, and we have yet to find another.  For the first time in our married lives, we have had to get down on our knees together and beg for God to be faithful to us.  We can't come through this on our own.  Our own strength is a pitiful crutch.  It always is, but it sure looks nice when it's wrapped in automatically deposited paychecks.

A few weeks ago, I began to outgrow the few maternity clothes I had.  God reminded me of the lightbulbs.  So I prayed.  (I also looked at oldnavy.com and filled my shopping cart with all the things I would have bought if I could have...I'm not perfect. )  :)  It wasn't too long after I began praying my friend offered me some of her things, dozens of cute tops and skirts and shorts.

We may still move overseas someday.  I hope we do.  The dream is still there.  God is showing me though, that the lesson of His faithfulness is just as valid here and now as it will be in the future.  He delights to be our Provider.  He delights when we ask Him about the little things.  The lightbulbs and the maternity clothes.

Isaiah 40 says that He carries us close to His heart.  He will not forget the child pressed up against His chest.  Praise Him that He is a good and gracious Father.  All things come from Him.  How He longs for us to see this with unclouded vision.