October 29, 2013

Adventist Life

In July 2005 the rain came down, the wind blew, and suddenly and unexpectedly I was without a doubt displaced. (Displaced sounds more palatable than homeless.) Abruptly, my car became my “new” home. I could not believe it! Life as I knew it had changed. What at first seemed to be an easy resolve, overnight became a relentless nightmare. It was hard to accept that my insurance company, which happily received my payments annually, had become my worst enemy, 

Living out of my car was interesting, to say the least. Many nights I fell asleep in my back seat with a hammer for protection and a flashlight to see what I needed to hit—all the while asking, “God, where are You?” and pleading, “Please help me.” 

Throughout my life I’ve experienced some very exigent situations; yet no matter what happened, I could always find enough faith and Scripture to see my way through. This time, however, the events were unprecedented.

Broadening Perspectives

This sudden new life as a reluctant vagabond resulted in my questioning everything and everyone, including God. Before then I had presumed that if I were ever in dire need, I would be able to turn to obvious resources. Not so. I did, however, uncover a group of choristers singing similar tunes of  “I’m praying for you.” I came to abhor those words. I didn’t want anyone to shoo me away with “I’m praying for you.” Instead I needed someone to stop and simply pray with me, or perhaps ask, “What can I do to help?”

During that time I found it difficult to pray for myself. My faith also was derailed by those who, like Job’s comforters, suggested that my “predicament” was the result of some secret sin or that God was trying to teach me a lesson. Out of sheer frustration, if not anger, I countered with such comments as: “Since we’re all sinners bound to experience adversity, what will happen when it’s your turn?” Perhaps, I pondered, my “lesson” might be an opportunity for others to show compassion or to help in some way. Obviously, though, their words and actions indicated that my situation involved only me. 

Until the Storm Passes

I was born to a country girl who once witnessed a person get struck by lightning. She therefore taught her children and grandchildren an unwavering code of conduct during a storm: “Be still until the storm passes!”

Until the storm passes—that is what my state of affairs had become: a storm, a really bad storm. So I did what I had been taught; I became very still. In the silence I came to understand that life is not ultimately about the “storms” or the losses. Instead, it’s about learning to trust God. We need to “be still” and to submit our lives completely to Him.

When I finally totally surrendered my life to God, He impressed these words upon my heart: “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1) and “Give us today our daily bread” (Matt. 6:11). As I meditated on these Bible verses, I realized that in spite of my circumstances and regardless of all of my questions, the Holy Spirit had given me the words I needed to begin to talk to God again. And so I began: “Give us today our daily bread.”

This scripture illuminated my path and allowed me to see the “bread”: gas in my car; clean clothes to wear; a sample pair of hose; stamps found; food court samples; a kind representative for my lender, who gave me a few months of reprieve; a call from a caring friend; a “buy-one, get-one-free” sale; friends who opened their homes to me; a free oil change; and on and on and on. Day by day, whatever I needed, God provided!

Thankful in All Circumstances

I truly am thankful for my time of homelessness. It was a two-and-a-half-year journey that I’ll never forget. It taught me to consider, catch sight of, and, above all, appreciate my “daily bread”—and to trust God more fully than I ever had before. 

In the end I lost my two-year battle with the insurance company. When I received the news, I distracted myself by cleaning out my car. And wouldn’t you know it, I found what I needed for that day: enough change for one (happy) meal with a pie on the side!

God’s Word is sure! Thank You, Lord, for our daily bread.