That’s a gritty title isn’t it? A lot of people do not want to deal with the realities of life; they would rather a minister tell them that they are “blessed and highly favored” or that “your blessing is on the way”, but what if that is not in God’s will for you? What if God requires you to endure years of hardship before He chooses to bless you? Will you turn your back on Him, and seek alternate avenues toward your “blessing”? During this season of the year you will both hear stories of people losing their homes, either through devastating circumstances like a fire, hurricane, or another personal catastrophe, or perhaps through a financial hardship. Just last evening watching the news I saw that 15% of the U.S. population are using food stamps to survive. Stuff happens. When you watch those stories on the news do you just shake your head and “tsk” or do you pick up the phone to donate to help? Or are you like many and say, “if not for the grace of God, there go I”? There is NO correct answer here, just introspection.
See, I have been homeless. With kids. And a husband.
Many times we disconnect ourselves with the uncomfortable things of our past because we are just THAT deep. I prefer to embrace them because when I do, I remember that during those times that God’s grace was sufficient for us. I can tell the story from my perspective; if interested, please keep reading. If hardship makes you uncomfortable then…have a blessed day! 🙂
I remember the day quite clearly, my husband and I thought that we had made an agreement to lease a nice house from a kind gentleman, and we had taken all of our possessions and placed them inside of his house, but had yet to receive the keys. After repeated calls to this man that went unanswered we went to the house and found that our things had been placed outside of the home without explanation. With nowhere to go, and because we belonged to an abusive ministry that did not allow “unexplained absence”, we went to church that evening. We clapped our hands, sang in the choir, and put on the happy face that many church folk do, inwardly wondering where we would stay that night. We also had no vehicle, and I was pregnant. Because my husband had a few connections in the hotel industry he was able to secure a hotel room for us for a couple of nights at a very low rate. We also did not have much money. That night after church, I had one church van take the kids and I and drop us at the hotel, and my husband took another church van and was dropped at that house which was an hour away. I remember getting in the room and hastily calling my father (who was a deacon in our church) and begging him to meet my husband and help him pick up our things and bring him to the hotel. I called my father first because he had a full size luxury van. My father said no, that it was late and he was tired. In tears I begged him, telling him that my husband had to work in the morning and public transportation would end while he was at the house. It was after 10pm at night. My father still said no.
Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you (1 Peter 5:7).
I then really humbled myself and called one of our peers from the church; he was another deacon and usually very kind. I explained the situation to him and asked him if he would pick up my husband. With apologies he also said no. When my husband called me from a pay phone to ask if anyone was coming for him I had to tearfully and sorrowfully tell him that no one was coming. I hung up the phone that night, dropped to my knees, reminded God that we were faithful to Him and His word, and I asked for protection for him, knowing that he was out that late in a not-so-great part of town and alone. Miraculously, he made it to the hotel at approximately 4am, and he was carrying multiple huge garbage bags with the things of ours that he could carry. He shared with me how he would carry 5-6 bags at a time, drop them and then run back for the rest. He also caught the very last bus of the night and transferred twice to get to the hotel. To this day I marvel at how he was able to do that and still smile and hug me when he made it to the hotel, and still be ready for work at 7am. The grace of God!
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me (2 Cor. 12:9).
Painful story I know, but it doesn’t end there. For the next week or so we were forced to hotel (motel) hop until our pastor at the time decided to allow us to stay in a ramshackle two room place in a building that he was renovating. This building was purchased off of our tithes and offerings, yet he looked down on us for needing help at the time. At any rate we were so grateful to him for the roof; the space had no stove, but we were able to bring our own refrigerator to put in it to keep our then baby girl’s formula in. Bear in mind that we were still paying the “required” tithes and offerings even in our homeless state. Although we had no stove, no air conditioning, and no fans and sometimes no hot water we remained grateful to be there. Eventually we moved out of there into a small apartment that we thought was rented to us in an honest manner, but it turned out to be infested with roaches (which I am deathly afraid of). Although I was pregnant, I would walk our eldest daughter to school everyday, which was more than a mile and a half away and I would do it with a smile, always giving thanks to God for being able to survive. Despite our condition, my husband continued to go to work each day.
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you (1 Thess. 5:18).
After a few months the Lord spoke to us and told us to put our things in storage and to take the kids and head south, which we did. Although nervous and afraid and not knowing what lay ahead, we took off in the middle of the night and without informing our pastor. Once again we were homeless. We went to my mother in law’s house, but never outlined what we were going through to her. Meanwhile the Lord revealed to me that we had to go back; after consulting my husband he told me that it had been confirmed to him as well, and as proof he had secured a home for us that was near my childhood home. It looked like this was what God had for us. On the train ride back, we prayed and we rejoiced because we knew that we would never set foot in that ministry again, but again we did not fully know the plans that God had for us. Once my husband had put us up in a Holiday Inn he went to meet the gentleman who we were to rent the home from, money in hand. Once he arrived this man told him that he had changed his mind and that we could not rent the home. My husband reiterated the rage that he felt to me later. He felt betrayed, disappointed, disillusioned and at a disadvantage not knowing how he would provide for his family.
But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).
Reading all of this as I type I can only shake my head at what we went through, and this is only a small portion, I have left out quite a bit. After this incident God showed himself to us in an almost supernatural way; with his back against the wall my husband was going to apply for welfare, taking my eldest son at the time with him. He was out of a job, almost out of money and we had very little to feed the kids. On the way to the welfare office he ran into our pastor and his wife as they were headed into a high-end shoe store. After he told the pastor where he was headed and why, the pastor wished him “godspeed” and went about his merry way. A pastor! Our pastor whose ministry we had paid tithes into for 3 years (longer for me). Angry and not knowing what to do or how to do it and knowing that our young son was watching him, my husband began to weep. At that moment a black Mercedes pulled up beside them and a voice said, “Myhusbandsname, whatever you’re about to do, don’t do it”, and he took my husband and our son into his car. This was another young Pastor who was also a friend of ours. He proceeded to tell my husband, without prompting, all that we had been going though. This man had NO way of knowing this information; it could have only come to him from the urging of the Holy Spirit.
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end (Jer. 29:11).
This gentleman and his family took us in over the holidays. He and his wife and children ministered to us without pressure, even though we knew it was probably a burden on them. God blessed us during that time, and then began the restoration, both physically, emotionally and especially spiritually. Within weeks my husband had a new job, we had a new two story home and two months later we had a car. We have long since moved on from that point but seeing where we came from and where we are now, we can unequivocally testify that God is that I am. We both know why we went through as much as we went through, and when I look at my life right now I can see that I am not perfect by a long shot, but I do see that I am pure gold in God’s eyes. I never once turned my back on God, always believing in His certain deliverance. I never stopped giving Him praise, even through the worst of it. I keep a song in my heart and I know that my redeemer lives. I never pass someone who looks homeless without thinking about what we went through. I pray for them, as I believe that someone prayed for us, and if I can I lend a hand.
Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it (Matt. 7:24-27).
On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand. Have a blessed week!