Saturday, May 20, 2006

LBY - Week Eight - Faithfulness

Back in 1999, David started to think that the time was right for him to step out and start his own business. We were just young enough to be fearless, just naive enough to not be intimidated. After a lot of talking, praying, and planning, David decided in February of 2000 that he wanted to go for it. And here's what happened in our lives over the next three months:

We decided to move to Birmingham because D. felt like it was where we were supposed to be. I quit my job. We found a banker who really believed in us, then signed a contract on a house in B'ham. We put our house in BR on the market, sold that house within two weeks and got the exact amount we needed. I found my "dream job" in B'ham, and David quit his job in BR. We moved to B'ham on the first Friday in June, and on the next Monday David got his first client.

In retrospect I think, "Well, obviously, clearly, we were insane."

I mean, you don't just quit your jobs, sell your house, build another house in a city you hardly know, AND start a new business all at the same time. But we did, y'all.

And as I look back over that time, I also think, "God was so faithful." He worked out every single detail, made every possible provision, and our lives have never been the same. The move was, without a doubt, the most important step of faith we've ever taken.

In our study this week, Beth used the story of Paul's shipwreck in Acts to illustrate four core truths about faith, and I related so strongly that it brought tears to my eyes.

1. Feelings or perceptions cannot be the basis of faith even in the most Spirit-filled life.
I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that our gut feeling isn't always the same thing as the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Looking back on our move from BR to B'ham reminds me how true this is. If I had looked at our situation objectively, I would've never agreed to go. But I knew that God was leading us. I trusted that He wouldn't abandon us. And really, to see Him at work like He was, we had no choice but to follow. My gut feeling said, "STAAAAY!" But the Holy Spirit said - again and again - "GOOOOO!" I'm so glad we did.

2. Faith comes from listening!
Beth points out that "Paul chose faith. Everything he could see and feel screamed death and disaster, but Paul's greatest reality was what he could not see." If David and I had relied on what we thought might happen, if we had been deterred by our worst case scenario as we prepared to "pull up stakes," we would've been paralyzed by fear - no doubt about it. And even though fear would creep into our hearts from time to time, even though we knew the risks were great, our greatest hope was what (and Who!) we could not see.

So, at this point you're probably thinking, "My, this is a lovely little story, BooMama. Good for you that you moved and all. I'm sure it was an exciting time."

But if you think the story of our move is a fairy tale, you are, in fact, waaaay wrong.

Which leads us to point #3.

3. God's deliverance came through the ship running aground!
Going into all the details of what happened in the first three years we lived here would be nearly impossible. But it. was. so. hard. Without a doubt, it was the most grueling, agonizing, challenging, and borderline depressing time of my life. For lots of reasons.

Beth says, "Deliverance does not mean ease....God's deliverance in your life may be one of the most excruciating things you ever experience."

Yes. Excruciating. EXCELLENT word choice.

I firmly believe that the main reason God led us to Birmingham was because we had Junk To Deal With, and this is where He wanted us to confront it (there are specific reasons why I believe this, but then this post would turn into what Jeana calls a bleries or a blovel). So if you're in this study and did your day 4 homework, that's exactly what we were up against.

But now, when I think about all the things we had to confront, all the trials we experienced, all the problems that seemed insurmountable, I am overwhelmed by God's faithfulness. Beth says, "Heavy winds and raging seas don't always mean you're on the wrong course. It may mean you're right on target....Perhaps He couldn't get you to your destination any other way...."

No doubt about it. For three years God took us down a road I would've never chosen, but it was the absolute perfect path. He didn't give us what we wanted, but we got exactly what we needed. Why? Because...

4. God always has a destination in mind when he delivers.
When Paul and his shipmates landed on Malta, they were greeted by people who were warm, welcoming and kind. Beth says, "...once you have been faithful to who He is, He will show you what He can do. Malta was a place of miracles, a place of healing, and a place of supplication."

That's exactly what THIS place has been for us. It's our little Malta. :-)

And here's what's so encouraging to me about this week's study: our lack of faithfulness can never, ever nullify His abundant supply. God is who He says He is, and He can do what He says He can do. He is faithful - ALWAYS - so it makes perfect sense to respond to Him with belief, with trust, and with a faithful heart that longs to mirror His faithfulness to us.

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

JannaFlipflop Robin
This is a list of the women participating in the study and the links to their blogs. New postings on the study will be published for the next ten weeks, between Friday 8pm - Saturday 8am. Please feel free to visit each of us and comment. Everyone is welcome to participate in this discussion as we seek to live beyond ourselves. May God bless you richly from the hearing of His word.


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