When it rains, it pours grace upon grace: The story of how we got to where we are
You know that feeling when life just keeps piling up and up and up, and you are starting to become really unsteady on your feet, wobbling everywhere and just barely able to stand? That’s what life has seemed for us over the past 8 months. And then the rug was pulled completely out from under us, and we fell hard.
Let me back up. Before Cal and I were even married, I began praying for an opportunity in our lives that was big and radical and foundational. I wanted to take a chunk of time out of our lives to focus solely on the Lord. Having no idea how this would look, I honestly thought an occasion like this would be too good to be true. My husband, being the very practical, rational, and level-headed one in our relationship would never agree to the bold decision of quitting our jobs and jumping into the bottomless pool of trust. Or so I thought. Last summer, the Holy Spirit began to tug on my husband’s heart, leading him into a series of questions and prayers regarding a program our church offers called Kingdom Living Training School. KLTS, as we lovingly refer to it, is a 6-month, intensive program that dives deep into the Word, tearing up foundations, and replanting the gardens of our hearts for new blooms. During these 6 months, we vulnerably learn the nature of community, how to serve our city, and ultimately what it means to walk in full and abundant discipleship with Christ. We go on numerous visions' trips, as well as several trips that are primarily a time for us to look straight into our souls and relearn our identity. It is truly a time to set all else aside and wholly focus on Christ. When I think of what our experience is, I think of Christ’s disciples, who were asked to leave literally everything they held dear, and walk alongside Christ for his several years of ministry on earth.
When I first heard of my husband’s desire to participate in this program and I thought wow! What an incredible opportunity for him (emphasis on him)! I’m so proud that he desires to take that step.
Little did I know that a month later the Holy Spirit would, in perfect clarity, put the same vision upon my own heart. And so, we committed to doing this crazy journey- one that is arguably a terrible choice for our careers (we can only work part time in jobs that allow us very specific hours, and in a sense, putting our careers on hold for awhile), and an even worse one for our finances (not only have we paid to be apart of the school, we will likely need to put most savings on hold, pushing back most of our financial goals for at least a year). We had no idea how this would look for our futures, or even completely why the Holy Spirit was calling us down this path, which in the world’s eyes, is a decision that makes zero sense and has zero pay off. All we knew is that we were (and are) 100% certain that this is where the Lord is leading, and when the Lord asks, we will go. We have indescribable peace about our decision, but that does not stop the fear from creeping in, sometimes daily, telling us what a dreadful mistake we might be making; as our peers are working their way up the food chain, we are willingly climbing back down.
Fast forward several months to January of 2016, and we were in the midst of the busiest season in our lives. Cal had just spent the past year studying for some of the most intense exams offered, and with little avail. He then went straight into 65-70 hour work weeks, working six days a week, 8-12 hours a day. I was on overload with my schedule as well; going to school full time and working three part time jobs- my weeks were pushing about 60+ hours a week. We were tired, stressed, confused, and disheartened. We had to fight to stay connected in our marriage, and leaned heavily on our family and close friends, who consistently lifted us up in prayer and encouragement. We were apprehensive about training school, as it made little sense why God would call me into obtaining my masters and then spend the entire first year out of school not using it. On a similar token, Cal had spent countless hours studying for the CPA, only to find out that he did not pass them all in time, and had to start from square one. It felt like we were pouring a plethora of time, energy, and money into careers that we already had confusion about.
Fast-forward again to the beginning of this month. Things were finally starting to slow down. I graduated, and had taken a job that looked like a promising fit alongside training school. Cal was no longer in busy season. Although he was gearing back up for another intense 18 months of studying, we felt refreshed and ready for a second round. We were standing again, shaky and unsure, but still on our feet. And then, the day before our anniversary, Cal came home to tell me that he unexpectedly lost his job.
Horrified. Devastated. Terrified. Shocked.
We could not believe it. Not only was our income being cut into one third of what it was, we were heavily relying on the extra funds of us both working this summer would produce for training school in the fall. It was a slap in the face and a kick in the pants for my husband who worked tirelessly in his job, only to be told it was no more.
You know the funny thing? Not even two days before he was let go, I was (somewhat randomly) praying over his career. Slight confession: it is h a r d for me to regularly pray for my husband, so I started to go through the book,The Power of the Praying Wife. That Saturday was praying about his career, and so I prayed that his next steps would be revealed to him, that he would be blessed in his career, that he would be able to use his God given skills in the most applicable way, and that he would be encouraged and affirmed.
I prayed for opened doors and closed doors, and two days later he was (suddenly) let go.
You guys, if that’s not the power of prayer, I don’t know what is. And because of this, the peace of God that transcends all understanding is truly guarding our hearts. This peace knows no bounds- it disregards the fact that our income has drastically decreased, it doesn’t pay mind to the fact that Cal has no idea where his career will go next, and it doesn’t dwell on the fact that it will be very difficult to get another job cohesive with the schedule of training school. That’s why Paul says that this peace is so far beyond our understanding that we can’t even comprehend it. That’s when you know it’s the Holy Spirit. Because if it were up to me, I would have been a hot-freakin-mess throughout the entire summer. And the times that I was not connected to the Lord, I was. But when I am in prayer, casting all my anxieties upon the Lord, I cannot help but end up in tears and worship, thanking Him for all he has done, all He will do, and all we have been given.
I share this testimony because, when I wrote this, we were in the thick of the struggle right. We were not out on the other side yet (and even though we are in more of a place of understanding and provision now, we are still not fully there yet). We are being asked to desperately trust the Lord. For the sake of transparency, I am here to tell you that I cannot breathe when I think about our situation over the past year outside of Christ. I’ve always struggled with anxiety my whole life. It has never been easy for me to freely trust. I struggle with social anxiety, self anxiety, test anxiety, safety anxiety (is that a thing?)- basically any type of anxiety there is, and I have fought through it. I want you to know this because I have an inkling that some of you reading this story may think dang, she’s so Christian! Thanking God in a situation like that; I could never do that. Hey sister- without the Holy Spirit, I could never do that either.
I share this story with you because when I am less, He can truly be more. We have the unique opportunity for lives worthy of witness when crisis comes our way.
This is the time when the world is watching the most. This is the time when we are given the chance to be the most different. This is the time when, if we let Him, we see the Spirit working more powerfully and distinctly than our minds can even comprehend. This is the time when the Spirit pours himself out tenfold, where we see Him like never before, where we feel His mighty hand, and where we can be connected in sweet desperation.
When we are nothing, whether by choice, circumstances, or both, we are given more grace, more freedom, more strength, and ultimately the opportunity for more of Him.
What a beautiful time this is to shine brightly in the darkness; for our hope is not in money, or jobs, or success, or good grades, or lots of children, or big homes, or nice cars. Our hope is in Jesus. To live is Christ and to die is gain. Let us have that mentality, pressing forward and moving onward to the prize we will be given.
And oh how I cannot wait for the day when I hear the words “Well done, my good and faithful servant”.
I can say in all assurance that that day will make all of the struggles in this life worth every moment.