November 30, 2017. Michael's last day working at Majestic Kitchen and Bath Creations...a job that God lovingly dropped in his lap a year ago when he desperately needed a job. And a job he thought he would be working at for many years to come.
With a new job and a new income in our path, we purchased a large home with room to expand a hospitality ministry, take in foster children, bring over exchange students, house seminary students, and so forth. The ideas were endless and still flow through our mind rampantly! Our new income helped us give generously to family, to those in need, and to different mission trips and ministries where God led us to give. It helped to fund his last year of seminary, which he graduates from in one week.
We are still unsure why the layoff occurred. Michael had been doing a great job managing people, giving selflessly to his company, going in after hours to complete tasks to make the company better, giving people raises who needed to better support their families, giving advice to young workers who needed help with budgeting and getting better living situations, building relationships amongst employees to better the work environment. So, when he was called in and laid off due to company restructuring, it was quite the kick in the gut. Now, we sit today, still dumbfounded trying to make sense of something that isn't going to make sense. We are trying to determine if all God has given to us will now disappear or if God will do something miraculous and continue our vision forward. We are to the point where THE only option is for God to come through. I have cried to him for 24 hours now and laid my heart bare. Michael is walking with such faith, that God brought us here and will NOT leave us stranded. We literally are walking blind with what is next. I have strong faith, but this...this is scary.
But the dive to the deep definitely makes you press into the arms of the Savior. Not that we hadn't been in His presence already, but the deep, dark depths somehow make Him even more prevalent and real. And I'm happy to sit in the dark with His arms wrapped around me. I'm happy to embrace this every time it happens to us.
Seven years ago, when Michael left the Air Force, we were unemployed for 6 months! Dark, depths for 6 months. But we never missed a house payment, we never went hungry, it was over Christmas and our kids still had gifts. God showed up BIG time through the hands of fellow believers. (If you want to read those AMAZING stories, go back to when I first started my blog in 2010). Not sure why 7 years later we are here again. But I know it is for God's glory and for our good. And that's all that matters to me. Seven is the biblical number for "completion". Not sure what we've completed, but I can't wait for God to reveal it!
This little story below "showed up" on my newsfeed 7 years ago during the exact same trial. It was written by comedian Jon Acuff, whom I adore! And of course, it showed up again today in my memory feed. So, I wanted to share it today with all the "deja vu" that's going on in our life today! :)
"A few months ago, my five year old, McRae told me, “The biggest number I know of is 26.” At the end of her understanding of numbers was the number 26. In her mind, that was really how big numbers come. If you wanted to describe how far the moon was from earth, probably about 26 miles. Want to say how long it felt to wait for Christmas to get here? It was like 26 minutes! Number of pieces of candy she estimates she got for Halloween? 26. It’s her biggest number. Until that is, I told her about 27. And blew her mind.
She’s not great at “sizing” things. But that’s OK, she’s 5. She’s pretty sure fairies are real. She’s convinced every dog in the world would like to meet her. The other day at Costco she saw a man with a white beard and proceeded to yell to everyone in the store, “Santa is shopping here today! He. Is. Here. Today!!” That’s OK behavior for her. She’s just a kid. She’s little.
But oddly enough, she’s not the only one who tends to get sizes all twisted. She’s not the only one who tends to “under size.” In fact, I think lot of us do that, especially when it comes to God. I learned this last year when the Stuff Christians Like community raised money to build a kindergarten in Vietnam. On a random Monday, I asked readers to help me raise $30,000 and that honestly made me nervous. It’s weird to ask for money. It changes your intimacy levels. It’s like actually holding hands during couples skate at Roller Kingdom in Hudson, Massachusetts. Sure, you might skate around in circles with Stacy Valentino listening to Bobby Brown’s “Tender Roni,” but holding hands is a whole nother level. (That example got really specific and 7th gradery.) But it’s true, asking for money is awkward, which is why pastors do the money disclaimer when they preach. They start their sermon by saying, “I never normally preach about money, I never preach about tithing, except today.” And that’s always the Sunday your neighbor or coworker finally agreed to come to church with you. Your friend always comes on the money Sunday or the day the mime group, “Gloves of Love” is there to perform.
So I was anxious about asking for money. And I honestly thought it would take us 6 weeks to raise $30,000. But if you’ve read this site for a while, you know that was not the case. We raised all $30,000 in a matter of 18 hours. It took us less than a day to complete the entire campaign and I realized I had been like McRae with the number 26.
Here’s what I essentially said to God before the project started: “God, you are massive. You are huge. You made the universe and created all space and time. You are without end! But, you are slightly less big than $30,000. You’re like a really solid $29,000 God. And that’s awesome. I mean that’s pretty good. I think you’re almost all powerful, you’re just not $30,000 powerful.”
Have you ever done that? Have you ever been faced with what felt like an insurmountable challenge and in the midst of that, you’ve worshiped a really small God? Have you ever prayed something like: “God, you are gigantic. You rule the universe. You’re just not as big as my college application process. You are slightly too small to handle that.”
Or “God, I love you. You are massive and supreme. You are huge, except you’re not big enough to handle my divorce. You are smaller than this experience.”
Or “God, you are like the real He-Man, you are master of the universe! You are so big and so all knowing, except you probably don’t know how to handle my job search. You’re big, you’re just slightly tinier than my unemployment.”
No one would actually prays those words, but that’s what flows from our heart when we allow doubt to set up shop. That’s how we live when we feel like we’ve got to force things to happen or they never will. That’s what happens when we under size God. The truth is, God is bigger than $30,000. God is bigger than a divorce. God is bigger than unemployment. God is bigger than a teen daughter who swears she doesn’t love you. God is bigger that money problems. God is bigger than our biggest dreams.
And I thank God that he is. I think sometimes we want him to be pocket-sized and manageable. I’ve heard people say things like, “I want a God who can explain to me why bad things happen to good people.” I understand that frustration, I do, but here’s the thing. I don’t want a God who ever has to fit within my understanding. I don’t want a God who is limited by mind and my experiences. I want a big God. A God that spans generations and space and time.
I don’t want a God who needs my approval or comprehension to do something big. This holiday season, as the birth of Christ is remembered, let’s celebrate our big God. Let’s honor a huge, wild, unable to be controlled by our small minds God. He’s bigger than that thing you worried about or dreamt about."