Approaching the sixth year of our West Virginia adventure, I can say I was brought here for the sole purpose of God captivating my heart.
One can say, “I know of God,” or “I am saved,” and still not know Him, not adore Him, not FOLLOW Him. I was, in many ways this gal for quite some time.
I was the person Jesus spoke of in Revelation when He politely informs the reader, "I know your deeds; you are neither cold nor hot. How I wish you were one or the other! So because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to vomit you out of My mouth!…” Revelation 3:15,16
I am eternally grateful for the words of warning, wrought from His heart of love that will not stop pursuing the object of His affection.
The Lord has been challenging me with embracing Him as The God of the Bible and not the god American religion has depicted Him as — The Giver of Health, Wealth and Prosperity, The All Powerful Vending Machine, The God Who Fits into Our Pocket, etc.
The Lord is faithfully and incrementally revealing His nature to me through His Word as well as circumstances that pierce me to the core, asking me questions along the way, “Do you still believe in me? Do you still Love me? Am I still good? Am I still God?”
The first challenge and answer:
If I am The Creator of all things then I have the right to define all things, correct? As the Creator I Am the rule maker, policy and procedure manual writer, correct?
After months of digging through scripture and wrestling with Him on this, the final test came through a passage in Revelation 16:8-10:
8Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was given power to scorch the people with fire. 9And the people were scorched by intense heat, and they cursed the name of God, who had authority over these plagues; yet they did not repent and give Him glory.
10And the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom was plunged into darkness, and men began to gnaw their tongues in anguish 11and curse the God of heaven for their pains and sores; yet they did not repent of their deeds.
The Lord invited me to consider that the people spoken of in this passage, some of them may, in fact, be people I know and love. He point-blank asked me in light of that reality, “Am I still good?”
Faces of people I love who have hardened their hearts toward God flashed before my minds’ eye. After all I had read, all the conversations the Lord and I have had, all the things I have known Him to be, all I could do was weep and tell Him, “YES, You are still good”.
If God is The Creator of all things, then all that He does, regardless of my understanding or liking, is good. He is perfect in all that He does as He is the definition of all things: love, goodness, wrath, justice, mercy, patience, etc. He sees beginning from the end. He is good but coming to that conclusion has not always been easy.
As God reveals Himself to me He often has me in very hard places. Sometimes I feel like I am drowning and I just can’t rise to the surface to catch another, life sustaining breath. In those moments He has been teaching me to TRUST HIM without running to what my versions of ‘relief’ are. Do you have any idea how hard that is for an A-type personality who has had to be a warrior her entire adult life? God has had to bring me to this beautiful, back-side of nowhere surrounded by strangers to teach me to TRUST in HIM and nothing else.
On that note…
God commands us to hang out with other believers throughout our journey so that He can use these others when He needs to bring comfort, refinement, support, peace, correction, etc. Yes, The Creator of all we know delights in using flawed humans to work His works on this earth.
This does not always mean He gives them a word of blessing, chastisement or some obvious thing to impart from their hand or mouth. No, God uses His kids in seemingly intangible ways as well.
God has placed one such group of folks around Mike and I. They are from North Carolina and from these He brings blessing and refinement together. They don’t even know what is being wrought in us through them as they show up, love God, love man, and just do what Kingdom-of-God kids do.
This group has been a blessing to Ambassadors for Christ for many years, long before Mike and I showed up. God using them to refine us in 2019 when they brought us an air conditioning system for the manager's house we live in (story and photos on our FaceBook page).
Our house had a 27 year old AC system which almost worked and was fine for Mike and I. We had the house open most of the time through the year and in the winter we didn’t mind bundling up and chiseling ice off of the inside of the windows.
During one of the NC teams mission trips a team member, who is in the HVAC industry, took a look at our mostly working AC to see if he could infuse some life into it. That immediately led to a discussion about bringing a good, used AC system up that had been removed from a clients property. This would happen when they came next—a year from that moment.
During that year my sweet momma, Mary, who has COPD, moved in with Mike and I. Suddenly the NEED for something more than the 27 year old AC system was a reality.
As promised this group showed up the following October, with what we thought was a gently used system, and as they pulled it out of the trailer we realized this was no used system but a top of the line, brand new system!
1. God knew long before we did when my mom would come to live with us and we would need a solution to keep her comfortable.
2. God laid on the hearts of this team to do something for us the year before this NEED arose.
3. God uses His kids to work His works.
4. God was stripping me of my, “I have to figure all this out, I have to make all this happen, I, I, I…”
I graduated to the next level in trusting Him.
The second challenge and answer:
If I am truly your provider then why do you still go looking to man to provide, fix, restore, heal, etc.?
Oh, my, the tears flowed and the answer came, “You are my provider, you are the answer to all things! Forgive me, I believe! Help me in my unbelief!” Mark 9:24
I did believe God provides, but my human nature kept looking around to see through which person, how, why and when that provision would come RATHER THAN JUST TRUSTING HIM, LOOKING AT HIM, LOOKING TO HIM.
I understand, to the human mind, abandonment of human reasoning and shamelessly, audacious faith in God seems reckless and yet, it is where The Creator of all we know, Who is all-in-all, desires us to live.
“Do you trust ME with all of you?”, is the question God perpetually asks. Even now as I type this, tears come as I acknowledge His relentless pursuit of my heart and those He uses to reveal Himself to me.
As crazy, challenging things present themselves in the midst of my journey, God again uses this crew from North Carolina to remind me HE IS and IS in CONTROL.
This year Ed, the NC team leader, planned a trip to come and just work around the camp property as Mike and I both have had physical struggles. Needless to say the “to do list” had gotten very long.
Ed started out with a large group and just like the story of Gideon’s army in Judges 7, God began picking off team members. Leading up to their trip Ed would call to let me know another team member had to back out. I would just sigh, giggle and say, “God knows.”
A week or so before they came they were down to 5 people. I remind myself, ”Well, okay, God used 12 guys to change the world, 5 will be just fine to knock the list down a bit.”
As they were planning their trip, we, here at the camp, had a bathroom blowout in the other manager’s house. New flooring and a new bathtub were in order. We had replacement flooring on hand left over from another job, but the tub was a challenge as it is a custom size due to the fact the space is a manufactured home. It took me days to locate one as there were none in WV or VA that we would could afford. In desperation I started calling the Manufactured Home Supply Stores in the area around the mission team’s home in Rocky Mount, NC. There was a wholesaler there that would have the tub delivered to one of his local retailers for me so the team could pick it up and bring it. The tub was still a bit pricy so I didn’t commit. I took a walk to cry out to God for a solution.
During my walk Ed called with his last minute status report before heading our way and I told him my bathtub sob story and he said he had a friend he would call and to hold off before purchasing anything.
The next call I got was Ed saying he had called his friend—during their conversation dots were connected and the friend turned out to be the wholesaler I had spoken to in NC. He told Ed, “Geez, that woman has called us and every store around here looking for that tub.”
This was true.
The end result of that conversation was that I would still have to pay the $300 plus. After talking it through with Ed, I determined we would get a cheap version from Lowe’s that didn’t quite fit the space and figure out how to rig it. It would be a good challenge for his team. Ed and I ended our call and I sat by the creek trying to hear God in all of this.
As I was rising from the creek bank to walk back up to the house to tell Mike the final solution Ed called me back, short and sassy, “I will have your exact tub to fit the space and it will cost nothing.” I began to scold him believing he had called his friend back and purchased the tub. He did not need to buy anything for us, we had the money for the cheap version!
He shut me down and explained that the wholesaler from his area had just called him back to tell him that he looked into a philanthropic program they have in their area that helps with these sorts of things and our ministry met enough of the criteria, thus the tub could be provided for free. I began to weep. True to Ed’s form he told me to stop crying, “It’s just a tub.”
No…not just a tub…It was the heart of God answering a drowning girls cries in the FORM of a tub.
The third challenge and answer:
Do you trust Me yet?
Of course I would never have thought to ask a guy in NC to find a philanthropic organization that would pay for the tub needed in WV. Only God can come up with this stuff.
The final and my answer:
Are YOU through yet? Can you just look at ME and listen to ME and trust all else to ME?
The long answer...Eaden in the Alleghenies property has 17 buildings. One is a small cabin we call The Mouse House due to the fact that through the years, far more mice have occupied the space than humans ever have. In our publications it is called Lottie’s Cottage. It is the building version of the ‘step child’ at Eaden. I have wanted to gut it and transform it for 6 years. Ever since we arrived the poor thing has been neglected as money HAS HAD to go where it is demanded: plumbing, electrical, flooring, linens, rock for the driveway, and the list goes on…
I have affinity for The Mouse House. I have seen in my minds eye a day, in my later years, where I would live in that tiny space with my only job being to love and serve the people that come and go while younger folk with vision and much more vitality, run the ministry here.
There is something symbolic about that little Mouse House to me. It’s life parallels natural life in my world.
While the folk from NC were here this October they brought our bath tub and helped Mike finish installing it. They replaced screens, they dealt with plumbing, washers, screen doors, winterized the Big Kitchen, and so much more.
The whisper of God’s heart came to me in fullness when they suggested addressing The Mouse House! All 5 of the guys on this trip had the heart and a skill that lent itself to gutting the space, purchasing and laying the new subfloor and talking with me through what I was envisioning for the space—what would work and what wouldn’t. I was a kid in a candy store!
The mice were evicted with the old bat insulation. The existing interior walls were used to begin to build the new space out. Best of all, one of the young men on the team—a draftsman—used his skills to give us workable plans of the couple of options we had all agreed would work! In his kindness he and his sweet wife also donated some funds to the redemption of this little space.
I have taken colored chalk to draw out on the floor how the space will be laid out. I now stand in the middle of it and can feel the life coming into it. The joy and hope it gives me is hard to explain. Why a silly little building, the underdog of all, seeing the beginning of her restoration can move me so very much?
Maybe that is just it…the one that is the least, has been put off for so long, is seeing redemptive hands touch her. It is the beginning of the end of a time of waiting. Doing is beginning to happen. This little building is a metaphor, bringing the spiritual, Kingdom of God, message to me in the natural. I just love God! How He moves and speaks and chooses to use humans-His kids-to work His work on this earth.
God has used this group from NC to bring some of the hardest lessons and the greatest blessings and they hardly even know it. All they, and many others like them, have done to accomplish this is live a life singularly focused on loving God. Their loving God results in loving their fellow man. Those two things naturally result in sharing with those around them, every day, what it looks like to be a beloved child of The Creator in our modern world.
Conveying the Heart of God to the world around us is, truly, just that simple. As we seek to KNOW and inevitably GROW to LOVE The Creator, The Great I AM, having said, "Yes" to His Son, His Spirit reveals to us in daily life the who, how and where we are to love our fellow man. Ephesian 1:1-19 It is the most fulfilling experience known to man. To know and be known by The Creator and to live life with Him flowing through us into the here and now. The beauty is He delights in this.