Several months ago, I sat next to my husband on our living room couch, quietly crying in frustration and pain over the circumstances we found ourselves in the midst of. I wondered out loud for the hundredth time why these things had happened, when they were going to be resolved, and where in the world was God while all this was going on. Because I sure hadn't been hearing from Him much lately. Had we been making the right decisions? Or had we just screwed everything up? Was He even talking to us anymore or had He given up on us? Why had He been so silent when we were hurting so much?
A few days later, as I was sorting through a stack of papers my daughter had brought home, I noticed a flyer asking for volunteers at a fundraiser at her elementary school. Since this was for a program my daughter benefited from, I felt it would be a good thing for me to help out. Until I read what the event was - a phone-a-thon. Since that sounded about as much fun as going to the dentist, I quickly decided I would volunteer at the next fundraiser. As I finished skimming over the information, I read that the top caller for the evening would win a $100 gift card. Yeah, still not enough motivation for me to call strangers and ask for money, I thought. As I set the paper aside, the thought randomly zipped through my mind: "If you do this, you'll win that money." I laughed out loud and thought, "Am I that desperate to hear from God, that I think He is actually telling me I'll win a gift card?"
But over the next few days, I couldn't shake the feeling that I should help out. Not because of the hope of winning the $100, but because our family really was benefiting from the program this fundraiser was supporting. So, VERY reluctantly, I put my name down on the list as a volunteer caller. I even asked first if there was anything else they might need help with but the lady in the school office assured me what they really needed was callers because not very many people liked to sign up for that role. Go figure, I thought.
The evening came and I showed up, sat through some training and started calling through the numbers on my call sheet, asking for donations to the school. It actually wasn't quite as bad as I thought it would be and the organizers of the event made it fun. I was sitting at a table with two businessmen who must have had a degree in this because they were getting donations one right after another. Most of the calls I made, no one was home but I did get a handful of pledges throughout the night.
About two thirds of the way through the evening, I looked up at the screen where everyone's pledge totals were listed and noticed that while I wasn't at the bottom I was nowhere close to the top. It was then that I remembered the thought I had that maybe I would win the prize for top caller. I just shrugged and silently said to myself "Well, now you know that sure wasn't God talking to you." I wasn't really bothered by this, because if I was honest with myself, I had stopped expecting to hear Him speak to me awhile ago.
As the evening came to a close, the gal in charge collected our final pledge sheets and thanked everyone for coming. I looked over at the screen with the pledge totals and noticed the two gentlemen sitting by me had each secured donations totaling a few thousand dollars. I turned my attention back to the event organizer just in time to hear her say "And now I would like to give this $100 gift card to our top new caller for the night" And then she said MY NAME.
I just stared at her.
She smiled at me and basically had to hand me the card twice while I just stood there in complete confusion over what just happened. No one had ever said anything about the prize going to a "new" caller - it was supposed to go to the one who secured the highest amount of donations that night. And I was not even close to being that person. Or being next to that person.
I remembered my manners, thanked her for the gift, gathered my things and went out to my vehicle. It was dark and I sat in my car and started to cry.
What was that all about? Why had that happened? I might have just been sitting in my car in an elementary school parking lot, but all of a sudden I knew that God was there and He was finally telling me something.
"I did that in there so you would know that I am still talking to you and you haven't forgotten how to hear My voice. Just because I haven't been answering the questions you've been asking, doesn't mean I'm not here, that I'm not with you. I am closer than you think and I am doing so much more than you can see right now. And I want you to know, that even when it looks like the door has been closed or the outcome has been decided, I can turn things around in an instant. Nothing stands in the way of My purposes, no matter how immovable or final it may seem to you."
He had set that whole night up. The entire thing, from the beginning when I first saw the flyer and had the "random" thought about winning, to signing up in the school office where the only spot left was for another caller, to sitting by the businessmen who kept getting donation after donation, the WHOLE THING had been the most loving, grace-filled set up that I had ever walked blindly into. It was an object lesson, tailor made for me.
My heavenly Father had done all of that, not to answer the questions I had but to meet the need I had. The need I had in my heart to know that He was still there and still in control. That He was still involved in MY life. That He hadn't forgotten us or moved on. That He could turn a situation around in a blink of an eye.
Two things stood out to me that night as I drove home: God's tender love for me (which I had been doubting) and His sovereignty, His powerful ability to make all things work according to His purposes (which I had been afraid was true for others, but maybe not for me).
In the Old Testament, the Lord showed a man named Ezekiel a large valley full of dry, dead bones. Overwhelming. Lifeless. Hopeless. And He asked Ezekiel if those bones could live again. I'm not sure what all thoughts ran through Ezekiel's mind, but I have come to love his response:
"O Sovereign Lord, you alone know." (Ezekiel 37:3)
You alone know. And that's okay, because You alone have the power & ability to make that which seems dead come to life again. God did the impossible and the improbable - He took those scattered, dead bones and put them back together and breathed life into that which had been dead.
This is what God does best - He brings hope where there has been despair. He brings joy where there has been sorrow. He brings life where there has been death. He doesn't always do it in the way we were expecting or in the time frame we prefer. Many of those hurts I was crying over are still present in our lives. Many of the questions still have not been fully answered. But He does come. And He will show both His love for you and His sovereignty over the circumstances of your life.
It may be that when He is silent, He is actually setting you up.
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