The Blessing God Asked Back
I had often laughed off incredulous inquiries about where I slept, where in the world was my own space while living in a crowded school. But inside, I felt like I was going crazy. School had somehow taken over my entire mind and person. When I went to pray, there was no closet door to close (they had all been taken off the hinges to allow more room for classrooms) or door to shut and leave the world behind. It was a fighting battle to get my mind to rest from school enough to feed on the word of God. School, books, learning music surrounded my person, and penetrated my brain. Sometimes I would step outside to get a breather, but with early evening already dark in the winter, this became impossible. Even in the small town where I live, it is not safe for a young woman to wander about after dark.
I took the matter to the Lord in prayer. I had consecrated to live in a school, but it was getting beyond my ability to cope. I prayed about it for several months and one possibility after another fell through, and I felt more each day like I was headed for the insane asylum. Finally, after many months of prayer, a miraculous answer came to my doorstep. A lady who knew my situation offered me a rent-free place to live in a simple mobile home on a beautiful 2-1/2 acre piece of property. I was amazed and delighted at the way God had worked together an escape for me. I was blessed with the scripture, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God…and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33) Surely God had seen my faithfulness in teaching school and putting His work first in my life. What a blessing to be given such a wonderful gift of a lovely place in the country! At the moment, however, I did not have the time to move or even look at the place. I was totally occupied with some problems at school that were keeping my hands full to overflowing. I shelved the offer, as it was something that would keep.
The next week brought expected company to our part of the country and I was quite busy with being hostess, as they stayed at the school. The family that had arrived were looking for property and praying if it was God’s will for them to move to Oregon for fellowship. What they really needed was some place to stay, some place where they could move to while they looked for property. Rent is so expensive around here, that a regular rental was out of the question. They needed a miracle—a temporary rent-free home while they looked around. Rent-free? Was there something familiar about that term? My place, Lord? The retreat you worked out for me? Obviously, this family needed it much more than I did at the moment. After all, I did have a roof over my head. The sensible, reasonable, perfect-solution thing to do was to offer the place that I wasn’t even living in yet to this family.
I felt like I was being ripped apart inside. The place was my answer to prayer: God had worked this out for me! Surely God could work something else out for them. He was a big God. Two rent-free places were nothing to Him! Weeks went by, the family went back to their home several states away, having found nothing, but still feeling a desire to move. I was, I’m afraid, feeling very resentful of them. If they were not in the picture, I could have rejoiced that I now had a place so I could move away from school. As it was, all I could feel was selfishness. I was torn between that and the genuine need that I had. Didn’t anyone understand that I needed a place to live? That the place had been offered to me, and it was my answer to prayer? Have you ever tried to give a hungry dog a large piece of meat and then have taken it away from him after he has set his teeth in it? Well, that is the way I felt. Why, God? Why didn’t someone else get offered a piece of rent-free land for this family? Why are you choosing me? Why didn’t you just give it to them directly?
Quietly and softly the Lord spoke gently to me, “My child, will you give up your gift? It was given to you—will you give it to them?”
I wanted to scream, “No! A thousand times, no!” But right there as I reflected, my heart torn and screaming, the words of the song writer came to me, “Give, as ’twas given to you in your need, Love as the Master loved you; Be to the helpless a helper indeed, Unto your mission be true.”
“Give, as ’twas given to you in your need”—words I’d sung a thousand times hit me like a ton of steel.
Yes, I needed to give, the wonderful gift I had been given, I needed to share. As a child, and all through my life, I had always loved to give. Christmas was a favorite time of year and I’d always been called a generous person. I associated giving with joy, not heart wrenching pain, but perhaps during that difficult hour, I learned that it is never easy to give, if the gift is one you desperately want to keep for yourself. It takes grace to give.
By the grace of God, and his grace only, I bowed to His will. I died to my dreams and consecrated anew to live in a school. I fought a long, hard battle with self, but it ended with triumph. As I opened my eyes and wiped the tears from my face, I asked God to give me a scripture in His word. I opened my Bible, and turning the leaves, my eye fell upon the verse, “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity; for God loveth a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)
Calming my voice and controlling my will, I picked up the phone. “You know that house you offered me? Well, there is this family….”
This could be the end of the article. After giving up my will to the Lord, I felt a joy and blessing that surrender brings. That didn’t mean that I no longer felt the stress of my situation, but I renewed my consecration and God gave me grace to face interminable time of living at the school.
Or so it looked interminable from my pinhole viewpoint. When I obeyed God in giving up my planned home, I didn’t see how I could live another day in school. And I certainly didn’t see how I was ever going to find another affordable place to live.
God, as always, had everything in control. As soon as I surrendered, He began working. A mere two weeks later I was moved into the home I thought I’d given up forever. Looking back I realized that God had been waiting for me to give everything—and when I did, He took over.
Tonight I sit typing on my computer in my cozy little living room, and as I reflect, I realize that we can never outgive God. In theory, I knew that before. Somehow the principle is so much closer than just a theory to me now… it is a daily reality. Days now, I come home from a stressful day of school and settle in to make supper in my own kitchen. My eyes wander out the window to follow the bright jackets of my little girls playing down by the creek, and I think, “Lord, I asked for a place to live. I would have been happy for an apartment, and look what you gave me!” A place for my children to play—a grassy pasture, an old barn, a pond and a creek with many trees just right for climbing—somehow I think the Lord hand-picked this place out. In the mornings I can hear the birds singing, at night it is the frog’s turn to be musical. Country life, you might say, is always wonderful. Perhaps so, but each detail seems to me all the more precious because I gave it all up, and God gave it back.
Is God’s way best? Does it pay to yield our entire lives into His control? Is any sacrifice too great? No, God’s way is best even if it does not seem to be at the time of consecration. God’s way is best because it ends best.
—A sister in Christ