I made mention of the Women of Joy trip with the Bethel ladies a few times before my last series of entries. I really had a wonderful time and I'm so glad I went. It's funny how God knows how to get you to listen to Him. I think it's just one more amazing thing about Him: He's been telling me what He's planned for me for the last nine months, but He knows my heart better than anyone. He knew I needed to be snatched up and put in a different environment for a few days to let the message sink in. I don't know why I'm ever surprised to see God working in this way, but it always makes me smile when I think I realize what He's up to. He's very clever, you see.
James and I have just started this new chapter of ministry at Liberty and we've been praying for so long about me staying home with Matthew or at least dropping to part-time somewhere (anywhere but this place). Things are falling into place and have been for a while. James even started me email updates everyday counting down the days until I quit my current job, the one that sucks the life out of me. I should be excited, right? Well, I couldn't let myself get too excited or even think this is real. I found myself constantly thinking about the gloomy economy swarming around us. It would be so stupid to quit my job when people are loosing their jobs left and right! I've done the math and the figures don't match up. It just doesn't make sense for me to quit. Sure, I know God's been calling me to stay home for so long now. I know I'll do it one day, but now just isn't the time.
Thursday night and Friday night, the first nights of the trip, I prayed for a fresh word from God. I was already being reminded of how God has constantly been my sustainer, my provider, my strong and mighty tower, creator, redeemer, my ever-present help. (Hopefully I've done those words to Charles Billingsley's song justice.) I listened to Kirk Cameron remind us all of the beauty of marriage and family and the importance of following God's will through our families.
Saturday night was when God opened up the curtain and shined the spotlight on me and the fear that has been stirring around in my heart for the last couple of months. I've heard Casting Crowns more times than I can count. I know their songs frontwards and backwards. I could probably get up and sing them if Mark, Melodee, or Megan ever freakishly lost their voices. It's funny how God uses things we've heard a thousand times to get to us. I was fine when I heard the first few notes of Voice of Truth. It didn't last long, though. "Oh what I would do to have the kind of faith it takes to step out of this boat I'm in onto the crashing waves, to step out of my comfort zone into the realm of the unknown where Jesus is and He's holding out His hand." He didn't even get the first line out before I wondered if he was talking to me. Then Mark sang, "but the waves are calling out my name and they laugh at me, reminding me of all the times I've tried before and failed. The waves keep on telling me time and time again, 'boy, you'll never win, you'll never win.'"
By this time, my light bulb had gone off and God gave me the word I needed to hear in a song I already knew by heart. Before Mark even started the chorus, my heart was singing, "But the voice of truth tells me a different story, the voice of truth says do not be afraid. The voice of truth says this is for my glory. Out of all the voices calling out to me, I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth." He's just so good! I needed to be reminded that God is in control and that I cannot let myself be afraid. Ah, but there's more to my story from that weekend...!
Friday night when I was having my quiet time, I was searching around in my new Bible I got for Mother's Day. I wasn't really sure what I wanted to read and was trying my best to read something I don't read that often. Maybe Habakkuk or Zephaniah, I don't spend nearly enough time in that area of the Bible. I just couldn't do it though, I was drawn to Jeremiah. Although I could stand to study the entire book of Jeremiah more, I went right on back to chapter 29. There I was again at a scripture I love so much- the very passage I used when I gave my testimony to Bethel's Roaring Twenties class the week of the trip. I love Jeremiah 29:11-13; He's got plans for me- plans to prosper me, not to harm me! I just stayed in those verses and went to bed.
Once again, though, God used Mark Hall to make it all click. Within seconds of "Voice of Truth" Mark said, Jeremiah 29-11 says, "For I know plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future..." I was starting to think Mark Hall was in my head. But then, he said something that really didn't have anything to do with what he was saying, but it was exactly what I needed to hear: "Mommas, breathe truth into those little ones." It was that moment when I got the most overwhelming peace about quitting my job. I've got to quit my job (the job that drains me, that enslaves me) and trade it in for the job I've wanted for so long. What I really want to do is be a stay-at-home mom and be the BEST mom I can be to Matthew, our gift, and be the BEST wife I can be to James. That's what I'm called to do. I'm sure of it.
It may not make sense. It doesn't have to make sense. I don't care about having lots of money (it's not like I'm used to that anyway). God will take care of us like He has time and time again. Barlowgirl's "I Don't Regret" song asks "Why do we think if we trust God too much He will fail us?" So, we're stepping out of the boat and trusting God. I'm quitting my job in August. God used the Women of Joy trip to confirm what I had known in my heart all along. Now, I fully have the peace that surpasses all understanding. I've heard the voice of truth.