As some of you know, last October started an incredibly hard season for us. In the last year, I have had to stand with greater determination than I ever have. I've had to resolve to believe God's promises despite situations which presented extreme evidence to the contrary. I have had to be more real and more vulnerable than I ever dreamed necessary. I've hurt more deeply than I ever knew I could, and I have faced fears that I thought would bury me.
I have also seen God work in ways beyond my wildest imagination. I have been loved more deeply and been embraced more wholly than I ever dreamed. I have danced more wildly and with more passion and abandon than I ever imagined was within me, and I have stood up to fears, attacks, and doubts and been victorious in overcoming them. I have found depth of friendship that I thought was a fairytale, and I have come to know a God who is hilariously generous with all He gives, whose heart is to protect and shepherd, whose power is greater than all my foes, and whose love and passion for me is beyond my wildest imagination.
Even as I type this, my eyes fill with tears of amazement. It's more than gratitude, although I am grateful beyond words. It's an absolute amazement at finding more than a mighty God or a saving God. It's the wonder of intimately experiencing a God whose greatest desire is me. It is beyond anything human words could express when I gaze upon a God who can create a universe in six days and so clearly see His complete devotion to me. He waits for me to wake up in the morning. He whispers to me in my sleep, and He lavishes good things on me, and I am sure there is more He wants to give, but I have been too "humble"--faithfulness, insecure, doubting--to receive it.
I am undone.
It is with such absolute amazement that I approach the fall season of harvest and a time that in the past was so marked by pain and darkness.
In September, during my prayer time, the Lord spoke to me about October. For years October has been a month of dread for me. All the demonic freedom really is hard for me and has been difficult for my children. Two years ago, things started to change, and the Lord began to redeem October. This year He gave me a new word. He said, "October will be a time of harvest and rejoicing." I had to tell my friend Debra, who was just excited as I was, and we started practicing our happy dance.
A week or so after the Lord spoke to me, He spoke a powerful word to Debra and her husband Brian. He said they were to go on vacation, and it was specifically to be during Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles. He gave them a solid word about what He is doing in their lives and how it started with the beginning of Sukkot. Neither of us knew anything about Sukkot, but we quickly found out.
While that was happening at their house, the Lord was settling some issues at our house. In short, I really felt Rob, my husband, was to go to the men's retreat with our church. It wasn't on the calendar, but the more I prayed, the more I was convinced he was supposed to go. The Lord said clearly it would be a time for restoration of identities for the men who attended. My heart pounded. I knew Rob was supposed to go. Ultimately, he did, too, and he is going.
When Debra and I researched Sukkot, we laughed, cried, and shouted. Sukkot is the Feast of Tabernacles (or tents), the time to celebrate leaving Egypt and bondage (the place God finds all of us in our sin or oppression) and going into the Promised Land (their true identity). And, the first day of Sukkot happened to be the first day Brian and Rob will be at the men's retreat--the one where true identities will be restored!
Needless to say, we were ecstatic. Then we had another laugh. Debra and Brian had been planning this trip for months, but due to job transition, they were unsure about money, which God provided in an amazing way. The trip? Camping...in tents. God had already put it on their hearts to celebrate the transition from Egypt to the Promised Land, and they didn't even know what it meant.
I was laughing, too, because I had decided since Rob would be gone, I'd pack the children up, and we'd go camping. Instead of fighting the popup, I'd use a tent, too. We have several tents, so that would be no problem, except I felt we were to have a tent with two criteria--room and an open top so we could see the heavens. In my human mind, though, could I justify another tent, especially when we always use our popup camper? I wrestled with it, talked to Rob, and ultimately, went tent shopping, so we could camp...the first day of Sukkot.
I did preliminary shopping online. Nothing struck me. Last night we spent a lot of time driving from store to store. Nothing overwhelmed me. Well, one thing did. However, at $120 it was well out of our price range, the amount I felt the Lord okayed for us to spend. So we ended up coming home empty-handed. Still, Sukkot was less than 48 hours away, and despite my mind's efforts to justify and compromise, my spirit knew we were supposed to get a tent. I did all I knew to do. I prayed.
"Father, if you want us to have a tent, you'll provide. I know the number you gave me ($50), and I don't have peace to spend more. However, I don't know where else to look. I need your direction. Your Word says the steps of a righteous man are ordered by you. Guide our steps."
I finished praying, and honestly, I was expecting a store to come to mind. Instead, "Craigslist," hit like a billboard on the front of my skull. I typed it in. Then I typed "tent". I stared.
"Magellan Bryce Canyon Tent....$50." And, it was not in the general DFW Metroplex. It was in our city.
I prayed. Could this really be God? Could He really be telling us to buy another tent?
I emailed a reply saying we were interested and told when we could be there to pick it up. Then I waited...
However, I didn't wait idly. I waited with a feast of celebration, a feast declaring we believe this is a month of harvest and rejoicing. We started the celebration with a feast of pumpkin bread.
The entire family got involved with the mixing, baking, cleaning, and eating. Delicious! We also made some pumpkin cream cheese. The children love it, but it is a bit too sweet for Rob and me. Still, the most fun is the fact the recipe made enough for our family and some to share. Isn't that the great thing about harvest? It keeps right on giving?
Due to unexpected rain, our plans changed, and with them, the time we could pick up the tent changed, so I emailed again. No reply, but the listing was still up. Ultimately, though, I simply had to let it go. If it was of God, it would work out. If not, He would do something else.
Then this afternoon a reply. "I'll be home then. I live at....You can call me at...." I started to laugh, and tears filled my eyes. He lived around the corner from us. Seriously. Within ten minutes we had a verbal agreement for the tent. Within 20 minutes, it was in my van on the way to my house.
The entire top is open to the heavens, and it can be split into three rooms. The center height is 84 inches. It is huge for a tent. And, while we were there, he showed us how to put it up and gave far better direction than the instruction paper. Don't you love when God goes above and beyond your imagination?!
Such is the first day of October--our month of harvest, rejoicing, restoration of true identity. It is our celebrating moving from the heartbreak of slavery--mental, spiritual, and emotional--to the joy of the Promised Land. It is a festival and a feast, and we are joyously well-fed feasting on His goodness.