It was a warm and sunny as we walked into the restaurant that day, ordered our food, and sat down to catch up. Greg and I had been apart for 21 days, as he had been in Arizona to care for his ailing step mom. The moment we sat down and he looked across the table at me, with big tears in his eyes, he said to me, “Dixie, I’m dying”…….
It has been seven weeks at the writing of this that we have had no income from work. Our private investigation business has taken a nose dive due to the changing of laws in California, and other reasons unknown to us. Week after week we have prayed, confessed, believed, maintained, and praised our way through absolutely nothing happening. Greg exhausted his resources in trying to find another type of business or employment that would sustain us. The decline has actually been happening for a couple of years now, until, it seems, it has progressed into the heavens being silent.
God’s faithfulness has been astounding in providing our needs. We have not been late on a bill, nor have we gone without anything that we need.
Manna from Heaven.
Finding money in the mail box, on the door, in various and sundry places.
Gifts of love from our community of believers.
We have truly learned what it means to “live by faith”. Every time I started to doubt and complain to the Lord, He would say,
“Are you hungry today?” Well, no.
“Are you bills paid today?” Yes!
“Do you need anything today?” Well, no!
“Then my child, don’t even think about tomorrow. I have this.”
So, we would continue to stand and pray and pray and stand. And each day there was always provision. Sometimes I can’t even tell you where it came from, but it has always been there.
For a husband I believe it is a struggle with failure, as if they cannot provide for their family; an additional pressure aside from plain old insecurity, and fear of abandonment. Greg’s struggles were endless as he looked at his empty message machine day after day. The temptation is to fall into fear and wonder if God has abandoned us when this kind of thing happens. And we are in constant warfare with an enemy who wants to see us fail.
My personal feeling is that I believe the day is coming for all of us when we will have no choice but to totally rely on Jesus for our total provision and sustenance in preparation to help the multitudes– who will be terrified of not being able to survive in these tumultuous days.
Finally, the day came when I knew my husband had reached his breaking point and something had to be done. The only door that was open was for him was to go to Arizona to care for his step mom who desperately needed his help in caring for her and in turn she would help us to at least pay our bills. The plan was for a time of retreat from the normalcy of life while waiting on God for answers for our own lives.
The decision was made that all normal activity in our lives together would stop until we get further notice from God as to how to proceed. Greg indefinitely cancelled his men’s bible study; a huge thing for him as the study had been going on for 18 years. It is now time for faithful men to reach out to him and it is his turn to receive ministry of prayer support and words of encouragement from the faithful ones.
The day he left he was sobbing so hard he could hardly pull out of the driveway, and it was oh so hard to watch. I saw a broken man and it broke my heart.
I like to journal my talks with Jesus as part of my prayer life….on one particular day a few weeks back, as I was seeking Him for answers, this is what He said back to me in the midst of this trial:
“Yes, Dixie, a new thing shall spring forth and the deserts of your life shall blossom. For so many years you have learned that I am always your answer; always!!
I AM your cleft in the rock.
I AM your hiding place.
I AM your spring of water in the dry places.
I AM your trail over the rocky mountainous terrain.
I AM your escape from every temptation to fear or doubt.
I AM your love and I cherish you and love you and think you are adorable.
You are beautiful my bride and my unique and glorious love. Dixie, this time will be short when you look back on it. Greg is where I have placed him. Trust me that I know him inside and out and have placed in him a heart for me and I will use him mightily in the coming days. I will bring all the uncertainties and confusion together. I will weed out what needs to go. I will grow some up and set some free from their religious bondages. I can do anything and will prove myself to your faith as never before. You bring a smile to my face. I love you My delight!”
So, 21 days later we sat there in the restaurant and he begins to tell me of his journey.
I am already seeing transformation.
Greg said as he drove away that day he felt like he had lost control of everything in his life and was being forced into exile by God, away from me, his children and grandchildren, and all of his friends and familiarity. He didn’t know at that moment who he was anymore, and felt totally out of control of his life as he drove for the 10 hours to Arizona.
When I came back into the house that day after seeing him off, as I prayed, the Lord told me to read the story of Elijah. He spoke to me that Greg was like the prophet Elijah. Elijah ran into the desert when he got so discouraged because Jezebel was after him. He had just performed a miracle of God before many witnesses. Yet, his humanness came in with a rush afterwards and he became discouraged with his life and doubted God was in it.
How many times do we witness God moving in our lives in huge ways, and the next day we become fearful all over again, doubting God’s provision? We can get pretty dramatic, can’t we?
“He came to a lone broom bush and collapsed in its shade, wanting in the worst way to be done with it all—to just die: “Enough of this, God! Take my life—I’m ready to join my ancestors in the grave!” Exhausted, he fell asleep under the lone broom bush.” 1 Kings 19
He felt abandoned and deserted and alone and fell asleep under a bush in the desert totally depressed and wanting to die;
Pitiful and pathetic and in escape mode.
The Lord sent an angel to feed him and give him water. Elijah was so depressed that he rose and ate, but then just laid back down and prayed to die. The angel shook him awake again and ordered him to eat again for he had a long walk ahead in the desert. So, he ate, and got up and started walking. Can’t you just see him trudging along in the hot desert, kicking at the sand, crying and carrying on, praying to just die to get out of his misery? When he got to the cave what did he do? He went back to sleep.
“He got up, ate and drank his fill, and set out. Nourished by that meal, he walked forty days and nights, all the way to the mountain of God, to Horeb. When he got there, he crawled into a cave and went to sleep.” 1 Kings 19
But, it was in that cave that God began to talk to Elijah and reveal Himself to him in a brand new way.
“Then he was told, “Go, stand on the mountain at attention before God. God will pass by.”
A hurricane wind ripped through the mountains and shattered the rocks before God, but God wasn’t to be found in the wind; after the wind an earthquake, but God wasn’t in the earthquake; and after the earthquake fire, but God wasn’t in the fire; and after the fire a gentle and quiet whisper. When Elijah heard the quiet voice, he muffled his face with his great cloak, went to the mouth of the cave, and stood there. A quiet voice asked, “So Elijah, now tell me, what are you doing here?”
Sitting in the restaurant that day Greg tells me he has lost control with pain etched on his face and tears running down his cheeks. “But,” he said “I know God has taken me to the heat of the desert to get my attention. There are things in my life that need to change. While there I have seen pride in so many areas of my life I have had to repent of. My anxiety and fear levels had progressed to the point that I knew I had to do something drastic to break the cycle. I have seen that I was stuck doing things my way and would not have changed had it not been that I could see no other choices but to give up.
I can see God moving me into a deeper, intimate, walk with Him, and a new kind of relationship ministry of living in the Father’s love. But in doing this I have had to die Dixie. I literally feel like I am dying.”
Galatians 2:20 immediately came to mind as he was speaking:
“My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
My husband is being refined as by fire and he is dying to his old ways and what will emerge is yet to be seen. But our God is so faithful and He always has a plan. Greg has said he knows he is to return to the desert for another 20 days as he can’t get away that it took 40 days for God to reveal to Elijah His plan for his life. It took that long to get his attention. It took 40 years (a lot longer than 40 days) in the desert for poor Moses before that burning bush started talking. At the end of 40 days of fasting for Jesus he came out of it ready for what God had called Him to do. So, Greg will return, trusting that this time is only the beginning to deliverance for us, and release for him, and direction as to how we will proceed to live. I will stay and continuing my coaching practice and writing while he is away.
To hear my husband say, “I am dying, Dixie”, took on a deep, personal meaning for me. I knew God was in this and that when He is done with this fiery trial in our lives we will be even more assured of the absolute faithfulness and trustworthiness of Jesus!!
“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.” James 1
PS: When God has revealed our next step in this trial I will be sharing the outcome with you, my faithful readers.