This journey. This jumping out of the boat to walk on water and not drown in my own doubts that God might not be there has been overwhelming. As a writer, I’m speechless. Wordless for how to explain a God and His provision. He doesn’t live in my box of my limitations. He’s a God who reveals more and more of Himself every time we step out of our boxes and behave in ways that are absolutely crazy and seem irresponsible.
For whatever reason, in this particular circumstance, all of God’s answers seemed to come fast and furious in one week, like drinking from a fire hose. This experience…it’s not normal for us. At all. This has been a jaw dropping, Are you kidding me, God? kind of deal.
I’m ashamed at my doubts in His provision. I’m embarrassed by my lack of faith, and gallons of ice cream that sit empty. True. Because He IS faithful. Every. Single. Time. It’s just that usually His provision is quiet and may even go unnoticed, like the birth of Christ. Still 100% miraculous, but it happened in a barn, in the middle of the night, and only some shepherds knew about it. But other times, His provision is an “IN YOUR FACE!” kind of showing off like the feeding of the 5000 or turning water into wine. The week of the job offer was an “IN YOUR FACE!” kind of deal.
My prayer has been, “Please open my heart and my hands to receive what You want to give. Here are my 5 loaves and 2 fish. See what You can do with them here in the Bay Area.” I was desperately afraid He would give us something I didn’t want, like an apartment with rats so we could win the exterminator to Christ. So much of my prayer was for help to accept whatever He gave. Whatever would bring Him glory and NOT ME… and I didn’t want to miss it.
I wanted a front row seat to whatever He was up to in our lives and in the lives of those at InRoads Church. I wanted people to clearly see the awesomeness of God. I wanted to be a vessel He used to shine out of. I didn’t want to get in the way.
This is my limited attempt to explain how He has provided for our family after several weeks of wondering how He would.
Last month, I accepted a full time teaching position which was an unexpected plot twist to our housing dilemma. In my last post, I explained how it seemed to come out of nowhere, and the timing seemed off. I had no intention of teaching again. Or being employed full time by someone else besides myself, for that matter. This was NOT how this was supposed to go! But I had been praying, “Please open my heart and my hands to receive whatever You want to give…” Was this God?
For 16 years, I’ve been a stay at home mom. I’ve worked on my schedule, when I wanted. I was in charge of my day. Sort of. I mean… Wait a second. What am I saying? I wasn’t working for myself AT ALL, and I certainly was not in charge of my schedule. In fact, I’ve answered to 3 bosses this whole time! Bosses who do not respect privacy or personal space or give a rip how I‘m feeling when they voiced their demands. No vacations. No breaks. In fact, this stay at home mom gig requires giving up those things all together. And pays me not one dime. What the heck am I thinking? This new full time teaching opportunity may actually give me back a few years of my life. And I would be focusing on writing and speaking like I wanted. “Please open my heart and my hands to receive what You want to give…” As I walked through the doors, they flew open to this teaching position.
We were beginning to see why God had said WAIT, why we had felt impressed not to look for a place to live yet. Here in the Bay Area, housing is a bit expensive. A decent 2 bedroom 2 bath apartment? $2500 per month. I love my family of 5, when there is at least 3 feet between us, and I can’t smell them. Living on top of each other would not be as much fun as the IKEA catalog makes it look.
Earlier this spring, we applied for a home loan. We qualified for a whopping $400,000! That’s amazing, right? In Montana. Or maybe parts of rural Nebraska that include a farm. In the Bay Area, that buys a crappy 2 bedroom condo next to the train tracks. Not only that, but the market here is so crazy that renters and owners alike are bidding over the asking price to get a place. If a place lists for $800,000, it can sell for $850K or higher. If it rents for $2500, you offer $2600+ and are willing to pay 6 months up front.
Am I the only one who wonders what illegal transactions people are making to pay their rent/mortgage or how many extended family members are shoved into one place? Since illegal activity was not an option for this pastor’s family and neither was living with 16 other people, receiving a legitimate job offer was making sense. Without it, we’d be living in a hovel, or a van, down by the river. God was up to something.
Because of the new job, we could now rent a place bigger than a storage unit that didn’t smell like cats or curry. At 11:30am on a Saturday morning, we got online to look for a place to live. At 11:45am, we threw on clothes and dashed to an open house that ended at noon.
With just a street name and no house number, how would we find it? We took a guess, and I jumped out of the car to ask a stranger if his house was for rent. Yes, we found the right place. They were just locking up but willing to let us walk through.
I had spent weeks looking at rentals online, disgusted by all of them, and none of them were available when we needed them or in good locations. I walked into this one and had that “this is the one” feeling, and it was available now and in an ideal location. It was bigger than the Ikea catalog with better views than I could ever dream (open space is kind of a theme in my life). It reminded me so much of my home and neighborhood growing up that it actually felt like…home.
We filled out the paperwork but quickly realized we had no way to prove we could actually afford it. I had no salary yet. Would this be the closed door? And then I thought, Maybe THIS is why God provided a large down payment for a home last month even though we can't afford to buy just yet.. Could we offer to pay the whole year’s rent up front, borrowing against ourselves and paying it back when I went to work? So we offered. And they accepted.
Then the property manager told us this: “The owner of this home is my aunt, and we are Christians. She was praying for who would rent her house and really believes that this is God providing someone to watch over her house.”
If we hadn’t waited on God, we would have missed this miracle. This miracle of providing a place just when we needed it and not a day sooner. A place we couldn’t afford 2 days ago without my job offer. A place that only wanted renters for one year as we only wanted to rent 1 year. A place that had a Christian landlord. A place that reminds me and feels like home. And it now makes sense why God had said, “Wait.”
We have been overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by His love. Overwhelmed by His provision. Overwhelmed by how He orchestrated even the tiniest details in the right order. Overwhelmed by so many other pieces of this story still to be shared. Overwhelmed that He took faith the size of a mustard seed and multiplied it.
As I write this, I’m troubled. I’m troubled because it’s not about me. And yet somehow, it feels like it is. Like when people get on Facebook and say how great their kids are. And I feel like crap because my kids can’t compare. You know what I mean? And I hate that. Because this was a GOD thing. Not a Jodi thing at all. If anything, I got in God’s way. I slowed things down. I’m sure it drove Him nuts every time I searched on Zillow when I KNEW I wasn’t supposed to be looking.
Faith as small as a mustard seed.
I don’t know why sometimes God answers prayer like a tiny sparkler in my back yard with close friends watching, and other times He answers like the fireworks show on the White House lawn. But there’s a lot I don’t understand about God. And it’s that very mystery that makes me love and trust Him more. If I had Him all figured out, then I would never get to feel the amazing joy that comes when He is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Eph. 3:20-21, NIV).
The story continues…