I have to interject here, that reading back on our life is hysterical!! We are such big babies! Knowing where we are now and seeing all the fear and struggles that led us here is very entertaining! If you don’t journal your life, you should. So much of what we fear and dread ends up being no big deal. But, I suppose that’s how we grow. I promise I’m not keeping any of our pouting, rantings and doubts out, as I retell it to you. I think that’s part of what makes our life such an authentic story. It also gives you all the opportunity to chuckle with us over our unnecessary anger and worry.
A couple of days after our “amazing breakthrough” (Difference between Church god and the God of the Bible), our friends told us they would be having a week long recording session at their home in a few weeks. The people coming to record were from out of town, so they’d be staying at their house. This meant that we would need to be out during that time. We prayed and wanted God to show us, definitively and mightily ,if he was wanting us to be in our van during that time. Nothing happened! There was extreme weariness and disappointment. Yes, it had only been 2 days and yes, we’d already been in the van and knew it wasn’t that big of a deal, but we thought God would have come through by then. By the end of the day we decided that we were done waiting and we were going to get our butts out of this ridiculous situation ourselves. Aaron knew exactly who to talk to in order to find a job in the area. I was done trying to be okay with everything and encouraged him to do so. One thing that did go through my mind was something my friend had said to me: Maybe there are times that God wants to see how hard you’ll fight to stay where you know you are supposed to be. If we know Tennessee is where we are supposed to be, how hard will we fight to stay here? We had multiple easy ways out. People have offered jobs and their homes to us in both Minnesota and Illinois, but neither of those options felt right. What feels right is staying in Tennessee, but we have nowhere to live! (except that stupid van). Even if we do go get jobs it’ll be a good 3 months before we could get into anything because of bank records being needed and money needing to be saved. So that leaves us where we started. What are we going to do? We have nowhere to go.
We had gotten to the point where there is nothing left in us, no fight, no endurance. Have you ever had a child ask you for something over and over, and over and over, and even after you’ve gotten angry and said “no” they still continue to ask and you simply say, “Go ahead” because you don’t have anything left in you except that? Yeah, that’s how we felt. We sat the kiddos down and told them we didn’t have anymore fight left in us and we needed to just go get jobs to get ourselves out of this craziness. A few minutes later Max started crying. I held him in my lap and asked him what was wrong. He said he didn’t want to go back to living the way we used to, with daddy being gone most of the day and then being too tired at night to do anything with them. That simple statement ignited the fire back into us! Aaron said, “THIS is what we are going to fight against. I am not going to let fear or money dictate how I serve God or how and when I spend time with my family. We need to break those chains and only do what God has told us to do! We need to get our children out of this ridiculous battle (serving the God of money) and into the spiritual battles of God telling them 3 people would be raised from the dead that day and they’ve only seen 2, so they have to find that third one.” I completely agreed with him and was glad he had some fight back in him, but I still wasn’t sure I had enough fight or endurance to live in a van indefinitely with 5 other people.
For the past few Sunday mornings Pastor Jeff had been speaking about the power of the word of God and how important it is that we are careful how we hear it. We often blow off parts of the Bible, because we’ve heard it all before. There are two translations of “word” in the Bible – “logos” which is the written word and “rhema” which is the spoken word. People try to separate one from the other but they are synonymous. God spoke his word which became written. Jeff said, “If you want to break it down to the simplest form, this (holding up a Bible) is God talking directly to us.” Now, you need to remember, Aaron is a 4th generation minister and I grew up with a book nerd for a dad who loved to study the Bible and then share with all of us what he had been studying. The concept of the Bible being God talking directly to us was not new, but it felt new. It was exactly what we needed at that moment. We’d been crying and whining about needing God to speak clearly and directly, or show us a sign or wonder. We’d been getting irritated when we’d get just the right Bible verse, at just the right time. We had been wanting something new and something specific to us. Jeff continued, “If we’re not careful how we hear, we are only reading a history lesson or a word for another time. We are removing the power of God’s word from our life. His word is more powerful than an angel appearing before you. If you feel you don’t have faith, you read his word. Faith comes by hearing the word of God. Romans 10:17. If you need more faith, read God’s word. God sent his word, he didn’t send and angel to rescue or save, he sent his word.” Well, that took care of our tangent! I guess we won’t be seeking angelic visitations or talking donkeys, we’ll be more diligent about reading God’s word and see how that helps us.
There have been a couple of biblical characters that have been an encouragement to us during our journey. Mostly because we can see that God gives them a promise and then, for seemingly no good reason, makes them wait forever to receive it. He even lets horrible things happen to them while they’re waiting for the promise to happen. Joseph has been one of the biggest encouragements to us. Why on earth did he have to be a slave and then be falsely accused and then thrown in jail? What was that all about?! We were encouraged because he was faithful and one day he woke up in prison and went to bed in a palace. Amazing!
After talking about the power of the word, pastor Jeff started talking about Joseph. He pointed out the names of Joseph’s sons. Manasseh – Meaning God has caused me to forget all my trouble, and Ephraim – Meaning God has blessed me in the land of my affliction. Pastor Jeff said, “Some of you are at a point where you feel outcast and you can’t go on. Your life is in a pit and you can’t get out in your own power. This is not the end of your story. There is another chapter. The other chapter looks like this: the Lord will causes you to forget all your trouble and if that isn’t enough, God is going to bless you in the land of your affliction. The Lord wants to initiate this word over your life. He wants to remove the memory of the pain and he wants to bless you.” He then began to speak a blessing over the congregation, asking the Lord to send the blessing of Manasseh and Ephraim and asked that the Lord would work so hard on our behalf that it would affect the next generation. “I feel like the Lord is saying, ‘The buck stops here. No more will you have to worry about your children. No more will you have to live this lifestyle. No more will they have to learn the heartaches and hardships. No more.'” You might read that and think, “he basically just repackaged Joseph’s life and handed it back to the congregation.” Yes, basically, he did but you have to remember we just heard about God’s word being for NOW and then he just “happened” to use one of the life stories in the bible that gives us so much encouragement. He also spoke specifically about our children not having to live the current lifestyle, but they would have a different one. Which I think is referring to our prayer that they wouldn’t get weighed down with silly life stuff, but that their battles would be of a supernatural nature.
Aaron and the boys had been watching “Stan Lee’s Superhumans” on Netflix. Aaron was telling me about some of them and one of the things I noticed was that a lot of these people really limited what they ate and they also meditated. I wondered if that was what the point of fasting mixed with prayer was about. No matter what we eat, it is going to affect our bodies in some way. Maybe the reason for water only fasts are to help our bodies to completely focus on what God is saying to us through prayer. As we were talking Aaron remembered a book his dad had given him when we’d been in Illinois for Christmas. It’s called “God’s Chosen Fast”. It had been sitting in the van since our visit. We started reading the book together, and had gotten through a couple of chapters, when a friend called Aaron. He said he felt God had a word for us. He had been listening to the radio and the speaker was talking about a court being in heaven and that Satan had stood before God and accused Job. He felt that God wanted us to be represented in that court, because we were being accused. Our friend wondered if maybe fasting had anything to do with the outcome of what happens in that court. He was basically calling to encourage us to keep asking the Lord to come through in our situation. Aaron let him know that we had just started reading a book about fasting and what he had just shared seemed to be fitting it exactly. After the call ended, we started reading again. The next chapter was titled “Being Heard on High”. It referenced Job’s situation and also sited Zechariah 3. Aaron called his friend back because he thought it was cool that what he had just called and talked with Aaron about had been reconfirmed in the book we were reading. The friend thanked Aaron for calling because as soon as they had hung up he had begun to feel like an idiot for calling. He was thinking, “You shouldn’t have called Aaron to tell him about things in the Bible. He used to be a pastor. He already knows all about those things, and you can’t even remember where the things you’re talking about are found in the Bible.” Aaron let him know that God had absolutely used him to bring us encouragement and to be a confirmation of the things we were reading.
After we got all the kiddos picked up from school that day we let them know that we would be fasting for the next 3 days and we invited them to join us, if they felt like they should. Isabella said she would fast snacks, Max said he would fast either lunch or supper and Alex said he’d fast for a day. We agreed together that we were going to pray for God to break whatever it was that was holding us back from doing what we are called to do.