I have no idea what to expect in 2021. Honestly, after the year we just had nothing would surprise me! But I do know that whatever happens, God is bigger. He is sovereign and he is in control…always. I love the song “Surrounded (Fight My Battles).” I love the story in the Bible that inspired this song even more.
Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city. When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked. “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 2 King 6:14-17
A powerful reminder that, regardless of how things appear, the God who is with us is greater than whatever we come up against.
But I did not always believe this. There have been more times than I want to admit when I felt that my troubles were bigger than my God. I cringe as I read that last line. I am also filled with gratitude. Thankful that God didn’t leave me there…that he opened my eyes so that I could see.
I have countless stories from my journey that show his faithfulness, even when I was not faithful. (2 Timothy 2:13) This might be my favorite…
My husband received an exciting job offer that required a major move for our family in 2012. We left the college where he had coached for nine years to move to Florida for an NFL job. It was a hard move leaving behind significant relationships and memories. I had been warned that “NFL” actually stood for “Not For Long” but still I was shocked when our head coach was fired just one year into his three-year contract.
There are so many layers to this story and what happened next, but God’s goodness and providence were clearly demonstrated to me through the home we lived in. Although it would be three years before I would be able to see it.
After losing his NFL job, my husband opted to coach our son’s high school team for a year (I will write about that someday!) and I was relieved that we wouldn’t be moving right away. When he did finally accept a job in another city and we were ready to move, we put our Florida house on the market. But it never sold.
I prayed and pleaded with God to sell this home that we no longer needed. I couldn’t fathom why he was not answering that prayer. My heart started to believe the lie that God was not actively involved in my life--- unwilling or unable to intervene. This lie began to change my relationship with God. I didn’t want to ask him for anything since he hadn’t come through on that one thing. I couldn’t admit it then, but I was angry with God.
Fast forward to 2016 and another season of unemployment. My husband had two opportunities: a high school job at a boarding school and a college opportunity as an analyst on a staff he admired. The boarding school job came with a salary, benefits, and free housing. His compensation as an analyst would be a stipend which was less than my son’s college tuition! But after much prayer we felt that this was the opportunity God had for us. My husband left right away to start his new job while I stayed behind to sell our house.
After our experience in Florida, I worried about not being able to sell our home in Virginia. It had already been on the market for four months. But two weeks after my husband started his job in North Carolina, we got an offer! While publicly I praised God for his “perfect timing” in selling this home, secretly I was still mad at him that the Florida house never sold, forcing me into the role of reluctant landlord.
Now it was time for me to move. A bit of a challenge going from a five-bedroom home to a small apartment! I got rid of most of our furniture, rented a small storage facility in Virginia and moved the stuff we needed to our apartment in North Carolina.
After unpacking and settling into our apartment, I decided I needed to come up with a budget. This was something I had never really done before, but I felt compelled to do it. As I laid out our income and expenses, two numbers caught my attention. Our rent for that apartment and the rental income from our home in Florida were the same number! Did you catch that? The house I was so angry with God for not selling was covering the rent for us.
I wept at the table that day. Telling God how sorry I was for questioning his sovereignty and his goodness. And I was changed.
God knew we would need that rental income. He didn’t sell our home when I begged him to because he knew.
And now, I know. I know that God is always working behind the scenes. Doing things to protect us and provide for us. Things unseen.
This is what I want you to know, too. God is for you (Romans 8:31). It might look like you’re surrounded, but you’re surrounded by him (2 Kings 6:16). The one who is with you is greater than whatever comes against you (1 John 4:4).
Know this. No matter what the New Year brings your way.