God knows what we need. I know this firsthand. He proved this to me repeatedly over one tragically sad month when I needed Him to show up. It was at a time when the circumstances of my life were what I wanted them to be, and then suddenly I lost it all.
I had been dating a man who I thought I was going to marry, working in a job that I loved, and dreaming about the happy future I was entering. Suddenly, out of the blue, I was unexpectedly single again, blindsided, heartbroken, and shattered. Realizing that my hopes for marriage were now altering my life’s choices, I felt directionless. I loved teaching, but the low pay was a sacrifice, and my true passion was to be a stay-at-home mom. The pursuit of traveling the world, enjoying recreational activities, and someday having my own home were suddenly gone as well-I knew I could not do those things on my own and I was tired of doing them alone. The world was bleak, indeed.
I spent my days waking with tears, and going to bed with tears. It was the middle of February. I had a mega-heartache, an empty bank account and financial debt, and no direction for my career. Within 2 weeks of the breakup, I somehow managed to get an already sold out spot to join about 200 other Christian singles at a retreat in Mammoth for a ski weekend. I originally had not planned to attend and miraculously, I was permitted to go at the last minute-an attempt on my part to change the scenery and find a small distraction from my grief. My girlfriend and I had a great time skiing that first day and later we soaked in massive 20 person hot tubs with other church friends to ease our muscles. We met new people that night and started new friendships that I have to this day. The next day was spent on the slopes as well, and then we made the trip back to reality.
Still battling intense sadness, I started attending a small study with some friends as we read through Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life. One night, a girl in our study shared that she had been praying for God to take away her financial debt. I thought to myself, “I have never prayed for that!” I had been slowly chipping away at it and had several thousand dollars still to go. That night, I prayed a simple prayer that God would remove my debt. During my quiet time of Bible study and prayer, I had also been praying that God would reveal Himself to me as his cherished daughter, He my Heavenly Father-I needed His comfort so desperately. The next day, I woke early, spent time grieving with the Lord and longing for Him to comfort me as a father comforts a daughter, to give me a vision for my new future, and to provide.
The work day went smoothly and when I got home that afternoon, I scooped up the mail. I got ready to go to the gym for a workout and quickly scanned the envelopes. One of them was a statement for my credit card so I tore it open. It confused me entirely. The balance was $0.00. I had not paid it off as I still owed a significant amount. Knowing there was a mistake, I called the company. The operator confirmed that I had a zero dollar balance and that I actually had a credit of 300 dollars which she would send to me in the form of a check. I feebly thanked her and hung up the phone. Bewildered, I decided to go to the gym and sort out the mess later. After my workout, I made my way back home and as I was driving I remembered that I had prayed the night before that God would take away my debt. I raced up the stairs and looked at the date of the statement. It was for the month prior. God had erased my debt, and He had answered my prayer a month before I prayed it. I dropped to my knees. Frantically, I called my dad who was on a business trip. He answered the phone. I excitedly poured out that I had prayed about my debt, and suddenly, my debt was gone. I knew it was a mistake and I feared a huge hassle and mess. “Amber, Amber”, my father delightedly spoke my name, interrupting me. “I paid your debt” he said. “What?” I stammered. I knew he was not able to do such a thing, and yet he did. I was overwhelmed with thankfulness and cried tears of happiness. My Heavenly Father had answered 2 of my prayers. He wiped out my debt, and he used my earthly father to demonstrate His love for me as my Heavenly Father, I his cherished daughter.
Later that week, I went to church where my pastor, Francis Chan, was teaching through the book of Revelation. It was a powerful teaching series that laid out the utter and total holiness of God. As Francis taught that Sunday, he made the truth of seeing the holiness of the Lord filling the temple and the awe-inspiring awesomeness of His character come alive. He shared that he had had to lay down with his face to the ground in worship as he prepared and studied for the message because he was so overcome by God’s mighty power. It stuck with me.
The days continued. Feeling lost, unloved, and alone, I was questioning everything about my future, including my career as a teacher. Knowing I was back to being single and providing for myself, I prayed that this Holy God would give me direction in my job. As summer began to approach, I realized that I was going to have a lot of free time on my hands, but with no one to spend it with, or the funds to travel or do the things that I would love to do. I prayed that this Mighty God would give me something, anything, to look forward to.
The next workday came and I received an email from a committee that I had applied to much earlier in the year about the possibility of furthering my education. I clicked the open button. The letter told me that I was accepted into a program with a full grant worth tens of thousands of dollars to earn my Master’s Degree from Grand CanyonUniversity, a private Christian university in Arizona. My jaw literally dropped. I had applied but didn’t believe I would actually get the chance to pursue graduate school. The letter told me that I would begin classes in the next month. It would be an accelerated 2 years with no more than 24 hours off between classes for the next 2 years straight, but in the end I would have a Master’s Degree in Leadership and Educational Administration-the next step up for me in my career. I began to shake. “Lord, how can you be so good?” I was overwhelmed. I sat at my desk and cried, “Too much Lord, too much!” God had answered my prayer for direction for my future and job and also provided the funds to do it.
A day or two later, I arrived for work and took my seat for the 7:15 AM meeting. Afterwards, we had a few minutes and one of my wonderful colleagues approached me. He explained that through circumstances, two of the chaperones that he had lined up to take with him on a missions trip to Argentina that summer and the next summer had to back out. There was a paid ticket waiting for the right person to join them on a scouting trip and then to take students the following year to Argentina. He asked me to pray about the possibility of taking the trip with them and considering being that chaperone.
I couldn’t believe my ears! The Lord knew I wanted to travel and I had petulantly been complaining in my prayers that I had no chance of that in my budget. He had heard me, and answered my prayer for something that was not a necessity, but a pleasure. I walked in a daze to my classroom; the surreal nature of the last two weeks was beyond my imagination. I let them know that I was honored to come and to serve. The worrier in me began to fret to God about affording the several hundred dollars I would need for spending money on the trip, and a few days later, I suddenly got a strange email from the administration office that I needed to head to the main office area. I was a little nervous as I made way down on one of my breaks. The secretary took me in the back to a safe and opened it up. She handed me a plain white envelope and said that someone “anonymously wanted me to have this”. I thanked her and went to my empty classroom. I sat in my chair, the envelope unopened on my desk before me. I opened it up and out fell nearly 300 dollars. God had answered my prayer for spending money on the trip to Argentina. Overwhelmed could not describe the way I felt. My heart was so full of gratitude that God had revealed that He was there, listening, seeing me in all of my loss and providing for my heart’s desires. I too, like my pastor had taught that Sunday, saw the holiness of God, mighty to save, seeing me, hearing me, loving me. I too, fell face down on the floor, there on the ground in the middle of my classroom and wept.
But the story doesn’t end there.
I went on that wonderfully lovely trip to Argentina, travelling for several weeks with 4 dear colleagues, laughing, serving God, and trying to heal. One day, we visited IguazuFalls on the border of Argentina and Brazil. The magnificence of the falls takes your breath away. At one point we stood in “Lover’s Cove” and as I looked over the waters, I wanted to weep from the loneliness that overwhelmed me in my singleness. It was a wonderful trip, but also a difficult one at times as I continued to struggle with my grief. The next year I focused on my graduate work, choosing not to date, praying for God to provide a husband for me in His time. The healing came. After a year had gone by, God brought a friend to me that I admired and we began dating. The following summer as I prepared to leave that friend, who had become my boyfriend, he expressed the desire to accompany me on my trip to Argentina as a chaperone with my students and other colleagues. We were one male short and his offer was readily accepted by my school. Part of our trip was to revisit IguazuFalls. As we entered Lover’s Cove, Guy got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. The amazing thing about this? I had met him for the very first time on that ski trip a year earlier after my breakup in the same month that God had answered all my other deeply passionate prayers. The first order of business that God took into consideration when my broken heart pleaded with Him for the pain to ease was to introduce me unknowingly to my future husband. He then blessed me by restoring my hope with a proposal in that special place that I had stood a year before, once broken, now restored.
There are times when we pray that God will seem distant. He often does not answer our prayers with a “yes” immediately. Sometimes, He says “no” or asks us to wait. But at a time when I knew I was being faithful and chose to trust Him in my brokenness, He stood before me in the form of my circumstances and showed me that He alone is the One who can repair my heart, grant me my most private and personal desires, and bless me beyond measure. Lest you think that God is not real, that He is not present in your everyday lives, stop and consider how gracious He was to me and honestly ask Him to reveal Himself to you. Decide for yourself that you will trust Him, and that you will praise Him even when He is silent, and you just might discover that He is near, orchestrating in beautiful ways, your life. And sometimes…..sometimes, when you really need it, He may just do for you what is beyond your ability to ask or imagine.
YOUR TURN! Can you relate to this testimony of God’s goodness and ability to do beyond all we could ask or imagine? How can I pray for you?