the unimaginable happened to me

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The Unimaginable Happened To Me

 

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.

Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory. Psalm 115:1

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43 thoughts on “the unimaginable happened to me

  1. Just thought it was fun that I also graduated from GCU… but I think a fair bit older than you :). I graduated 1997. BEAUTIFUL story of God’s love notes to you!!

  2. Wow. I am amazed at your story. It’s encouraging to hear stories of how God loves us, and showers us with that love, even while we grieve.

  3. This is such an incredible story! He is so faithful to answer – even when it seems like He won’t, even when we fear He’s not listening, He’s working everything out in a way that only He can see – in the best way. Thank you so much for sharing this experience. It’s so encouraging and inspiring!

    • Thank you Mary! We often think He is not listening don’t we? Fear robs us of so many opportunities to trust. But how lovely too know that God wants us to come, even in our fearfulness!

  4. Thank you, my sister, for posting this. What a beautiful story of God’s provision and a testimony and challenge to ask God for His Will be done, His Kingdom come in our lives.

  5. It should not amaze us that God cares about the details of our lives, right down to the very smallest, but it does, because He goes beyond what we can think or imagine. I love Him for this! Thanks for sharing a wonderful story of faith realized.

  6. I have been re-reading and studying Warren’s “Purpose Driven Life” and happened to stumble onto your blog through a link on Ann Voskamp’s site. Thank you for writing this story in that it tells me that God does, indeed, has a purpose and plan for us all…and that patient prayer and focus on life’s goals is one way to let God direct your life and show you He has your best in mind…always did! Blessings!

    • Warren’s book was truly instumental in helping me heal and find direction during that year of my life-so glad you are being blessed my it too! Thank you, Carhryn Hasek-you are so right about “patient prayer” as trust in Him is also trust in His timing. Blessings! :)

  7. Thank you SO much for this post. I found it via Ann Voskamp. I am going through a tough time financially, professionally and personally and have wanted to just give up. I’m also a single mum of an 8 year old daughter, and I live 3 states away from my family. Thank you again. Paula xo

    • Paula, with all that you are facing and to carry on, makes you an inspiration to me! Thank you for your comment. Hang in there and persevere. It may take time to see the light at the end of the tunnel but you can trust in Him to see you and answer you when you call on Him. I’ll be praying that you see some of God’s “roses” today! Blessings!

  8. Hi, I too, came across your post via Ann Voskamp and it moved me to tears. I believe God will provide for me, when right now it all seems lost – that is, I *want* to believe, but I also know I have to patiently wait, and the waiting brings doubts. Like the previous poster, I am a single mum of an 8 yo girl, as well as a 4 yo boy, trying to sell our home, and not knowing where we are going to be able to live. I am unable to work right now, and my family is all on another continent. I am grateful for all that I DO have, but I know I am not living any kind of a meaningful or fulfilling life right now. I crave purpose, recreation, travel and many other things too, as well as to just belong somewhere. The waiting is hard. But thanks so much for the encouragement from your post; it helps to make God’s promises “real” when I can see that others have been blessed beyond.

    • Hi Vivienne! You are in my prayers! The waiting can be hard, and God is full of compassion, understanding our lack of faith. He can handle our honest hearts, even our hopelessness at times. Keep looking up to God, for there is hope! Even when our circumstances don’t change, He can bring peace-may your heart be filled with that peace today!

  9. It was as much the testimony as this that caught me…”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.” It is like you were speaking over the circumstances of my life. I only know that God will carry me through where I am right now; you have no idea how I needed to hear this word, how I needed to understand that the circumstances of your brokenness, so much like and again so much UNlike my own, was the reminder I needed to persevere
    Bless you for your openness.
    Peace and good to you.

  10. Oh my goodness. I was about to get on the floor, on my face, because of the goodness of God in your life. How incredible is God??? I just love this so much. I believe EVERY SINGLE WORD, and yet, I’m sitting here in shock – if that makes any sense! I really needed to read this right now. Thank you. (and I’m so happy to be on the God-sized Dreams Team together!)

    • I’m so humbled by how God works in our lives and thankful that this impacted you!! It’s a joy to be on the Dream Team with you too-may God continue to give you hope and assure you of your good future! xoxo

  11. I saw the link to your wonderful story through Holley Gerth’s Dream Team! I’m part of that group. Thanks for inspiring us! LOVED your story of God’s amazingness! Even if it made my cry! Thank you, Jesus, that you care so deeply, so individually for each one of us. Bless you, new friend! More and more. May the blessings keep flowin’!

  12. I have a prayer request…My daughter Amy, and her husband Ryan have four little boys 8 and under. Her next to youngest, Joel, has had brain cancer since his first birthday. He will be 5 on Jan 12th. He has had surgery, chemo, and lots of radiation. They found out yesterday, that he has new tumors which will quickly kill him. They are very strong in their faith, which is good, because only a mighty miracle can save Joel. Please pray for him and his family. He has a web page, which is http://www.joelevangreen.com

    • Julia-thank you for sharing your request with me. I am praying for Amy and Ryan and for Joel as they face this unimaginably hard time. I am so thankful that their faith is strong and I am praying for an increased measure of peace and comfort for your entire family as well as for God’s healing of Joel. May the Lord bless you and keep you in the days ahead!

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