Stresses of life… Yet will I praise


Not unheard or unseen in the southwestern deserts of Arizona and West Texas. Get just a little bit outside of the city and it’s quite common to hear their yips and howls in the late hours of the night. Growing up in far north Phoenix, Arizona, I am quite accustomed to seeing coyotes.

What I am not accustomed to is hitting one at 11:30 pm 140 miles east of El Paso along I-10 at highway speeds. I’m not accustomed to having my car overheat in the middle of nowhere. I am not accustomed to being stuck in a motel for 2 nights and watching the little money I had left in my bank account go towards repairing an accident that shouldn’t have happened. The only money I had to survive on for the next few months – as long as I could make it last, at least. It was the money I was going to use to move, ideally to Kansas City, or to wherever I can go when my lease runs out in May.

This week has been difficult – no, this year has been difficult. Last May the Lord told me life was soon going to be different. I was in a college service and had typically been sitting in the front row jumping and dancing in worship to the Lord. Towards late April or early May of ’09, I walked in and just could not bring myself to sit in the front, and found myself in the back of the room, away from the crowd, on the floor and behind the chairs and weeping.

I still vividly remember it – I was sitting a few rows back from where the worship pastor’s family would sit. His sons were chasing each other through the benches as I was being undone by the Lord. His wife was walking through the rows as the music played, keeping an eye on her boys. And I was laying there tear-stained, having a frightening conversation with the Lord.

It’s one of those experiences that is hard to explain, but it was the undeniable voice of God.

He basically told me that things were going to change – they would not go back to the things they were. He asked me if I wanted to step into it. He told me that if I agreed, things wouldn’t be the same. I had gone through some experiences that had made me accustomed to losing all comfort before – everything from being kicked out of my house after taking a stand for the sake of righteousness, to leaving everything behind to move across the country by myself to a place I’d never been. Those and countless other experiences.

All in all these things have brought me closer to God. That does not make them any easier to live through, though. If His promises weren’t true and if I did not have an eternal hope, yes, if I am wrong, I am a person much to be pitied.

After that day I found myself once again putting all I could fit into my car and driving once more away from all that had become familiar unto an unknown and previously unseen destination. The first time I had left home in Phoenix to drive to Waco for college. This time I was leaving Waco towards South-Eastern Kansas City, MO. I had signed up for an internship at International House of Prayer – a summer of learning more about the Lord and literally living at IHOP. I left my job in Waco and moved out to IHOP for 3 months that I would not trade for anything in the world. It was one of the most transforming experiences of my life.

My time at IHOP is a story for another day.

Since returning, nothing has been the same. I have been unable to find steady work. I have been unable to return to where I was in my relationships with people back in Texas. I have had times of deeper joy than I had ever experienced, and I have also had times of deeper mourning. I have had some of the most alive times with the Lord, but when I am outside of His presence I feel a deeper loss than I have ever known. Something inside of me was awakened during my time at IHOP and I can not just ignore it and go back to status quo.

It’s not like He didn’t warn me of that.

Back to the steady work thing. It didn’t take long to go through my savings – which was not a lot of money – in paying rent and bills. I live frugal as it is, but I have had to cut back immensely from even the little spending I was doing.

I’ve placed my trust solely in the Lord as my provider. He hasn’t let me down, but it doesn’t mean it hasn’t been absolutely terrifying. There have been months when bills have come and I’ve been left with less than I need for the following month’s rent remaining in my account, and rent coming up in 2 weeks. Somehow in the midst of that, with no steady paying job, I have not missed a rent payment or a bills payment – the money always comes from somewhere.

This gets hard when I try to look forward, though.

I am about to graduate from college in mid-May. From every direction I find people asking me what my plans are. I have every idea of what I would like to do (see reference to Kansas City at beginning of post) but I have no means by which to make plans – which means that I have unlimited means to dream at the same time. Not having enough to do anything means that you can imagine everything, because you’re stuck living by faith no matter what. It’s not all bad to be in this position, it makes one bold.

So on one hand it’s absolutely terrifying and on the other it’s completely freeing to look forward. There are endless possibilities, all I have to do is trust the Lord to provide and ride the wave He brings.

So much easier in theory than practice.

Back to the coyote and the rent issue. Last month I didn’t have this month’s rent in the account. Then one day 6 months’ rent showed up freely and seemingly out of nowhere through various sources. I found myself in a position to fix my car’s tires and head across the country in order to have my vehicle’s emissions tested and renew my registration, as Arizona demands us to do every other year for cars as old as mine. It was an excuse to see my family and visit home, which I hadn’t done in two years. Part of me did not want to spend the money on gasoline but I had just freely received such a gift from the Lord and felt He might want me to go there.

I had no idea He had this in store for me. I don’t know what He’ll work this into for me…

All I know is that I found myself stranded in the middle of the West Texas desert waiting for a tow truck in the middle of the night last week. I spent 2 days waiting in a cheap motel for a car part to come in, passing time by composing music – yes, I would be the one who had three guitars but no toothbrush packed for my trip – and living off of a bag of a cheap Cheerios imitation and a 3 liter bottle of Diet Coke.

All I know is that my vehicle failed emissions testing today due to an issue with the check engine light that came on after I hit the coyote and busted my radiator in, adding even more onto the total cost of car repairs from hitting this coyote.

All I can do is continue singing, though my song is being stolen. All I can do is trust that He knows what is best for me and He’ll get me to His best for me.

All I know is I am absolutely frightened in the process, but I once heard it said that courage is not the absence of fear, but pressing on in the midst of it.

So I press on.

I sing.

I trust.

I pray.

I hope.

I might not have a huge smile on my face at all times in the midst of it but I have a resolve in my heart to keep going every day and that’s something.

If you read this, pray. Pray for me. Pray for yourself. Pray for the praise of God not to be silenced by the stresses of life. Pray for His will to be done. Pray for hope in the midst of hardship.

Pray for the revelation of His absolute and perfect righteous sovereignty.

And a prayer for Him to provide financially is nice, too… 🙂

I press on…

Published in: on March 10, 2010 at 1:10 am  Leave a Comment  

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