Now, this is a story all about how, my life got flipped turned upside down. And I'd like to take a minute - just sit right there - I'll tell you how my keys vanished into thin air.
I hope you sang that. Because I sure did while writing it.
But seriously... My keys. I am still trying to wrap my head around what exactly happened last week. And because it's just that good of a story, I thought I would share it with all of you.
As I alluded to in last week's blog about endings, I have noticed that problems seem to arise during the conclusion of basically anything. It is like they wait for it. And our retreat for the leaders this past month was no different.
When praying over the event and all the different things we would be doing, I knew that I knew that I wanted to end it with a hike to the three crosses that overlooked the campground. It would be the perfect spot for final words, prayer, and communion. I knew that this went beyond a "cool thing to do". I knew I needed to do it. So in preparation for our final event, I instructed the women to pack their cars before heading up the hill.
Because ain't nobody got time (or energy) to pack after hiking up a mountain that literally at one point has no trail and a good old fashioned push is needed by a friend to get you to the top. I knew it would be exhausting. So we packed.
As per usual, I held my keys in my hand as the ladies helped me calculate where each item would need to be shoved in order to fit everything into my tiny Nissan. But we did it. It was a great team effort. I slammed the trunk shut and opened my hand. No keys.
Which of course wouldn't be that big of a deal if my car had ANY SORT OF TRUNK OPENING MECHANISM - which of course it doesn't - so while we searched through the pages of the manual, unpacked every item in the front of the car to search through them with great intensity, and even went as far as pulling up the backseats (which may or may not have been intended to do that) to see if we could get to the trunk from there, we concluded almost two hours later that we would need to call AAA.
An hour and a half... that was our estimated wait time for them to get to us. An hour and a half. I looked at the faces of these women who had spent the better part of our conclusion trying to help me locate keys that I had illogically kept in my hand while packing and decided that we would not be robbed of our final conclusion to the retreat.
Many thought we could just sit in that parking lot and write off the final hike, I am sure many may have wanted to, but I knew what God spoke to my heart. This is how He wanted to end it. So we started up the mountain.
We saw a snake, hiked through thick mud, propped each other up onto the last ledge, and found our way to the foot of the the three crosses. It was beautiful up there. We prayed, took communion, played some worship music, and I shared some final words.
God was there.
I scanned the tear filled faces once more before heading back down as I saw AAA pull into the parking lot. I knew God was pleased with my faithfulness.
As my trunk was finally unlocked I began to unload every piece of luggage piece by piece and searching each compartment. But still, no keys. I swallowed a bit as I paid the $100 to get a key made and thanked God for all He had done, and we all went on our ways.
A little over two weeks later, while visiting my parent's in Northern California, I was unloading some garage sale items for a friend to sell for a missions trip from my trunk and like a goober I once again had my keys in my hand. As I was grabbing one of the last bags I heard them drop. With my empty hand I reached down and grabbed them, continuing on with the remaining few things. When I opened my hand again to lock my car up... there were two sets of keys.
I stared at my hand unsure of what had just happened.
Could there be any logical chance that the second set fell on top of the first set and I grabbed both? Where could the first set have been lodged to only now reappear with the garage sale items? How... just how... could this have happened?
I jokingly told my husband that I found my keys and when he asked where I had found them, I typed back "in my hand" with a laughing emoji of course.
And then I realized I had found them right where I had lost them; in my hand.
I am a practical person, it is how God has wired me. This is why conferences and big events and planning/organizing has always been up my alley. But in all of my practical mind I cannot explain away these keys. I struggle to write this, but I do believe with everything in me that it was not a rare coincidence. The only explanation is that I am either the world's best kept secret of a magician... or that God is still a miracle working God, and I am putting my money on the latter.
As I sought God with my unbelief, trying to find understanding, I felt Him respond to my heart. Not in a booming voice. But in a strange moment of clarity.
He was testing my obedience.
He took them to see if I would be obedient to what He was asking of me when everyone around me would have understood and thought I was justified to change the plans. But I continued on. And then He asked me to obedient with something even greater. Stopping. Literally everything. Not long after that retreat God asked my husband and I to just stop, rest, and prepare to go into senior pastoring.
I am not saying that He wouldn't have asked that second thing had I not been faithful with the first, but I can tell you that walking through the first and seeing God's faithfulness in the midst of confusion gave me the strength needed to trust Him again. And again. And again.
We have no income right now. No church lined up to go to. We are simply answering God's call to walk on the stormy water and with great assurance we stepped out of the boat. It doesn't make sense, but maybe that is the point. Because if we could do it on our own we wouldn't NEED God, and my friends- we NEED Him.
We are walking on stormy ground, and every step is one of faith and obedience. We are being asked to walk out what we have preached for well over a decade. So believe what you want, but I have seen it with my own eyes.
He still does miracles.
Mark 9:17-24 Then one of the crowd answered and said, “Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit. And wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid. So I spoke to Your disciples, that they should cast it out, but they could not.” He answered him and said, “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to Me.” Then they brought him to Him. And when he saw Him, immediately the spirit convulsed him, and he fell on the ground and wallowed, foaming at the mouth. So He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes." Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”
2 Corinthians 5:7 For we walk by faith, not by sight.