Now, I know these types of mishaps occur in home ownership and in life, but I know this was no coincidence. All of these things just so happened to fall in the wind of Dallas and I finishing a 21 day fast. A period of time where we grew close to God, prayed for family and friends, for break-through, for changed lives, bondage to be broken and spiritual growth! This was a time like none other in my life. This was a time where I devoted much of my day to prayer and seeking the things that God wants us to seek. I saw people differently, prayed for people who don't love me, I started loving the people I prayed for and had a sense of renewed compassion. I can't really even put into words the growth I experienced from this fast. I never want to change, I want to hold on to this closeness I feel and stay in God's presence.
I have always had a weakness when it comes to my flesh. I have been known to easily slip into freak-out mode when disaster strikes. I hate this about me because I know that God is my provider and will take care of me always, but have I really known that? When trials come I believe what we really think and feel comes out. The true us. I think that me "freaking out" and stressing big time when trials come up shows my lack of faith and trust in the one who really controls my life. What must God think when I walk around and claim to be faithful to Him, but in reality those are just words and in the trials the real me is revealed. Well, that's just not okay with me!
Dallas woke me up at 3:30 am the second night of the blizzard. we had water dripping into our bedroom ceiling through the drywall. I remember looking at him and saying or thinking, "all we can do is pray, there's nothing we can do to stop it, and if we are going to trust God for other things in our life we have to trust Him here too." I got some pots and pans and went back to sleep. WHAT?!? This is so uncharacteristic of Sarah Martin. Hysterics come to mind on much simpler and less humongous issues in the past. How could I have actually slept!? I woke up the next day to more dripping and what looked like water balloons hanging from the ceiling (Latex paint). I pulled out my bible study for the day and God poured truth and light onto the situation. I read Jeremiah 17-5-8, 13, that talks about a blessing on the man who puts his trust in the Lord and his hope. I went on the read day after day many scriptures that were just falling in my lap. I wasn't looking for scriptures to help me, they just appeared in emails, in my daily reading and on facebook:). I was particularly struck by this quote from author Ann Spangler,
"Anchor. What better way to picture the One who is utterly reliable, completely steady, invulnerable, to all the forces of evil that threaten us? If our hope is grounded in God, we will not be destroyed when gale force winds begin to blow in our direction, when fear, pain, grief, and disappointment threaten to overwhelm us. No matter how terrible the storm, we can survive because God is with us."
I was beginning to see at this point that it's not the trial I was facing, but who I could become in the midst of that trial. I've always heard it preached that as a Christian you'd better watch out if you are not facing trials in your life. If you are not facing trials that means the devil does not see that you are close to God and you are not a threat to him. The closer you draw to God, the more the devil will try to deter you. Dallas and I sat around and talked in the middle of this and pondered why anyone would want to be close to God if it meant going through trials and test all of the time. After talking to my mom the next day on the very same subject I realized that the trials are refining. You get through the trials and are closer to God. Your faith is strengthened, your trust is in Him and you give up self. I was thumbing through an old notebook looking for blank paper that day and found a note I had jotted down watching Jentzen Franklin a year ago. All it said was, "in order to get to it, you've got to get through it." That made total sense to me now. You get to where God wants you to be after you make it through the trials. Again, they are refining.
A day or so after this revelation, a girl from my amazing bible study emailed me a scripture. It just brought a smile to my face and tears to my eyes.
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
To me that was just more and more confirmation that no matter what this leaking situation was about, I was going to use it as a chance to grow in faith, to develop perseverance and to grow closer to my maker.
Dallas was on the roof for 12 hours after night 2 of the leak before he was able to remove the ice dam that was causing water to get under the shingles. We were rejoicing when the leaking stopped and sat down to take a load off and watch a movie. NOTSOMUCH! We started smelling gas and it just wouldn't go away. We had turned the valve on the fireplace when contemplating making a fire, but had turned it right back off. Dallas grabbed a lighter and lit it in front of the valve and nearly blew his face off:). Seriously it was like a blow torch to his face. We are literally thankful that he still has eyebrows and that my curtains didn't catch fire! We called the fire department who determined they needed ONG. ONG came out and by midnight we were evacuating our house in blizzard conditions 2 sleepy boys in arm. ONG had to shut off the gas because the levels were so high and they couldn't remedy the problem. We prayed all night for our pipes. The temps were below zero that night and the concern of frozen and breaking pipes was present. We came back to the house the next day and it was still 60 degrees inside!!! A plumber was at the house before noon and had the gas line leading to the fireplace capped off in an hour. The other alternative was to knock the fireplace and wall out to get to the line to replace the valve. No thanks, we'll just have a wood-burner in that fireplace from now on! Dallas and I laughed through this entire ordeal. We would just look at each other and laugh. It was like, seriously, if the holes in the ceiling didn't get us down neither would a gas silly gas leak!
I know that I have a lot of growing to do. There is a lot that requires faith, and these trials we've faced are merely superficial. Seriously, people have babies and kids battling cancer. People hunger and thirst daily and are without adequate nourishment. Tons of children are orphaned and unloved by anyone on this earth. My leaky roof and gas line are so miniscule in comparison to what's going on around this world. However, I am thankful for these trials. They may be small, but to me they are HUGE victories in my relationship with Jesus. I feel closer, more dependent and more trusting in Him than ever. God can use the little things to make gigantic strides in my life. Patience, perseverance, hope, trust, faith and total surrender. This house is just that, a house, a dwelling place, where I lay my head at night. I could lose it tomorrow and know that my God still loves me, will provide for me and has a plan for my life. He is Jehovah Jireh...My Provider!
"Jehovah Jirah, my provider, his grace is sufficient for me!"
Thankfully the restoration company was able to come out this past Saturday and start the drying out process. Next we will hire a general contractor who will take out much of the remaining drywall, redo it all, replace the insulation, paint, put new crown moulding up, clean the carpet, replace the blinds and call it good! That doesn't seem so bad to me! Oh, and I'll get to choose a new paint color!!!
Just at the end of this never-ending snow-cation I got word of some other amazing victories. Things that I have been praying for, breakthrough that I have been believing for in the lives of people close to me. Praise Jesus! I believe they will continue to come! Prayer moves the hand of God.
Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. ~ Hebrews 11:1