What does it mean to walk by faith? What does it look like to you? Have you ever walked by faith? If so what happened? If you haven’t why not? Maybe we don’t because of the possibility of being exposed to ridicule or being drilled with multiple questions. What about that ugly lurking pride that can’t risk being wrong—especially in front of others. Our words may say we believe, but do our actions reflect what we believe?
My dad recently found a new love in his life after the death of his wife four years ago. This October I was blessed with the opportunity to spend some time with Marge and my dad when they came to Oregon for a visit. She had also suffered the loss of her spouse three years ago. During their visit they shared with the family that they were planning on getting married. The wedding would be in Tulsa, Oklahoma in six weeks!
My family lives a simple life—either we have the money or we don’t. You won’t find any credit cards in our wallets. The savings account was low on funds, the holidays would be here before you know it, and our six month car insurance bill would be in our mailbox soon. For three weeks I prayed, asking God to provide the means for me to go to the wedding. One day, as I was praying, a question came to me. Did I believe that God would provide for me to go? My answer was, of course! If I did believe, then what was I sitting around for? I had a wedding to get ready to go to! As I thought about the preparations I would have to make for the care of my children, it occurred to me that I could share with people that I believed God can and would provide for me to go to Tulsa for my dad’s wedding—which was only three weeks away now.
For we walk by faith, not by sight 2 Corinthians 5:7
The first person I invited on my journey with God was my husband. I asked if he had any objections about me going to Oklahoma if God provided the funds. (Since he would be out of town hunting, our boys would have to stay with friends.) He didn’t have any objections. I opened up to two Christian friends who offered encouragement and prayer support through this.
For the next two weeks there were moments where it was easy to share with others and other times when I couldn’t get the words out. This was definitely exposing my weaknesses and fears. The clock was ticking and I still had no way of getting to the wedding. I felt discouraged when people would say “Oh you’re still doing that?” or “Don’t you think you should start asking people for the money?” and “How are you going to get the money?” There were times when I was tempted to ask a Christian friend who is financially secure for the money. I didn’t want my friend to provide, though. I wanted God to provide. I valued my friend’s wisdom more than her money. What seemed like a simple walk of faith was more challenging than I had anticipated. Countless times my eyes instantly flooded with tears at the thought of not being able to go. One night I found myself sitting in a parking lot with a foul attitude. Not wanting to go home and expose my family to it, I prayed asking God for help and to take my ugly disposition. The truth was that the gift was becoming more important than the giver. My prayer changed as I began thanking God for everything in my life.
Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. 1 Peter 5:7
Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High. Then call on me when you are in trouble and I will rescue you and you will give me the glory. Psalm 50:14-15.
On a Wednesday morning I made the final arrangement by asking our teenage neighbor to watch our dogs. There were only nine days until the wedding. That night as I sat in the car waiting for my son’s basketball practice to finish, I received a call from my dad. He was calling to find out if I was going to the wedding because I hadn’t responded to his text. What text? The text that he sent on Saturday to all of his children offering to help pay if any of us wanted to go to the wedding. A text that I never received but all my siblings did. My response to my dad was YES! YES! I want to go the the wedding! That night I had my airline tickets to Tulsa!
The next couple days were amazing as I shared with others how God had provided. Even the dreaded “what to wear to the wedding” was a humbling and praiseworthy experience. Instead of complaining that I had nothing to wear and no money to buy something, I shared what God was doing with a coworker. My generous coworker lent me a dress.
I was scrambling to finish all the loose ends at work on a Tuesday when I received a message from Marge’s son. He asked if I would like to say a few words to represent my dad’s family at the wedding. Marge’s grandson would be speaking for their side of the family. My first reaction when I first read it was “No. Someone else can do it better.”
But Moses protested to God, “Who am I to appear before the Pharaoh? Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt?” God answered, “I will be with you.” Exodus 3:11-12
I decided to take my break and call my Christian friend who just happens to be the same one in this story who is financially secure. She immediately said Yes I should do it, because it’s a wonderful opportunity to honor my father. With no clue of what I would say, I responded in obedience and said “Yes, I’ll do it.” My future step-brother and I decided that this part of the wedding would be a surprise for his mom and my dad.
Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you what to say. Exodus 4:12
Wednesday morning, less than 24 hours before my flight would leave, my husband arrived home from a successful hunt. All the preparations that took me three weeks to plan only took three minutes to undo. I was amazed that my pride didn’t take over. I usually don’t take it very well when all my planning and organizing is undone. We celebrated God’s provision of food from his hunt. I was also grateful to spend time with my husband and our boys before I left.
It was Thursday and I was finally in Tulsa! The next twenty four hours were filled with meeting the new family members and friends. I spent quality time getting acquainted with all my aunts and uncles who I hadn’t seen in years.
Friday evening we all entered the church for the wedding. It was beautifully decorated in an autumn theme. The centerpieces had lit lanterns surrounded by fall leaves, branches and pheasant feathers. There were brightly lit candles on and around the stage. A slideshow of pictures representing both families was presented on the large screen. Instead of your standard wedding cake, they had a magnificent tower of assorted gourmet cupcakes. With the guests seated, the music began and the ceremony started. Within a few minutes, our surprise was in motion as Marge’s grandson was the first to speak on behalf of her family. When he was finished, he handed me the microphone. Here is what I said to honor my dad…
Dear Heavenly Father,
I sing glorious praises of joy to You for bringing all of us here to be a witness to this precious covenant. My heart overflows with gratitude because You have united my Dad and Marge. The presence of Your peace rests in me when I see the two of them together. Thank you Father, for graciously giving my Dad and our family a kind, loving, woman of faith. Please watch over them and protect them. I pray that this covenant radiates the love of Christ and glorifies You.
With all of my love,
I handed back the microphone and returned to my seat. As the ceremony progressed something wonderful happened. I was filled with overwhelming joy! Not just because I was at the wedding, not because I finished speaking, but because my dad was TRULY HAPPY NOW! He wasn’t alone—he had someone who would be by his side and would take care of him. The agony of losing his spouse to cancer and the years of loneliness following were finally over. My dad was not only marrying a loving woman of faith, but he was graciously accepted by her family, church and friends. A new season in my dad’s life had begun. Knowing all this was a precious gift from God.
I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done. Psalm 9:1
May your faith be strengthened and blessings be bountiful as you walk by faith in 2016!