He gives and takes away...

Posted by Heather Conrad at 6:34 AM

Friday, September 12, 2008

I've started this post several times, admitting to having several different titles to correspond with each one. To try to sum up the past week in the lives of the Conrad family cannot adequately fit on a page, let alone several pages. I humbly pray that the Lord would use His words right now to simply share what he knows your heart needs to hear today. So let's begin...

This journey began in January. When going for a brisk winter run, I clearly heard a whisper that I have come to learn and recognize as the voice of my father. He informed me that he no longer had a place for me to serve him in the current position I was serving come the fall season. I believed and trusted (though still wondered) as I tried my best to continue to serve him in the way he had asked of me then (take away #1). Next, he worked on my husband's heart, revealing that the small group we've been privileged to lead was a place he no longer wanted us to serve in as well (take away #2). The end of March, the Lord clearly spoke to my husband about having a plan for us in Charlotte, North Carolina. A place we both enjoyed, yet it was far from family (and church family), our community, our schools, and all things familiar (take away #3). In seeing the peace and conviction of my husband, I found myself saying... okay. In obedience, we put our house up for sale.

Not much longer after that, I saw my husband wrestle, no longer having that peace. He honestly shared one evening, Heather it just isn't the right time... okay. In the weeks to follow, I felt like I was temporarily side-lined. I watched the "race" of life continue in front of my eyes, not really able to join back in, or even know how to start running again. Then came June. Aaron had a business trip planned and asked me the day before if the kids and I could join him. Where to you may ask? None other than Charlotte, North Carolina. My first response - ahhhhhh. A bit of fear. What if he shows us an open door, can I walk through it this time, still stunned from allowing my heart to risk, only to have the door shut in my face. So what happened? I chose to trust my husband. He asked me to join him, and like Caleb, go and see the land (Number 13).

What did God show us? Himself. How? Through the faces and words of his daughter and sons, to the not-so-random circumstances and situations that unfolded completely unplanned on our part. We felt at home in this strange land, we felt a fit, we felt a calling. What did we do? Acted in obedience and placed the "For Sale" sign in our yard for the second time. Time passed. Lessons in dependence on Him, forgiveness, and healing took place. We drew closer and closer, listening intently for his voice. We waited. Waited. Wondered. Waited. School started for the kids. Waited. Reflected. Grew more confused. Waited. Just about decided to stay, when I sensed a "hang on". Then the call came (see following post).

We had an offer, we had a contract, we were off to watch Him open the door to our new home. We walked through house after house after house. Watching, hoping, anticipating. Sunday afternoon we drove back to Columbus, no door opened. Lord, what does this mean? Our hearts were in anguish, realizing we'll be homeless in 12 days, both Aaron and I tried to cut through the forest to see a clearing on the other side. We sat in silence. We prayed. We begged. We sat in silence. And then he spoke (God through my husband, that is). He spoke about Abraham and Isaac. He talked about walking up the mountain, not knowing the outcome, but trusting in God's plan. He talked about the willingness to offer our most precious gift, in laying it up for sacrifice (no matter how confusing it may be). He talked about going the distance (lifting the knife), and at that final moment in which Abraham would carry out the plan, God interrupted. At the last moment, he provided a substitute (in this case a ram), Genesis 22. A reminder and picture of the substitute that would be provided for my salvation, the sacrifice of God's one and only son, Jesus Christ. But for us, the Lord's ram came in the form of a sign, a visual sign that I saw on our drive home... "Welcome to Ohio". I was home (God gives #1).

The rest of the way home, my heart attempted to process, attempted to wrap my mind around this unrecognizable outcome... could it really be that we are home? Is it possible? As my husband and I talked about our options, we had no answers, but we had a direction. Monday afternoon, the kids came home from school and we jumped in the car again to, guess what, look at sore more houses, this time in Hilliard, Ohio (craziness!). Our realtor took us to an neighbor that we've always liked. 1,2,3,4,5 of us, all piled out of the car (again!). We walked up to the door, it was opened, we took one step in... and we knew. This was it. This was it! We envisioned ministries taking place in front of our eyes (God gives #2). What next? We placed a bid that night. The next day, the seller's countered, we accepted. It was vacant, we could move in 10 days. Close on our current home, then close on our next home. Unbelievable. Only God.

Enough drama for you yet? But wait, the story isn't quite finished... The next day, our inspection took place. A few issues arose. We attempted to meet our buyers mid-way. We waited, and waited. Friday arrived, the inspection on our new home loomed, still no call. Aaron went ahead with the inspection. My cell phone rang. The buyers had called, they canceled our contract. (God gives #3). We remain where we began in this journey. Our house is again our home. Is this the way I would have drawn this up? Do I fully understand why? Absolutely not! Yet, I had a opportunity to "see" a mighty truth - his ways our higher than my ways. An answer to the why can be found in John 9:23, " ...so that the work of God might be displayed in your life."

Do you see a pattern?
Heather, will you give me your service? Yes, Lord, help me.
Will you give me your community/family? Yes Lord, help me.
Will you give me your home and all the roots along with that? Yes Lord, help me.

Faith steps in, testing happens, choices are to be made, there is a mountain to climb, hunger ensues, thirst threatens to engulf, weather conditions make it unbearable, you arrive.

Heather, you have learned to depend on me. Yes Lord. Here is your community.
Heather, you have learned to trust though you cannot see. Yes Lord. Here is your place to serve. Heather, you have learned to remain in faithful support of the King I have place in your home (Proverbs 21:1). Yes Lord. Here is your home, here are your roots.
Lord, I am overwhelmed. This just about crushed me. Thank you for the opportunity to understand your word. I would do it all over again.

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. This is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, than I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. And without faith, it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:1,6