Oceans- Where Feet May Fail
You’ve heard it in church- You’ve heard it in the car- You’ve heard it on pandora- at some point if you are an avid contemporary worship listener/singer you have heard or sang this song! And if you’re like me you’ve had this song on repeat with tears streaming down your face!
September 2013 this song became my anthem. With this song constantly on repeat and the Father ministering to my heart the lyrics of this song became alive to me in so many ways and helped me get through the hardest time of my life! And still true over a year later!
Have you ever felt disturbed in your place in life? Where complacency meets destiny? Well, that’s where I was. I was so complacent in my walk with Jesus. I went to church. Gave my tithes (sometimes). I raised my hands during worship and fulfilled any duties asked of me. I walked right- I talked right and I praised the Lord. From the outside I was a model Christian. And I was happy with that. Until one day I begin to be disturbed. (Picture a hurricane on a radar they show on the news. Swirling around and around) That about sums up the spiritual whirlwind I was on! I felt so empty one minute and the next I was so full of ideas of what I wanted to accomplish for God! Not only in my life but the things I knew my husband and son were destined to do!!
Here’s a little history:
My husband is a very anointed Worship Pastor. [maybe I am biased- but really he is great.] We lived in Vernon, Al for the first 12.5 years of our marriage. Derek began leading worship at the age of 16 and has continued to follow God’s leading and is still leading worship. It is who he is and what he does! It’s his passion! We were in our church for about 12 years. These precious people are our spiritual family and friends we have grown to know and love! We have seen each other through laughter, tears, joy and pain! We loved these and couldn’t imagine a life where they weren’t a part of us! My son grew up in this church! Every single one of his best friends attended this church! Some of which he grew up with! But in September 2013 Derek and I both felt the prompting that our time with our family here was done. We were crushed. Not that God was asking us to leave the very people we knew and loved, but crushed that we would be leaving them. We didn’t know how. We didn’t know when. All we knew was that God said GO and we were going to obey Him at any cost. We began searching out churches that were looking for Worship Pastor’s (because the best way to find God’s perfect will for your life is to take things into your own hands and search for yourself.) We even met with some Pastors. They were from Indiana and were great people. It was exciting and taxing! Exciting hearing God’s voice. Exciting not knowing the future. But keeping this to ourselves was burdensome. We couldn’t very well tell the people we were the closest to! Because no matter how close you are to someone- some of them will always know better than you and know the will of God better than you. (and that’s a whole another blog in its self) Up until this point, I “trusted” God. I knew he was Savior. I knew He was healer. But until this point in my life I honestly can’t say that I fully trusted Him. Well, maybe I did but I just didn’t know the extent. But all that changed. I was home from work one day sweeping my floors. I was dwelling on the meeting we had with the Pastor’s from Indiana and asked God, “How on earth will Derek and I ever afford to move to Indiana?” It was a rhetorical question. I really didn’t expect Him to answer. But He did. Almost audibly! And I’ll never forget it as long as I live. What He said to me that day was so profound. I could probably write a book about it and title it by the very words he spoke to me, ” That’s Not For You To Worry About”. (And that was His exact words to me.) I stopped in my tracks. Did I just hear Him correctly!? We are about to embark on the biggest journey of our life and He tells me it’s not my concern? Uh, hello God. I’m not sure if you are aware of this or not but Indiana is several hundred miles from Vernon! Your talking rental trucks to move, a new home, utilities, gas to get there and anything else I might run into that will potentially cost hundreds of dollars! [not to mention uprooting my son from everything he has ever known] Pretty sure that calls for concern! But after I thought about it and let it sink in I did what anyone in their right mind would do; I laughed. Not a “yeah right God” kind of laugh. But a laugh that came from a place I didn’t know existed inside me. A place of trust. A place of, Ok you got this and I’m going to sit back and watch you handle this. A place of rest. I don’t have to do one thing for God to accomplish His will but follow the leading of His Spirit! I don’t know where that place had been hiding all my life, but I liked it!
Turns out Indiana wasn’t the plan God has for us. I was spent. Hours of online searching. Countless resumes were submitted. Is exhausting trying to find Gods will!! (What happened to that place of rest?)
In the midst of believing God and seeking His will I posted a video of Derek leading a song from a Sunday morning worship set. A song he wrote. It got a few likes. A couple shares and a few comments. Among those comments a Pastor from Birmingham I had randomly friended a months earlier. He messaged me asking who he was and soon friended Derek. Our families talked back and forth a few times and they were seeking a worship pastor but wanted the perfect will of God to be accomplished too. We decided to meet and talk about the position and the future. We loved them immediately. They invited us to come visit and allowed Derek to lead a worship set. We LOVED the church! The people and the Pastors. A multi-cultural church! Just as church should be! We had so desired to be a part of a church with more than one culture. It was beautiful!! Our spirits connected to the people and we knew immediately God’s will had found us. It’s amazing how when you let God drive he can get you to your destiny!
Step 1: Follow the leading and prompting of the Holy Spirit. ✔️
Step 2: tell the ones we love the most we were leaving everyone and everything we know and love and moving to Birmingham. ✔️✔️
Step 3: Find a home and jobs. ( Not as easy as one might think)
I’d love to tell you everything was easy peasy and fairytale-esque from the moment we accepted the call to Birmingham. But it wasn’t. I laughed. A lot. I cried. A lot. I laughed because I knew God was faithful. I cried because my heart ached to leave the people we loved so dearly. One part of me was excited and could not wait to get out of small town USA- which is all we have ever known- and in my heart, I was already in Birmingham. But the other part of me didn’t want to leave my family, his family, or our very best friends who had just found out they were expecting their first child!
I would also like to tell you we found a home and jobs in no time. We didn’t. The next few months were laden with submitting resumes through craigslist, monster.com, indeed.com, Al.com; you name it! If there was a website out there offering jobs, we submitted them! Finding a home also proved to be difficult. There was no shortage of homes by any means. But everything we looked at either doubled or tripled what we were paying in Vernon.
A couple of friends at our new church knew people who were hiring. Derek was pretty much hired, but the boss didn’t want to hire him until we had actually moved; which makes perfect sense! I applied for a position at a CPA Firm. I had a years worth of bookkeeping experience and a brand new GED but I was still hopeful. Weeks went on and I finally got a call back from a CPA firm in Hoover. It did not pay what I wanted but it was a job and and I accepted! I was excited to find a job and take the first step into our destiny; but here’s the kicker: WE STILL HAD NO HOME! The Pastor’s were gracious enough to allow me to stay in their home while I worked and looked for my family a home. And this is a big deal because Derek and I have been married 13 years. And the most we have ever been apart was a week and that was torturous by itself; and I had never been away from my son for more than a week/weekend when he went to his grandparents house! But we were committed to this call and move and we made the sacrifice. For the next 5 weeks, we lived apart. He and Elijah in Vernon; me in Birmingham. I worked in the mornings, searched for homes on my lunch break and on the weekends when Derek and Elijah would come up we would look for homes. We DID NOT want an apartment. We wanted a countryesque home like we were accustomed to! Eventually we decided on an apartment. The week before we decided to just get a “make and do for now” home Derek asked a friend in Birmingham to spread the word that we were looking for a home. In no time she found a home for us! From the moment we stepped on the property we knew it was the home for us!! The price was a little more than we wanted but we decided to take it and believe God for everything else. I mean, He had brought us this far, why would he not follow through with us? The landlord asked what our budget was and she agreed to lower the price. She knew we were in transition and also worked with us on the deposit! What a blessing! (OH and get this! It is 5 miles from “town” and on about an acre lot with lots of shade trees! We got our private country feel we were looking for!! And we got to bring the family dog Roxy) Psalm 138:8 The Lord will accomplish what concerns me; Your loving kindness, O Lord, is everlasting; Do not forsake the works of Your hands.
In the midst of this my job was not at all what it should have been! I knew when I took it, it was not my forever job! But after two weeks of being there I had not received a pay check, so Friday at 5:00 I asked the boss if I could get paid. He handed me the check and asked that I wait until the following day to cash it because he had forgot to go to the bank. No problem. He was no spring chicken and I could tell his health wasn’t great so I overlooked it. (He was a super precious man). He asked me how I wanted to be paid, weekly or bi-weekly. We agreed on weekly. (And up to this point he had not taken any personal information for me for taxes.) The following week, Friday at 5:00 rolls around. No mention of payday, so again, I ask for my check. He writes me one out; still no taxes taken out. So I ask when he planned to take them out, he said, “When would you like for me to?” OK! If I was dissatisfied with this job before I certainly was now for sure! The next day Derek and I are out riding around looking at homes (this is pre-finding the perfect new home) when my phone rings. IT WAS THE BOSS FROM THE JOB I WANTED! He asked if I could come in for a second interview with him and the other partner! (uh-heck yes) We ran to Regions to cash my check so I could get gas before I went to the interview; I WAS DENIED! The check was bad! I was so upset, but Derek and I just believed that it was oversight on his part again. The following Monday I spoke to the boss and he said to give him a couple day before I cashed it. (Um-ok) Well, the next day Birmingham got a snowstorm that shut down interstates and stranded motorist and kids at school and people at work. Luckily for me I worked only 3 miles from where I was still staying with the Pastors and they came to my rescue). We returned to work two days later. He asked me if I had tried to cash the check yet and I said no and he handed me cash. The young lady who took the place of the lady that had retired cornered me later and said she was about to quit. She wasn’t getting paid at all! She swore there were things going on there that didn’t add up. And I completely agreed. Daily we had people come in and pick up their returns because they weren’t getting done in a timely manner. (scary) The rest of the week went on with this lady ranting and raving day in and day out. Friday came and I asked for my check, again he asked me to hold it till Monday. Thing was, it was my sons’ birthday weekend. I needed that money! The following Monday was a crazy day! We worked. She ranted. She moved her belongings to her vehicle. She begged me to quit too! I couldn’t just quit! Yes, his business was failing and yes my checks were bad but there were so many factors keeping me there! On the way home she called me. “Jennifer.” she said, “If you will not go back tomorrow I will pay you your last check! I just don’t want you to go back.” WAS SHE CRAZY!? Who was this chick! I told her I couldn’t because of our current situation and that I was actively searching out new jobs and that I felt sorry for him. We knew he was having health, family and financial problems. Finally she says, “Jennifer, I work for the State of Alabama in the Labor Department. I was hired to work undercover and investigate. I need you to quit. I don’t want you there when things go badly!”
DID I JUST HEAR HER CORRECTLY!! Never once have I ever questioned moving to Birmingham, but this was cutting it very close! I wasn’t sure whether I believed her not. I didn’t know her. She was loud, very brass, liked her F word and couldn’t wait until beer-thirty everyday. She had told me wild crazy stories about her ex husband and how she quit her job making mega bucks to work at a lower paying so that she wouldn’t have to pay alimony! I just wasn’t sure how credible she was. So I call Derek. The Pastor’s weren’t home and I was in panic mode! I NEEDED MY MAN! He calmed me down when the Pastor’s got home they suggested I call a friend of ours from church who worked for the Police Department. He told me that it wasn’t at all unlikely that things like this were quite common! I gave him her name and he looked into it for me. In the meantime she called me again to talk to me and begin to tell me about the operation and how he got turned and begged me to meet with her and the former employee. I WAS SICK! How could this happen now of all times! We were just about to move! Everything was going perfect! I agreed to meet her and my friend from the PD assured me he would be available if I felt unsafe I could message him.
The next morning I got up and and decided, I’m done with all this. I didn’t want to take any chances of being stuck. I just felt that I should quit. I went in early, gathered all my belongings, wrote a letter of resignation to the boss and left it on his desk and left a note on the door for any client that might stop by before he got there. (he always came in nearly at lunch time anyway) I met with the ladies. I was still unsatisfied that she was being truthful with me. She didn’t show me her badge like she mentioned she would, nor was she in the vehicle with State of Alabama tag like she said she would be.(Days later the my officer-friend said by all accounts and activity she was being completely truthful- the firm closed a couple weeks later.) I was so done with the whole situation. I turned my key over to them and left. I called my Pastors who prayed with me and encouraged me. I then drove all over Hoover applying for jobs. I didn’t cry. I felt kind of bold and brave. (Ok- I was a little scared, but mostly brave). While still in Hoover, Bed, Bath & Beyond called me for an interview! Praise the Lord!! I went to the interview and it went very well. I got a lump in my throat. I really didn’t want to work retail. Weird hours. Part time. Minimum wage. I needed FULL TIME and more than minimum wage! But I was willing to do what I had to do! After the interview I drove over to “our new home”. I was meeting the landlord to give her our first months rent and part of the deposit. Plus I wanted to unpack a few things. I felt happy just being there. It felt like home. In just 2 weeks my entire family would move and we would all be under one roof.
As I was unpacking my phone rang. I stopped immediately what I was doing. I hope I didn’t sound too anxious when I answered. It was the JOB THAT I HAD BEEN PRAYING FOR! (again Psalm 138.8) Was this real life right now? Was he really offering me a job?! YES HE WAS! I asked him when he would like for me to start. He said, “You can start tomorrow if you would like to!”
Like. I lived this and it’s still hard to believe! The very day I quit my job and had no idea the next step in this journey my dream, job calls me !!!! It was true. I was so excited! As soon as I hung up I called Derek. I think even he was in disbelief! As a matter of fact he was so excited he drove almost all the way home and forgot to get gas! He stopped by my moms and told her the news and they both shed tears of joy! GOD IS SO GOOD!!
The following weeks we made our move. God provided everything we needed. If there was a need it was provided.(For the friends and family I left names unmentioned on purpose, but you know who you are and we are forever grateful for you!)
I have moved from that place of trusting God to provide the light bill money (my place of complacency) and into the place of trusting God for every single area of my life! He is my healer. My provider. My comforter. My everything.
HE IS MY DESTINY- He called me out up on the water- the great unknown- where feet may fail – and there I found Him in the mystery- In Oceans deep- My faith will stand
His Spirit led us to Birmingham. We are continuing this faith walk and this journey with Him! It’s exciting to know that He has big plans for us!
This is NOT THE END OF THIS STORY- This is just the beginning……………………………….