God is all about peripety—making twists and turns in our lives. In fact, He delights in it, and He’s very good at it.
Peripety: noun, a sudden turn of events, or an unexpected reversal, especially in a literary work or story.
Cut to fall, 2005.
We had been living in Georgia Mountain, Alabama, in a quiet community for nine years, in a 100-year old home. We had the white picket fence and lots of huge climbing trees. It was the perfect place for raising our six children.
But I found myself staring out the windows vacantly, feeling trapped and alone.
Twist #1—Being Double Crossed
A year earlier, the company my husband and I were running was doing well, and we were even approached by a trader to take the company public. We jumped at the chance to put it on the stock market. So we travelled to New York City, signed some papers and celebrated. This was our big break.
Or so we thought.
I will never forget the day my husband came home from a board meeting looking like he had been beaten up. After finding some inconsistencies and keeping silent for too long, everything imploded on us. The consultants who helped take us public actually took over our company—the one we had built, the one our kids helped pack products for, the one we took out a second mortgage on our house for. We couldn’t afford the lawyers we would need to get it back. We were devastated.
Finding Peace in Financial Ruin
We struggled to keep up with our house payments, groceries and utilities. But we got farther and farther behind. The decision of whether to buy food or pay the mortgage was an agonizing one.
We had always been active at our church, busy doing things for the Lord. But when it came to our business, well, we hadn’t really prayed about any of it. We just did what we thought was right. But when we found ourselves in trouble, oh we prayed. We prayed for God to get us out, we prayed for justice, we prayed for money. We treated God like a vending machine, putting in time and expecting blessings.
But it doesn’t work that way.
So when God led us to a new church, we spent more time in prayer and intentionally listened for His voice. We soon got involved with Youth For Christ; we began with fifteen kids, and doubled within the month. We knew God was at work. Still behind in finances, we prayed for money and also for a bigger space to host the students. And even in the midst of that uncertainty, somehow we knew He would take care of us.
We had peace.
We made it to December, with very few gifts under the tree, foreclosure notices, a looming electric bill and the threat to turn off our lights. I wasn’t sure how the next few days would go, but I just kept saying, “We have to trust in God.”
December 21st, we went to church, and as we were singing “Blessed Be Your Name,” somehow I knew that God was going to take care of our problems. I just didn’t quite know how.
Twist #2—A Christmas to Remember
Toward the end of the church service, we were asked to step out of the service where we were handed a phone with my son’s voice shaking on the other end. “Mom, our house is burning down!”
I exhaled slowly and relayed the news. Soon we were surrounded by teens, pastors and elders who all began praying around us, weeping with us. After our amens, my middle son started singing, “Praise the name of Jesus, praise the name of Jesus. He’s my rock; He’s my portion; He’s my Deliverer. In Him will I trust. Praise the name of Jesus.”
Two of our pastors took us out to eat and to Walmart for some clothes. Tears came to my eyes as I was handed a check for $500.
As we pulled into a hotel that night, my five-year-old daughter asked, “Mommy, how big is God? Is God bigger than this hotel?”
“Yes, baby,” I said. “God is way bigger than this hotel.”
“Is God bigger than the fire?” she asked.
“Yes, baby, God is bigger than the fire,” I answered as tears ran down my cheeks. God used my five-year-old to speak words of hope and comfort to me. And though I couldn’t sleep much that night, I was also comforted by words of Scripture in Lamentations 3:19-24 and Isaiah 55:8-13.
The next few days were a blur. Our story was aired on the evening news and a fund was set up for viewers to donate to our family. People came to give us hugs, money, clothes, blankets, food and even a birthday part for my daughter’s birthday, which was that day. We were blessed to see the love, concern and generosity of our friends. Not only that, our church gave us $1,000 in gift cards for Christmas presents, the youth group bought gifts for my kids, and we had been given so much we had no place to put everything in our hotel rooms.
After a month in the hotel, we moved into a house owned by our friends. That’s a day I’ll never forget. We had nothing—no furniture, dishes, linens or anything. But as we drove up to the house, I saw a moving van with my brother and some men unloading couches, beds, tables, chairs—basically everything we needed! And you know what? It had a huge family room big enough for our youth meetings!
Oh yeah, and that fund set up through the local news collected over $10,000.
For The Next Twist
I wish I could tell you that I never doubted God and that I have always trusted Him no matter what. But I can’t.
But when fear and uncertainty come, I remember what He did for us, and I know He can and will help us again. I don’t know what’s ahead. But I’m not afraid of it because He holds my future!
“For I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day” II Timothy 1:12.