If you were going to give advice to someone in the worst depths of depression & anxiety, your first thought probably wouldn’t be to tell that person to think of the worst things they have ever been through…& yet that was the advice I was given eight years ago when I was in the lowest point of my life & faith. And yet, it was also the best advice I had ever been given. Following that advice has been one of the best ways I have learned to look back to see how God has moved…& remembering how He worked in those seasons has helped me grow my trust in Him going forward as I face every new difficulty.
The important thing about this advice wasn’t to just dwell on the worst of the worst things I had been through, but rather to look back to take note on how God led (or dragged) me through each of those moments & how He revealed more of who He was through them…it was to take note of & be thankful for His provision, His comfort, His grace, forgiveness, mercy, & protection. Following this advice didn’t mean I would never face any difficulty ever again, but remembering those landmark moments gave me a foundation & reminders that, as I came up to new moments, new storms- that I could remember God was good before, He was faithful to walk me through before (even if it wasn’t what I had expected) & those moments served as reminders that He would continue to be faithful & good in the new hurts & struggles.
This advice reminded me of the stories throughout the Old Testament when the Israelites would go through some crazy situation, God would stand in the gap on their behalf, & then they would gather these stones & boulders into huge pillars to stand as a reminder in the future of what God had done for them there.
My stone-pillar moments have never been quite as crazy or dangerous as what the Israelites faced & they probably pale in comparison to what many others have faced, but they were hard for me, & still, every time God stood in the gap & provided for my needs.
The moments I remember were things like the provision of my first teaching job- I had been applying & interviewing all over, had gotten nothing, & was running out of time. I interviewed at one school & felt like it was a perfect fit but then got the “thanks, but no thanks” letter in the mail. In that moment, I surrendered the need for a job over to God- I told Him that I knew He knew my need, so I would just trust His provision & placement. I put the letter down, took a shower, & as I was stepping out my phone was ringing…a call from the very same principal that said “thanks, but no thanks” to let me know a second History teacher position had literally just opened up that hour when another teacher put in her notice. I gave up my struggle, I entrusted my needs into God’s hands & He stepped into the gap to provide.
*Boom* Stone-pillar built.
Same year, a few months later, I’m driving almost an hour one way for my teaching job, we’re desperately looking to buy a house in a very specific (and low) price range, in a very specific area so David & I could both be at the halfway point for our jobs. Every house we looked at got snapped up the moment we looked at it & we were becoming worn out & desperate. We knew we couldn’t continue to pay the rent we were paying & driving the distance we were driving. I was literally panicking. One night I showed up to my waitressing job in the middle of a horrible, ugly-cry panic attack, so I just stopped & prayed. I took out my waitress pad & made a list of the things I couldn’t handle, the things I couldn’t MAKE happen on my own- our finances, finding a house, the ballroom, & my literal prayer was, “Father, I CAN’T make this math work. I can’t MAKE it happen, but You are the Creator of math…so take it, take these numbers & MAKE them work because there’s no way I can.”…I finished my shift & felt like I should just maybe…possibly…check just one last time to see if there were any new houses listed. *DING* New listing…perfect price range…fenced in back yard for our puppies, exactly halfway between my job & David’s. We viewed it, put in an offer, & got the house. I surrendered & God stepped in the gap to provide the need.
*BOOM* Stone-pillar built.
The more I look back, the more stone-pillars I can see- protection of my job through perfect timing to bring to light to a MAJOR mistake that could have cost me my job…but it didn’t. A literal hail storm that felt super, insanely stressful but made a way for us to be able to replace the 8000 square-foot roof of our business with almost nothing out of pocket when we otherwise just couldn’t have done it ourselves. Complete & utter provision for that same business through a pandemic where we were closed 163 days straight.
*Boom* *Boom* *Boom* Stone-pillars built left & right
Again…the more I look, the more I open my eyes, the more I see my Savior constantly stepping into the gap. It’s only taken me 31 years to start seeing the pattern so I can actually TRUST Him when difficulties come instead of panicking. In the moments I’m panicking, trying to make the situation work myself, or frustrated that it’s not happening in my timing, my way…He’s still already acting, already working, & planning ahead for the things I can’t even see on the horizon yet…even while I’m still being stupid & doubting Him!! Honestly, David & I are in the middle of a stone-pillar moment, as we speak. For 2 years we’ve wondered, waited, cried, been frustrated, angry, & doubted…& all the while God was leading us to this exact moment of provision & opportunity.
These all sound like happy endings. They’re not always happy endings for me, or for others…but God has shown Himself faithful. In the moments that I surrender my own way, in the moments I surrender what I think “makes more sense”, or what fits my timeline or my comfort, preferences, or heck, even my anger…the moment I surrender those things, God reveals Himself magnificently. He has built these stone-pillar moments all throughout my life & they serve as a firm foundation of the fact that my Savior is faithful, that He hears my prayers, He knows my NEEDS before I do, & He even knows the desires of my heart. As if the fact that He gave us His Son, Jesus, to come & provide the way of salvation to such undeserving people wasn’t enough, He has shown Himself faithful over & over in so many other ways, too, so I know, even when I face things I would much rather not…that He is faithful & He is building a new stone-pillar moment.
So…if you feel like you’re in the middle of the desert, keep zoning in on Christ, keep your ear open for His voice, keep striving after Him, following His every footstep, & just keep trusting Him. Just keep going after Him because He will absolutely never lead you astray- it won’t be easy at all, but He is worth it…He is worth it ALL. Keep looking for those stone-pillar moments because they will be His manna in the hard times, in the waiting & hurting. Even if your situation doesn’t end how you hope or planned, maybe it hurts worse than anything you have ever faced or felt…just keep holding fast to Him & trust that He has a plan & if you love Him His word says that plan is for your ultimate good & His ultimate glory. He never once has been surprised by anything that has ever happened. He’s never unprepared & He is working something amazing in & through you if you allow Him to. Whatever it is you’re going through, He will reveal Himself…whether it’s here on this earth or in Heaven, He WILL reveal Himself. He is faithful, He always has been & always will be. You can trust Him with your heart, with your life, with your emotions & struggles, & when you do…when you finally surrender the things you’re so desperately white-knuckling…it will be the best decision ever & He will reveal Himself beyond measure, & you will look around you & find that all of a sudden… *BOOM* a stone-pillar moment is built.
And just as Joshua told the Israelites that their stone pillars would always serve as a memorial of what God had done for them, so you & I will also be able to tell our children of the stone-pillar moments God built in our life so that hopefully they’ll be more easily able to recognize the stone-pillar moments in their own lives, & so on & so on to the next generations.
Whatever you do, never let go of Christ, always look for His stone-pillar moments, & may He be magnified above all else in, by, & through us.
Be blessed, friends.