Before my first apartment, I was in a duplex. It was drafty- chilly in winter and warm in summer. There probably wasn’t much of any insulation in the walls or anywhere else. The floors were a charming reddish brown hardwood except in the one tiny restroom that was tiled and in the small kitchen where there was linoleum. The living room and the one bedroom both had a ceiling fan that somewhat circulated the air flow and the heat from the giant, ancient floor vents. (For anyone who knows the type of vents I’m talking about, you know it is nothing nice to forget about their location on your bare-foot journey to the restroom in the middle of the night! Ooch! Ow! Ow!)
The duplex had two doors that led outside- one off the kitchen and one off the living room. To get a really good idea of how old this place was, let me tell you, the windows worked on a pulley system! I’d never seen anything like it. The landlord was waiting on someone to rent the place, I guess, so she would have a reason and the money to modify the windows that had been painted with lead paint and get the floor heaters cleaned and one of them fixed. Yes, there were repairs that needed to be done. I took what I could get at the time. After all, I was moving in without a job, with a two year old and on good faith because of God’s grace and a distant relative calling in a favor from his best friend who happened to be my landlord- a story for another blog post. God is good!
The front yard was small but had a tree that reminded me of the one just like it that used to be in my grandma’s yard- fuzzy, pink blossoms and all! Fond memories…minus the ants. My landlord managed about 4 duplexes. She lived in one with her skittish, black and white, indoor/outdoor cat. I’m not sure what it’s name was, but it never gave me a chance. *hurt feelings* In the middle were my duplex (a short walk from my landlord) and another duplex that shared a driveway. This driveway led through a chained, locked gate to which we all had a key to and shared. We would park behind the duplexes. My living room door led to the front yard beside the driveway. It was nice for what it was. Living there provided my first opportunity to turn recycling into a lifestyle because there would be a truck separate from the garbage truck that would pick up our water bottles from the containers provided. Sweet deal. (By the way, I’ve upgraded to reusable, personal water containers. Yay, me! Yay, clean, healthy environment!)
I had moved to that particular city in maybe September or October of 2008. In November, I landed a part-time job on campus and joined a really big church whose building had been used previously as a business. (I’m TOO excited to tell you about my first experience at that church and how I ended up there! It’ll be in another blog post, so hold tight!) At this church, I had grown more spiritually in 2 months than I had in 20 years! It was such an exciting time. Things were not perfect there. You won’t find a perfect church because we are the church. However, I learned to be faithful- not because I should be but because I wanted to be, for God. Faithfulness had me showing up to church regardless of the weather. In fact, I remember driving to church in a storm with a black, plastic garbage bag duck taped to one of the windows because it wouldn’t let up. Maybe the window’s motor had gone out. Imagine driving on the Interstate in a storm with the rain beating and the wind rippling through a garbage bag over a window. It sounded like the car had helicopter blades. God’s grace kept us from going deaf! In all things, give thanks, right? Total, I was a member of this particular church from November 2008 until January 2015 when I moved away. There were so many great spiritual principles taught and learned there. One was, “Service (serving others) starts after (church) Service ends.”
Dear Reader, as you know, this blog site is branded Looking for God #HEISEVERYWHERE, so allow me to share with you how I found God after service. Maybe a year or two had passed at this point, but I was still struggling as head of household, single mom, college student and part-time employee, etcetera, etcetera but looked forward to Tuesday nights where we would have Bible Study! I just knew there would be a Word from the Lord for me concerning my circumstance. Our attendance was necessary. It was the light at the end of the tunnel that we looked forward to each week. It was the refreshing wind that was so sorely needed. Some weeks, it seemed the lessons did not apply to us or our particular situation. However, I had to keep going. I needed a Word, and the children’s class was a blessing! By all means, feed me the Word and give me a break! One Tuesday, I reeeaaallllyyyy wanted to go to church, but my gas tank looked sick. Rent was due, and the pressure was on. I just didn’t have enough money. There is no telling how long I juggled the decision of whether or not to go to church. My gas tank said, “I might let you get to work. I’ll think about it. Get back to me.” My faith said, “Stay consistent and faithful. Keep expecting God to work a miracle.” Knowing that there had to be a blessing in staying faithful, there was no way HE was going to leave me hanging. On a wing and a prayer, we went to Bible Study expecting a move of God. I looked for God in the parking lot entering the church. I looked for God in the church lobby before service started. I looked for God as we gathered and took our seats around the tables. I looked for God at neighboring tables. I looked for God during Bible Study and throughout the message. Constantly, I looked over my shoulder, listened for Him, kept talking to Him and asking Him to help. I really needed the rent money to keep a roof over our heads. Service ended. I made no quick moves. I waited. Lingered. Prayed. I stayed so long that I was nearly the last to leave the sanctuary. Finally, I figured that maybe I should just ask someone and receive. One of the other members, a really friendly lady whom I chatted with from time to time and was quite fond of, was spotted in the crowd. We chatted and I communicated a need. She did not have it to give. Still, I waited on God to move. I had no clue where the rent money was coming from. The church was almost empty, but still I lingered and prayed, taking slow steps, waiting on God to answer my prayers. HE wouldn’t leave me hanging. I knew HE wouldn’t…because I had faith and expected HIM to move…so HE had to show up. I continued my slow walk all the way to my car, expecting God. I drove my car really slow avoiding the exit because I was waiting for God. HE must have been moved by my faith and expectancy because my phone rang just when I was about to leave! It was the friend! She asked me where I was and asked me to turn around and come back! It was “Thank You God! Thank You God! Thank You Jesus!” the whole way. The friend had a friend who God spoke to and told to give me money. The lady went to the ATM and came back and gave me the exact amount for the rent. $395.00. At the time, I don’t even think the lady knew what my rent was. That was a miracle! I had never seen that lady before, and I don’t think I’ve seen her since. Her obedience to God blessed me. God works through the hearts and minds of HIS people. HE can do whatever HE wants to do! God uses people all the time to bless. We don’t know what kind of impact our obedience will have. Just be obedient. Stay faithful, and EXPECT great things, even MIRACLES! Because this wonderful, Holy Spirit-led woman of God chose to serve after service, my son and I were blessed. She could have easily been selfish and ignored our need, but she didn’t because of her willingness to obey God’s Voice. Take God out of the box. #HEISEVERYWHERE High and low, I was looking for God and found HIM after Service.