Crazy God Part 8: The Doldrums

We stood on the other side of the Red Sea, amazed and speechless at His provision and timing, watching the waves calm after the winds of provision stopped blowing.

 

We didn’t know that the wind was about to get forebodingly still.

We had been waiting almost 3 years.

We had seen God miraculously pay thousands and thousands of dollars in bills. (The stories of some of His largest provisions are not even included in this mini-series of blog posts. We will tell those in later blogs.)

We had seen Him pay regular bills, huge grain bills, almost three years of house notes. He had given food and money for food. He had parted the Red Sea and rescued us from foreclosure.

We were grateful and amazed.

 

We never dreamed, then, that we were heading into the most depressing and maddening months of our lives.

I call it “The Doldrums.”

Do you know what doldrums are?

In sailing terms, doldrums are when the winds are calm, leaving sail-power boats stranded for days or weeks. The Merriam-Webster dictionary states that doldrums are:

“a state or period of sadness or depression…a state or period in which there is no activity or improvement.”

I hope I can successfully communicate how perfect those descriptions are for this next phase of waiting we entered.

I really don’t even want to relive these next months…

but here we go…

Down.

 

Ryan paid the house note for May. The Sikes tried hard to sell their house to buy ours.

We waited on the Lord.

But with all His provision of late, we still had very little money. Very little.

And no goals to work toward.

We just waited.

And the days dragged.

We were ready for it all to end…the waiting, the lack of money, the mounting boredom that comes with poverty, the dependence on other people to pay our bills.

We had hoped that, on the other side of our Red Sea, we would find relief, a Promised Land of sorts, God saying “go” instead of “wait.”

But instead, we found more of the same thing that was before the Red Sea.

Wilderness…just like the Israelites.

No end in sight.

No clear purpose. No goals to work toward.

Eating “manna”, but in poverty.

Able to help no one, not even ourselves.

We tried hard to learn lessons from the Israelites during this time. They complained and griped and accused. We tried hard not to do those things, but we began to understand why they felt that way.

You get raw out in the desert heat.

You get tired.

You get aimless.

You fear that you will end up homeless with your little children in tow.

You understand that “all these things are added unto you” when you seek the Kingdom; but you realize that “all these things” basically means food and clothing. And while you’re eternally grateful for that, the possibility of being homeless with your children, eating little every day, is not an exciting idea. Many Christians around the world live in such circumstances, why would we be immune?

Yet, we were willing to go there if God took it that far.

Oh, but we prayed He wouldn’t.

 

The years of waiting had taken their toll on Laura.

That summer she went down further, physically and emotionally. She was pregnant with FunderBaby #5 (that God told us to have…that’s another blog of its own!) So, on top of the strain of waiting, she had the usual morning sickness and fatigue. And we had birthed our last two children at home with a midwife. So, she had the stress of having no money to see a midwife and the fear of giving birth into this sparse, already emotionally charged situation.

 

Most of our days were the same.

The sunrise through the windows woke me. Before I could open my eyes, the praying started.

Today? Please answer today.

I would leave Laura sleeping, hopefully. I wanted her to rest as long as she could. The more rest, the better she may feel that day. And, besides, any time sleeping was less time she had to face the heaviness of the day.

I checked my e-mail, my Facebook, praying that He would speak anywhere. I cooked breakfast, and the kids and I did our chores.

Most days, Laura made it out of bed.

Some days she didn’t.

The kids were sent to play and the rest of the day was a mish-mash of prayer, disciplining children, cooking meals, washing clothes, changing diapers, and depressing conversations between Laura and me.

All this was done with the lofty goal of surviving the day…and hopefully without too much turmoil among the family.

Thankfully, nighttime would finally come.

I would, ashamedly, hurry through the children’s bedtime routine so I could call it quits for the day and have an hour without being required of anyone.

I would lie awake in the dark, alternating between prayer for relief and guilt of all I had not been for my children that day.

I slept for a couple of hours at a time, waking to give a child water or to pray a groan.

That was life. Day after day.

Day after day.

Day after day.

Day after day.

Day after day.

Day after day.

Day after day.

Day after day.

Day after day.

Day after day.

Day after day.

Day after day.

Day after day.

Day after day.

Day after day.

Day after day.

Day after day.

Day after day.

Day after day.

Day after day.

Day after day.

(this is how it felt…)

Day after day.

Day after day.

Day after day.

Day after day.

Day after day.

Day after day.

Day after day.

Day after day.

Day after day.

Day after day.

Day after day.

Day after day.

(Doesn’t feel like we’re getting anywhere, does it?)

Day after day.

Day after day.

Day after day.

Day after day.

Day after day.

Day after day.

Day after day.

Day after day.

Day after day.

Day after day.

Day after day.

Day after day.

Day after day.

Day after day.

Day after day.

Day after day.

(Wow, this is boring. Let’s reverse the order of the words…)

Day after day.

Day after day.

Day after day.

Day after day.

Day after day.

Day after day.

Day after day.

Day after day.

Day after day.

 

Are you beating your head against a wall yet?!

Auuuuuugggghhh!

That’s how it felt. (Only hotter. Our air conditioner had broken at the end of the last summer.)

But we still didn’t complain to folks.

We didn’t let our parents know how maddening the wait had become, though they probably noted we weren’t quite ourselves.

Our friends didn’t know either.

But our Father knew.

 

We went to the grocery store once a week or less to save gas money. We bought the cheapest but healthiest food we could find.

Sweet potatoes from a local farm.

Milk and eggs from our animals or the neighbor’s.

Leftover grain from FunderFarm became bread and biscuits.

Any other groceries for the week were bought for $30…or $15…or a few times $8.50.

Sometimes the neighbors would send us home with homegrown beef or pork from their freezers.

Gas money was interesting to come by. We usually bought gas $5 or $10 at a time.

Sometimes less than that.

One day I brought the ashtray from my truck in the gas station (ashtrays are where non-smokers store loose change). I dumped all the change on the counter, smiled and said, “Whatever that amounts to, give me that on pump #2.”

We figured up how much each mile cost in gas and traveled accordingly.

Trip to Kroger: $3

Trip to the library: $1

The library was our friend.

 

We had a little up-swing in June. The Lord gave us some direction. He told us to sell our milk goats and chickens. Most of them sold right away.

We also had a huge garage sale. Laura loves to clean out. Clutter exists so Laura can enjoy getting rid of it. The sale was successful in cleaning out and making money.

After the garage sale, we started packing up the house. We boxed and labeled stuff in the attic and anything in the house that wasn’t used regularly. We had no idea when (or still if) God was going to move us, but we were becoming more sure by the month that He was. We started collecting packing boxes for the move. We continued selling the goats and chickens.

But after the rush of those two weeks, life slid back into the rut.

Day after day.

Day after day.

Day after day.

Day after day.

Day after…

I guess you get the point.

God was so quiet. Since the foreclosure miracle in April, except for the instruction to sell the animals, He had been very quiet.

The Sikes’ house hadn’t sold.

He hadn’t given us any further instructions about our house.

He hadn’t given us any encouragement or further explanation of what “the wait” was all about or what “the next thing” would or could be.

But we learned that silence wasn’t bad.

It didn’t mean we had messed up or were on the wrong path.

He was just silent.

King David often heard God’s silence (Psalm 22, Psalm 42).

God was quiet, but He was with us.

 

The hot stillness of the doldrums stayed with us into July.

Days were the same, with some slightly better and some a lot worse.

One of my journal entries read, and I quote:

“Auuuuuuuuuugggggghhh! Uggggggghhhh! Oooooooooh!

Have mercyyyyyyyyyyy! Grrrrrr.”

Most journal entries say more in real words, but the feelings were the same.

I felt like a caged animal…able to move and do but trapped in a small space with nowhere to go.

The baby would arrive in 4 months, and we had no money for the midwife.

Laura was down for the count. She spent most of her days in bed. From her bed she wrote:

“God alone will put me back on my feet and, until He does, He’ll have to carry me where He leads as my strength has failed. …We know God is good; we know the end, whatever that is, is worth it. We are staying the course, by God’s grace I guess, even if He has to carry us the rest of the way.”

I wanted to rescue her so badly.

I wanted to rescue us all.

But I couldn’t.

I was angry at God. This was His idea. The doldrums of His making.

My wife was depressed and I was beyond stressed, the whole house was thick with the weight of it, and He…

He was quiet.

But continuing to trust and obey Him was best for everyone.

“Hang in there, guys,” I wrote to our kids in our journal. “Your parents won’t always be so fragile. We love you and that’s one reason we still wait.”

And God quietly and graciously waited with us.

 

August.

Hot, dry August.

The dry, crunchy grass and the hot air outside…very still air… was appropriate for the doldrums days.

The Sikes’ house had not sold. Ryan was still paying the house note. My, how that hurt.

I realize, we weren’t living a completely horrid life. We still had a house, food, each other.

But while you’re grateful it isn’t worse, you still would rather be on the other side. While throwing up with a stomach virus you are grateful you aren’t dying of cancer. But you are still ready to stop throwing up! (Sorry for the gross analogy, but it fits.)

 

But He was Provider, even in the doldrums. He “added all these things” to us. He gave us enough grocery and gas money to make it. He blessed us with someone to fix our air conditioner. He even gave us enough money for a midwife checkup where we heard the new baby’s heartbeat for the first time.

He was there all the time.

The wind was still, our raft sat motionless, but He was with us.

Like a good father Who knows that pain can be productive, He quietly held our hands and waited with us.

 

And He would stay with us, even when we hit bottom.

 

Read Crazy God Part 9: The Bottom

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