Wednesday Writings

From the Valley of New Jersey to the Mountains of Colorado: A Journey of Faith, Hope, and Miracles, Part II

The God Who Moves the Mountains

Even though I was settled in my decision to move to Colorado, I wanted to visit again–to see the area as a prospective home and not just a nice place to visit–before I made things Official.

So when Erin drove out at the end of February with as much of her material life as fit in her car, I went with her. I couldn’t wait to tour apartments together, visit Emily and her family, and see the Rocky Mountains.

I looked for the mountains all the way from Iowa, and when we left Nebraska on the morning of our third day for the final five hours, I drove with one eye on the horizon.

Is that them? No, that’s a cloud. After this hill . . . never mind. Now it’s flat, we’ll be able to see . . . nope, not yet.

Finally we came out of another hilly bend and Erin said, “There they are.”


THE mountains.

MY mountains.

I couldn’t help crying. Crying because of what they meant (a potential move). Crying because of what they symbolized (the opposite of a dark valley). Crying for what they reminded me of (the obstacles God could move, would move, and was already moving). Crying for the HOPE they gave me.

“The God who moves the mountains” was my theme for that week as Erin and I toured apartments and I investigated job opportunities, visited a church, and spent time with family and friends. I flew back to New Jersey still without an apartment or a job but confident that God would move mountains to move me to Colorado.

Cousin road trip! 🙂

For the next several weeks I chose memory verses that focused on faith and mountains:

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.

Hebrews 11:8

So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”

Matthew 17:20

I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the LORD,
Who made heaven and earth.

Psalm 121:1-2

Those who trust in the LORD
Are like Mount Zion,
Which cannot be moved, but abides forever.

Psalm 125:1
The Rockies from Fort Collins

Details, Details

After my trip was when I started telling more people about the move. My wording changed from “I’m planning to move” to “I’m moving.” When the questions came of where would I live, did I have work, etc., I shrugged and laughingly said, “Meh, those are the minor details.” And they were, to me. God wanted me in Colorado, I knew–the rest would come.

And it did. Erin and I decided on an apartment, applied, and were approved. I had an interview and was hired for a part-time position. I began doing research and making calculations in earnest for a first-time, cross-country move.

In my researching and calculating, however, I realized I would need more money than I thought even before the move. Here’s where God showed Himself in two ways: first, in answering my panic, and second, in answering my prayers.

One night I was trying not to stress but stressing anyway about the finances. More money meant more work, and I was already feeling maxed with my current hours. Could I afford physically to add more hours to earn more money? Could I afford financially not to?

The next morning I read Exodus 14 in my devotions, and verses 13-14 might as well have been God’s trumpet blaring into my head:

And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will accomplish for you today. . . . The LORD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.”

Okay, Lord, I thought, is this You telling me I shouldn’t look for more hours? I mean, I know I don’t have to worry about this, but do You mean I really don’t have to worry about it?

I came away with a peace that yes, even if I didn’t know exactly how, God was going to take care of my finances. Shortly thereafter, however–whether my faith was faltering or just seeking confirmation–I decided to play Gideon and test God with a fleece.

Over the next week and a half, I reached out to ten or twelve prospective students on my online tutoring platform, responding to their requests and offering my services.

Not one of those prospects turned into work.

There you have it, God seemed to be telling me. I told you to sit still and watch Me work, so sit still and watch Me work.

near Estes Park

I lost the panic, though as I settled into a schedule of work, packing, and saying goodbyes, the finances continued to be a big gray Unknown. More than once I prayed for God to literally make money fall out of the sky (so I could have what I needed without stressing to work for it).

You know what? God made money fall out of the sky. A friend sent me a check to help with moving expenses. My income tax return yielded an unexpected profit. Friends from church showered me with cash and gift cards toward travel and new home expenses.

And that’s not all. Erin and I both being on a tight budget, I was praying for free or cheap things for our apartment. I’d heard plenty of stories from friends and family about God providing for first–and later–homes, and I wanted to see that provision for myself.

I did. A crockpot here, a toaster oven there, a mattress for Erin from a coworker, and–number one on my prayer list for myself–a bed from a friend of a friend.

Yep, God was providing–and has continued to provide–for details both big and small. From jobs to beds, from a place to live to a place for books, from weekly groceries to unexpected car repairs, He’s answered prayer and shown Himself the God of all the details.

One of my favorite mugs (from Emily) in my new kitchen

A Final Word

Why do I tell this story here? First, to encourage you that no matter how stuck you may feel, God is not limited to your situation, your thoughts, your imagination, or your fading hopes (Is 55:8-9). He has done the impossible for me–above and beyond what I could think, let alone think to ask for (Eph 3:20)–and He can do the same for you.

Our God is still in the business of doing miracles, moving mountains, and ending valleys. Amen?

Second, to share what I’ve learned from this journey. I knew from the very beginning this move would test my faith, and it did. But that’s part of why I was excited for it–I wanted to see God work, and I did. Here are two of the lessons I’ve learned about faith in chronic illness:

1. Faith Sometimes Means Making a Jump (a BIG Jump)

In the early stages of everything I watched the Dark Knight trilogy. I realized how much I felt like Bruce Wayne in The Dark Knight Rises when he tries to escape the prison pit, climbing up the side and jumping from one ledge to another high up in the air. He fails until someone tells him to jump without the rope tied around his waist, the rope that would halt his fall if he slipped and lower him safely to the ground.

Without the rope, he could only succeed or fail, escape or fall, live or die. Nothing in between. Nothing else. And it was Bruce’s desire to live (conversely, his fear of death)–only given power without the rope–that guided his final, successful jump to the ledge and freedom.

I related to this scene because I’m the kind of person who doesn’t (usually) make decisions lightly. I overthink everything and like the security of having all the details in place before I take the first step anywhere.

But that kind of comfort can all too easily become complacency, which before long can become a cozy home to many kinds of fear. Fear of change. Fear of trying. Fear of letting go, because I’m comfortable and I’m safe and this is what I know.

That’s where I was. But God was pulling me out of comfort, shaking me up, turning my life upside down. Asking me to, like Bruce, jump without the security I was used to. (Of course, in God we always have security–I mean the earthly security of job, housing, finances, etc.) He was asking me to step out first and trust Him to bring the details together later.

So I did. And He did.

2. Faith in God Is Always Rewarded

We talk a lot about trials of faith, and Scripture itself discusses many times the trying of our faith (I Pet 1:6-7). But how often do we recognize the other half of these trials–the way God rewards our faith when we place it in Him?

In the big ways and the little ways throughout this entire journey–including the first month of settling in, adjusting, starting new work, and navigating a new life–I put my faith in God, and He did not let me down.

After arriving I memorized Psalm 34:5:

They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces were not ashamed.

Yes, it’s a big step to put our trust in God. Yes, sometimes He asks us to take a big jump. Yes, it can be scary to let go of things of this world and cling to Him instead.

But friends, He will never let us down. If we step out, He’ll help us. If we reach for Him, He’ll hold us. If we jump, He’ll catch us.

So yes, the Christian life is full of trials of our faith, opportunities that ask us (or sometimes force us) to put our faith in God in very real, very key ways. But that’s only half of the story. The other half is all the miracles, all the provision, all the answers to prayer, all the ways (some of which we may not see) God rewards our faith.

I’m excited to keep looking back on these months to say, “That’s what God did.” Yes, it’s tough when God challenges your faith, but seeing Him work–giving Him the freedom to work–is so, so worth it.

Colorado: big sky, big God

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