Sleight of Hand
By Catiana Nak Kheiyn
Twice in the last year, God has allowed me to believe wholeheartedly in something that He never intended to happen. That is, I fully accepted that His will was one way for He gave no hints to the contrary, then, at the last minute, He pulled back the curtain and an entirely different plan had been laid in place.
But I hold no grudges against Him, nor do I think God was trying to trick me. Looking back over my shoulder, after having glided over what looked like wreckage from far away, I am able to see what God's real intent was, and why He pulled the wool over my eyes.
I've written before about how God moved me from my church job, where I'd invested over a decade of service, to a totally new one with Got Questions Ministries. At the time, I couldn't imagine trusting anyone else with my position. Who would take care of people after I left? Who would remember the nuances of what needed to be done? My fears consumed me to the point of insomnia. Then one day, I felt God whispering a promise: your dear friend Mary will step into that role.
What a sigh of relief that promise gave me! My hope was renewed. Everything would be okay. I was excited for Mary now, and my heart tittered with an eagerness to move on to my own new adventure. I let the church job go in my mind for it was no longer mine to grasp.
Then, at the last possible moment, God pulled the curtain over that door, pressed my shoulder to move on, and said, "No. Mary won't be working here." Devastation rolled over us both. But I found that my sorrow came more from the loss for my friend than the fact that a stranger would step into my old job.
God's reasoning for allowing Mary to believe along with me that she would have my old job, yet taking it away at the final hour, is a story all unto itself. For me, I needed to have an assurance that everything would turn out all right or those last three months would have been hellish. If God had said, "You don't know him, but I have someone in mind to take this position. Go, be at peace," I would not be at peace. I would have questions and objections. I would worry and fret.
God knew that. He knew I couldn't accept the truth at that time. So He allowed me to believe something that would comfort me, for He also knew that in the end, I would finally have the ability to accept and welcome His decision without hesitation.
Several weeks ago, our family started the process of buying a new home. God quickly provided a perfect house for our needs. Every single detail fit our every desire. The question now surfaced: What will we do with our current house?
Panic. Could I really sell or rent out my first home to strangers? So much love has been poured into that place. So many memories hang in every corner. Our children grew up there. They took their first steps on that floor. It has sheltered our loved ones in need. It has grown with us, and the mark of our family has been firmly set into its walls. How could I hand this place over to just anybody?
Then God whispered a promise. Three young women whom I've had the pleasure of sharing life with had all expressed a desire to move away from home. I felt very strongly that God would have these girls move into my old house together. They had also shared many memories there, and it all made sense.
Exhilaration and delight flushed my anxieties aside. We could keep the house in the family! I knew these girls and trusted them. My beloved home would be a new home to these young women just starting out. What a win-win for everyone, right? I released the notion that this house was mine to cling to. It could be theirs. They could make it their own, and it would be okay.
Then, at the last possible moment, God pulled the curtain over that door, pressed my shoulder to move on, and said, "No. It is not they who will be living here." Though I took a few steps away, confusion and disappointment made me stumble.
Once more, my sorrow was less for the loss of the house, and more for the loss for my friends. Their lives had been shaken up and stretched and pulled and challenged and for what? To be left in the same place they were at the first?
The reasons why God allowed these girls to even speculate the possible reality of moving out and living together are different for each of them. I believe they came to some new realizations when the theory of moving out became an almost-certainty. I trust God is teaching them through that process.
As for me, the few weeks of true belief that my home would be passed down to trusted friends helped me release it from my heart. It will always be a special place to me, but now I am ready to let it belong to someone else—even if I don't know who they are.
Once again, God knew I needed an assurance that everything would be fine. If He had said, "I have other plans for your house. Be at peace," I would not be at peace. I would have questions and objections. I would worry and fret.
God knows me all too well, and for that, I am truly thankful. He knows what will comfort me and what will cause me consternation. He also knows that if I am properly prepared and equipped, I will trust in His direction and know that His decisions are right.
Do I believe that God performed some sort of sleight of hand, telling me one thing, then giving me another? Hmm... In a way, yes. But I have always loved magic. God is a bit like magic, isn't He? Only His power is real. He makes things appear that I would never imagine possible—like the frame of mind required to simply surrender what I hold most precious and trust that God will put it in the right hands.
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