EXPRESSIONS OF MY HEART
BY: DAVE GARNER
APRIL 4, 2008
In January of 2007 Sheila and I moved into an apartment in Crockett, Texas. When we moved in, we had no idea that we were beginning a journey of discovery about ourselves which would surpass anything that we had, thus far, experienced together. Our condition when we moved in was, in many ways, as if we were hanging on the end of a rope… not knowing if we should try to climb back up or let go. I don’t ever remember a time in my life where I felt so deeply empty, void of purpose. I had lost sight of who I was, and I felt lost… not knowing where I was going and fighting to hang onto any hope I had left. We were both in desperate need of repair. Over the next few months, the Lord used this place to allow us time to begin our journey of renewal – spiritually, physically and mentally.
It was a miracle that we were able to move into the apartment that we did. We were not really qualified to live in that particular set of apartments, as they were based on our income level and we really had no verifiable, steady income. Our health was one of the first things the Lord began to deal with us about. Sheila began to find all sorts of information about the effects of eating improperly, the negative effects of processed food items, and the intake of hydrogenated oils. The Lord gave us the strength to begin making radical changes in what we ate and in how much and the way we ate, and we began to take walks, slowly increasing the distance over time. In the next eight months we lost over fifty pounds between us and our health improved dramatically, and it continues to improve today, as the Lord has taught us how to discipline ourselves and maintain a healthy diet. We still have a ways to go, but we are confident that we are on the right track.
The next area the Lord began to deal with us about was our union with one another. Both of us had been married before and we were desperate to make our marriage work. We had gotten to the place where we were talking about separation, as the pressure to stay together was almost more than we could bear. Contention had risen up between us. I was blaming her for our situation and she was blaming me and we were caught in that terrible void… in between loving each other and hating each other and all the emotional turmoil in between. But, gradually over time, the Lord began to work on our hearts, and we began to communicate with one another as we have never been able to do before. We were two hard–headed, independent people in our thoughts and we were tenaciously hanging onto our right to be ‘right’ and independent. Anyway, our love for each other and our passionate desire to make our marriage work, won over the hurt, confusion, bitterness and contention between us. The Lord removed all other contacts from other people and we were left only with each other. It was a blessing, as it was exactly what we needed… to begin restoring our marriage. We began to read together each morning while I did the juicing. This took almost an hour and a half every morning… the way we were doing it. Through this we began to communicate with one another and over a short period of time alone together, we were able to bridge over the turbulent turmoil between us and begin to work out our communication problems and learn at the same time. We have come a long way since then, and I am certain there is much more work the Lord is doing and is still going to do between us, but our love for one another has surely grown since then. We still hit a snag or two, and on occasion a hard root, but I am confident in saying that through all that we have experienced, we have learned how to intimately communicate with each other from our heart, and our marriage has become strong enough to endure the storms, and my wife has truly become my best friend and confidant.
When we moved into the apartment, we moved in more on Sheila’s faith than mine. She was the one who found the apartment and she was also the one the Lord used to meet and make friends with the lady who was the manager of the apartment. This opened the door for us to be enabled to get the apartment. We had no idea how we were going to pay for it, as the income we receive is sporadic, at best, and rarely on time. We were caught between not having any place else to go and enough furniture to fill a good size home, so we moved in… hoping for a miracle. During the short time we were there, Sheila began to sort through what we had and we gave some things to the ministry of some of our friends, the women’s shelter, and the local Goodwill store, as we really had no place to put it. We managed to keep the cable on until June; it was our only communication outlet to the outside world. Both our phone and internet service were connected through it. During this time we really began to do some serious, in–depth spiritual renovating within our hearts. Several things had happened that led us to begin digging into the scriptures for answers. One of those was the greatest emotional impact I’ve experienced as a result of the death of my mother at the end of January in 2007. I had already lost some very precious friends two years prior to this, but when my mother passed, I was left with many questions… questions that I was not even sure that I knew how to ask. I had lost confidence in myself and had lost sight of my vision and just felt spiritually numb all over. I was spending a lot of time trying not to think, period.
Gradually over time, the Lord began to work through the dark haze that had clouded over both of us, and we began our awesome journey of restoration. As we continued to study, the little flame that remained steadily burning, howbeit not very bright, began to burn brighter and brighter each day and our vision of our purpose began to reform in our hearts. Oh, we learned so much during that short time.
We finally came to a place where we just could not afford to stay in the apartment. We had felt the leading to move to Florida, but we had no idea how we were going to do this. One thing was sure: our time in Crockett, Texas had come to an end and we both knew it. All the doors of fellowship had been closed to us and we felt we had no place to go. But the Lord had it all under His care. We had some dear friends who were moving out into the country near Nacogdoches, Texas, and they opened up a door for us to come and stay with them. We placed all of our household goods into a storage facility in Nacogdoches and parked our van outside the back door of their two bedroom trailer and used it as our bedroom. We enjoyed two and a half months… wonderful months with them and their hospitality was so refreshing, but we knew when we moved there that it was only a temporary situation. We still had our sights upon Florida, and were waiting for the Lord to open up a doorway for us to go.
As He always has done, the Lord responded to the desires of our heart and provided, very unexpectedly, the means for us to move to Panama City, Florida. We have been here since December.
One of the things that I personally had been struggling with prior to coming here was my standing with God in having the provisions we need to pay the bills and survive. When Sheila and I met, I was traveling as an evangelist. I, with the help of my then church family, was putting out a little publication and together with the publication I was traveling and ministering all over the United States. They provided me with a place to stay and contributed to my financial support as they were able. Sheila lived in Ohio and she owned some property with six rentals on it from which she received her income. She had come down to my home in Oklahoma in order for us to get married, and a dear friend of ours happened to be ministering for us that weekend. During the meeting he came over and knelt down before us and prophesied, and with tears in his eyes he told us that we were going to go through a fire… that it would be intense, but to remember that He said “through,” indicating a beginning and ending of the fire. After we were married on the 12th of January we went to Ohio and began to make preparation to sell the property. Approximately twenty-six days later, we were awakened at five a.m. in the morning by someone banging on our door, trying to wake us up because the house was on fire. The house was a complete loss and there was no insurance, because of a lack of finances. We found ourselves in a desperate place, not knowing what to do. We wound up selling the property on a land contract, to a young man with a small family, who at that time had a steady job as the personnel manager of a reputable manufacturing company. Even though he was not making a lot of money, he assured us that he could and would pay off the land, so we sold it to him for a considerably reduced price and, even with that help, he has had problems keeping up with the payments. At this writing he is behind several payments.
Since we have arrived here in Florida, I have been wrestling over the issue of not having a stable income. The Lord has really used our financial situation to get my attention on His purpose for my life. When He provided the means to come down here to Florida, both Sheila and I felt strongly that we were coming here to re–establish our vision and that He would open the doorway of restoration to fulfill the ministry that He had placed upon our hearts to do. Prior to coming here, and even a little while afterward, I had struggled with going and finding a job. Up until the last few months, my body was not in any shape to be able to work a full eight hour shift. Spiritually, physically and emotionally we have not been very long on our journey back to restoration. My physical work record is less than good because I have not held a regular job in over 12 years and I am fifty-two years old, so the places where I have applied for a job, the hiring staff are unable to see my hidden potential. The fact that I have not held down a job since 1995, as well as the truth that I am not skilled in any particular physical vocation, is a hindrance to my being hired, especially since there is always a younger person ready and eager to take the position.
So now here we are at this place again that we get out of the boat if it is sinking and walk on water, call upon Jesus out of fear to calm the storm or sink with the boat. For the first time in our Christian walk together, we have been put in the place where we have no other resources to call upon, except to trust upon the Lord for our sustenance. We recognize that in the past we have not entered into His rest because of unbelief on our part, not His. Truly, it is easy to become overwhelmed with what looks like a hopeless situation and start blaming ourselves and questioning and doubting, asking God to show us what to do in order to rescue us from our situation. I can look at the giants and say they are to big and we do not have a God who is big enough to conquer the land for us, or we can look at the benefits of recognizing the truth. The truth is: there are giants in the land and we do have to face them, and learn to overcome them by putting all of our trust in Him. But, He has blessed us again, with another opportunity to walk out into reality… our trust in Him. Do we believe, or do we not believe? I can choose to look at the electric bill, which must be paid by Tuesday morning, or the electric will be shut off, and hold on to fear and despair and loose it into our home, and begin to beg God to forgive me, or I can just say, “Peace be still,” and trust that all will be ok. Our rent is over due, and I can choose to pick up worry and fear, rolling that over and over in my mind, seeking for ways to come up with the money, but none of that has ever worked in the past, so it is obvious it will not work now. Now then, I come again, face–to–face, with the reality, “Do I really believe that God has called us to do what we are doing?” Do I really believe that everything will be ok?” Do I really believe that He has sent us down here to Florida as ministers? Even more than this, do we believe that we are what He says we are and He will make a way where there seems to be no way.
We really do have before us the potential to lose what we have thus far gained, both physically and spiritually, but we have chosen to move the mountain by faith, and put all of our trust into His word, that says “He will never leave us nor forsake us,” and “All who call upon Him shall be saved.” When we have gotten out of His way, He has always done so in the past and He will do so now. He did call us and we will succeed, and we will not allow fear, doubt, depression and anxiety or confusion entrance into our hearts. He is our provider and He is right now making a way where there seems to be no way. This brings me to my reason for sending you this letter. At this time our faith is undergoing a challenge, and the Lord is strengthening our walk with Him by providing us with another testimony of His love for us, by moving miraculously on our behalf. The next letter from me will be our testimony of how He has moved our mountain. Well, this is our testimony, and we wanted to share our blessings of how the Lord is working His love into us, with you. May you always be abundantly blessed above all your expectations.
EXPRESSIONS of MY HEART [Dave Garner] 4-4-08 1