Our move to the Bronx, before moving to Italy, filled me with terror. I was just a simple farm girl, after all, raised in rural Michigan! And New York City was the last place I wished to go. Yet I knew the Lord was leading our family there. The Lord guides in many ways. Through his Word, our spiritual leaders, the counsel of godly friends. And a peace that passes all understanding.
But for me the greatest confirmation was my husband’s certainty. I believe that a wife’s first calling is that of following her husband’s lead, even when it’s to a place she’s terrified of!
And though certain of doing the right thing, my fear intensified as departure day neared. Visits to my husband’s Bronx family over the years had done little to set my heart at ease, and I wondered how I would ever survive! But just before moving, the Lord put peace in my heart with this verse:
And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, ‘Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people,’ Acts 18:9-10.
How foolish I was being! Had I forgotten that the Lord is everywhere, even in New York? “He’ll be with us,” I assured myself, “surely all will be fine!”
It would gratify me to claim that the perfect apartment we found was a result of my prayers and faith. But truth is, I’d been too busy worrying to pray about any details at all! But the Lord is ever faithful, even when we are not.
And many of the things we fear and worry over never even come about.
I had dreaded the idea of a huge apartment complex. But we found a place in a single-family dwelling. Along the tree-lined street of a quiet, friendly neighborhood. Complete with a fenced yard and trained German Shepherd watchdog! (Useful things to have in the Bronx!)
Which is why, upon our arrival, the new landlady greeted us in utter astonishment.
Rocky, jaws snarling, usually frightened people off with by lunging fiercely at the fence. But with tail happily wagging, he let us pet him even before she came out! She had never seen the likes of it before!
In fact, during our year there, they always had to tie him before letting strangers in. Otherwise he tried to tear the arms off anyone brave (or foolish) enough to even venture too near the gate.
But Rocky took us in as family from the start, almost as though he’d been waiting for us. As though he was God’s dog, placed there to help me through a very difficult time.
And though it seems crazy, I think he was! Because the Lord was teaching me that, with him, I could walk safely. Even in the middle of such a big and scary metropolis. And that, in spite of my lack of faith, he would always take of me.
God never promised us a life without pain or problems.
Our year there was anything but easy. The shopping neighborhood just blocks from our house was terrible. Drug addicts and pushers, pimps and prostitutes, and street people everywhere. Sirens sounded all hours of the day and night. Traffic never stopped. Crime became part of the daily scene. And overwhelmed, I came near a nervous breakdown.
But God promises to stay with us, and help us through our problems.
And one by one, he helped me through the scary days and difficult nights. Through getting lost at night. Through the scariest train journey of my life. And by setting me free from the prison of fear I’d built myself. Showing me that we can trust him, not only when all is well, but also when overcome by fears and trouble.
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? Psalm 56:3-4.
Why should we fear with God on our side?