The rain had been coming down in sheets, pounding heavy on the roof like an assault being carried out against me. And I took it as that. A personal attack. I sat with my legs crossed dragging hard on my cigarette. My hair was clumpy and matted and hung down in greasy plaits. There was no reason to shower now. I wasn’t going anywhere. I looked past our slab of concrete with the tin covering at the wild grasses behind our house. This was hell.
Hell for a 16-year-old was being dragged away from my high school in the middle of my junior year, leaving my boyfriend and best friends, and identity. And then to find myself in the middle of a rain season that lasted for 42 days straight felt like God was just punishing me for the sins I embraced.
My parents had gone to church for a while before they got the ministry job offer that would mean packing up our family in the middle of my junior year and moving us to Hawaii. They’ve always heard clearly, after seeking Him. When they first went to missions, when they moved back, it was all a series of prayers and waiting, even fasting for direction, and God always showed up and directed their steps, even in the hardest of times. And this was no different.
They sought The Lord while I pleaded with them to turn it down. And The Lord came back with this, “If Alia consents to go, go.” They felt that if I agreed to it, then they would. However while they were hearing from the Lord, I had ditched school and was smoking pot and drinking so upon arriving home less than sober, I agreed wholeheartedly. It made no difference that later I retracted my consent and sobbed angrily and rebelled in every visible way, God uses all things, even my foolish choices.
And then we arrived in Pahoa, Hawaii and my dad went to see the house the ministry had provided for us. It was unlivable. I don’t mean it wasn’t our taste. I mean it had no walls, only concrete floors, no plumbing and heavy green mold scaling the crumbling cement. The jungle loomed in around the house pushing deeply, unkempt and wild. No one had flown to the Big Island to inspect the house for years and we later learned they trained peace corp people on that property for third world missions. my parents had lived in Nepal in the early 80′s and this was worse.
The ministry also provided a car, which amounted to an old mustang that looked more like a Pinto, it’s exhaust fumes would leak into the car so we had to drive with the windows cracked which would have been fine but I did mention it rained for the first 42 days we were there. So yeah, we’d drive around holding a towel against the window.
And I mocked God. This is what your God provides? This is the way He rewards your obedience?
My foolish parents had given their lives in service to God and here we were, homeless, with a broken down car in the middle of nowhere.
I had all the fuel I needed to hate God. I had practiced for years.
It had started with church but it had spread to hating all of Christianity and eventually to God himself. How can a good God have such jacked up people who claim him? How can a loving God allow so much pain and suffering? How could a good God allow the trials I had seen firsthand in my family? How could God let me suffer in the ways I had? I could find no answer to satisfy.
My parents knew there was no way we could live there and contacted the ministry that had hired him and provided these things. They agreed to pay half of the rent for a small rental after seeing the conditions of the “home.” At this same time, my father had gotten another job offer to work for the Salvation Army which would have included a salary and actual living accommodations.
Again, they prayed. I knew nothing of this at the time. My mom felt strongly that they needed to be obedient to what they believed God had called them to even though things were bleak. They also felt that to quit now would solidify my view that God is cheap and mean, and poor. He does not provide for his children because a.) he doesn’t want to b.) he won’t C.) he can’ t.
And so they dug into the small amount they had gotten when we sold our house and rented a small house with a slab of concrete in back and a tin roof to overlook the floods that were coming. And like God preparing Noah for the destruction of the wicked, my God was preparing me for the death of my old self.
And I sat, alone, looking into the wild, my heart aflame with bitterness and anger, and drew hard on my cigarette, letting the smoke blow out into the pouring rain.
I ask for grace for the next few days as I am at The Influence Conference and I just pulled an all nighter red eye flight and am not adjusting to the time change. The next few days may be a tad scattered. I’m going to grab a quick nap before the festivities begin tonight. Thanks all.