In the past week alone, I have been asked numerous times how exactly we landed ourselves in California. We have often been asked about this, but this weekend, it was becoming quite a topic of almost EVERY social setting we found ourselves in. On Sunday afternoon, I was asked once again....and I laughed inside. It was comical because I had been kinda "stuck" on trying to figure out why God had brought this particular topic up so many times in consecutive days...and Sunday was just a little silent conversation between God and I, Him letting me know, "I hear you, Bonnie!" I smiled on the outside because my heart was bustin on the inside. I love how God speaks to each of us with so uniquely within who He created us to be.
So, I told the sorry, sappy story all starting with, "Well, Mike was a Manager for General Motors for 12 years, and, well, you KNOW what happened to GM!!....." I'm stopping there for a very specific reason; God told me to. After I told our short story that makes everyone feel really bad for us, we went around the room and introduced ourselves to new people. Mike started by saying, "Hi, I'm Mike Mahnke, this is my wife Bonnie, and my kids, Michaela and Josiah. People ask us often how we ended up here, and our new answer is just GOD." At that moment, I could not have been more proud of my husband, and yet at the same time, so completely humiliated before my God. The beginning of that conversation between me and God not 10 minutes earlier was finished in that one word; GOD. I left that pizza place different than when I went in.
I have spent 2 years telling the story of how Mike lost his job, and we were faced with only one choice, to come across the country for a job. I have been very proud of our story, because along the way, there were so many things that God dropped in our lap to let us know that He was all over everything that was going on. These "little" things to so many people proved to us that we were being obedient, even in the midst of extreme pain and disbelief. Do you see how this is going? This is how I have described the hand of God. Do you see what I see? I didn't until Sunday, but it is worth telling everyone about.
One of my pastors recently said to me, "We only have two choices, we can either hide or we can shine." The conversation was about something completely different, but I'm reminded of it as I think about how we "hide" behind our circumstances in life, blame them on "humanity", and forget to allow the Glory of God to shine through it. It has never been my intent to hide God from what has happened to us over these last two years, and He knows that, but He felt it was time for me to change the story, to remove "us" and start with Him! I love how God reveals things just at the right time for us. I was completely convicted as soon as those words came out of Mike's mouth. I cried out to God in my spirit, acknowledging that I had done exactly what I would never think I could do, minimize God and His authority in our lives to match the society we live in. To make it palatable to people around us, we often start with all the sad, sappy parts of our lives, how we have been down and out and how we "found" God in the middle of it...my how we have lost sight of the soveirgnty of our God.
Our story starts like this; "Well, you see, God knew long before we were ever created exactly what, when, where, how and why we were going to be in the situations of the last 15 years. God walked right beside us as we trudged through medical diagnosis after medical diagnosis that would ultimately claim the lives of both Mike and I. God carried us through the muck of figuring out how we were going to care for our two beautiful kids, and He guided us as we made difficult decisions that ultimately led to a day almost three years ago that would change our lives forever."
I think of the years leading up to that day as a gift from God. I could not have said that in the midst of the pain and trauma, but today, I can see God all over it, so much bigger than the actual circumstances that engulfed us. Being on the other side of miraculous healing gives us such clearer eyes. I'm so not only talking about physical and psychological healing, but of core healing. The kind of healing that causes a person to be responsible for what they have done with the "yuck" of the world. It has truly been the most miraculous healing I have encountered. God knows this, and He celebrates it with me. Manifested healing of the body is miraculous and speaks to the greatness of our God. Manifested healing of the inner man takes that greatness we have received from Him, that is too much for us to even imagine, and places it on the deepest part of the heart. There are really no words to explain it. That is how Amazing His love, grace, and mercy is for us.
Today, I'm reminded of God. A God who is not limited to the 12 foot painting of a long haired shepard holding a lamb that was plastered at the front of my little church growing up; but a God who created the world, a God who has a plan within that creation, a God who created each of us in His image to bring Him glory. It is possible for us to take God out of the box we have put Him in. Give Him glory first.
In the beginning, GOD! That's simple. My story, Your story, All stories....IN THE BEGINNING, GOD!!!!