By Lisa Jenkins-Moore
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6, 7, NIV
Kristie was only 26 when she lost her mother. Suddenly, without explanation, her healthy 50-year-old mother passed away. Kristie had come from a long line of Believers—her grandfather was a preacher and she remembers communing with God at a very young age. Nevertheless, the unexpected death of her mother made her question the goodness of God. How could a good and loving God cause, or even allow something so painful? She was just beginning her own life as a wife and mother, experiencing a difficult time in her marriage and rearing a 2-year old daughter; she needed her mother as much as ever, a desire that would never again be fulfilled.
Kristie was devastated. She had received the call about her mother around lunchtime on a weekday and by the time she arrived at the hospital, her mother was gone. She had been robbed of her mother, her daughter robbed of her grandmother, and now she’d been robbed of the chance to say goodbye. Her anger and disappointment hardened her heart and sent her on a 20 year estrangement from God.
She tearfully recalled a dream she had of her mother just shortly after her passing: “She knocked on my door and I opened it. I asked her to come in. She said she couldn’t, that she was only here to tell me she loved me. I asked her if she was in heaven and she said yes.” Kristie was deeply touched by the dream as it seemed to bring some closure. Years later, through counseling she learned healing could not begin until she forgave God for the death of her mother. She did, but still did not trust Him, so she continued life without God and life without church.
A few years ago, her sister bought land in Lavon and Kristie felt she was to build next door. She and her husband put their house on the market, both sure they were to move. Their house sat without interest, and even when a contract came, it fell through. Kristie was angry and ripped the for sale sign out of the yard. She was both frustrated and disappointed feeling like God was once more standing in the way of her happiness.
About a month later, she went to the doctor for a routine mammogram, and later received a call requesting she come in for the results. At 42, she was healthy and had no family history of breast cancer. Her friend assured her the call was only routine but Kristie sensed otherwise. As she pulled into the garage of her home one afternoon, she heard the Lord speak to her heart, “This is why your house did not sell—I’m taking care of you.” She knew then she had cancer, and on the following Monday, she and her husband were given the news.
Though the news was awful, Kristie had great peace; she believed the Lord said he’d take care of her and she trusted He would. After a lumpectomy and six weeks of radiation, she entered 2013 cancer-free. She knew God had seen her through the ordeal, and the walls around her heart softened some, but did not come down completely.
In 2015, her best friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her friend’s husband heard about a “Pink Impact” cruise, so they both signed up so they’d have something to look forward to once her friend’s treatment was over. Initially, they thought the cruise was for breast cancer survivors, but later Kristie realized it wasn’t. At the airport, all the cruise participants were identifiable as they’d been given similar gear—t-shirts and bags with the event colors and logo. Women began approaching them, asking what “campus” they attended. It was only then they learned the cruise was a women’s conference hosted by Gateway Church!
Kristie met one cruise participant at the airport, a woman named Carolyn, who bore a striking resemblance to her mother (who was also named Carolyn!). Carolyn was a sweet woman with a radiant smile and Kristie was instantly drawn to her. The cruise experience was incredible; Kristie and her friend were both moved by the worship and speakers, but Kristie still felt distant from the Lord, unsure she could ever fully trust Him again.
Alone for a moment on the ship, she ran into Carolyn. She hugged Kristie and said, “I love you.” Kristie began to weep as the woman began speaking into her life. Carolyn said, “God loves you and has collected every tear you’ve cried. He is ready for you to move beyond your anger. He has great plans for you and it’s time for you to get busy.” Kristie responded, expressing her hurt and disappointment, but Carolyn continued, “This isn’t about you, Kristie. It’s about God’s plan for your life. It’s time to engage.”
Something clicked for Kristie in that moment. Carolyn’s words rang true. Kristie was determined to make a change, but knew it would be difficult—she and her family hadn’t been to church in 19 years, and she wasn’t sure how to start. When she returned home, she shared the experience with her husband. A few weeks later, they had dinner with friends, one of whom gave her husband a prophetic word, confirming much of what they already knew—they needed to get back in church and committed to their relationship with Christ. They began visiting churches and landed on one in 2016.
Kristie and her husband continued to grow in their faith and decided once again to put their house on the market. Unlike before, it sold in one day. Now they are living in a newly constructed house, next to her sister, on the property God promised her years ago—a house they know will be used as a place to share God’s love with others.
Everyone who meets Kristie sees the joy of the Lord in her countenance. Her journey was arduous—she struggled with anger, disappointment, and depression. Yet God relentlessly pursued her, wooing her with His truth and love. Her hunger for more of Him is contagious, and her life emanates His goodness. Though she still doesn’t understand the death of her mother, Kristie says, “I trust God in spite of it, knowing He is always good.” You see, if we are to receive the peace that passes all understanding, we must travel through experiences we don’t understand. When we seek to know God, rather than understand Him, we will never be disappointed.
Connect with Lisa at www.lisajenkinsmoore.com to learn more about her writing and speaking engagements.