This is a story from October 2018. My prayer in writing it is that you will be able to locate yourself if the story and recognize how faithful God is to you in the small, seemingly insignificant things of your life and that from there you would have courage to believe that He will also be faithful in the bigger things.
PART 1: THE PINK DRESS.
One of my dear friends was getting married at the end of October here in Guatemala and I was a bridesmaid. Because the 5 bridesmaids were coming from 3 different countries, our instructions regarding dresses were simple: find any floor-length, blush pink dress. I ordered a dress online. It came and I wasn’t super keen on it. That is an understatement. It needed several alterations so I assured myself that after the alterations were made it would look much better. A few weeks before the wedding I took the dress to have it altered and I tried it on and it was … bad. It was just a BAD dress. I can laugh about it now, but let me tell you— I was not laughing. I thought, “There is absolutely no way I can wear this dress! There’s no way!” But at this point the wedding is 8 days away. It would be impossible to find another one. I was nearly in tears over the situation. I had conversations in my mind, “Steph— you only have to wear it for a few hours. It’ll be FINE. It’s not that bad…Steph, it’s really bad. You cannot wear this dress. You will FOR SURE ruin all of the pictures…Steph, it’s not your wedding, relax…Steph, drop out of the wedding party. Right now. There’s still time. Drop out ASAP.”
Here is something about Guatemala: There is a place called “the paca”. Imagine walking into a huge, open-air second hand clothing store. But imagine that instead of rows and rows of clothes neatly hung on hangers, all the clothes are piled haphazardly in mountains on long tables. Imagine that instead of the clothes being organized by gender or size or type (all the shirts together, for example), there are actual mountains of clothes that you have to dig into and only once you retract your hand from the mountain are you able see what you found. Did you ever play the games in school at Halloween where the teacher would have a pumpkin, cut off the top and mix up all the guts with water and throw in marbles and toys? You had to reach your hand into the pumpkin and try to find the prize. That game is comparable to shopping at the paca. You never know what you’re going to find when you reach your hand in. You don’t go to the paca with an article of clothing in mind to buy because you will not find it. You have to go there with several hours of free time and an open mind. Trust me: you will find the cozy sweater that you never knew you wanted but you will not find the simple black tee that you actually needed.
You don’t go to the paca when you need to find a floor-length, light pink dress for a wedding that is taking place in less than a week. It would be harder than finding a needle in a haystack. But what other choice did I have?! Here is an excerpt from my journal the day before I went, “God please, PLEASE, PLEASE help me to find a dress there tomorrow and it has to be the right colour and it has to fit perfectly and PLEASE help me because I cannot wear that other one! This is my last hope!” I think God likes it when we are honest with Him, even about silly things like a dress. He also probably laughs!
I bet you can guess the end of the story. We walk in and within 5 minutes I have a dress. FIVE MINUTES! We kept walking around for a little bit, and we found an even BETTER dress. I went into the day planning on telling my friend I was going to be dropping out of the wedding party, and I came out in 20 minutes with two floor-length, blush pink dresses.
That evening was a women’s service at church and I felt the Lord speak to me, “Because you are my daughter, you are royalty. A king would never make his daughter go to a ball wearing something she didn’t like. A king has unlimited resources and he would get her a new dress. It was EASY for me to find you a pink dress in the paca. You found it so quickly! It was right there waiting for you at the first table you stopped at. I put it there and it was my JOY and PLEASURE to do that for you. And if I care enough about the little things in your life like a pink dress, why do you so often doubt that I won’t come through for the bigger things in your life? I will. You can trust me.”
I was in tears because of the Lord’s kindness. Isn’t He good to us? It was a silly pink dress. It was a trivial thing but He came through. Doesn’t He always?
PART TWO: THE HOUSE.
My house rental contract was to expire mid-November 2018. Knowing this, I spoke with the landlord in September about renewing the contract for another year and all was well.
Fast-forward a few days after I find the dress. It’s 10pm and there’s a knock on my door. It’s the landlord.
Landlord: “Buenas noches, I’m here because we have to talk about the house and next year. We are increasing the rent by 50% and you must pay the entire year in advance.”
Me: “WHAT?! I talked to you a few weeks ago! You said everything was fine. I can’t pay that. You are never going to find anyone who will pay that much, much less pay it all at one time. No one will!”
Landlord: “Well, if you want to keep living here then you have to pay that.”
Me: “The lease expires in 2 weeks! How am I supposed to find somewhere else to live in that short time?”
Landlord: “I realize that this is short notice, so I will let you live here for an extra week.”
Me to myself: “wow, super generous.”
Another cultural tidbit: When I first moved to Guatemala, I spent several days trying to find a house to live in. There’s no internet advertising, there are not even handwritten signs on houses indicating a house for rent. I literally canvassed the streets in my town, knocking on doors, “Hello, do you know anybody who has a house for rent?” Sometimes they would send me on a hunt to find their mother’s sister-in-law’s niece’s friend’s brother who has a house he might be interested in renting. It was a frustrating and overwhelming experience and how excited do you think I was to have to do it all over again now.
But I did it…unsuccessfully. I was walking back to my house, dejected, resigned to being homeless for the rest of my days. I figured I could become a squatter on a mountainside somewhere. I joked about that, but I was also serious about it because I didn’t know what to do. At the very far back of my heart there was a peace that I knew God would provide, because He always has…but the peace was at the very back, hard to reach. But it was there because of the recent pink dress situation. So I was on the walk of shame back to my house with a friend and she saw some kids she knew and we went over to say hi to them. Their mom came out to chat with us and asked what we were up to. I explained to her my tragic story and she lamented that she did not know anyone who was renting. Just then a man on a motorcycle drove by and she exclaimed, “Wait! Wait — HE has a house that he is renting!!” She flagged him down and the rest is history.
The Lord planned that. The timing wasn’t a coincidence.
He gave me two new pink dresses, not just one.
He gave me a beautiful house that is much nicer and less expensive than the previous house; He gave me a free upgrade.
He is the God of abundance. It is His joy and pleasure to provide for us, and to do so generously and abundantly (Luke 12:32).
Each experience I go through with the Lord works to build a history with God. When you meet a new friend, it takes time and experience to get to know them well. Over time though, you will be able to predict how they will react to a given situation. It is the same with God. The pink dress and the house are just small examples, but now I can say confidently, “Because He provided a pink dress and then a house, I know He will provide in whatever I face next.” I have tangible examples of His faithfulness. I write this story from my new house, and I sit here marvelling at the goodness of God that He brought me to this place. He fills my life with blessings of which I am undeserving.
Does He do that in your life too? I bet he does. I bet if you look hard, you’ll find your own pink dress story where He does the [seemingly] impossible for you SIMPLY because He loves you and not because of anything you have done to earn it.
That’s just who He is.
Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.