We all have our “wilderness” wanderings—much like the Israelites in the Old Testament. We have times in our lives when we have departed one place (Egypt) and are on to a new place (the Promised Land). Many who enter the Drug Rehab Centers Houston or Battered Womens Shelter Houston are doing just that--moving from one place in their lives to another. We hope and pray that there will not be a LONG wandering - 40 years - between our points of departure and arrival...but, truly, only God knows. Sandra has been "wandering" for some time now...and, I want to share a bit of her story.
I met Sandra nearly two years ago. She was a resident of our Transitional Living Center and getting ready to move out after being there for fourteen months. Sandra successfully completed the New Hope Program , Personal Development , and the WorkFaith Connection Program. Sandra had a job, money in savings and was paying her bills consistently for the first time in her life. She was ready for the next step.
Star of Hope's newest program (at the time), New Horizons, was exactly what Sandra needed. Living in her own apartment, with her children, and the supportive services the program offered, Sandra was certain she would be able to begin her new life as a sober, loving mother who wanted a brighter future.
Sandra hit the ground running! She searched for better-paying jobs and was soon rewarded for her hard work. Not too soon after moving into her new home, she got a job as a housekeeper for a local hotel. She was making a higher wage AND, even before she completed her probationary period, they targeted her for management...enrolling her into Manager Training classes. Sandra loved her work. Then...tragedy struck...
Sandra, on her way to the bus stop to go to work, was hit by a car. She was not injured badly, thank God. However, she was injured enough that she needed physical therapy and to be on "light duty." Her supervisor told her there was no "light duty" assignments...and asked her to call when she was released to return to work. But, they called her first--a month later, they called to tell her they were letting her go. They had to fill her open position. Sandra was hurt--physically from the car accident; and, now, emotionally from the loss of her job.
Thus began Sandra's "wilderness" walk. In the Bible, the Lord was with the Israelites--a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13:21). Sandra KNEW God was with her--because she had provision. God provided for her through the New Horizons program which was able to come alongside her for a time with HER portion of the rent; the program was able to help supplement her food pantry through Food Donation Houston; and, she gained support and encouragement from the staff and other residents in the program through prayer, cards, and hugs when needed.
Sandra's "wilderness" walk continues to this day (can you believe 15 months!!??)...she has searched and searched for jobs in Houston. She has applied in person, online and networked through several websites to find a position. She has not been idle, she has not complained (different from the children of Israel), and she has not given up!! During her time in the wilderness Sandra has accomplished the following:
*started her own cleaning business--SGH Cleaning Services (all that is left to do is obtain the bonding)
*served others by making sandwiches and cupcakes and taking them to Soup Kitchen Houston (at SEARCH Homeless Program)
*involved herself in the lives of her children (visiting their schools, attending counseling programs with them)
*attended Recovery Meetings, Bible Studies, and other meetings to offer HER testimony and provide encouragement to others
*helped several other families get into the Transitional Living Center when they found themselves homeless and in need of help
*recognized a desire to help others who are addicted to drugs and alcohol--she wants to be an LCDC
Sandra has been "wilderness" wandering--but, she has NOT been idle or lazy. She has times of depression--when rejection overwhelms her--but, the "manna" comes again in the morning (Exodus 16:14) and gives her the strength to continue. She has times when she wants to GIVE UP, but the water comes from the rock (Exodus 17:6) and refreshes her so she can fill out another application and go on another interview.
As I offer encouragement to Sandra, I keep telling her, "God has something GREAT coming to you." Sandra's Promised Land is out there...Sandra hears the Lord saying to her (just as he did Joshua) "Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9b)
And, so we wait by the Jordan River for God's command to cross over (Joshua 3:14)...Sandra's Promised Land is waiting for her AND, while she is waiting--she finds "Hope in the Wilderness."