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How Hope Pulled Me Through

A personal story from April Harper, Dwell CEO.

HE IS NOT HERE; HE HAS RISEN, JUST AS HE SAID. — MATTHEW 28:6A

Jesus fulfilled his promise to rise from the grave, so we can trust that his Word is good. He will always take care of us, and always hears and answers our prayers.

By the time I was nine years old, I was writing my prayers in a journal almost daily. Eventually, I realized many of the prayers I had prayed had real answers, and I started recording what God had done in response to my prayers on the back of the page. I had asked for a best friend for two years, and then I received one—and she is still one of my best friends today. I asked to travel around the world, and 10 years later, I got to do that (more on that later). 

One day I came home and the refrigerator was no longer working. My parents were really distraught. We had five kids in my family, and money was very tight. I was distraught too, knowing it could be awhile before we got a new one. I wrote this prayer in my journal that night: “God, please give us a new refrigerator.” I knew he would provide. And I also knew I could go to him and cry and pray and lay down my physical needs with him. 

I think it was a few days later when the new refrigerator arrived. I wrote about it on the back side of the page. At ten years old, this was an opportunity for my faith to be stretched. Every time I needed to pray much bigger prayers as I got older, experienced much more devastating situations, or needed God to work miracles to rescue me, I remembered that refrigerator prayer in the journal. He had answered my prayers in the past, and he is the same God today. God doesn't always answer our prayers the way we are hoping, but he always does what is best. We can trust his character and kindness toward us, even when our situation doesn't go as planned or hoped for.

As a junior in college, I met a girl who told me about the Semester At Sea voyage, where college students travel on a ship to 15 countries, going around the entire globe. I knew I needed to do it. I didn’t know why, but I just knew I needed to take the next step toward it. I paid a $1,000 deposit that was my inheritance from my grandmother who had recently passed away, and I accepted a spot on the ship. I was going to need $15,000 in three months to pay for the semester before leaving that August. I was 21 years old with no connections to money. My plan was to take on multiple summer jobs and thought the money would add up. If I had done any kind of math, I would have known that minimum wage positions, even working every hour of the day, would not have added up to $15,000. I just knew though that I needed to do it. I answered an ad in the classified section of the newspaper for someone needing a babysitter for infant twins for nine hours a week, and I thought that was the perfect job to add to the list that summer! By week 2, I was babysitting for that family for 20 hours. By week 3, I was babysitting 40 hours. And by week 4, I was working 24-hour shifts, caring for the baby twins through the night, and supporting the family. I never looked for another job that summer, and in the final week of the summer, after finally doing the math, guess how much money I had in my account? Exactly $15,000. 

I preached the goodness of God to everyone on my ship. I was so engaged in seeing God in all the beauty in every country I went to, because I knew it was a precious gift he had given me. I read the book Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge at some point during that semester and let myself be reminded that God loved me and created me in his image. 

I came home 100 days later to find the life I had always known falling apart. I was stunned to see it happening. And then, I realized God had given me that time on the ship for this purpose. To shower me in love and strengthen me by his Word, and teach me exactly who I am to him, so that when my world at home was shaken, I would not be. 

How good is he? After this, whenever I feel a prompting from God for a step I need to take, there is very little that can stop me. Fear can try, but God has proven himself. Jesus is the same God who defeated death and rose from the grave. In doing so he defeated death in my life too and can in yours, as well.

What is your refrigerator story? 

Thanks for reading,

April

Dwell Blog/Podcast Featured Content

April Harper

April is the CEO of Dwell Differently. She lives in Indiana with her husband and two wonderful children. She leads the Dwell team and is deeply grateful for getting to watch the Word of God transform hearts!

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