By Billie Marie Zal
God never makes a mistake but I had my doubts the day I arrived at my new home in Northwest Arkansas. Standing in the living room I noticed how dirty the walls were, with trash piled high in the fireplace. And there were fleas everywhere - HUNDREDS of them!
I grabbed my Chihuahua, tucked her beneath my arm and made a quick exit to the outside. But “outside” was infested with fleas, too! And what I had hoped would be a great adventure was now turning into a nightmare.
Some lovely big boulders on the slope above beckoned me; they looked cool and inviting. So I sat down and “communed with myself.” If God had not made a mistake, HAD I? My thoughts were interrupted by a feeling of “creepy, crawly things” advancing upward on my bare legs. I didn’t see anything, but within a few hours, I realized that I had been the target for a “chigger attack.”
Seven months before this day, I had dreamt a dream while living in southern California, out in the San Fernando Valley. I didn’t know then that God would move me. We could have signed the lease for another year. But the dream indicated that God would move me, and this was His way of letting me know.
In the dream, I found myself in a house in a forest surrounded by tall trees. There was total darkness, but I had a flash light and I was looking for something. But what? Then - in the dream - I knew that I had to find the abstract, proof of ownership of this property.
Just as I saw the abstract, I looked out of the front window and at the end of the long, gravel driveway, car headlights were slowly approaching. I was frightened and started to run but then I heard a voice: “Don’t run. The property is yours.” Then I awakened.
I kept a journal and made a note of the dream the next day and then forgot all about it. But a few days later the Beverly Hills attorney told us that he planned to sell the property where we lived. He actually offered it to us so that he could use it as a tax shelter, but he did not believe in Jesus. In order to be a member of our Corporation, we must all believe in Jesus. So we declined his offer. Now - where would we go?
By January I knew that we would be leaving soon, and I began to pack. My Mother visited me before I finally moved, and when she saw all of the boxes stacked out on the huge porch she exclaimed: “Billie, YOU AREN’T PACKING BEFORE YOU KNOW WHERE YOU ARE GOING, ARE YOU?” I replied, “yes, Mama, and we have already notified the van lines. We just don’t have an address yet.” She gave me her “I will never undusted you as long as I live” look, and the subject was dropped.
With the furniture in place, I began to relax. It was HOME, blessed and given to me by my Father in Heaven. I have never again doubted that reality. True, there was no clothes closet in my bedroom, and the water smelled like rotten eggs. The well pipes were split and water pressure was often just not there. But I discovered that “sulphur water,” even though it smells like rotten eggs, is good for the skin and hair. And in time, I became accustomed to the odor.
Things happened. And to fix things, it costs money. And by the time everything was in place, the bank account had dwindled to almost ZERO. I remember one day when I had only a pound of bacon and a few eggs in the refrigerator. I didn’t mind. Poverty causes me to trust God when I cannot see, and to empathize with others who have nothing. If “Wealth is a snare,” like the Bible says, then I won’t have to worry about getting into a snare! But I learned to trust and love, and wait, and that lesson made me a more productive person.
It was lonely, that first year. The quietness was “deafening.” I had been accustomed to noises like the Rocketdyne testing rockets which made my ranch home tremble on its ledge, and the Los Angeles smog smothered me if I ventured to downtown. But that was California and this was Arkansas and like Coach Lou Holtz was once quoted as saying, “Arkansas isn’t the end of the earth, it just seems that way.”
I missed my beautiful yard out there, and the landscaping. Geraniums grew waist high and there were lemon trees, tangerine, every kind of lovely flowering shrub. Oleanders lined the four hundred foot driveway, making my home seem like a paradise.
My yard here, in contrast, was a miniature square with weeds knee high and one forlorn shrub, long ignored and overgrown. There were no birds until my burrows and horses arrived. And when the burrow brayed, things began to come to check us out! I had one old white hen who greeted me upon my arrival and when I got her a husband, she laid her first egg for me.
Soon the sparrows arrived, and the mountain began to sing. Again, I found myself living on a mountain ledge. In California I had been able to see the lovely Santa Susana mountains as they turned every color in late evening. Here, I can see no farther than the deep canyon below my front driveway, with rocky bluffs making a solid wall to the top. It’s as though this mountain has tucked me in, and I feel protected. I like that.
We can never truly appreciate wheat we have until we leave what we DID have behind. I had done that. The day before I left my California mountain, I had struggled to the very top. From up there, I could see the great Los Angeles Basin, the circle of the mountains, everything. And I prayed a prayer that day that went something like this: “O Lord, You put me here for Your purpose and Your glory. Now You are sending me away. May the love and peace of power of Your Spirit touch this beautiful spot and may an after glow remain so that those who come h ere will know that Love inhabited this place.”
Then I said goodbye forever.
Life here was hard but it was fun. Gail, Shirley, Marg and I planned a big rock garden at my back door. We didn’t have any money for flowers, but we stacked the rocks and by faith saw how pretty it would be some day.
We built a stable for the mules and horse. Eventually we built kennels for dogs, and goat barns, decks, porches, everything. It became a beautiful place where the Lord could “rest the sole of His foot.”
Then in August, 1978, something happened which I have never fully comprehended, and it had to be from God. I had, on that day, received a request for prayers for a dear, elderly friend who was near death. I knew he wanted to live, so after dark - on a moonless night, I went out near the highway and prayed aloud. I lifted my arms up toward Heaven and asked for my friend’s life.
Suddenly, although my eyes were tightly shut, I sensed a bright light. I opened them and the entire driveway and all of the trees were bathed in what appeared to be “black light.” It was an eerie green, full of brilliance that seemed unreal. Then I glanced upward to about fifteen feet, and floating silently toward me from the East was a long, “laser like” beam of blue light. It resembled those lasers which the men fought with in the movie, “Star Wars.” I recall wondering how this one beam of light could light up so much of the mountain.
I was afraid. It did not appear to be “earthly,” and it continued to float in a straight line, stopping at the entrance of my driveway where two large posts stand. It hung there, suspended, and then it began to “unfold.” How it happened, I do not know. But even as it unrolled, like a scroll, it began to turn into ashes and I could even see the ashes dematerialize. By now I was amazed and I turned back toward the East and said, “Lord, You have given me a sign, please confirm it is from you.” By the time I finished this request, I heard a tremendous “BOOM” and the solid rock beneath my feet actually shook. I got scared and ran into my house.
The phone was ringing when I got inside, and Brian said, “Hey, Billie, did you see what I saw, and hear what I heard?” Thankful that someone else had see it, I said, “Yes, but how did you see that beam of light from way back there?” He replied, “What beam of light? I didn’t see that. I was standing out on the goat barn porch and everything got very bright. I looked up and there was this huge ball of what appeared to be blue-white electricity floating up above this mountain. It didn’t make a sound, and it was gigantic. Then by the time it disappeared from view, I heard a huge BOOM.”
I knew then that God had sent us His signs. But I didn’t realize why. Many years later I ponder, was the “Scroll” a message from God and did He perhaps remind us that judgment was coming? From that night on, I vowed to live each day to the fullest and waste no time in living the Life He has given me.
Whatever it meant, God knows. Since that night in 1978, God has worked wonders on His mountain. I look about me now, as I write, and where there was chaos, order reigns. Where there was no life, the mountain sings with the songs of birds and wildlife, and night sounds. Where there was no Love, He entered in and Love abounds.
My tiny front yard is covered now, with three lovely decks. Beneath one, just at the stairs is a quiet “water pool.” It even has a bubbling sound made by a pump that I was able to install. Sometimes, very late at night, I go out there and sit. “Tuffetta,” the twenty year old cat (who refused to live in my house, she’s a street person) works her way into my arms as I think upon the goodness of my God. I often remember the words, “The night has a thousand eyes,” and I can feel the eyes of the forest watching me. But there is never fear - only peace. Wherever God is, there is peace.
I plant my flower pot gardens and hang my baskets which are a riot of every color, and I marvel at all that God has done. Out of nothing, He has given me so much. The trees on the slope above me, so scrawny and lonely when I arrived, are now great, hovering trees where the Orioles build their nests and the babies learn to fly. Wherever there is love, there is growth. And growth gives us an empathy with living things. Recently I found a tiny spider in the bath tub. He could never have gotten out, and I started to swat him; but the thought came to me, “He loves life, too. Why kill him?” So I caught him in a piece of tissue and took him outside. I am frightened of spiders but he looked so lost. I cannot bear for something to be lost.
Each year, we will continue to celebrate life, the meaning of faith, and the hope of tomorrow. May each of you have that same promise in your hearts, and together, we can thank the Giver of Gifts and the Blessed Hope that binds us together as One.
And I will stay here, on my mountain, and “Occupy till He comes!”
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