At times you have to take a certain road for a destination you can’t fully see.
This past summer, we packed our car and drove across the country to the flat, green prairie lands of Texas – a place we never imagined we’d call home.
It has been an adventure, and we have met so many new people. Our world has suddenly expanded, and this is a good thing. But it has taken some time to adjust, especially for my son.
One night, early on, my eleven-year-old son said to me in tears, “Mom, this will never be home.”
We were sitting there amongst boxes stacked to the ceiling and a chaos of bubble wrap. Outside the day was stifling hot and humid. Our life felt anything but in order. I felt anything but strong at that moment. Overwhelmed, I remember pushing the tears back thinking, did we do the right thing?
As you know, our lives can take some pretty surprising turns. One day, everything is as usual. Then one day, you find yourself at a fork in the road, painstakingly weighing the life you want against the one you believe God actually wants for you.
I still remember the day we decided to move to Texas. We were sitting there in our little blue house in California. “They offered me the position, and we have to decide,” my husband said. His company was offering to relocate our family to Texas that summer. I didn’t know whether to celebrate or cry!
The last thing on our minds was change. I had spent the last several years sick with Lyme Disease, chronic fatigue, and other health issues. And during those years, there was so much uncertainty for our family. Finally now, I was better – right or wrong, I wanted life to feel normal again.
And likely, had it just been a job relocation, we would not have considered the move. But the pastors of our congregation had just announced that they were planting a church in this very area of Texas, and they were asking individuals and families to pray about going.
We talked for many nights with our kids. We talked about what it means to love and serve God and others, especially out of our comfort zone. But the kids would cry at just the mention of leaving home, at the mere thought of being away from best friends, grandparents, cousins. The consensus was no one wanted to go.
And as we sat in front of this fork in the road, my husband and I felt torn. Like a carefully constructed tower of blocks, it felt as if just one slight abrupt move in the wrong direction at the wrong time… life might just topple over, and we’d be right back to barely hanging on.
I was terrified (and too weary) of going down yet another hard road.
But what kind of life was a life driven by fear?
We knew God was calling us to not look to ourselves but to Him.
We just knew He was calling us out, and asking us to trust Him with whatever meager pieces we had.
And do you know what? As we sold our home and watched the movers haul our life and years of memories into their truck, I became filled with an unexplainable peace and gratitude for the road ahead. We said some very sad goodbyes and drove off that summer morning.
So here we are.
And I can say, when God calls you, He is faithful to provide. He has been undeniably good to us these last six months. We have been given much more than we deserve (such as a spacious enough home to temporarily host church!). I’d like to think we (kids included) are learning, by God’s grace, to be more hospitable and perhaps even a bit more missional. We are slowly building community. We are seeing first hand how God grows His church. Our world and our hearts, as I mentioned, are expanding. And we are so thankful.
But these have been incredibly humbling, stretching times too – with waves of loneliness, homesickness, overwhelming uncertainties, bouts of insecurity, and the growing realization that apart from Christ, my selfishness and obsession with comfort would very likely take over me.
And when my homesick son weeps on my shoulders at night and says he “hates” his life here sometimes and wants to go back home, I am heartbroken.
And when my aunt is diagnosed with dementia and the family is tirelessly caring for her… the miles start to hurt.
I admit, I do find myself wishing to be home at times, wishing the way was a little clearer, easier…
But then, I am reminded of Paul.
Not one thing was easy for this man. But that didn’t stop him. Against it all, he was obedient to God’s calling, holding firm to the hope of the gospel despite beatings, persecutions, storms, shipwrecks, martyrdom.
I won’t even pretend to relate to the obstacles Paul faced on his journeys (can’t imagine traveling without Google maps… did they even have a reliable compass at the time?!), but he was, after all, a mere mortal man. And I wonder if he ever second guessed his journey? I wonder if he had fragile, insecure moments of wanting to go back home… you know, back to the good ol’ days of tent-making?
In the face of deadly gales, Paul tells his men this: “ So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told.”
So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. ~ Acts 27:25 (ESV)
The ship is going down, the men are rightly convinced they are going to die, and these are his words to his weary wayfarers:
Eventually, they do find shore, and Paul is filled with the Holy Spirit and mightily effective for good. He lays hands on the sick, and they are healed. And so the journey continues… the gospel is preached, the church is built, souls are saved.
I can’t help but to think that Paul’s hardships, though treacherous and horrible, served to humble him to a point of complete dependence on God.
And this complete dependence on God, this single-minded grip on the gospel’s plow, is what gave him the confidence to stay the course.
Clearly, Paul had a deep, unshakeable confidence in God – not in himself and his people-skills, his perfectly laid out plans, in others and their approval, but in God alone. I believe this is what filled him, made him so eternity-minded, so effective… this is why he could tell his men to take heart and do so himself.
This dependence, this confidence, this eternal perspective – this might just be what we all need to hold onto in our journeys, in our callings, in our lives.
So I try to take a deep breath, and remember to be patient with my eleven-year-old… and remember to say to my son, “Take heart.”
God will be faithful!
Because I pray this for him, that he will look back, and be able to testify one day to how God redeemed his tears… and brought good from the hard… and grew his love for Himself and others… and how all along, He was leading us to a place better than we could have ever imagined.
And I pray he will come to know that following God’s call, though not the easiest route, is always worth the journey, even when we can’t fully see.