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.
And this, my friends, breaks my heart.
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 certain. Overwhelmed, I remember pushing the tears back thinking, I’m not so sure moving was such a great idea.
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!
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 to help support this endeavor.
We had a long talk with our kids. We talked about what it meant to serve God with our lives (however broken and imperfect) and to walk in faith (regardless how scared and insecure we might be). The consensus? No one really wanted to go. Our dear friends, our family, our comfort – everything known and loved was here and most definitely not there.
But what kind of life was a life driven by fear?
We knew God was calling us to stop looking at ourselves and to fix our eyes on Him.
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 totally unknown road ahead. I’m not sure how we did it, but we managed some very sad goodbyes that August morning and drove off.
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. We are slowly building community and seeing first hand how God grows His church. No Texas doesn’t feel like home … yet. But our world and our hearts, as I mentioned, are expanding. And we’re so thankful for that.
But wow, moving one’s whole family to another state takes its toll, too. Building a new life and a new community from near scratch is not easy. It can be downright exhausting. These past few months have been especially humbling and stretching for me – with waves of loneliness, homesickness, overwhelming uncertainties, bouts of insecurity, and the sobering realization that apart from Christ, my obsession with comfort and self would very much take over me.
And when my homesick son cries on my shoulders at night and says he “just wants things to be like before,” I get it. I really do.
And when my aunt is diagnosed with dementia and the family is rallying together to care for her back in California, the miles between us feel so … wrong.
I admit, at times I wish I could go back home too. At times, I question if this is truly where God wants me and my family? I question the struggle, the changes, the unknowns.
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. 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?
But this I know – in the face of deadly gales, Paul didn’t say to his men, “Let’s pack up and get out of here!” Instead, he said 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 was going down, the men were convinced – rightly so – they were going to die, and yet these were his words to his weary wayfarers:
Do I hear this?
Eventually, they did find shore, and Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit and mightily effective for good. He laid hands on the sick, and they were healed. And so the journey continued… the gospel was preached, the church was built, souls were saved.
I can’t help but to think that Paul’s hardships, though horrible, did something important – humbled him to a point of complete dependence on God.
And this complete dependence on God was powerful.
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. This is what filled him, steadied his eyes on eternity, made him so unstoppable and effective… this is why he could tell his men to take heart and do so himself despite his world crumbling down around him.
So I try to take a deep breath, and remember to be patient with my eleven-year-old, and honestly, with myself. I remember to say to him when all words fail me, “Take heart.”
God will be faithful!
Because my prayer is this, for my son, myself, for you … that we will somehow know that following God’s call, though never the most comfortable route, is always worth the journey … even when we can’t fully see.