Seems there’s a bit of that self-doubt and fear going around. Both Jennifer Dukes Lee and Robin over at Pensieve Me addressed this paralysis on their blogs this week. Sometimes you just have to hear it a gazillion times before the crack splits wide.
I tell my stories to share what God has done and what He has shown me about himself, but in doing so, I chance exposing my limited understanding and (un)limited insecurities. Please know, I only hope to cheer along those seeking a glimpse of what I have seen, and to encourage those of you who have better grasped the mysteries of grace and redeeming love, to encourage me.
In the end, I know experiences come and go, and it is only in seeing Jesus for who he is that we can press on. When I first came to the Lord, I was afraid to “experience” God because of my New Age delvings from my past, but the Lord kept showing me his love in a hundred tangible ways. Ironically, I was living in a household of prayer-warrioring, demon-casting, vision-seeing believers.
I soaked in their fervency as I hovered on the periphery of their prayer time, seeking discernment and wisdom. Later, my husband and I took courses through Liberty University and I traded in my controversial prayer tongue for sturdy Baptist footwear.
Now, many years later, I feel more confident about discerning the voice of God, experiencing his presence while standing on his Word (and using my prayer language).
Still, I am cautious. I certainly don’t want to bow down to an image I have made up about God. I constantly pray for him not to let me err. To anchor me in Truth. In Jesus.
Meanwhile, I will continue to add my testimonies to that cloud of witnesses who have gone before. And as Groucho Marx said—“If you’ve heard them before, don’t interrupt me. I’d like to hear them again.” So here we go:
Finding Home #2: The Leaving
I suppose we could have just thrown a dart at a map of the United States; we had no particular reason to choose one place over another. The idea that had been gnawing at the edges of our minds for the past few months had suddenly become a certainty.
Bob was weary. Pastoring a small Vermont church for the past eleven years had taken its toll. The church had grown from a fifteen person, two-hymn bastion of tradition to a faith-filled worshiping community of more than one hundred believers. It was vibrant and healthy. But it needed new energy. And we didn’t have it.
As sure as we were that God had put us there, we were sure He was relieving us. The problem was He wasn’t showing us what to do or where to go next. No pillar of fire by night or cloud by day. Just—“Go.”
We had gone before. After all, we were the same two people who had packed our ten-year-old daughter and three trunks’ worth of carefully chosen possessions into our Ford Explorer and driven from New Jersey to Guatemala to work in an orphanage. And we were the same two who had walked away from financially secure jobs to pastor a tiny Vermont church.
But lurking beneath our bravado was the realization that we were different—we were too young to retire, but too old to include dates on resumes.We stared at all our diplomas on the wall, certifying us as masters of something. Bob was also a journeyman electrician with twenty years of experience in a New York City electrical union.
Surely we’ll get jobs we said. Resolutely, we spread the map before us and listed our priorities: sunshine, east coast, access to mountain and lakes, culturally alive city with a sense of community and vibrant job market. My sister in Raleigh suggested Greenville, SC.
I Googled it. Compared days of sunshine. Greenville has about 60 more days of sunshine than the town we lived in. That was a definite plus. I compared cost of living: Greenville was reportedly about 20 per cent less expensive to live in than our area. Best of all, were the low taxes.
The dart stuck in Greenville.
We were excited; we were scared.
As we began to disentangle ourselves from all the things that had identified us, we realized how deeply rooted in so many lives we had become. We knew a lot of secrets; knew who had triumphed through a personal difficulty and knew who hadn’t. We had joyfully pronounced young couples husband and wife and had cried in early morning hospital rooms over the death of a child. We cheered friends’ kids on at soccer matches and played murder mystery games with friends over dinner.
But we had sold our house, reduced our possessions to what would fit in a 26 foot truck and were ready to go.Like the rising bubbles in a lava lamp, each of our relationships rose to the surface and began to slowly break away.
On a sunny September evening as the sun lowered itself behind the western hills, we hitched the car trailer to the truck, bid teary goodbyes to faithful friends, and headed south out of Rutland.