About six weeks ago, something happened to me that I haven't shared with too many people. At the time, I wasn't sure what to make of it... and maybe that's why I didn't mention it... but now, having time to process everything and reflect on the footprints God has undoubtedly left, I can't help but marvel at how He REALLY DOES speak to us today.
On November 11th, Jamie and I had agreed to forgo church because there was still so much to do before putting the house on the market that following Friday. But, for whatever reason, I woke up that morning just needing to hear God's Word... to be a part of corporate worship. So, I told Jamie that I would sneak away to a local church just for a little while and then get back to painting. As I walked into the sanctuary of the church, they were in the middle of worship. So, I found a seat and almost immediately the worship leader stopped. She began telling the congregation that God placed a word upon her heart that week that she was supposed to share with someone in the congregation... and that it might not be for someone that regularly attends the church. (Do you see where I'm going with this?)
She began sharing passages from the Book of Numbers. She talked about Moses and the rock that he struck with his staff... how God had simply asked Moses to speak and that He would draw forth the water. But, whether it was his impatience, his pride... or simply his inability to keep himself from being caught up in the moment... Moses struck the rock with his staff. It was this action... this disobedience... that cost him the opportunity of entering the Promised Land.
As the worship leader told the story, she began to relate it to the words God placed upon her heart. That sometimes we act like Moses: God gives us a command... He places something upon our hearts... But then we try to take over. We try to speed up the process by taking things into our own hands. She told us that even when we have the best of intentions... "even when all we want to do is serve God"... we end up derailing the train, so to speak... we end up missing out... just like Moses. Then she simply said this: "For someone in this room, God wants me to tell you this: Don't move."
Immediately I dropped to my seat and began to bawl. It wasn't pretty. I had countless people... strangers... coming over to offer me tissues and telling me that I was in the right place. I tried to tell them that I was a Christian, to explain why I was crying... but all I could do was cry even harder. When I finally got home, I told Jamie everything that happened. And in his epic, dry-witted, spot on timing, Jamie blankly looked at me and said, "So what? Does this mean I can stop painting now?"
Now, I could spend days writing on everything that has happened between then and now... and maybe someday I will. But, for now, know this: We didn't put our house on the market November 16th. However, we did go to Rhode Island on that following Sunday... and my desire to be a part of what God is doing there, my belief that He really wants us there, has never been stronger. But, looking back on it now, God has always known the road our family is traveling. He knew that Jamie would need to have this time to be here for me and my mom and He allowed Jamie to be at a job that gives him the opportunity to spend weeks... even months... with us, if need be. He knew that placing our house on the market in November would place an added stress on our lives as we walk this difficult path with my mother. And on top of that all the setbacks we had the past few months: our septic, the siding, the shingles, the car, the fridge... everything was perfect (albeit expensive!) to bring us to this place of hearing the message that I truly believe was for us. He knew that our timing was off. He kept putting obstacles in our way... but we kept persevering. In our stubbornness, we kept pressing forward... wishing now that our first response would have been to instinctively press into Psalm 46:10... Be still and know that I am God.
For now, God has us here... completely vulnerable, dependent on Him. We have no idea what each day brings. (Today it has me sitting at Duke Hospital, helplessly watching my mother as she endures the pain of cancer.) But, we're constantly reminded that there is a plan... there is a purpose. Sometimes He makes His plan known (or, at least, part of it)... in my case, via a worship leader. Sometimes He chooses to be quite. But He's always at work... always weaving things together, preparing, working them out for our good. Through my heartache, I am thankful for the promise of my Savior... for a purpose in this hard life.
My prayer from the beginning of this journey... from the very moment Jared and Rachel extended to us the invitation to join them in Rhode Island... has been for the Holy Spirit to work in me in a mighty way, so that the hope I have in Jesus...the faith I place in him... is genuine... that I TRULY believe the words I speak... that my life truly reflects my love for Jesus... that the person people see is truly the person that I am when behind closed doors. The refining fires of this process are excruciating... but I am clinging to His promise that through it all I will become more of a reflection of Him... and that I will understand and be uncompromising in my belief... more importantly, in voicing my belief... that this is the true purpose of my life.