For the last 8 years Karen and I have lived in the place where this country plunges into the Pacific.
We have perched here, sometimes precariously, through brush fires and earthquakes. We’ve made friends and made a life. We’ve seen God move powerfully in our lives and through our lives. We have been far from family, but have learned how the church is an expression of family far greater than we ever imagined. And we have added Finnden and Ellis to our own little roster, raising them in a place that is far removed from our midwestern roots but a place we have come to call home, the only one they’ve ever known.
But a new shore awaits, albeit a very different one. Lake Michigan is a far cry from the Pacific.
I have recently been invited to join the team at Willow Creek Community Church as a creative director, so January’s blank slate will bring for us a new adventure on the outskirts of Chicago.
I haven’t been sure how to capture this journey, and I’ve had no shortage of internal frustration over that. (Words are kind of my thing.) But words have been both too tiny and too tangible to get at what has been going on. A friend of mine just phrased this frustration beautifully when she said, “You can’t type out tears.”
We have heard God’s voice and experienced his intimacy in this season unlike any other time in our lives. Our story over the last several months has been one where we have been bowled over by God’s kindness, his generosity, and his deep interest in both the mundane and the momentous parts of our lives. Countless times in my life I have lifted my face to my Father and, rather bluntly, asked, “Can you just tell me what to do? I mean, can you just lay it out for me?” I’ve always thought that would make things easier, taking the weight of decision-making and the weight of the consequences off of my plate.
Well, I got what I’ve been asking for. He’s made it abundantly clear. But I have come to realize that the clarity of a call does not always equal ease in our obedience. In fact, taking steps of obedience rarely, if ever, means taking them lightly.
I have been thinking a lot about Abraham lately, but particularly about back when he was Abram. In Genesis 12 he gets a call to go. The call is laid out in verses 1-3. Go read it. It’s pretty clear.
And then he goes. He does it. Verse 4: So Abram went. He obeys. And I think I’ve always read it in a pretty straightforward way. He gets a call, and he goes. Cause and effect. But was Abram at all like me? Hmm.
In my translation there’s this little break between verses 3 and 4—a new line, the beginning of a new paragraph. And I wonder if there isn’t a significant human drama tucked between the paragraph break. Because that little space is where we’ve been living the last several months, and ours has been full. Full with the wringing of hands and long waits on phone calls. With hard conversations and epiphanies. With the repeated question, “Are you sure?” With happy tears and sad tears and inexplicable tears. (Lots of tears.)
Into the little space between God’s call and our going, God has poured out a torrent of his grace and love that is so much greater than my words can do justice. In that space—a moment that in the span of life and the story of God is less than a breath or a blink—occurred the gentle and gradual reposturing of our hearts toward God’s desires, so that we now enjoy the gift of obeying out of delight rather than out of wrote servitude.
We could not be more excited for what lies ahead. We are thrilled to make new people a part of our lives. We are eager to get going. But we are also heartbroken in our goodbyes, anxious about not knowing what we don’t know, and fearful of the many challenges that surely lie ahead.
So we obey. But not lightly. Not blindly. We are simply determined to be brave.
And I am thankful for a God who bastions my bravery with his unassailable sovereignty. So bring on new shores. Bring on the unknown. Bring on the adventure. Bring on growing pains and new-found dependence. And bring on the snow.