as we considered the possibility of a move, and the nature of what we felt was a clarion call from God, we attempted - and still do, but i suppose to a different end - to discern what God was saying to us, how he was leading us, and above all, what he wanted us to do. the idea of walking by faith and not by sight became more than something we said, or something we knew Christians should try to do, but it really did become the way we tried to live every day. we weighed decisions against the backdrop of this new faith walk; we thought not about what seemed to be most practical or popular or easy, but rather we attempted to do things that seemed to us to be pointed in the same direction we felt God leading.
a good example of this is the fact that we began, albeit haltingly, to pack for a move we had no visible means of executing. we were convinced God had called us, that he would provide for this call, and this being so, why not go ahead and get ready for what lay ahead? lori packed up things we weren't at the time using, storing boxes in closets, under beds, and generally out of view. (we knew what we were doing was a bit unconventional, and we didn't want to have the "oh, you're moving? when?" "we don't really know" conversation with anybody.)
fast forward a few months. as i mentioned above, we haven't moved. doors we thought might open didn't; jobs for which i applied didn't pan out, and we eventually parted ways with the group we had thought to plant with. hopes turned into frustration, and more than anything, faith gave way to questions.
did we hear wrong?
are we not waiting right?
should we keep waiting?
are we dumb?
are we crazy?
where's the spatula?
that last one, or one like it, nearly put me over the edge one day. i was looking for something - it may not have actually been a spatula, but you get the idea - and lori told me that it had been packed away for the move that never happened. all at once i felt foolish, a misled dreamer who thought he was being called but instead had just failed.
by God's grace, i didn't dwell there. frankly, after my initial reaction, i didn't think much about it at all. stuff we needed had been packed for a move. we didn't move. we need the stuff, so let's unpack it.
and then earlier today*, as the cooler weather outside crept inside, i began to wonder where all of my winter clothing was. and then i remembered it had probably been packed away. i began rummaging through one of our closets - there's no need to hide now, is there? - and found... my. favorite. sweater.
that which was lost to me had been found, and i was happy. i actually took the sweater outside and set it on the ground about a block from our apartment just so i could run out to meet it and put a ring on its finger and sandals on its... anyway, i love this sweater, and i was thrilled to have found it.
so now you've wasted like six minutes of your day reading this, and you're thinking, 1) this post has no point, and 2) it's just a sweater, weirdo.
but i think that in some way, it's about more than a sweater.
i believe God knows everything, and i believe that when we were dreaming and hoping and packing for a move that ultimately did not happen (yet?), God saw and knew that on this day i would find my sweater, and find some small joy in it. God knew we'd be frustrated and confused, and for some reason he was okay with that. he knew our season of waiting and expectation would lead to a season of hardship and stretching and head-scratching. he knew that on this quiet, cool saturday i'd open a closet door, rummage through a box, find a sweater, and think of him. he knew, too, that i'd ask him about it all. and absolutely, he knew i'd find him waiting, not with an answer, per se, but with a gentle reassurance that life is less about answers and more about presence than we'd like. no, God has not explained last winter to me, but he's with me now, as he was then, and for now, that's going to have to be enough.
in a way this post really is sort of pointless, at least as compared to how we want our 'God stuff' to normally be. we love it when plans come together, when stories run full circle, when the ends of our journeys shed light on the way those same journeys began. but that's not how it always is, is it? sometimes you try to follow God, and it doesn't go the way you thought it would. sometimes you hear God telling you to do something, and then you do it, and then nothing else changes. sometimes you believe God for provision, and that provision hurts, confuses, stretches. even still, i say follow. listen, yield, obey, follow, trust. i was believing God for a house and a church and a new ministry, and instead i got a cardigan.
*this post was written on saturday, 10/6
**re-posting this in a link up with Emily Wierenga and Imperfect Prose today...