Over the past two years, I have experienced a sense of frustration when trying to articulate what God has been doing in my life. When curious friends have asked about my journey from Minnesota to Texas, the conversation usually heads in the direction of a faithful God who called me here, for some as-yet-unrevealed ministry purpose. Well, folks, I’ve come to realize that I wasn’t exactly honest, mostly because I myself, was so confused about what I was doing here. So here it is – the truth. I was not called to Texas.
In recent months, God has revealed to me the difference between a calling and a sending. And this subtle but important difference has brought me to a place of peace and contentment that I can only describe as profound.
I had been using the word called because I had no other word that seemed appropriate. But that concept never seemed to align with what I was feeling. I have always thought I understood what a call is. Usually – and this is a broad usually – it involves a clear directive from God to go to (or be in) a certain place, at a certain time, for a certain ministry purpose. As you allow yourself to respond to His voice, there is a walking in obedience that takes you to this place/purpose you clearly understand to be His will for this season of your journey. There is a feeling of purposefulness to it all; a certainty that even if some details are yet to be revealed, you are headed to the place He wants you.
Two years ago, back in Minnesota , my husband and I were in a season of waiting on God’s direction. While on a visit to see family in New Mexico, Ricky was offered a job in Texas, which was a good thing, because he had been unemployed for a few months. We decided to pray it over, talk to a realtor about selling our house, and see what God would do. The whole move hinged on whether or not our house would sell – we had lived in it for less than two years, and the market was sluggish. It would be difficult to sell without taking some kind of loss. However, we received good counsel from a godly friend and were confident that if God was in the move, our house would sell for the amount we needed. That became our mantra – “If God is in it, the house will sell.” So, Ricky went to Texas to work, and I stayed in Minnesota to oversee the house details.
I shared our news with family, friends, and co-workers, none of whom were happy about the prospect of us moving 1,100 miles away. Minnesota had been my home for over 30 years, and Ricky’s for 15, so needless to say, the word painful wasn’t adequate to describe what it would mean to leave. I began to earnestly seek God’s voice, and was comforted by His presence as I leaned on Him and placed our future in His hands. Each day seemed to be a new experience of increasing my trust and confidence in His provision.
A few months later, in midsummer, I received news that my job was being eliminated. “Shocked” does not begin to describe what I felt. I was on staff at a church, doing a job I absolutely loved, and in relationship with a wonderful staff team that I had grown to love and trust without reservation. I was also coaching a group of girls that had become like daughters to me, and I had a strong sense that my work with them was not finished. Apparently, a miscommunication resulted in the church Board believing that I was definitely moving to Texas after I finished coaching volleyball in the fall. They did not realize that we were waiting for our house to sell, and that without my income, we could not make our house payment until it sold.
At first I was angry that I had not had opportunity to personally share with the Board what God was doing in my life. Assumptions and decisions had been made; and I was left in the cold. Soothing statements of “we were just trying to protect your marriage;” and “we want to do what’s best for you,” were spoken, which only made me more angry. God was doing a great work in my life and a group of people had just stepped in and taken the decision out of mine and my husband’s hands.
Over the next several months, I packed up our home, said my good-byes and wondered what on earth God was doing. I resolved to leave it in His hands, trust Him completely, and I went to Texas, utterly bewildered. This was not how a calling worked.
Our house never did sell. We lost it in foreclosure. But God, in His grace and mercy (and in response to our determination to walk in obedience) made that process virtually pain-free, for which I am so thankful. But I was left pondering the words, “if God is in it, the house will sell.” What did that mean? Were we wrong? Why am I in Texas?
And then one day, it came to me. God didn’t call us to Texas, He sent us here.
Shortly after I arrived in Lubbock, a good friend of mine experienced the ending of his marriage – suddenly and without warning. Everyone was absolutely shocked. I was particularly grieved, because Ricky and I had been close to this couple and we had not seen a single sign of impending doom. I know for a fact that my friend did not choose to have his marriage end, but there was nothing he could do to stop it. The free-will choices of someone else affected his life. But he did choose to turn to God, and trust, and to allow God to guide and protect, while he believed that beauty would come from the chaos.
I, on the other hand, had a bit more choice about moving to Texas. Circumstances were certainly pointing in that direction, and the free-will choices of other people had definitely affected my life – but I didn’t have the right to respond selfishly. Selfish choices are dangerous for relationships. So I asked God what to do, when I didn’t want to leave, and He said, “Go to Texas. I will be there with you.” And that’s what I did. I responded to God’s voice. I believe God aligned the circumstances in mine and Ricky’s life to bring something beautiful. I believe it may not have been God’s call for us to go to Texas, but He has certainly provided every moment of every day since this whole journey began. And when other peoples’ decisions affected the destiny of my life, God reminded me that He is the God of Minnesota and He is the God of Texas and He is the God of every single element of all of creation.
And I choose to trust Him.
That’s the thing about trust. It’s hardest when the outcome is unseen, but if I believe that God really loves me, and that He really cares about me and that I am precious to Him, how can I not believe that He’ll take care of the details of life? In His time, not mine. And to get angry and frustrated about it does nothing but reveal that I really don’t trust Him at all.
I will fix my eyes on what is unseen.
This move has stretched me – and I have grown more spiritually in the past couple of years than I’ve grown in the decade prior to that. So whether or not I “want” to be here, I cannot deny that reality, and in the painfulness of it, I am thankful for the opportunity to be in a more intimate relationship with Jesus – which, after all, is the point of it.
Shortly after I came to Lubbock, I started a list of things God has revealed to me since I arrived. In a nutshell, here’s what I’ve experienced in this sending:
- a new way to worship
- a deeper relationship with Him
- a deeper relationship with my husband
- deeper relationships with family
- a Holy Spirit boldness that I don’t believe was possible for me in Minnesota
- the filling of the Holy Spirit
- a stretching of my introvertedness
- opportunity to write my 4th & 5th books
- opportunity to meet some folks who’ve had a PROFOUND influence on my walk with Him
- preparation for the next steps in my call and ministry
- a deeper prayer life
- a revelation of new spiritual gifts
And I reserve the right to keep adding to this list….