I’ve been thinking about these 2 verses lately:
“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.” (Matthew 19:29)
“And a scribe came up and said to him, ‘Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” (Matthew 8:19-20)
Something I’ve learned over the past 5 or so years is that following Jesus often looks very mundane. Yes, some people are called to sell their house, car and possessions, and become missionaries in Africa. Travis and I haven’t been called to that (yet). Instead, we were called to… move in with Travis’ parents?
I have been tempted to question whether or not moving to Minnesota was God’s leading. I read a book about the Holy Spirit called Better Off Without Jesus by Chuck Bomar around the time we were moving, and he cautioned against the idea that if all circumstances fall into place, it must be God’s will. He pointed out that in the Bible, circumstances worked out for Jonah to disobey God but it was obviously not God’s will (desire) that he disobey.
But after prayer and consideration, I feel confident that our move to Minnesota was God’s leading, for a number of factors:
- In the back of our minds, we had always planned on moving back, unless God led us differently. For the full 6 ½ years we were in Denver, He didn’t lead us differently, and our desire to move back didn’t go away. We prayed for several years that if it wasn’t God’s will for us to move to Minnesota someday, He would make it clear.
- With his current job, Travis works from home – meaning he can work from anywhere – presenting the possibility to live in northern Minnesota instead of a Cities suburb.
- Travis’ boss told us that he’d be okay with us moving to Minnesota before we ever brought it up.
- Travis got a bonus at the end of the year, which paid for the expenses of moving and getting our house ready to sell.
- For various reasons, we were ready to transition out of our church in Denver, and things were changing at my job to the point where I might’ve still wanted to quit, so things would’ve changed even if we had stayed.
Even though God has been obviously leading us this direction, it has not been easy to continue trusting Him! The house hunt is going very differently from what we had expected or wanted, and I have had a hard time dealing with a life that is ‘on hold’ in every sense except motherhood. (Emma is definitely not on hold! She’s growing up fast.) My new rural existence is also a challenge, though it should get slightly better after Memorial Day, when more tourist-y things are open for the summer.
Sometimes I think that the sacrifice of leaving behind house and friends would be easier if it were for something radical, like living abroad. Then it would be expected to be hard, and it would be for something that’s obviously kingdom-focused. But since the sacrifice is “just to move back to Minnesota” and we’re currently living with Travis’ parents, it seems mundane. Annoying. It doesn’t seem spiritual. It’s not kingdom building. It’s just me, living in the middle of nowhere, with nothing in particular going on.
At least, that’s what Satan wants me to think.
He’s always getting me to focus solely on what I think things should look like. For many years, I felt guilty about “not doing more”, but I just couldn’t fit any formal volunteering into my schedule. Finally, I realized that serving others doesn’t have to be a formal thing. It doesn’t have to happen every Monday from 6-8 pm. It could be random thoughtful gestures, things done whenever a need is noticed. Some weeks, there would be more things to do, and some weeks less. Once I got off the idea of a formal volunteer time, I felt freed to serve as I felt moved by the Spirit.
So Satan wants me to think that moving back to Minnesota is less spiritual and sacrificial than being a missionary. Because the Christians who do radical things, they’re raising support to go live in a hut, learn Lingala and teach hygiene to sick orphans. They’re the ones really living out their faith. Me? I’m just being a coward and moving closer to my family, instead of farther away, and being a typical materialistic American looking for a house that has a master bath and gas fireplace.
Of course that’s not true! (Though I did think that way several years ago.) God has different plans for different people, and for some reason, His plan for us right now is in Minnesota. Our destination may not be Brainerd/Baxter in particular, but until He leads us differently or truly shuts all doors enough times that we get the hint, we will keep patiently looking for a house in that area. We hold our future with open hands, wanting whatever God has for us, and act with the faith that God will reveal His plans in His perfect timing.
“The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever.” (Psalm 138:8)
“This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:23-24)
“Life change comes when we receive life with thanks and ask for nothing to change.” (Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts)
I’ll be back soon with Emma’s 13-month update!