Perched on my knees our eyes locked as we paused from packing my daughter’s room. My well-earned crows carried tears to my cheeks as I intently told my precious daughter the truth I pray anchors her heart.
“Someday God may ask you to move away from Mama and dad. If that ever happens, you need to follow God. It will make me sad and I will cry but more than pleasing mom and dad you must please God.”
The desire to please parents doesn’t end at a specific age. My husband and I knew following God into the unknown would break our parent’s hearts. The future permission I gave my daughter, the commitment to support and encourage her mirrored what I hoped to receive in the days to come.
When we moved home five years ago we expected our kids to grow into adults in our hometown. We expected to care for our parents in their later years as they cared for theirs. We expected friendships to run like deep waters. But our expectations of God’s plans are always incomplete because we don’t know the future.
Say What You Must
How do you leave a widow? How do you separate grandparents and grandchildren? Cousins? How do you leave the brother and sister-in-law that moved to town after twenty years and copious amounts of encouragement from you? How do you break unexpected news like we might be moving?
It wasn’t fun.
It was ugly.
It caused a great deal of hurt.
Our family’s response was a buffet of surprise to the news and swift timeline, assumptions we would move away at some point, disappointment and hurt. Ultimatums were given and pointed questions levied as family attempted to process the unexpected.
“You moved back because family is important and now you’re moving away. Does that mean family is no longer important to you?”
I get it, our story sounds wild. Trust me, it feels crazy living it, taking action towards the unknown and uncertain. However, God is clearly directing our path and we must trust and obey. Following God doesn’t change the importance or value of those around us.
Unfortunately, “following God” is an abused rationale. When “God” is the bottom line skeptics assume it’s a cheap excuse to do what you want. A lifelong friend told me it was okay if we had wonderlust and wanted to move. In other words, “You don’t need to justify your desires by making them sound spiritual.” Witnessing God at work makes it impossible to not direct everything back to Him. It is thrilling, frightening and exciting all at once!
What if we acquiesced and didn’t follow God on this path? I reflect on our move from Denver back home. There’s a sting now. God tried gently to move us home but we did not listen to His still small voice. We missed years with my incredible dad because we did not budge. Mercifully God dragged us home for my dad’s final years. I cannot imagine the pain I would otherwise live with if. I don’t know why God is leading us there, but a deep confidence in His goodness anchors my heart, the kind of certainty that grows from past experiences.
Though our choice doesn’t make sense to many, it makes perfect sense to follow God into the (still) unknown. A simple truth continually comes to mind:
Obey and be blessed.
Disobey and be disciplined.
This obviously oversimplifies blessings and discipline, especially for Western thinking. We expect justice for those who make wrong choices and lavish blessings (typically material) when those who obey but God doesn’t work within the constraints of our framework. He simply asks, “Will you follow me and trust I have the best for you?”
Uncomfortable, sometimes irritable while waiting, I will say, “Yes God, yes”.
I trust God is making something beautiful out of us.
Are you willing to follow God despite the appearance, disappointment or the feathers it will ruffle?
A song with a solid reminder. Lyrics here.