This past year has been one of completely unpredictable twists and turns. In every area of my life, I’ve found myself learning to expect the unexpected: whether in my family, social, spiritual, church, or religious lives (and yes, the last three are very different entities). Knowing that all of life is an adventure, this year has had an unparalleled amount of heartache, joy, stress, concern, and question associated with it.
Among the general experiences of humanity there have been three specific, truly life-changing, cannot-turn-back moments that have defined this year and season in my life.
Each of these have knocked the breath out of me. Each have caused me to fall to my knees. Each required that I dig deep within to determine my true purpose and motive in life. Each have opened my heart and life to reveal personal scars and pain, and brought the unexpected hope and joy of unimaginable promise.
The one grounding factor, the unifying element, among each of these events is this: each have been the direct result of following the voice of God.
All of my life, I have learned to identify God’s voice in my life, and have tried to follow it. Often it is an encouraging one to continue on a path, try something new in God’s word, or support what I see him already doing.
However, through the past 38 years, I can honestly say that I’ve never fully been tested to follow his gentle whisper as blindly as I have this past year.
essence of faith
In Hebrews 11, accounts of tremendous acts of faith are shared in a type of Hall of Fame. In the beginning of the chapter, “faith” is defined by the writer as this:
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (verse 1, NIV)
The Message interprets the passage more applicably,
“The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see.”
As the chapter continues, character after Old Testament character is marched down the line with their acts of faith hailed for the world to see. Finally, we hit verse 8 and I see 2009 clearly in the ancient text.
“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.”
The first major act of faith broke my heart. Knowing that God had spoken to me and agreeing with Toby on a decision to let go of something that we had prayed about for years, I waited almost a month and a half before I could act on what God had spoken.
The moment that I made the call and took the first step in God’s direction, I broke with grief, weeping so hard in the car that I could not see and had to pull over into a mall parking lot. I laid on the steering wheel and sobbed. I slammed my fist into the seat. I screamed. I mourned. Finally, I breathed.
Within a few weeks, God flipped the situation around as only he can and began unveiling a promise that he had made to me twenty years prior. Had I not followed his voice in an unknown direction, I would have never seen his ability to answer decade-old prayers. Since that time, I have been blown away by the layered fulfillment of God’s providence through one act of heartbroken faith.
The second act of faith occurred in late summer. Again, it was a God moment. His voice. His call. His direction. Our hearts caught again. However, when God speaks we must go.
As he was still speaking, we knew the implications of the his words. The questions. The accusations. The rumors. The assumptions. At first, I felt like we needed an answer to the inevitable inquiries. But, what could we give? “God spoke. Ask him. He’s the one leading this adventure. It’s a new direction, a new land.”
The third challenge of faith was given to us this past week. Once more, God spoke words that filled our hearts with questions and fears; so, we’re still praying for wisdom and direction. We haven’t acted on this one, yet; but, we will follow him into yet another unknown place.
i wanna be a follower
Never have I liked walking on a well-worn, nicely paved sidewalk. I prefer trails: rough, challenging and beautifully captivating.
One thing 2009 has taught me is that while there is truly a sense of lost control when we follow God’s voice into the unfamiliar, there is also tremendous hope when we realize that we don’t have to have all the answers or even know where we are going. That is God’s responsibility. Ours is to trust deeply in him and be certain of the things we cannot see.
Like Abraham, I purpose to continue following God blindly. No doubt, Abraham also had internal fears and questions. He probably was the recipient of rumors and doubted motives. Also like him, in this unknown place I will receive my inheritance from God. I may be a “stranger in a new land” or “live in a tent”, but I will find a “city whose architect and builder is God” (verses 9-10).
That beautiful promise is well worth grieving in a parking lot, facing well-intentioned inquiries, and above all… walking blindly in faith.