It’s hard to believe we’ve been in North Carolina for a month already! We are doing so well! Steve started his new job last week and absolutely loves it. The kids are getting adjusted to their new, year-round school and making lots of new friends. We’ve enjoyed worshipping with a couple of different churches in the area, and think we may have found our new church home…but more on that later. As for me? I’ve enjoyed this time to refresh, recalibrate, unpack, and make sure my family has everything they need to feel settled. It’s been a nice break, but I’m full, I’m strong, I’m bursting at the seems…..I’m ready.
As more and more people learn about us relocating, so many have asked, Why did you move? Why North Carolina? Was it because you love the mountains so much and you wanted to be closer? Was it because you just couldn’t take the Florida heat anymore? Was it because of your husband’s job?
All good enough reasons, right? (Especially when in Florida the temperature in your car reads 105 everyday for about three months straight.) But honestly? No. It was none of the above. It’s much more beautiful than that. In short, it’s a story of hearing the voice of God, having only His word as a compass, and choosing to once again leave everything familiar behind for the sake of following Him. And having crossed over to the other side, all I can say is, He is faithful.
“…I praise Your name for Your unfailing love and faithfulness; for Your promises are backed by all the honor of Your name.” Psalm 138:2b NLT
Chances are, some of you reading this will at some point in your life feel like a transition is coming. Mind you, it may not involve packing up your entire life and moving to another state (though it may). But it could involve having the courage to step out into something totally new. It could mean making a significant change at work or choosing to go back to school. It could mean letting go of a relationship, or becoming more intentional about one.
Whatever the transition may be, here’s one of the things I’ve learned: When we make it our priority to hear and respond to what God is saying, we set ourselves up to transition in confidence, peace, and strength. But the tricky part is that God doesn’t always communicate in the same way, does He? I know for me, had I not been patient and/or willing to accept that God was speaking in a different way, I could have easily missed this whole thing. But Oh, He is too graceful and loving to let me do that. He’s a good Shepherd and if we will just let Him, He will guide and teach us every step of the way.
So how did I “know-that-I-know” we were supposed to make the move?
The whole thing started in October of last year. I was seeking God for the New Year and I began to sense a shift was coming, though I didn’t know what it was. I didn’t get one massive download where God laid out the whole plan for us. Instead, I’d get one word, one scripture, one dream, one song that seemed to drop in my spirit out of nowhere but that got my attention and produced a joy and a sense of hope that excited me. Each of these “words” were like tiny pieces of a puzzle that were beautiful in and of themselves, but that were meant to create a much bigger picture I couldn’t yet see. So I did the only thing I knew to do, which was to honor and respect God’s process enough to at least capture every word He’d send. (Did you get that? That’s a big one.) I wrote these words down in my journal(s), on the back of napkins, various sticky notes, Target receipts, gum wrappers and I watched over them, taping them to the back of my office doors at home and praying over them for clarity.
And then I waited.
Slowly, over a period of weeks, an interesting thing happened. Like connecting the dots of a constellation to see Orion, the picture began to take shape. I began to notice a recurring theme, and I slowly began to understand what God was saying through it all. In a nutshell: My (our) assignment was changing, and it would involve a relocation to a place we’d never been before. But His presence would go before us and His favor would be our rear guard.
This is just one of the many ways God can speak to us. Yes, there have been times when in prayer, I feel a very specific, clear directive that I’m able to move quickly on. But other times, like in this case, the message builds slowly, piece by piece, whisper by whisper, word by word, dream by dream. (Kind of like one of those delicious strawberry multi-layered cakes with the fruit and cream frosting connecting each layer? Yeah, just like that.)
It took several months to gain clarity, but I’m so thankful God did it that way. Because weeks, months, or years from now, if there’s ever anything that comes up to make me question if I really heard God or if we made the right move, I will know with total confidence that I didn’t make this life-changing decision based on one little moment. I have word after loving word. Pages over tear-stained pages. Layers upon deep layers and confirmation upon empowering confirmation.
And here’s one of the important keys I learned through this all: when things don’t make sense yet….we have to be patient enough to realize that maybe He’s not done speaking. Maybe we’re only hanging on to one of the little pieces of the puzzle but yet we’re trying to use that little tiny puzzle piece as a foundation to build a life-altering decision on. That’s not going to make us feel very confident. That’s not going to result in peace or allow us to transition from a place of strength. Or maybe our pieces are scattered all over the place, making it impossible for us to connect the dots and recognize the common theme that pulls them all together. Maybe the word you got last week (which didn’t make a lot of sense by itself) is meant to connect to the song you woke up with in your heart today, which will in turn connect to the verse that pops into your head tomorrow…
So my big takeaway for today is simply this: if you get a clear directive and you know that you know that you know what you’re supposed to do. Great. Do it. Go boldly forward and never look back. But if you’re facing a major decision or a life-altering transition and you’re lacking peace, confidence or strength, consider that maybe…just maybe….God’s inviting you into a process that will build your faith and create a greater level of intimacy with Him as your curiosity drives you to pursuit Him for the answers of what it all means. Honor that. Love that. Discover the wonder of what it means to listen and follow Him. Capture every little piece as best as you can and then continue to seek…knock….and ask. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.
Linda G. Riddle