It’s our last week exploring the question, “How do we walk out our faith in the midst of pain, suffering, disappointment, and loneliness,” with a book club discussion on Thursday on the final chapter of Leaving Church by Barbara Brown Taylor. Today it’s my pleasure to welcome my new friend Darrell Vesterfelt, President of Prodigal Magazine, as he shares a bit of his story that I can relate to well. Can you?
In October my wife and I sold all of our furniture on Craigslist, packed our car and started heading north to follow our dreams of a full time writing and publishing career. All of this just after 10 months of marriage. You might think we are crazy for doing this in our first year of marriage, but let me tell you something:
This is the 2nd time in 10 months we are making a cross country move.
We met in August of 2011, fell in love quickly, got married on New Years Eve of that same year, and eleven days after our wedding moved our entire lives from Oregon to Florida to be a part of a church plant there. After getting the church off the ground, we felt God urging us to move to a new place to do a new thing. We couldn’t believe it, but God’s direction felt so clear.
So we decided to move. Again.
You’re probably thinking our story sounds a little crazy. You might even be a little worried about us, wondering if it’s a good idea for us to be doing what we’re doing. Each time we tell our story to someone who hasn’t walked it all out with us, we get the same response.
Amazed, awed looks. Tilted head. Narrowed eyes.
Then — Are you guys sure this is healthy?
It hasn’t always been easy, but something keeps us going. If you were to live it out with us, on a day to day basis, or if you had several hours for us to tell you the stories, you would see it too. We have a front-row seat to what God is doing in our lives.
We could tell you stories. In fact, we would if you were in North Carolina with us right now, or with us in Minneapolis in January.
We would tell you about the incredible gift it has been.
We would talk about starting a magazine, book deals, and the healing that has come to broken places. We might tell you about the several occasions in which we didn’t know how we were going to pay our bills, let alone move all of our belongings from one corner of the country to the other. We would talk about how impossible it seemed.
Then we would share about His miraculous provision.
This is our faith lived-out.
We would talk about the stress and confusion, the difficulty of letting go. We would talk about how difficult it is to depend on God and only God, the one who is constant and forever. We would tell you how often we catch ourselves depending on things that are passing away, things like jobs and family members and couches and expensive appliances.
We’re not perfect, but we’re learning. This is how I live out my faith.
There have been scoffers and naysayers, nervous onlookers, people who we could practically hear whispering, “they’ll never make it” when we weren’t listening. Some days, it was tempting to believe them.
But the more we push through difficult circumstances, the more we see God show up. We see his faithfulness, His love and His care. We see His irrational love for His kids.
We see purpose behind it. That’s what we see. That’s why we’re doing what we’re doing.
We see a God who is so committed to caring for His sons and daughters that he stretches them, disciplines them, challenges them, beyond what they could ask or imagine, whatever it takes to draw them close, refining them and growing them to be more like Him.
All He asks for is faith.
Faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the certainty of what we cannot see.
Even when our actions are obedient, sometimes our hearts fall short. We take courageous steps of faith, but in our hearts we’re wondering if we’ll be abandoned, or left behind, or if our rescue will fall through. This is the practice of faith, and the more times we put ourselves in this position, the more times we experience God’s saving presence, the better we get at believing He is real.
But it would be easier to just take care of ourselves, wouldn’t it?
Easier to just play it safe?
This is our faith lived out.
Darrell Vesterfelt is the CEO of the Prodigal Media Group, a storytelling firm based in Minneapolis where he lives with his wife Ally. Darrell is the original #unblogger. You can connect with him on Twitter or call him at (612)802-5227.
“To depend on God and only God” — That’s the only way to *fly*, really fly. I’ve been there. It can get nail-biting close to the edge sometimes, but “the more times we put ourselves in this position, the more times we experience God’s saving presence, the better we get at believing He is real” is so true! Besides, it’s more fun than “just taking care of ourselves” (and even that can make for nail-biting episodes anyhow).
God bless it!
I agree Sylvia. The thing I have learned is that the more we do it, the more risky the adventure becomes. I have been living my life like this for years, and it seems like each time the jump is a little bigger and the risk is a little bigger. He continually is stretching my faith.
love this darrell. love the crazy radical side of it all. this is the only way to live.
I agree. I wouldn’t want to do any other way.
Actually, Darrell, it may sound crazy to the world, but to Christians I’d call it Numbers-9 living and it’s pretty much par for the course. For Christians, it’s all about obedience. You’ve got to be willing to “follow the cloud” and then settle wherever it does. You’ve got to be willing to stay as long as it does and be willing to move the tent when the cloud moves. Sometimes you’ve got to be willing to “remain in the camp” for a long while if the cloud settles steadily, and at other times, willing to pull up stakes at a moment’s notice and set out if the cloud travels on. It sounds like you and your wife are definitely Numbers-9 people to me, and that’s a wonderful, faith-filled way to live. Thank you for your wonderful example. I”m not so sure it’s easier “just to take care of ourselves.” Seems to me the great risk is in doing just that, because that can be a dead-end street. (I never know how to care for myself. I’m really abysmal at it). I want to stay under cloud cover, just as you have done. Onward! THanks for your wonderful and encouraging post.
There was a writer in the 14th century that called it the Cloud of Unknowning. I always like to think of it that way. Thanks for reading Lynn.
You know, Darrell. THat book sounds *very* familiar. I may even have gotten it at a book sale. Thanks for the recommendation. I will try to unearth it in the forty-million books in my basement! God bless you and your wife on your journeys for Christ!
I love the crazy way you follow, friend.
(Make me feel like I’m in good company, somehow . . . )
Keep keepin’ it real.
oops, meant to say “makes me feel” 🙂
Darrell…Your life certainly sounds exciting. Living on the edge with God…what could be more thrilling, despite the fear and uncertainty. It’s wonderful to see how the Lord keeps you and your bride. This has never happened to me. I’ve lived a quiet, ‘safe’ life. Living in the same place for 30+ years, staying married to the same man, raising 2 children and a few dogs. Nothing too exciting or challenging. The closest I’ve come to ‘exciting’ is when the Lord insisted we change churches, requiring a half hour drive to this new church. That’s about it. I find myself envying the adventures others go through for God. Should I just be happy for ‘consistency’ and this unexciting life? It’s peaceful here. Can you hear the crickets?
Jillie, I really admire people who are constant and steady! I think you might be right where God wants you!
Last summer, I made my twentieth move, and just the other day I said I feel settled. Well, that was probably a mistake because I don’t think “settled” is God’s goal for me. Blessings to you and your sweet wife, as you continue to follow Him — the One who keeps us on the edge of our seats. 🙂
Thanks Deidra! I think Ally and I have a similar journey ahead of us. 1 year down!