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?