Singing to the words on the overhead screen, Murielle leans over and whispers, “This song reminds me of our church in Phoenix.” That was over ten years ago.
She took me back to her six year old self in a whisper. Standing on risers, her arms folded underneath the oversized white robe, tinsel halo pushed on a crown of wispy curls as she sang We Three Kings of Orient Are among a throng of gap-toothed peers. I never thought I would be standing here now.
Almost a decade ago, we started our vacation on an island a thousand miles from home and bumped into a Bishop who my husband didn’t realize was trying to call him. How his simple question – “Will you extend your vacation and visit a church a few hours away needing a pastor?” – led to a cross country move for our family. Like Mary and Joseph travelling to Bethlehem, we ended up in a place we never expected.
When we stood up to sing Here I Am to Worship she leaned over again and whispered in my ear, “This one reminds me of Morehead City.” The coastal community we traded for the desert; the one we never expected to leave so soon.
Five years after that cross country move, on the same day we celebrated our first worship service in the new church built with people we’d grown to love, another Bishop asked the same question. A question we’d grown to expect from God. Would you consider?
And we moved again. We never expected to reside in the place where we’d vacationed for years; the same seaside town where we bumped into that first Bishop who asked us to consider extending vacation.
It’s late afternoon when my family stands huddled together in a borrowed chapel among two hundred friends displaced by a church vote. My daughter’s whispers are the resting spots between notes of realization. That dreams are harnessed when we learn to see beyond circumstance.
H and I, we’ve been doing this since we said, “I do.” Moving to new places, doing things some people call crazy.
We’re like the Magi who left home on a hunch to follow the Light, risking without certainty about the future. Because each time we embrace discernment, behold the unexpected without clarity or predictability, a defining moment greets us at the door. And like those three kings, we see extraordinary things others miss.
As I walk into the New Year, I never expected to be part of planting a new church, to lead a bible study, mentor teens, be a content editor for a website, write an e-book, field writing invitations or speak at a retreat. But then again, I’ve never confused home with where I’ve been, it’s always about where I’m going.
As Holley Gerth says, “God-sized dreams aren’t really about size at all–they’re about embracing and pursuing the desires God has placed within your heart that perfectly fit who you are.”
Are you in a place you never expected?
Perhaps it’s the open flap on the envelope of promise.
Look! I’m doing a new thing; now it sprouts up; don’t you recognize it? I’m making a way in the desert, paths in the wilderness. ~Isaiah 43:19