Connecting The Dots
Four years ago today. Four years ago today, my little family rolled into Goodyear, Arizona and set up permanent residence. My goodness, time flies. I remember that day vividly. My kids were sick the whole week we traveled and I caught it halfway through the journey. I was so relieved that the very long journey to get here was finally over. It's funny, though, how allegorical that moment was in my life. I was relieved to be done with the journey, but oh, how much more God had planned. I was done journeying in so many ways...but also just beginning in so many ways.
We don't always get the privilege of seeing how all the dots connect in our life to lead us to a moment. I know when I finally see my whole life laid out like a tapestry before God, there will be so many of those dots that connected...and I never even knew it. Coming to Arizona, though, that is a "connect the dots" moment that I see crystal clear. I see clearly how many dots connected to get me to here. It is humbling, to say the least, when we catch glimpses of God's grand design. See, when our journey finally ended in Goodyear, Arizona, I was tired. Oh, of course I was physically tired but my tired ran much deeper than that. I was tired deep down in my soul. I was worn out, but I didn't know it at first.
For the first few months working in our new church, I chanted the mantra to myself, "this is too good to be true." I kept waiting for something to knock the wind out of my sail. I kept waiting for these people who seemed to be one hundred percent authentic to stab me in the gut. I waited...and waited....and waited...
Then, when that didn't happen I started getting uncomfortable. I started feeling like I was the one out of place...like maybe there was something going on in me. I was really good at following rules. I was really good at performing. I was really good at pretending...but this authenticity stuff, I had no idea what to do with it. God had brought me out of my wandering desert into a beautiful, joy filled, peace saturated promised land...and I had no clue how to live in it. I was still wandering, still lost inside myself.
God already had it planned out, though, how he would help me. He opened doors, one at a time, and Jesus took my hand and walked with me through them. He sat with me in counseling sessions, he sat with me when I cried, when I yelled, when I was silent. He lit the path ahead for me that was so full of very dark memories. He walked with me through a very hard journey and for the first time in my life, I found peace and rest.
For the first time in my life, I believed that my God loved me.
Then, while I was relishing my new revelation, he dropped a seed...a gift... in my lap. Writing was never a dream of mine. I didn't consider it, think of it, want it as a child...never. All of a sudden, though, I had this overwhelming desire to write. I was terrified, mind you. I was so afraid of what I knew God would ask me to write. I knew he would ask me to walk in vulnerability, to share my life with whoever wanted to be a part of it. I knew he was giving me this gift to use for his kingdom...but I was so afraid.
I cannot begin to express how much of my own healing came from my writing. So often, I would sit down to write and when I finished, God had answered my question, or given me peace, or restored my joy. I began realizing with great terror (ha!) that I could not afford not to write. When I was broken, he would whisper to me to share. When I was afraid, he would whisper to me to share. When I was angry, he would whisper to me...to share.
So, I shared and still do. It is very clever of my God to give me this gift that requires me to walk in authenticity..the very thing I knew nothing about before. The very thing I will always be tempted to hide from. Yes, I spent the first twenty five years of my life pretending, hiding, following rules...but the past four years have been my freedom. The past four years have been about surrender to a glorious God of great love and mercy who desperately wants authentic relationship, not my religious sacrifice.
I wish I could find words to describe my gratitude to him. Ironically, I, the writer, cannot find the right words. How do you write on paper that God has restored every shred of your life that you thought was lost forever? Thank you seems ridiculous when I think about all the dots that he connected, all the ways he worked in my life when I was completely unaware. No, words are not enough...but I can go where he leads. I can write what he tells me too. I can share when he opens doors. I can bring glory to him by telling others what he has done.
I am overwhelmed with thanksgiving when I reflect on my journey these past four years. Little did I know, four years ago, when I pulled into this little town in the desert that I had only just heard of, that God was bringing me to freedom, at last. Little did I know that he was going to blow this box I tried to put him in to pieces. Little did I know....but oh, I'm glad he sees what I cannot see. I am so glad he works where I cannot work. I am so glad he is for me and not against me.
God is connecting dots for you too, friend. I know, believe me I know, that there are moments that leave you feeling completely abandoned. There are moments when you doubt that He is even paying attention. I have had those moments too. I have walked in isolation, loneliness, depression, anger, fear, rejection, I have walked those roads. I know now, though, that nothing separate me from his love. No pain, no experience, not even time can separate me from his love. The fact that you are here, now, is proof of that. He is working in ways you cannot see. He desires your freedom, and he is a warrior who will fight for it. You can rest easy, because when the time is right, he will open doors and make all things new, he will make all things new. Rest easy, friend. He is there and your story is unfolding. Walk through the doors he opens and he will make a way.
He will always make a way.
"For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11