The waiting period. The in-between. The unknown.
I am in a state of limbo in what feels like every area of my life. I am currently in the process of moving out of my beloved little cottage in Portland, Oregon, and though it is the cutest of places to be, it’s not home any more, and so I’m there, but I’m not really there. With half of my stuff inside its walls and half of it hauled off to Goodwill, for as cute as my little cottage is, I find myself not wanting to be there. Remaining in a place that is no longer home feels tortuous the longer I stay there. I almost feel like the house is taunting me, “see how cute I am, remember how comfortable I am, everyone else wants to live here, see those ducks, you’ll never find anything as good as me!” While I may be a bit on the weird side, I know I’m not being taunted by my house, but instead of enjoying the last few days there, I find myself wanting to just rip the bandaid off and get out.
Existing in a state of one foot in and one foot out sucks. And so it goes with my little cottage on the duck pond in Portland… one foot in, one foot out, and I’m not quite sure how well I am handling the tension. Since I know my time there is ending, I want to “just be out,” but I can’t “just be out” if I don’t go through the process of moving out. I think this is true to life in many other instances… we always want to “just be” somewhere with someone having something, but we often don’t want to go through the process it takes to get there. We don’t want to do the work.
Allow me to correct myself, I don’t want to do the work.
Time and time again I have told stories of getting close, but not close enough; of trying hard, but not hard enough. I have too many stories of “almost,” of that one time I almost did this or almost did that.
If you’ve followed any of my blog up to this point, you know that I recently flew back to Portland to pack up my belongings, after which I will head back to San Diego to continue working as an intern at a church for the rest of the school year. And if you’ve followed any of my blog up to this point, you also know that I recently bought a VW van to not only drive back to San Diego, but to live in while I am there, attempting to live what I preach, which is not “live in a van,” but “follow Jesus.”
And fret not if you think following Jesus means living in a van, He’s too creative to tell everyone to do that.
Now that I think about it, perhaps I should take a step back and start even simpler than “follow Jesus,” perhaps I should start with get to know Jesus. Find out who He is before you decide to follow Him, because as you follow Him, you are going to find life to be more beautiful than you ever expected AND more difficult. People leave out the difficult part when telling other people about Jesus. It is often implied that if you follow Jesus, He is going to solve all of your problems and you won’t struggle anymore. I am here to say that since following Jesus, all of my problems have not been solved. I have been helped through many of them and set free in most cases, but not instantly, and not without a struggle. It is in the struggle that I find most people give up. They hit their first roadblock on the Jesus highway that they expected to coast through life on and they say “never mind, I thought it was going to be easier than this.”
I was one of those coasters, more than once, on more than one occasion, essentially saying to Jesus time and time again, “never mind, this is too hard, I’m gonna take a nap or another route and maybe catch up with you later.” Honestly, I think I was one of those coasters up until last week. Sort of. I’ve been clinging to Jesus for a good ten years now, but my patterns seem to repeat themselves. Instead of having ten years of experience following Jesus, I think I have one or two years of experience ten times. That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but the exaggeration is needed to make the point, that time and time again something gets too hard and I pull out. I pull out, and feel good in the moment that it’s not hard any more, but it’s only a matter of time before regret sets in for not following through, especially once I realize I have to start over, which is much harder than just pushing through the tough stuff.
I am an expert at asking God for forgiveness, not just because I am a sinner in need of a savior, but because I am so well practiced in the act of giving up. Giving up means passing on what God has to offer you and when you pass on what God has to offer you, you find yourself saying “my bad” with more sincerity than Eve with a piece of forbidden fruit in her hand.
A week ago, hours after landing in Portland, I found myself shaking the hand of a man who was selling me a VW van, dropping it form $2500 to $1800 simply because of my reasoning for wanting it. I did not ask him to drop the price, I told him what I believed Jesus had called me to and I think (whether he knew it or not) Jesus told him to drop the price. And while I didn’t even know how to drive stick-shift, nor did I actually have $1800, “something in me” told me to shake the man’s hand and tell him I’d have the money by the following night. Actually, my friend Liz told him we’d have the money by the following night and so I sensed she was trusting the Lord to follow through just as much as I was. Sure enough, hours before going to pick up the van, we had the money in full, some of it loaned, some of it given, much of it drained from everything my bank account had to offer.
I know it sounds like a crazy move, sometimes I still check my phone to see if certain people have called yet to tell me I’m being dumb, but I can’t shake the fact that Jesus asks us to do crazy things all the time, and more often than not we ignore them simply because they are crazy. Or at least I do. I’m not saying go out and buy a car you can’t afford, please hear me say I am saying nothing close to that, I am only saying don’t ignore the crazy just because it’s crazy… at the very least, take it up with the Lord.
The van has been in the shop for the last few days and the waiting period has been tortuous. It’s in the silence of not moving forward that the voices creep in, “give up, this is crazy, you can’t do it, you’ll disappoint people, you’re a let down.” Sitting here writing those voices out, I realize that the voice of God sounds nothing like that. There’s no way I could follow God if I listen to the voices that sound nothing like His.
People have come out of the woodworks to support me and the van and the road God has me on. Honestly, the obstacles have been worth seeing God show up in the most unexpected ways by the most unexpected people. And if that stands true, that the obstacles are worth seeing God show up, then I can’t back out when more obstacles surface, I can’t give up because it gets too hard or I hear a snarky remark from someone who thinks I’m crazy… even irresponsible. People thought Noah was crazy. I think he was too… you’d have to be a certain degree of crazy to say the voice of God told you to build an ark for a flood that was going to wipe out the earth in the middle of a drought.
Why do we seem to think Bible characters are just that… characters… ? They were people just like you and me, struggling to decide whether or not they heard right when the Lord told them to set slaves free, close the mouths of Lions, kill off giants, take on armies ten times their size, knock down walls with the sound of their voices. And just because we live in a day and age or culture that doesn’t look the same as it did back then, it doesn’t mean God doesn’t still show up in the craziest of ways, asking us to do the craziest of things… things that not only seem crazy, but flat out stupid. Perhaps I struggle more with feeling like this whole thing is stupid more so than crazy. Stupid because with everything else that is going on in the world, how could any of this possibly matter?
But… if I believe in a Jesus who cares just as much about the one lost sheep as He does the rest of the flock, then I have to believe it matters simply because He cares about me. I matter to Jesus. He cares about the condition of my heart… and the same goes for you. If I could drive any point home it would be that all of this matters to Jesus because it involves how I view Him, and how I view Him is going to dictate how I live my life, and how I live my life is going to reflect the condition of my heart and it is my heart He is after.
I knew going into this whole process that the van wasn’t the point, and I thought maybe that meant letting go of the whole idea. But I think it is the opposite, I think simply because the van is not the point, I can’t let go of the whole idea. The whole idea is that I’m trusting Jesus on a crazy path… a path that will offer outs along the way and I have to decide whether or not I will press in or bail. I can’t say I’m trusting Jesus on a crazy path and then as soon as it gets hard say “never mind.” I mean, I could, and believe me, my muscle memory tells me to do just that, but I need to exercise a new set of muscles, ones that don’t give up just because something gets hard.
I can’t say thank you enough to the people who have stepped in to help, I couldn’t have made it this far without you, even just in my spirits. I talked with the Volkswagen people this morning who gave me a list of things that need to be worked on, along with a finish date of next Wednesday, and while the price tag on it made my jaw drop, I already have 90% of it covered. The mere fact that other people are responding to my requests for help tells me that I am not the only one God is prompting on the matter, telling me to move forward. I have to listen to those voices that come with each deposit of money that say “get it, guuuurl,” “go do God’s work,” “Jesus shows up every time it looks hopeless.”
Those sound more like the voice of my God than “give up, pull out, this is crazy, this is dumb.”
Get behind me, satan.
I’m writing down every name that has reached out as I thank God for them in prayer and ask that He blesses them and responds to their faith.
I sincerely mean this when I say you can help in more ways than money. Yes, I am still a few hundred dollars away from covering the costs, but you don’t have to give money to help. Honestly, pray, pray, pray… first and foremost that I make it safely back to San Diego. Share the videos I’ve posted, the links, put the word out there so that other people might follow the story the Lord is writing. Share with other people what it looks like to trust God, to see what happens when He shows up, not just in my story, but in yours.
For as crazy as it sounds, I’m learning not to give up on myself in the process of not giving up on this van. Much like myself, the van needs a lot of work, and for as much as I want it to just be fixed (like how I want to just be fixed), I know it is going to be a process. I can’t give up just because the process got hard.
One of the ladies supporting me, whom I’ve never met, had this picture posted on her Facebook timeline and it so perfectly captured the process of this van, but more so the process of life… especially life with Jesus. If you do decide to follow Him, count the costs and brace yourself…
I have more stick-shift lessons ahead of me, so I am at the very least thankful to have that time to practice, as well as say goodbye to friends instead of rushing in and rushing out.
The waiting period is just as much a part of the process as the highs and lows, and I’m learning how not to give up just because I have to wait. And I’m not sitting idly by while I wait, I’m hustling while I wait, keeping my mind right and my thoughts on Him who is busy at work, even when I can’t see or feel Him working.
And since I’m waiting, I’d like to take action in other ways, I’d like to pray for you. I have plenty of time and a mighty God, so if there is something you’d like prayer for, anything at all, I mean it with all sincerity when I say please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or comment below.
I would love to pray for you while I wait on the Lord, and He would love for you to know that you are not alone.