A few of my friends in Oshkosh came over to our house to help me clean and finish packing the night before I moved the girls and me to my mom’s in Ohio, part of that awkward forward movement toward Michigan a couple years ago. Dave was already six weeks in Michigan for his new job; we were on our way. The girls asleep upstairs, my friends and I stood in the kitchen, boxes everywhere, rags in a bucket, tears in our eyes, talking about whether I’d gotten it all wrong. When I know people well enough to tell them the ugly things, and when they show up after they’ve put their own kids to bed to clean my oven anyway, pause is the one word that kept coming up: wait. Moving makes no sense: pause. We haven’t even sold the house: pause. I’m walking away from a good-paying job for what?: pause.
“How do we know we’re not just making this up? What does it mean to live in faith? I don’t understand. Like, I believe in Jesus, but why does this feel like it could be the worst decision we’ve ever made?” I was expecting them to tell me maybe if I just believed a little more, a little more thoroughly, all would be clear and I would start sleeping better at night.
“You just know. Faith looks like moving before your house is sold. It looks like moving before it’s all figured out,” my friend said.
“It looks like doing something even if it makes no sense to anyone else,” another said. “Only Jesus can make this make sense. You’re doing it.”
How absolutely messy, I wrote. How messy. And I scooped months’ worth of crumbs from the floor of my oven with them, and we took our last group picture and said goodbye. How messy.
We’re still doing it, this faith thing, and it’s still messy for me, for my family. We’re talking and praying, Dave and I, with a few of my friends, about some of these things I’ve been discerning, and the way God’s moving in all of them. So, why the hesitation? Why, when it all feels like the thing to do, do we waffle for a day, a week, January and February? Don’t I feel a pinch when single, childless Paul says “Get on with it! … Figure out what will please Christ, and then do it!” (Eph. 5, MSG Remix throughout)?
We hesitate because we’re human: this is so messy. Ever notice that when the Guy who had His eye on us from the beginning asks us to do something, it still doesn’t mean clean breaks: it still doesn’t happen at a convenient time, or cheaply, or without losing something, someone, some face? Don’t we all look at the guy who’s been flogged, imprisoned, and shipwrecked and think “Well, that’s a nice story. … Now I must pay the rent, wipe this kid’s nose, and put ‘toilet paper’ on my grocery list.” I hope I’m not the only one.
During a study of Ephesians I’m doing with a new small group, I find myself more wrapped up in the story from Acts 9 and the letter Paul sent to Ephesus. What strikes me differently this time, for a reason: Saul/ Paul was walking to Damascus, on his way, in the process of going (not planning the trip, not praying for the trip, but actively on the trip) when Jesus interrupted him. That’s obnoxious, God-like timing. Right? I mean, God could’ve sent an invitation six months in advance so Paul would have time work his head around it, tell his friends over tea, pack extra clothes; maybe write his Mom a letter? No, God says now.
And now Paul, new-man Paul, writes the other words that shake us, shake me: “Get on with it!” Do this thing. Now.
We’re at a point, always, when we have to move from believing in our heads to believing with our hands: with filling out forms and making phone calls, sending emails that give us heartburn, and staring at each other over the kitchen table, going “What the heck is going on? Is this even real?” and “This changes all this,” and waving our hands around our whole days’ rhythms. And in prayer, I hear yes, yes: I’ve got this.
It’s, in so many ways, me, standing in the kitchen of my old house, saying “What if I’m making all this up?” And we moved anyway. We leap off the diving board before we’re sure we can swim sometimes, because we know God does these sorts of things, He asks for everything.
And here’s the important part: a few other believer-friends are beside me, prayerfully saying, “Sounds right. God does that sometimes.” I couldn’t make this up. Never by myself would I jump — I was the kid at swimming lessons who koala-beared my instructor’s leg on the low-dive and would not go, no thank you, NO, THANK YOU, I SAID NO, THANK YOU! MOM! MOM!: I do not make hasty, wild decisions on my own.
I’m the classic over-thinker.
That’s the thing about this God we serve, though: He thinks my planner is cute; He’s not a follower of mine on Instagram because I make it all look so good. Yet He can do infinitely more than I imagine or ask … If I jump.
“The bright light of Christ makes your way plain. So no more stumbling around. Get on with it!” (Eph. 5)