I know you've heard this a thousand times and it may sound like a cliche', but it is just simply the truth. God is amazing! The way He orchestrates things in my life and puts just the right people in my path at just the right time (or leaves me standing alone when I need to just be with Him) is perfect. The Bible tells us that God's ways are not our ways, and that seems to me to be such an understatement. His ways are mind-blowing! My tiny little brain cannot wrap around some of the things He does. For example, four years ago He gave me scripture that He has only recently fully explained to me. Also four years ago, He took me away from things and people that were precious to me, and I began the journey of a lifetime.
I was born in sunny southern California. I consider California my home state...I AM a California girl. I spent a lot of my young adulthood in the sand and surf of Huntington Beach, body surfing with a seashell tied around my ankle with a little strip of leather (an anklet my brother fashioned for me). I worked a job at night and beach bummed during the day. I've spent most of my life living in California except for a few stints in Texas where my dad is from. I met my husband in northern California, my children were all born in California. Mine and my husband's favorite spots were Lake Tahoe, Santa Cruz, Monterey, Carmel, Yosemite...some of the most beautiful places on earth, in my opinion, and they were right in our backyard. Yes, I said "were". My husband and I now reside in central Texas after God relocated us almost exactly four years ago. It was sad. The saddest part of this story though, is how long I've spent mourning the loss of my life there. God told me, before we left California, that He was doing a new thing and would I not see it? I THOUGHT I wanted to see it. It turns out I didn't. He said He wanted to take me to the next level, and I THOUGHT I was ready for it. It turns out I wasn't. It turns out I followed Jesus right into the desert, and I wandered that desert for almost four years. I searched and searched for water, whining and crying the whole time, "Lord, why did you take me away from what I was doing and all my friends and family? I was finally happy, Lord!" Kinda pathetic, huh? I can say that now, but I was too deep in it back then to see anything but my circumstances. Things were not going as I had hoped in any area of my life. I was angry, sad, frustrated, confused, anxious....with spots of forced faith and optimism. I KNEW God had a plan for my life, I just had no idea anymore what that plan was, and I was not happy not knowing. I made half-hearted attempts at friendships and putting down roots, all the while secretly hoping we'd go back to California any day. Every so often, my husband and I would look at each other and one or both of us would say, "Can we go back now?" I was reminded more than once of the Israelites whining to go back to Egypt. I knew I needed to let go of the former things, and press forward, but I just couldn't seem to actually do it for any length of time. I was spiritually dry, emotionally frustrated, and physically depressed. I was in a very sad state. I kept trying to just cling to God, but most of the time it was just a matter of doing what I knew in my head to do and my heart wasn't in it like it had been before. The relocation had thrown me for a loop, totally and completely. I was in a tail spin and didn't know how to stop it.
Then one day I noticed the spinning was starting to slow down a little. God gave me a word through our pastor that opened my eyes, and began to minister to my dry spirit. I realized that God had truly not forgotten me. I realized that He HAD sent me to this desert to die, but to die to myself so that He could take me to the next level. Part of our pastor's message recently was entitled "Booted and Broken". That was us. We had been booted out of California and broken so that we could be revived, restored, and renewed (made even better). The next level is here in Texas and there had to be a breaking down so there could be a rebuilding. I now attend a wonderful church full of wonderful sisters-in-Christ, but I couldn't fully reach out to those women because I was still holding on to California.....until this past weekend.
This weekend I attended my first women's retreat in four years. My last one was in California. It was a very interesting experience, emotionally. When I first arrived I found myself resisting the whole thing. I missed my former pastor's wife and the way she did things....all the retreats I'd been to in the past. I wanted to be with my sisters from New Life. As I sat in the gorgeous living room of the mini mansion where we were to have this retreat, I suddenly wanted to cry and go home. I felt like a big old baby. I didn't want to be a downer to the other women and I knew if I could just get alone for a few minutes I could gather myself. I asked our hostess for a place to be alone and she directed me to one of the bedrooms. As soon as I closed the door behind me I dropped to the floor and sobbed. I'm not sure how long I was there, but after a good deal of praying and crying, I finally felt in control of my emotions. I joined the other ladies who were mingling and getting ready for things to begin. I wasn't out of the bedroom more than five minutes when one of the women asked me if she could pray with me. Apparently, one of the pastors wives had seen me slipping away and asked this sweet sister to go and pray with me. It was the beginning of a weekend full of wonderful works of the Spirit. My presence at this retreat was most assuredly a divine appointment. The first night there, the Lord showed me that I was still resisting fellowship with the women of this church because I was still holding on to California and a warped sense of loyalty to my friends there. Even though I thought I was letting go and reaching out, I really wasn't. Not completely. So all that weekend, the Lord and I worked on letting go of the past and moving forward in His plan for me. We worked on letting go of the need for the approval of man, and embracing the joy of the Lord. He led me to the most uninhibited worship I've ever experienced right where other people could see, and I didn't care! It was awesome; so freeing and so fun! I made some new best friends and heard some great words of teaching. For the first time in four years, I feel truly excited about the future, even if it means the rest of it is going to be here in Texas. I have finally let go of my wonderful life in California, and put both feet on Texas soil. My friends in California will always be my friends, no matter where we are and the Lord has brought me more wonderful, sweet friends here in Texas. He just keeps blessing me and expanding my tent pegs, and I finally see that.
Letting go has not been easy. It's been a process full of pain, heartache, confusion, frustration, anger.....I could go on with the list. I've never been one to turn on a dime. I'm slow at everything, especially when it comes to adjusting to major life changes. That's the way God made me though, and He always sees me through no matter how long it takes. He's patient with me, and I am so thankful for that. Letting go has been a great lesson in trusting God and having faith in what I know He has said regardless of what things look like. The process of letting go has led me to a place of deeper intimacy with God, and a clearer understanding of His joy. Letting go has not been easy, but it has freed my hands to receive the rest of what God has for me. I can now truly say with no hint of sadness, "I eagerly anticipate what You have for me, Father!" Amen!