There were many things that pushed us in this direction. Jesus has been whispering hotly in our ears follow Me for some time now, and we prayed and we searched and we wrestled with where He was having us to follow. Our hearts and instincts immediately went to Ethiopia, and we were nearly giddy with expectation that this could be where He was leading. However, as we prayed and talked and prayed some more, it become blatantly clear that, for now, Ethiopia is not where we are to follow. The medical, physical, and cognitive needs of our Jamesy, at this time, just do not make Ethiopia a viable option for our family. When we stepped back, and took a deep breath, and removed our emotion from the picture, we could so easily see that God had very plainly and purposefully brought Jamesy and Habi out of Ethiopia for now. We wrestled through other options across our country - so many of them good, exciting options - like moving to Illinois -near some dear friends. And all the while we wrestled and prayed, our life grew more and more chaotic here as so much of our life was now being spent over an hour from our home and next to Habi's school.
As we began to see how our lives were physically shifting away from where we were living, and the tension and stress that it was bringing to our once, simple, comfortable life, God began to plant a new dream in our hearts. A dream for a new kind of church, a new kind of community. A dream of solidarity with the poor, the mistreated, the outcasts, the marginalized. A new understanding of the posture of Jesus and what it really means to follow Him and live like He lived. A realization that a church that Jesus was leading would be socially active, and that the church is exactly who should be leading in caring for people in need. A knowledge that knowing and saying absolutely must be matched with doing.
This passage began burrowing itself into our hearts, and we are crazy enough to believe that Jesus actually wants us to do what He asks.
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter,“Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him,“Follow me!” (John 21:15-19 - emphasis mine)
This was a dream that we could no longer ignore.
To say that this has been an easy decision would be a lie. Following Jesus is always costly, and this new journey is no different. When I wrap myself up in my own emotions and flesh, I am scared and sad. This is the city and the church that I have literally grown up in. It was a dream of mine to raise my babies here, in this small country city, a mile away from my parents. I remember when we moved into this home, our first home, just five years ago, feeling that we would raise our babies to adulthood and grow old in this home. But slowly and graciously God has been tearing down these things, which have honestly become idols in my life. I am gaining a new understanding that this is absolutely not my home, that this life is short, and that I want to make this one, short, beautiful life really count for the kingdom. I am done storing up treasures here on earth. I am done replacing God's best for my life with good things. Now when we look at homes to purchase, I am no longer envisioning the home as forever, now we are talking about things like Is this a house that we could easily sell in the future? Because I am understanding now, more than ever before, that at any time Jesus could whisper again follow Me
Jim resigned from our church this Sunday, and is currently employed as a manager of a Sweet Frog. We are dreaming and building a new community and church alongside some beautiful people, whom God literally dropped in our laps as confirmation that we were truly following Him. We are working on getting our house on the market and praying that God sells it quickly, and then we move. Right now we will be commuting a lot and living part time in our new city. We are excited and terrified about this new adventure and our new church plant. While we know with all of our being that this is what we are being called to, God has not revealed to us whether or not we will be successful in this journey There is no guarantee. All we can do is free fall and follow - no looking back, that is what we have learned to do when Jesus says follow Me.
Jesus replied, "No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God." Luke 9:62