Originally published Wednesday, 10 October 2012.
When I rewind my life and remember all the milestones that have rooted me in my faith, there is one experience that stands out as a linchpin in my journey. It was during this experience that God brought to life for me, firsthand, one of the Bible's greatest lessons: that of his gentle and unwavering loyalty.
I had been chaperoning a youth group trip to Tennessee and the band had just taken the stage. The music was loud and I sang along wholeheartedly. Until the lyrics of the song, which I knew by heart, reached this point: "Where you lead me, I will follow.... Even if I walk alone, Lord, this I choose to do." Suddenly, I stopped tapping my foot to the beat as the weight of those words, "Even if I walk alone," hit me full force for the first time. They make for a great song, but when it comes to real life, those are hard words to swallow.
I started praying vehemently, God, I love you, but please don't make me go anywhere by myself. Please don't make me have to do it alone. Please don't...
Six months later, I found myself in the very spot I'd prayed against: Making a decision whether to move to a new city where I knew virtually no one and leave behind the city where I felt I had finally come into my own and had forged a rich fabric of kindred friendships. I stood at the cusp, cardboard boxes on one side, comfort and predictability on the other. Which would it be?
Retracing the circumstances that led up to this decision over that span of six months, there was no doubt that God was at work, opening doors in my life and future. But in spite of that awareness, questions still loomed: What if I don't like my job? Who will I hang out with? What if I don't make any friends? Where will I go to church? How is this all going to work? What if this is a mistake? Sure, God had opened a bunch of doors already, but what about the next string of doors?
The decision, then, of whether or not to move, rested on one simple notion: Could I trust God and where He was calling me? Did I truly believe in His loyalty?
A couple months ago, I was reading back through Genesis 1 and noted verse 29 with new eyes. As God introduced Adam to the Garden of Eden, "God said, 'Look, I have given you all the plants that have grain for seeds and all the trees whose fruits have seeds in them. They will be food for you" (Genesis 1:29). As I read that, I realized the significance of the fact that, even before He created the first man (and later, woman), God had already prepared a ripe environment for His beloved creations. They didn't have to ask for food or even know a world without provision—it was ready for them as soon as they stepped onto the scene. That was how God worked out of love then, and God was ever so ready to prove to me that that's how He continues to work today, in spite of my misgivings and dragging heels.
Through much wrestling, godly counsel, and prayer, I decided to move. I recognized that by not moving, I would be turning my back on where God was calling me to go, and I couldn't bear that. Even though I had no idea how this would all work out, I decided I had to take that chance and trust Him. With my car packed full of cardboard boxes, I made the 8-hour drive to my new home.
I remember those first days in that new town, when my boxes were only freshly unpacked and I was just learning my way around. I came across Ecclesiastes 11:4, "Those who wait for perfect weather will never plant seeds; those who look at every cloud will never harvest crops." In a moment of clarity, I saw that this had threatened to be me and my life. I had almost let imperfect circumstances and fears about the future keep me from acting, keep me from sowing, keep me from having to depend on God for the harvest when I couldn't see how this could possibly be fruitful. For those first few weeks, I clung to this verse, whispering to myself over and over again, "Keep sowing. Keep trusting. Persevere."
And as He did for those first humans, God did for me. As He went before them and so many others throughout the biblical narrative, He did for me. As with them, before I even knew what was happening or what to expect, He was at work, bringing the Word to life for me like never before.
He quickly began showing me the frivolity of most of my fears. I found an inspiring church to call home, outlets for volunteering and meeting new people, and things to do on the weekend. Before I knew it, friendships blossomed all around me—a lovely-hearted roommate, friends at work and weekly runs to Starbucks, inspiring girlfriends through church, and a vibrant Bible study. It was obvious that my greatest fears and arguments against going had been for nothing.
Even now, two years after I first wrestled though this decision, God continues to teach me the depths of His loyalty. I carry the reminders and the fruits of that experience with me today, for the times when those pesky questions persist: Can I really trust Him to deliver me this time? How is this going to work? In those inevitable moments, I look back on this milestone and remember to trust that God is at work, prepping the landscape of my future and waiting for me to step forward in faith and sow. I remember the unwavering loyalty He has shown me, firsthand.
Carmen writes the blog, Life Blessons, which provides an intimate look into her life as a twentysomething woman as she details her experiences learning how to live out her faith, enjoy the simple things in life and be the woman God created to her to be. Along the way, she shares the blessings and lessons that are a part of this journey, the things she likes to call her "blessons."
Feel free to learn more at her blog, Life Blessons.