Two years ago on July 4th, Mark and I packed up the U-Haul in Arkansas and moved to Texas, leaving children and grandchildren behind (the unthinkable!), because the Lord said we were to go. The last two years have been wonderful but sometimes painful, full of blessings but also challenges. And God has proved Himself faithful, as He always does.
This past weekend my daughter Susan and husband Chris packed up the U-Haul in Arkansas and moved with their children, Kaitlin, Colton, and Lincoln, to West Virginia, leaving family and everything familiar behind. Chris, who works for an oil and gas company, had already been working on location in WV for 13 months, only able to come home a few days every so often. He missed Christmas but made it home in time for the birth of their youngest son in February.
Why didn’t they just move up there together? Well, if you know anything about the oil and gas industry, it fluctuates wildly, so jobs are unstable. Susan had been working at her job for ten years, so it would be a hard decision to leave it, not knowing if it would work out in WV. Plus, she was pregnant, which is definitely not the optimum time to go looking for a new job. So they waited…and waited.
But God was working a bigger plan, one that is about faith and obedience, about knowing Him intimately. James 1:2-3 says, “Consider it pure joy… when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work in you so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” None of us says of trials, “Yes, Lord, bring it on!” And yet they are for our good, so we will know Him, not just know about Him.
God has been speaking to my daughter’s heart this past year while she and Chris have lived apart. I saw strength and courage rise up in her as she went through her pregnancy essentially alone. I saw her grieve when she had to go back to work after maternity leave and put Lincoln in day care, wanting so much to stay home with him his first year. When that wasn’t possible, she picked herself up and did what she had to do. It was clear that status quo was not an alternative. They had to get their family back together. So she stepped out in faith and started applying for jobs in WV.
I would be amiss to not mention the sacrifice that Chris has made during this period of time. The irony is that he left serving in the military with its yearly six-month deployments so he could be a full-time father to his children. Later he went to school for oil and gas and landed his current job, fully expecting that his family would be able to follow. But then gas prices dropped…and dropped… and dropped. Layoffs have been frequent. Chris and Susan didn’t know from one day to the next what would happen.
God’s timing is perfect, however, even when we don’t understand it. Susan quickly got a job interview for a position that she was well-qualified for. She was tentatively offered the job the same day of the interview, but she was to wait a week for confirmation. Now the struggle truly began. What if she quit her job, moved her children to a state far away where they knew no one, and Chris was sent somewhere else to work, or worse, if he was laid off and didn’t have a job, period?
Susan awoke one morning the next week, still wrestling with what she should do. Even if everything else fell into place, they didn’t have the money to cover moving expenses. She was afraid. But then she heard the Lord clearly speak to her and tell her to go. And in her own words, she said that although she didn’t see how they were going to get there, she was more afraid of not obeying God. My heart was flooded with peace when she told me that. The new job was confirmed that same day.
Susan was overwhelmingly busy the next ten days, going through everything they owned, holding a garage sale (with a five-month-old in tow), as well as an online garage sale, and wheeling and dealing to sell everything they could to scrape up enough money to move. The Lord moved on the hearts of a few dear ones to contribute also. Chris couldn’t come home until a couple of days before the actual move, and Susan was still working while doing most of this alone, with some help from family with the packing. God provided.
Changes are hard because even the right decisions can be painful. Watching my daughter go through this process, my thoughts turned to when Mark and I moved out of state. When God is calling you, I think He gives you the grace of tunnel vision. We had many details to take care of…..moving out of a comfortable home, with family literally a few blocks away, to an older duplex in a city that we knew little about. These “details” would naturally raise the question, “Why are we doing this?” It didn’t make sense in the natural, but God said, “Go,” and he clearly confirmed it in our hearts.
When Susan said, “I was more afraid of not obeying God than how we were going to make it,” I knew exactly what she meant. It isn’t the fear of punishment. It’s the fear of missing out on what God has for us, his plan, his purpose. The deep knowing that you are following God compels you to go. Does that mean it will be easy, that there will be no pain? Not at all. I haven’t posted on this blog for months because the Lord has been leading me through an intimate process with Him to heal my heart. And he has.
Now just a week out from their move, I picture my daughter and her little family so many miles away, and my heart hurts that I won’t see them when we go home to Arkansas to visit the next time. Yet at the same time, I’m full of joy because I know they are in God’s will. And I know because of this trial, her faith has grown, and she knows the Lord more intimately than she did before.
Tomorrow is my daughter’s birthday. And this message is for her: Susan, I have never been more proud of you. You have proved your faith by taking this risk and trusting God. You have always been your own person, independent and strong, but you are also your mother’s child, for through this process I have seen myself in you. I can’t wait to see what the Lord has for you in West Virginia. I love you very much. Happy birthday!