Monday, September 15, 2008

In Other Words---You Want Me to Go Where?

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“Still, accepting God’s existence is one thing; honoring his command is another matter entirely, especially if we’re required to go back when we’d rather go forward.”

~Liz Curtis Higgs
from Slightly Bad Girls of the Bible~


We all like to believe that God is using us; that He is commissioning us to do something in His kingdom. Some of us are quite happy for that commissioning to be in the work we are doing right this moment, close to home, reaching the people around us. Others would be totally ecstactic if God said, "Go..." somewhere new, somewhere with different challenges. The response would cry out "Just tell me where." Yet, others of us don't even worry about knowing the "where." We'd love to be Abram, setting out for the land God would show, and to have that much faith to go.

Yes, a Christian who is seeking to grow in their relationship with God wants to move on with Him. But, what if He were to say, "go back"?

Anyone who knows me for very long quickly understands that I love to move on. We have lived in England longer than anywhere else during the time of our marriage. I have itchy feet, I'm ready for God to take us elsewhere. I've been ready. For three years I've been ready. And time and time again God has clearly said, "stay." We have lived within the blessing because we stay. It doesn't keep me from reminding God that I'm willing to go. I'm sure He just smiles and whispers, "I know, not yet."

Just before I read this quote in Higgs' latest study, a friend and I were talking and praying. She, too, has been ready to go for a few years. We love each other because we can say, "I love you, but I'd love to tell you good-bye!" Anyway, she asked the question, "Could God ask anything more difficult for you than to stay?" I immediately answered, "He could say go back to the States." A week later I read this quote. And began to think, "Could I trust Him if He said go back?"

Could I?

If He said go back to Texas? (Dix, Amy, Adrienne, you guys know I love you, so don't take this personally!). I wasn't the greatest farm girl growing up. There aren't any jobs that would draw German to West Texas. I am not sure that Texas could ever be home again. But if God said go back, would we? We would because God doesn't call to where you aren't needed. But it would be a difficult step of faith.

But that isn't what God is calling us to do (sorry guys!).

What if it wasn't a physical place, but an emotional place that He commissioned me to go back? What if it was back into a discipling friendship that ended in broken hearts all around? What if He called me to face that battle again? *Deep breath*. I can almost feel the physical pain from that emotion even now. But I've known that this period of time might be only a respite before another round. My head would say, "I'm not ready," but my heart would hopefully trust Him enough to go back.

Again, that isn't what God is saying. Not yet.

In fact, what God is still saying is "Stay." But the last few weeks of meditating on this has taught me so much. Time and time again, God has brought a person, a situation, a place, a feeling to my mind and said, "Would you go back to this." I'd love to tell you that each and every time I've said "of course Lord." But it isn't that simple. Knowing that He is sovereign is easy. I know that He doesn't leave unfinished business---but I do hope that in some of those places He has appointed someone else to finish it! I have had to grapple with these truths, that if He sends me "back" to somewhere, then there is something to accomplish. In each situation I've had to struggle with what I didn't want to go back to and why. It's been hard, but it has also been freeing.

In the story, Hagar had run away from Sarai who was mistreating her. Sarai was jealous of the pregnancy. But God still had things for Hagar to do. He didn't promise her that Sarai would all of a sudden treat her well. He didn't tell her things would be easy. Instead He assured her that He was with her. And He sent her back. Ishmael was born. Abram had his son. Later, after the birth of Isaac, Hagar would be sent away again. Again, God would meet her in her need. That time, he would not send her back. She would have a new purpose. But in the early part of Hagar's story, God sent her back. She trusted and she went. How difficult that must have been! But she did it.

If God asks us to return to something that has been left behind, there is a purpose. The purpose may be for someone that is there. But more often than not, the purpose is to continue to refine us to be ready to "send forth."

Has God sent you back? Is God sending you forward? Is He asking you to stay? Can you trust Him no matter the direction He sends?

(Oh, and in total irony, my friend who sparked this whole train of thought has been called back...she and her family will be returning to Saudi Arabia in the new year after four years here. I'll miss her, but I know that God has called them back to a purpose and can't wait to hear what He does!)

Father God, help me to trust You in all places. If You say return, may my heart return without fear. If You say stay, may I be content in the place You place me. And if You say go, may I step out in faith. I seek to serve You whereever I am. Amen.

Thank you for being a part of In Other Words this week! Please write your own thoughts on the quote, and then leave your link below. Have a blessed day!

15 comments:

writingcanvas said...

Thank you so much for hosting and sharing this quote. I took a different angle on it - and so appreciate your thoughts and where God has "moved" you. :)

(PS You did great with Mr. Linky!)

e-Mom said...

I totally missed the fact that you're living in England. It will be interesting if He does ask you to "go back."

The neat thing is you really can't just go back. People have moved on, life has moved on. No matter where He takes you, it will all be new. And that could be really exciting!

I'm thinking the Lord is calling us to "stay" even though, like you, we're ready to move on. I'm praying for patience!

A nice post. :~D

Michelle Bentham said...

I love this post and this quote, Mipa. You are a blessing and if God called you back to Texas, well you'd better look me up in Cowtown!

Blessings.

Ava Semerau said...

Miriam - all I can say is WOW! As an American expat myself, I could have written this exact post! I too have been itching to move on and hearing God's gentle command to stay. It's been a challenge and one I keep praying about..and then I go to your site for the weekly IOW and wham! My thoughts on returning to the States echo yours as well - hehe even going back for repat is a challenge some years! Thank you so very much for articulating my struggle and reminding me that God's time is not my time. You were a real blessing today!

Ava Semerau

Joyfull said...

Very challenging and encouraging post, to follow God's will and way at all times. Thanks for being such a gracious hostess.

Karen said...

Good illustration you gave. That is a big thing to think about, what our reaction would be if God sent us forward or even backwards. Would we go or stay and argue. Thanks for the lesson and the chance to reflect on it today.

Laurie Ann said...

I loved the quote and your take on it. God is never going to send us where He doesn't want us, that's for sure. Thanks for hosting this week! I enjoyed the quote.

Kat said...

"If God asks us to return to something that has been left behind, there is a purpose. The purpose may be for someone that is there. But more often than not, the purpose is to continue to refine us to be ready to "send forth."

I love this quote and I am going to keep it where I can see it, thanks for sharing!

Patricia@Typing One-Handed said...

After 39 years of moving (my entire life)...I was ready to put down roots. I adopted my husband's hometown as my own. I convinced my parents to move here. Yet, when I think of going back to some of the places the Lord took us, I get a bit wistful. Most of the memories were good...but time has moved forward...so really there is no going back for me...even if the Lord sent us to one of the locations we'd been to before, it would be a forward move - a new work.

Such is the life of a military family.

CHOCOLATE AND COFFEE said...

I love the quote and your post was awesome. Thanks for hosting IOW today.

Blessings!

Tami Boesiger said...

Have you ever read Hind's Feet in High Places? There are places all along Much Afraid's journey where she seems to be going backward. The only answer the Shepherd gives her is "Trust Me." And so it is with us. When we desire Him and love Him with our whole being, we know we have no choice but to follow.

You illustrate the principle well in your post, MiPa. You show us how it's done. Thank you.

Bonnie W said...

Wow! Great Post MiPa! Being in ministry, God has often said "Stay" when I was champing at the bit to go somewhere, anywhere else but where I was.

I'm not sure how I would react if God said, "bo back" to any of the difficult places in my life, whether emotional places or real physical places. It would be difficult. But as my trust grows, I begin to think I could go back if He asked me to.

Wonderful food to chew on for awhile.

lori said...

MiPa....this is funny...
You got me here...in fact, I could have WRITTEN it myself, except insert Georgia instead of England....

"We have lived in England longer than anywhere else during the time of our marriage. I have itchy feet, I'm ready for God to take us elsewhere. I've been ready. For three years I've been ready. And time and time again God has clearly said, "stay." We have lived within the blessing because we stay. It doesn't keep me from reminding God that I'm willing to go. I'm sure He just smiles and whispers, "I know, not yet."

13 moves in 18 years..I too have "itchy feet:)" but IF He asks us to GO BACK to some of the places...UGH...I'll wince!

Great post and great quote today...
thanks for making me THINK like a "slightly bad girl!;)"
peace,
lori

Linda said...

Your choice of quotes and personal thoughts will give me a lot to think about. Our focus should be to rest in any place God places us. You seem to have that in great balance.

Sorry if this new blogger didn't get all the links and credits right. If I get it figured out, I will add them.

God bless your staying and going.

eph2810 said...

Wow - what a powerful post! Would I go back if God wants me to? Will I be content where I am at? I pray that He will give me the strength to do either one - what ever His will may be for my life...

Be blessed today and always...