As I’m processing the transition from Lubbock to Washington, I’ve decided to reread Stormie Omartain’s excellent book, “Just Enough Light for the Step I’m On: Trusting God in Tough Times.” I had read it years ago, and I remember it provided me with more encouragement than I expected. It’s a short book at 176 pages, but there are enough nuggets in there to make it worth while.
On section that stood out to me this weekend was when she described the Israelites leaving Egypt for The Promised Land. They followed God’s definite leading out of Egypt, and had seen Him perform numerous, incredible miracles. Yet instead of stepping directly into The Promised Land, they had to go through the wilderness.
And that’s when things got complicated.
Because despite what they knew, and what they had seen with their own eyes, they forgot God’s power. Instead of relying on His providence for where they were now, they continued to look back, at they life they had before. “What’s going on, Moses? You brought us all the way out there to die? In this desert? Life was better back in Egypt as a slave!”
Grumble, grumble, grumble, bitch, bitch bitch… it was an ugly time.
The problem was, they thought they were at the end of the story of their lives, that they had reached the final destination. It wasn’t true. They were just passing through it. As tourists. They just didn’t realize it, so they freaked out.
It did to me. Because here I am, a man who’s seen and experienced firsthand God’s incredible providence in my life. As a husband, father and businessman, God has come through time and time again. And yet, once I was stripped of all the comforts that I had come to depend on, losing the direction and focus that I once had? I was a bawling, bitching baby. (Yes, that’s the second time I used the word “bitch” in this post. And very accurately in both.)
The wilderness is where we are forced to leave behind the familiar, the comfortable, the past successes, the accomplishments and your bag of tricks that always worked before. The wilderness is where God takes us when He wants us to get Egypt out of our hearts. He wants to separate us from all that we crave, so that all we crave is Him. Just as he wanted to get the taste for Egypt out of the Israelites’ mouths, He wants to get our lust for certain comforts out of our appetites as well. It’s not that He doesn’t want us to be comfortable, He just doesn’t want us to depend on the comforts more than we depend on Him.
When God aims us in a new direction, we have to let go of what we’ve known and be willing to embrace the unfamiliar, trusting that He will sustain us. The wilderness is a place where God calls us to forsake what’s comfortable and move into the unknown so that He can direct us to where we ultimately need to arrive.
Translation: Lubbock is my Egypt. I’m in the Wilderness of Washington. And I have a choice to make: Faithless or Faithful.
Because I don’t feel like wandering around aimlessly for the next 17 months while I’m here? I’m choosing Faithful, thank you very much.
No, I don’t know what I’m supposed to do here, what I’m supposed to be working on or why He brought us here. But I have no doubt that He did, and I will choose not to doubt that He has good things in store for us. For me. I choose to believe that God has good things in store for Kevin Mills in Washington, D.C.
We’ll just have to wait and see what they are.
In the meantime, I’ve composed a short love letter to Lubbock. It’s a kind of farewell, a way to break the emotional ties a bit more, acknowledging all the good that was there, but not being so focused on them that I’m blind to what God’s doing here. (Which is why I’m following up my Love Letter to Lubbock with a Pledge to Washington).
What I’ll Miss About Lubbock:
• The fact that everything was 20 minutes away
• I knew where everything was
• The comfort
• The dry weather (dust and all)
• eLife (Chris Galanos’ fine-tuned preaching, Brandon Gwinn’s incredible worship leading, being able to serve regularly)
• The cheap prices
• Bodyworks (1 hour of sweating, 1 hour of reading = 2 hours of “free” childcare)
• A backyard for the kids to run around in
• Carpet that you could walk on with shoes on. That wasn’t white.
• The nannies (Rhonda & Charla, you are missed dearly)
• The friends (too many to mention)
• The weekly lunches at Spanky’s
• Movie nights with the guys
• Bahama Buck’s delicious Frosts (Island Tart was divine)
• Avocado Cheeseburgers at Anna’s Mexican Restaurant
I’d better stop there… or this list is gonna defeat its purpose. Heh.
And now, for Washington, D.C., I pledge:
• To not scream or cuss when I suddenly miss my turn and find myself driving across the river for a 30-minute detour.
• To be thankful for the condo that God provided us (and the perfect location that it is)
• To be thankful for the childcare for Kaleb and Kara
• To appreciate that all three kids have adjusted well here
• To try new things, even things that make me uncomfortable.
• To be thankful for the new church home we found (www.dcmetro.org)
• To spend as much time as possible with my brother and his family while we’re all here for the next 17 months
• To take the time to listen to God’s quiet whispers in my life, rather than complain that I don’t hear Him over the din and activity around me.
• To eat at the bonafide Indonesian restaurant Kim and I found often. (I’m tellin’ ya, Indo MKs, it tastes just like Mickey’s in Sentani…)
• To praise God when I find a parking space (free or not)
• To accept the fact that I might take the wrong Metro from time to time.
• To embrace the fact that I’m in my own wilderness, and instead of wishing I was elsewhere in my life, I will accept that God’s called me here and wants to teach me something in the midst of it all. I promise to open my eyes to see what He’s doing, my ears to hear when He speaks, and my hands to receive whatever He wants to give me during my time here.