I write these things because I want to remember. I’m not writing to change your life, I’m writing to change mine.
Jesus did something crazy again.
(Let it be said that I came into this one with zero plan or direction. Expect the Indiana Jones ride, but less smooth than that.)
My sister just moved up to Sacramento earlier this month, which, honestly, might have been the plot twist of the century. It’s been a couple weeks and so far neither one of us is dead. Which is nice. We’re jiving and navigating this thing pretty well if I do say so myself.
A week after we moved into our little place, I found a lone manila envelope on my bed. No note, no writing to indicate where it came from, just laying there. As it turns out, the movers had found some rogue items in my old room that they thought I might want to keep. So they stuffed them in an envelope and set them aside.
The envelope held three sheets of lined paper, all ratty and covered in dust. It was a journal entry–literally half eaten by my dog and held together by scotch tape–that had made it through not one but two moves. I sat on my bed and started reading through it.It was dated August 2, 2015. Back in August I was still in a place of fear and uncertainty. Here I was in Sacramento “like Jesus wanted” but I didn’t feel at home.
I couldn’t find a church, I wasn’t using my gifts, I didn’t feel known. I was sad and lonely and frankly a little peeved. According to my plan, at four months in to living in this new town I should have had all those things. Maybe more. But there I was in my sweatpants every night by six and feeling like a grade-A lame-o.
Something on August 2nd drove me to Isaiah and I must have grabbed the first paper I could find and started tearing through it because the sheets in my hand were sloppy as sin. But they were packed with truth. (Classic Jesus–tell him you’re bummed, yell at Him if you want, but talk to Him and without fail He shows up. Every time.) It was sentence after sentence, verse after verse highlighting God’s promises. Him saying over and over “You are mine and there are incredible things ahead.” You can read Receipts for more on that if you want.
Bottom line is in that moment I had to choose again–because it is no one-and-done kind of deal–to trust that God meant the things He said and that He had good things ahead. And it was a slow crawl. I won’t pretend it wasn’t. But after that point, things cranked into motion. I’m telling you, the more we let go, the more we let God move. And when God moves things happen.
And guess what? Things really happened.
I found a home church, I started showing up to things, I started feeling rooted again. I started seeing new life, new potential, new momentum, new twists in the story. I even tried out for the worship team. Come January, I was serving again and had an outlet for my God-given passion. Suddenly purpose was back on the table and “home” wasn’t a future idea but a present thing.
This might be completely out of left field, but I’m learning that we need to have a sort of catch and release attitude when it comes to our plans. I say “we” but I really mean “I” because I’m basically preaching to myself. I’m not great at this. But I’m trying to get better.
Not even a month ago I dove head first into something I cooked up all on my own. I decided I wanted it, I decided it made so much sense, and I did my best to shape it into something that could fit into my life. Guess how well that worked. (Cue Isaiah 55:8-9.)
So I had to let that go. And it was stupid difficult. But the second I let go, true to His word, God showed up. He showed up big.
When I say He showed up big I mean He made like dynamite and blew open doors I never even knew were there.
Not one week after I let go he sort of nudged me into being a worship leader. And by sort of I mean the second I threw my hands up, he full on tossed me over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes and said “great, this is where we’re going now,”and dropped me straight in the middle of something better than I could have imagined.
Get this: I get to help foster creative community at a church I call home. I get to serve in a capacity I didn’t ask for. I get to come together with people and grow with people and collaborate with people in ways that I thought I might never get to do again.
Tell me surrender doesn’t lead to better things. Go on.
A couple years ago I would have laughed in your face if you told me I would be leaving my life in Orange County and moving to Sacramento after college. I would have straight run top-speed in the opposite direction if you told me I was going to deal with severe chronic pain, a cancer scare, and (soon to be) three surgeries in less than two years on top of that.
And I probably would have punched you in the throat if you told me that all of that would amount to something much better than any of my own plans.
But it has. Immeasurably better.
I live in a town I love, with a sister I love. I’m building friendships I love and serving at a church I love, in a capacity I love.
Talk about unfettered creativity. That is God at work. That is what He does when we get out of the way. His plans are good and His promises are good and He is good and He is for us. Despite our fits, despite our stubborn resistance, He remains.
And all He wants to do is love us and let us play in the story He’s writing for us.