One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight
of the shore for a very long time.
One year ago yesterday I began a battle for the most important territory any one can own. I engaged in a monumental fight with the enemy over my family.
He had been pushing pushing pushing--and making headway--for a long time. There came a moment when I woke up to the magnitude of the mess and knew that there was something I needed to know or do that couldn't be known or done while I cooked in the pot of boiling water with the rest of my family.
I went away for two days to a quiet place with no media. I had two prayers: what's going on and what do you want me to do about it? I asked those questions once and then waited.
Sometime near the end of the second day, I came to the clearest crossroads I'd ever stood at. His way was a 90-day separation from my husband. This was not an idea I would have contemplated, so, as we all do, I looked around for another way. To the right was "continuing as we were," where all would eventually disintegrate. I quickly pondered the potential risks of the left fork. As each one came to my mind (in this order), the Spirit pointed to that path, where an altar blocked passage.
1. What about Steve's job? (I knew a minister with marital problems could easily become a minister without a job) - "Put it on the altar"
2. My house? (we were finally in the process of buying it) - "Put it on the altar"
3. My reputation? (what will people think?) - "Put it on the altar"
4. My marriage? "Why do you think we're doing this? Put it on the altar"
5. My kids? - "Yes, put them on the altar"
In the stillness, I had found that rare, sweet bubble of perfect communication with God. I was calm when I said to God: "You're telling me that I could lose these things. That's what putting them on the altar means." He said, "Yes. And you have to let me have Steve and do not try to control anything that happens." I knew that we had reached such a point of stress that we just needed for everybody to go to their separate corners for new perspective and rest--a pattern interrupter, if you will.
God's presence + that perfect clarity + my desire to save our family + my admittance that none of my ideas for doing that had worked = a strange, crystalline moment (slow motion but in the flash of an eye) where I weighed each one for a brief moment before literally seeing myself place them on the altar and letting go. I didn't feel I was gambling...I was entrusting my most valued (some conscious, some less conscious) possessions to my Heavenly Father who was offering me a way to redeem them. It wasn't a roll of the dice. It was absolute trust and a commitment to not look back. It was a sacred moment that I frequently had to return to as a reminder for why I had embarked on this path.
I haven't written much about that year because, frankly, I was too busy holding on for dear life. Whatever difficulties I thought we had before were instantly whipped up into a sandstorm that lasted for at least 8 months. Many things were stirred up so that the revelation of them would hasten healing. Strongholds were revealed in all of us that we had no clue were a part of the mix. Friends vanished. My three teenagers reacted in various difficult ways. Life was very hard.
I was asked to stand in a dark place, alone, not really understanding what was going on, not seeing what I hoped to see, having to be the strong one for a very long time. I didn't feel like a princess warrior most of the time; more like a bedraggled girl, clinging to God--and this journey I had agreed to--with every ounce of faith I had. At the same time, I actively engaged in spiritual warfare with the Word in a way I had never done before, which gave me miraculous strength, joy and peace in the midst of the storm.
There were only a few times I lost it:
1. When Steve lost his job a week into the journey, I wasn't surprised or alarmed. Several weeks later, however, I began to wrestle with grief, resentment, and anger that God's people had abandoned us in our darkest hour by removing nearly all vestiges of support--financial, physical and spiritual. I fed myself on a regular diet of Romans 8:28 for weeks, remembering that "all things work together for good for those who love the Lord." Somehow, this must be part of the plan. I still had the grief to work through, so I did.
2. When our house sale fell through, I panicked BIG TIME for an hour but a friend prayed me back to trust.
3. And one time, about mid-way through, I saw myself having rowed far from our current shore toward our Promised Land. I looked back (which was my big mistake in that moment) and saw that I had lost sight of that shore, yet the new one was not visible yet. That was a scary time. I was adrift, alone, with no physical evidence that this was going to work out. I thought, "Did I gamble everything and lose?" God reminded me it hadn't been a gamble, it was the necessary journey. Donald Miller reminded me that this is the truth of the middle of any journey. You've come too far to turn back, but you can't see the finish line ahead.Stay the course. Keep rowing.
The conclusion to this chapter is that I did lose all 5 valuables during that season, and some remain lost still. Having my five most important identity supports stripped away while doing battle through the power of Jesus has a profoundly freeing effect. I tried to think like Job: The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.
It turned out to be my saving grace in SO many ways.
Stay tuned for more of the journey!