In April 1997, I transferred from Phoenix, AZ, to Willows, CA, and I wrote a letter back to my church in Phoenix, Mission Bell Methodist Church on Bell Road after leaving:
"This past year or so has been a time of tremendous growth for me (gross understatement). It has been a pleasure and a privilege to worship with you all, and I’d love to still be there, but God has let me know in no uncertain terms this move was ordained by Him. There’s a story behind this growth and resulting move to Willows, California.
"In February, 1996, I went on the Walk to Emmaus. To tell the truth, I wasn’t sure I wanted to go. I had a hunch it would interfere with my plans for my life, and was I ever right!
"Jesus was exactly where I wanted him--right beside me. That may sound good, but that was not where He wanted to be. I had made a commitment 25 years before to follow Him, but now it was more like He was following me, patiently, like a father or protective older brother. He kept me from making fatal mistakes, got me out of ticklish situations, and comforted me when I hurt myself. However, I guess He decided it was time I grew up a little. The Walk to Emmaus was the beginning. I began to notice that there was light at the end of the tunnel, and now instead of banging into the walls, I started walking toward the light.
"Then came the Experiencing God study Ken Iliff brought to the Adult Sunday School class. In it, I found out something amazing--that I didn’t trust God I was afraid He would want me to do something I didn’t want to do--like move. When I was doing the daily lessons in the study, it kept asking the question, what is God trying to show you? Are you willing to do what He asks? Well, of course I was--with exceptions. Like, only if it was something I wanted to do anyway. But one night as I was doing the lesson, He asked me if I was willing to follow Him. When I said, reluctantly, “Yes, Lord,” He said, “Even if I want you to move?” Through tears and heartache, again I said, “Yes, Lord.” That week, a flyer came through our office saying there were positions open in California and those who were willing to move should send their names and a two-line resume’ to the Construction Engineer. Obedient servant of Christ that I was, I threw it in the trash. My conscience ate on me the rest of the day, and finally I dug the form out of the trash, filled it out, and sent it in.
"Shortly after that, our Division Chief came to me to tell me about a position open in Willows, California. Was I interested? The word “No!” formed in my mind, but “Yes” fell out of my mouth. I knew that I said what I was supposed to say, but my heart was breaking. And I felt guilty that I was “kicking and screaming” over the whole thing, like a spoiled child. Then God showed me some of the people in the Bible went reluctantly--like Joseph to Egypt, Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, and Jonah to Nineveh. In fact, Joseph had to be carried to Egypt in bonds, Moses griped and moaned so much God gave him a mouthpiece, and Jonah went in the belly of a whale. Even more astonishing to me, I saw even Jesus went reluctantly--first into the desert (Mark 1:12) and last to the cross (Mark 14:36). It sure put my “suffering” in perspective! I’m sure God would love to have us go happily and willingly, but the fact that we go when He says “Go” still counts (Matthew 21:28-30).
"My conclusion from all this? God will gently lead each of us where He wants us to go--and if necessary, sometimes not so gently. If we run from a problem, it will crop up again until His purpose is accomplished. Pushing the problem out the door, sweeping it under the rug, throwing it out with the trash--none of that works for more than just a short time. It’s sort of like learning to dance (from a woman’s perspective): First I had to allow Him to take the lead. Now I have to trust Him to steer me around, over, or even through any obstacles in the way. I hope I’ve come to the point that I’m at least not always one of the obstacles!
"I don’t know yet why He wants me here, but I’m sure I’ll find out."
Now--there's a post script to this letter. At the time I wrote the letter, I was single and had been for a few years. Some time after I wrote it, I met the most marvelous man at my new church. If I had refused God's direction to move, I never would have met Jack Campbell, the man I married 12 years ago. I might never have begun the lay speaking at nearby churches. And I might not have begun writing. God has a plan for your life, too. Are you refusing the direction that might lead you to the most wonderful blessings you could imagine?