Choosing Canaan

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

"If we had told them that we felt God calling us to a lucrative job on the other side of the island, it would have been hailed as His leading and they would have sent us with their blessing..."

The above statement was part of a story shared by Mike and Lynette about God's call to them to leave not only their home in New Zealand, but also their church. Their church leadership, people with whom they had walked and fellowshipped for years, was adamant that they could not leave the church with no other explanation than "God told us to leave." Mike and Lynette followed God's leading and found themselves in America with a ministry they never could have guessed.

I am discovering that there is a difference between "living deliberately" and "living."

We are taught to do everything possible to obtain a desired result: greater spirituality, higher income, happy families, or the chance to live. People have five/ten/twenty/sixty-year plans that schedule their lives around when they may buy a house/have a child/retire--generally, begin to live. We as believers are so ready to judge others for not choosing what we think is best. Yet I have come across so many situations in recent years where God is very obviously and personally leading someone out of the accepted mold into Himself by whatever means is available to Him.

It is easy for me to look down on people with a ten-year plan of things to accomplish before they can really live. They're just putting off life in the name of stewardship. But I'm discovering that I'm not so different. Perhaps I don't have a desire for a cohesive five-year plan, but I do want to think through the things that I do and make sure that I am the one in control and deliberately choosing the way that I want to live every day.

Even when what I am choosing leaves life out of it.

When I married Pete, we dreamed of going to "Canaan" together, trusting God and seeking to know His heart above all else. (Hebrews 11:13-16) For me, it was just that, a dream. A noble goal, worthy to be reached, and obviously more right than the "five-year plan" idea. Subconsciously, I planned to stay right where I was, ducking God's radar and trying not to make too many waves. I didn't need to be deepened. I needed resolution. And I was going to live deliberately and perhaps choose wildly and outside of the approval and expectations of others!

Pete often tells me I am deeper than he is, and that he feels shallow compared to me. But lately, I find myself wondering who is truly more shallow.

You see, we didn't plan to get pregnant at the same time Pete would be studying for the Bar. I had it all mapped out in my head before we got married, that I would study with him and be such a good wife and cook for him and give him the space he needed and support him so that he could do what he needed to do. I was planning to be so strong. But in giving us this baby for this time, God put the one thing in my life that would keep me broken... and desperately needing my husband, just when I wanted to do everything to put my life on hold for him.

I've been practically dying over capturing the moments, making the decisions, and living deliberately just to prove it can be done, but my husband has been actually living. Twice in the last three days I have found cause to look at him and wonder where Jesus ends and Pete begins. While I'm beating myself up for failing at my own lofty goals, my "shallow" husband is pursuing his desire for God, setting his goals aside to dwell with me with understanding instead of making me a "Bar widow." I feel almost as though scales have fallen from my eyes over the last few days and I see the life of Christ so evident in his actions toward me. He is cramming the studying in as he can, giving the Bar his best shot, but choosing me and our baby because he feels God has called him to us.

Each time we have come to finals time, God has allowed some sort of a personal crisis to occur in our lives. And each time, He has been faithful to Pete as he sets his own study goals aside to face whatever is going on. Pete's grades have actually improved since we got married. He graduated from his law school magna cum laude.

I can't describe the profound awe and respect and honor that is seeping into my heart right now over this man of God. Why would he choose me, love me as only God does? He says it's because I am God's. I knew when I married Pete that I could love him more deeply than I did. But the love I desired to have for him was so shallow compared to the love he carries for me. Mirrored in his eyes I see God's love for me, and by his life, I am suddenly confronted with my own vows to follow him as Sarah followed Abraham because she trusted in the Lord.

I haven't been trusting God. I have settled for so much less than I could have because of my fear. I've been waiting for blessing to fall on me as I try to hide from the possibility of loss. I have withheld my heart from Pete even as he has been asking for it because I don't want to fail at my self-defined goals of being his helpmeet. Other girls do it, and consider themselves to be happy! Why can't I?

Because, like it or not, I am not other girls, and Pete is not other guys. He truly lives, and I can't choose not to live. My five-year plan to avoid God until I'm ready to deal with some pain again isn't working, and I've known that for a while. But it wasn't until today, seeing my husband's courage to put me first, even as he faces the biggest examination of his life without enough time to study, that it occurred to me that I *can* support him by trusting God to be faithful.

People said we shouldn't get married before Pete finished law school and took the Bar. We sure didn't expect to be due to have a baby two weeks before the Bar exam with no heart to continue further if he doesn't pass.

But we did know that God led us to get married when we did. We do know that this baby is a heritage from Him, a gift, and a blessing. We have seen His faithfulness in the past. And I've been holding back my trust for His faithfulness today because I am afraid He will leave us hanging in November when Pete doesn't pass the Bar.

Except I think he can. I think he will. But I don't know how. Humanly speaking, it's totally impossible. I stopped believing that impossible things could happen.

Mike and Lynette challenged us with their lives to step out on a God who knows what He's doing, even when we don't, even when the people around us don't approve or affirm the direction we are going. I'm suddenly discovering that I can't just choose to follow God half-heartedly where He is leading.

Pete is not one to confront me about sin in my life. He lets the Holy Spirit have that job, for the most part. But I can honestly say that I have been more convicted to go deeper into God because of my husband's life than any of the words he could ever have said.

I forgot his passion, or maybe I never realized it, or didn't want to admit it to myself. His passion is to know God, and to know and love me and our baby and any other children we have, and to love others God brings across his path. My husband is bound for Canaan, and I have my own choice to follow. Because of Pete's choice, I feel for the first time like maybe I can. Someday, I want to live God's love like Pete does. I know now why I fell in love with him. He is so much like my Abba.


PaperYarnGirl said...

Kelly, what you've written is beautiful. What a lovely response to his love for you, and what a delicate picture of how we respond to Father's love for us.

I pray for the three of you daily :-)

Mark and Erin said...

Oh MAN can I relate!!!! The whole thing about personal crisises (is that how you spell that???) always happing during finals...oh yeah! And how wonderful our husbands are in having the right priorities; and even when people say we're screw-y for doing things the way we are, everything works out! How, I'm not quite sure; but it does!
People told us we were crazy for getting engaged in college; for getting married a week after graduation; for packing up a week after the wedding and moving in our car to a city where we knew no one and had no jobs; for getting pregnant five months after our wedding; for having me quit work and stay home with Littl Bit. Yeah...we are crazy, but it has WORKED OUT! And we are so much happier than a lot of people who are living according to their "five-year plan". Not because we are so great and wonderful for being willing to adapt; but because God has placed us in circumstances where we didn't have much choice but to accept...and we've seen it turn out beautifully.

Naomi said...

...i just cried. Thank you.

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