The spider webs are hung with dew, fairy houses built on the tiny pine trees growing beside the wall. I take them today as gifts. A reminder that sometimes the things that freak me out the most can be the most beautiful in the filtered light of a foggy morning.
Three years ago, I quit my full-time teaching job to pursue a career as a writer. I walked away from salary and benefits. Steady work and colleagues. I walked away from what I had thought my whole life I would do – teach English to college students.
I walked away because to walk away was what I was called to do. I was terrified. I am terrified. Nothing about this path is easy. There is no regular income, and dental insurance seems a myth. I’m always looking for more work, and I spend most days alone and sometimes a bit lonely. But this is my path. I have never doubted it. Even when it’s really hard.
In the story of Elijah, the lesson is often that Elijah had to run away from the world to hear God’s “still, small voice.” It’s this idea that led me to call my farm “God’s Whisper.” This idea of escaping the world – I love it.
But yesterday, as I was preparing for a mini-lesson at church, I came across a write-up from Michael Spencer about how, perhaps, I had misread this passage, and his reading so resonated with me that for the last 24 hours I’ve meandered through my own decisions, and I’m coming to a very different awareness of how God speaks to me.
This narrative is not so much about how God speaks to us, as it is about why God DID NOT speak to Elijah, and what he told him to DO instead.
God’s whisper – or God’s silence – did not fundamentally change who Elijah was. The experience on the mountain was not like Moses’s experience, where all of life was put on a new course. Instead, Elijah was told to continue the work that he had already been doing. God heard Elijah’s complaint and answered it (It’s just after this that Elijah calls Elisha to work with him), but he doesn’t change Elijah’s course. In fact, he steers him back to it – “Go back the way you came,” God says.
Sometimes, I seek God’s voice when things get hard because I want God to give me a new direction, a new path. And of course, sometimes God does just that. My path, though, is usually the one I am on, that God has been telling me all along what it is to do, but sometimes I choose to slow down and listen in the hopes that I will find that I have an “out,” a place where I can escape and get new marching orders. Sometimes -as with Elijah – God plays along, giving me food and water to get me through. Then, when I choose to hear, God sends me right back the way I came, back to the path I had wanted to avoid.
I have almost no income lined up for the next few months, for the few months where I will be building a farm life. I must be doing something wrong. I am in the wrong place. I am, again, terrified.
Yet, once more, I am reminded that income is not the sign God gives to show me I am in the right place. Peace is. And while I am terrified and truly worried, I am also at peace in that part of my spirit where truth lives.
This path of daily living, this path where God speaks all the time is utterly frightening. It’s fraught with danger and risk and all the pain of loss. Yet, it is the path of peace. Every day. In the storms and in the whispers. It is peace.
Have you ever questioned your path? What did you find? Were you in the right place?
This post is part of the Hazardous Faith synchroblog that Ed Cyzewski is organizing this week. If you’d like to participate, here’s what to do:
Write a blog post sharing a personal story about a challenge you faced as a follower of Jesus. (You could also add: “I’m sharing My Hazardous Faith Story as part of a synchroblog connected with the release of Ed Cyzewski and Derek Cooper’s new book Hazardous: Committing to the Cost of Following Jesus.”).
At the bottom of your post, link to the synchroblog landing page: http://wp.me/PewoB-SN so that others can share their own Hazardous Faith Stories (Hey, you can just copy and paste these bullet points!)
Add your post to the link up section at the bottom of the My Hazardous Faith Story landing page on Monday-Saturday. Don’t forget to read and comment on at least one other post!
Tweet your post with the #HazardousFaith tag.
I can’t wait to read your stories.