While I’d rather be like Andy Samburg sporting a nautical themed pashmina afghan on a boat, life has felt much more like the disciple Peter- half-sinking, half-having faith that Jesus is able to grasp ahold of me and keep me from drowning.
Our move to Cleveland was in many ways been an experience of stepping out of our own comfortable nautical vessel- being near family, having a secure funding network in a job that requires us to raise 100% of our support (Grand Rapids consistently ranks high among charitible giving across U.S. cities), and all the other comforts that living in one place for 10 years affords. It took us two years of praying about moving to Cleveland to finally pack up the u-haul, or what was actually a trade show trailer from a deer farm (thanks C.J. & Adrian!) and get our butts to the shores of Lake Erie.
As we consistently sensed Jesus inviting us to trust him that Cleveland was the land he wanted us to go to- we started joking that we shouldn’t imagine Cleveland as the promised land. We joked that just because Jesus was inviting us to put down roots, buy a house, make some more babies and get involved in the community didn’t mean it would be without challenges. I know the worlds “cleveland” and “promised land” seem like oxymorons, but to us trusting and believing that God wants good things for us even if they seem strange was a risk we wanted to take. Funny that we should use those words “promised land” because in some ways it has felt more like being an desert-wandering Israelite.
Ironically, Velocity- the church we’ve gotten involved with has been studying the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, their wandering in the desert and the scouting out of the promised land. As our small group studied Numbers 13 recently I was struck that though the Israelites they had seen the good things God had for them when they reached the promised land- the amazingly beautiful and fertile land, the giant clusters of grapes and lush pomegranates, (which must have looked really good after eating manna in the desert for 40 years) that there were only two people who thought they could actually enter it. Joshua and Caleb were the only leaders who believed that though they would have to fight for the land, it was worth it because God was with them. I don’t know if the other Israelites thought they’d waltz in, plop down some pink lawn flamingos and be sipping mai tai’s but when they realized that taking possession of the land and promises of God would actually be difficult and cost them something- their lives, their comfort, the work of cultivating the land they freaked out and spent many more years wandering in the desert.
Though we had called Cleveland “the promised land”, our fears about what this move would cost us have been real. Difficulty renting/selling our MI house, lack of relational networks and losing funding were all huge barriers that we weighed whether we should move. And all of those fears have been realized and all have been really difficult and scary. There are days when the stress of the bills for paying for two mortgages and for the cost to get our MI house rent-ready amount to pity parties about the things I don’t have, anger about why things are more difficult than I thought they’d be, and depression that there doesn’t really seem like a clear end in sight.
Somehow in the midst of this when I do spend time in scripture being reminded of who God says he is, what he is able to do and that he’s with me through all of these things. I remember that when I feel like I’m drowning in worry, the $600 bill of our furnace in MI breaking, or just missing my friends, Jesus extends his hand to me to lead, guide and reassure me that he is present. Out of the boat living feels crazy because it’s made us need to trust Jesus in new ways to provide for, to be present in our lives and to trust that he really has us here for the good things he promises to all his people.