Dear Mother S.:
When A. walked in and said, “Honey, we need to move,” did you think he was crazy? I don’t know how you could leave the home you knew and loved—your own people—to pack up and go with your husband God-knows-where. Of course, maybe you wanted to start fresh, go somewhere new, and make friends who didn’t know about your barren past.
Still, following God by leaving everything behind must have seemed crazy to you at first. I know it felt crazy to me when P. asked me, “What about Charleston?” after eight years of living in a place I chose myself after twenty-some moves with parents and siblings and college and jobs and baby. I didn’t want to leave my home. I didn’t want to leave the few friends I had or the photography business I had spent several years building.
Mother S., the beginning of your journey must have felt like an ending for you, but P. and I signed up to go to Canaan willingly. When we wrote our wedding vows (at the start of everything) I think we thought following your example would be easier than it has been:
I vow to love the Lord my God, our Abba, with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength. I vow to live in the truth that you are His, set apart for the work of Christ in you. Because He laid down His life for me, I vow to lay down my life for you. Because He loved me, I will love you. Because He prayed for me, I will pray for you.
We wanted to live together in that city with foundations you and A. were waiting for, the city whose builder and maker is God (Hebrews 11:10). We didn’t think it would be so hard to find, though, and I confess: I stopped wanting it for a while.
But I knew God wanted me to go. I didn’t think He cared about me or about what I wanted. There were some moments at the beginning of the move that I doubted I could go. I almost gave up on God altogether, I was so angry with Him.
But P. offered me his hand, and we moved to Charleston together—with three cars, a Budget truck, our parents, and a cat that really should have stayed in Virginia. We came to a rental house I’d never seen with an income that didn’t pay enough for us to buy our own home. We had no idea how long we would stay, anyway. We came to a place where we knew no one, except for one good friend who moved to California a couple months after our arrival. There wasn’t anyone to call for help on the days I was too sick, and P. had no vacation time.
When God asked me to go with P., I didn’t think I could trust P. to make the right decisions. I didn’t want to lay down my life for him—I liked my life! Well, really, I hated it, but I didn’t want to lose control of it.
I suppose you know about not wanting to lose control, though, don’t you? Waiting for God to do the work He promised seems very foreign to us sometimes, doesn’t it? You know, I really didn’t think He was interested in doing anything good for me. Even when I heard Him say He had good plans for my life, I ducked behind my “tent” and attempted to hide my sniggering.
It did feel like an end to me at the beginning.
But as I released my hold on the familiar places and people I loved, moving to Charleston with P. became easier. Instead of fighting to maintain our old busy schedule with friends and work and commute and health, I found myself with time to rest. Time to think. Time to look out my window. Time to ask God what He thinks of me and time to wait for His still, soft answer.
Mother S., you found that God meant what He said when He promised A. He would take you to a land He would show you. He called you Sarah, princess, daughter of a King, and He promised to bless you—to make you happy—and He made you a once-barren mother of many (Genesis 7:15-16).
He must have helped you believe Him, I know. Was it hard to feel joy when baby I. was born? When you saw the blessings come to be? Was it hard to believe everything He’d promised was true? I am almost afraid to feel my own joy when I look out my window at the sunlight, or when I stand at the seaside that used to be hours away—when I realize that God does love me, and that He will provide for me. That in His mercy, He is perfecting that which concerns me (Psalm 138:7-8). Yet I can’t help but believe; He has shown Himself so good to me.
Sometime during our move, Mother S., I put my life into God’s hands. I almost unintentionally trusted Him by acknowledging the doubt and anger and pain in my heart. All that mess was out in the open, lying there waiting for His rescue, hoping His mercy would be enough to cover it all.
I went with P. because God wanted me to go, because I didn’t want to be alone, because P. asked me to trust God with him. I left everything I’ve known at that house with no windows where we lived, and left a long, dark night behind. This new house with windows lets the sunrise in, and I’m discovering joy in the morning when I find His mercies new again.
And oh, His mercy, Mother S.! Before we came, I didn’t know! I couldn’t feel how new His mercy is every morning! When we moved, I thought God would consume me for certain. He had every right to wrath over my doubts and anger and frustration with Him. But instead, He brought me from the home I had chosen into the home of His heart, where the sun rises every morning and offers me light for a new day in which I can live and trust Him and open a little bit more of my selfish self.
I think I didn’t just move from Virginia to Charleston. I’m on my way to Canaan now. Everything feels so different here, so fresh and new and real.
Thank you for your example to me, for living this before me, for following God and your husband away from what you knew. Your faith inspires my own.
I’ll be seeing you, Mother S.,
Article photo copyright © 2009 Kelly Sauer. Used with permission.
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