In the beginning, I felt that God wanted me to blog our adventure because it needed to be documented for my children to look back on and also for encouragement and edification of fellow Christians. I was very excited about it and promised God that I would be completely honest and transparent. Then things started going “bad”. I say bad, with quotes, because we felt that God was telling us that we needed to experience loss and that we would gain more than we gave up. Additionally, we felt that God would sustain us and show us who we are and what his purpose is for us in this life. From that perspective, what we called bad was actually the best thing that could happen.
After living in Tennessee for 16 months, Jenny and I have clarity, regarding God’s purpose, like never before. As a result, we now spend our days fulfilling our purpose in God’s kingdom. We no longer have the feeling of divided loyalties between who we say we are, in Christian circles, and who we are in “normal” life. Our life is following Christ, nothing more and nothing less. We have chosen to believe Matthew 6:33 and we pour ourselves into our kingdom purpose, while trusting God for our needs.
You may wonder why I am writing about disappointment, after reading how we believe God has done everything for a reason and has shown us our purpose. I am writing on this subject because I had an overly romanticized idea of what God was doing in our life. Modern, church going people (myself included) are very excited to talk about being a “book of Acts church” or “first century believers, in the 21st century”, but when I actually experienced it, I was disappointed. When we lost everything, a wonderful God filled man and his family approached us and said the following:
“God told us 2 months ago that you would be living with us. At the time, we thought that He meant we would buy property together or something (we both had plenty of money at the time), but now we see that He meant you are to come and live with us now.”
As a result, my family and I have experienced the “book of Acts church”, having all things in common and no one being without. We have also experienced what Paul wrote about, in I Corinthians 14:26, first hand. We can simply be sitting around enjoying dinner and get a word of instruction or enjoy an original hymn that was freshly written as a result of a life lived in God’s will. We no longer simply “go” to church (although we enjoy every chance to), we ARE the church.
The Biblical concepts I detail above make great fodder for a Sunday sermon but, when they are lived out in a practical way, they are not received well by the modern Christian (myself included). The lifestyle I described above has caused us to lose most of our church friends, and family members now consider us heretics. They are not alone in this, as I too confess to being frustrated with what God is doing and angry at God for not meeting my romanticized idea of how he could show himself powerful in my life. As a result of my anger and frustration, I went back to the Bible in an effort to find my romanticized version of God’s provision, wave it in his face and hold him to it. What I found caused me to be disappointed in myself, not God.
I found the heroes of faith experiencing the same disappointments that I did.
– Abraham was promised a child in his old age and when God did not come through, as expected, Abraham handled the situation himself.
-David was anointed king of Israel and then chased into hiding. Imagine the disappointment and second guessing that occurred in the mind of David and Samuel. Samuel may have questioned if he really was supposed to have anointed David.
– Consider Elijah. God tells him that a drought is coming and that he is supposed to wait at a creek and be fed by ravens, until the creek dries up. Then he is to go to a widow’s home and take the last of her food for himself. Talk about disappointing! Our romanticized Christian minds could have come up with something far better than that, right?
The Bible is positively full of examples of God’s ways disappointing human ways, but I want to highlight one more for the purpose of this post. The life of Jesus. He healed the sick, raised the dead, taught like no other and then was killed. How disappointing to his followers. They were disappointed, because they could not see the bigger picture. The temporary loss was far outweighed by the eternal gain.
All of this leaves me repentant. I am sorry for growing angry at God because he is not doing what makes sense to me and I am thankful that I now get the opportunity to “count it all joy” when fiery times come. I have resolved to lean into what God is doing, instead of fighting against it. He knows what my family and I need, so I am no longer going to give him my romanticized ideas of what he should do. I am simply going to enjoy my purpose, love others more and live the life he gives me to the best of my ability.