Don't Make Us Leave This Place

A couple months ago, I had the opportunity to go over to a friend's beautifully, landscaped home and pick kumquats for a women's gathering we were having at our church. Now don't judge, but I had never heard of a kumquat before going over to pick them off her tree (I know, a shame, really). But as soon as I saw that they were edible, I scooped up one in my hand and tried it for the first time.

They were so good! Bitter, yet sweet. In the best way.

Here we are clipping kumquats! 

Here we are clipping kumquats! 

When I think of moving and leaving the church we have spent the past four years of our lives serving and investing in, I leave with the taste of a kumquat in my mouth.

So bittersweet.

This is our third move in eight years. So you would think, by now, I would have figured out how to keep my guard up, not let myself get too emotionally invested, and try not to make any long-term dreams or plans for my life in any one particular place.

And truthfully, the first year or so after moving to Ocala, that's how I lived. It was a hard adjustment for me. The hardest one yet. It was coming back to my "hometown," but so much of it had changed. So much of me had changed. I was pregnant, for starters, with my first baby (Micah). An awkward stage to make new friends, let me tell you. I love making friends, but preferably not while also suffering through severe indigestion and round ligament pain. :/ It was also a hard time for my family. My mom was battling cancer and - while I was so grateful to be near her during this difficult time - if you've ever had a loved one go through chemo and radiation, you know the challenges go deeper than just the surface.

It wasn't until shortly before my second baby (Hannah) was born, that I found myself starting to "let go" of anything that was distracting me from fully serving God and being present where He had planted us. Letting go of expectations and just looking to celebrate what Jesus was doing in the lives of those around us. We started a small group and got to know some of the greatest people - watched them get pregnant and have babies. Prayed with many to receive Christ. Baptized others. And enjoyed powerful moments of worshiping our Savior together! Life doesn't get any sweeter than that.

And I can say for me personally, that this last year of ministry at The Springs was by far my favorite. And that's what makes this whole transition bittersweet.

Yet, God knows exactly what He is doing in every season of our lives. And the only thing we can ever ask to have and the only true thing I know to hold on to during these times, is His presence.

And boy, do we have that. We have the peace that surpasses all understanding that this is the right decision for our family.

I am so thankful to be married to a man that desires to serve the Lord with everything in him. He is an amazing teacher and disciple-maker. He does not look at a person and classify them as anything except a child of God. There is no pretense about him. And he is way too humble to write all this about himself, so that's what I'm here for. ;)  

Last year he felt God was calling us to plant a church in Jacksonville. I wasn't ready. I didn't have that peace. I felt there was still work to be done in Ocala. He listened to me, and agreed. But one day, a few months ago, while sitting and listening to him teach at church, I heard God say, "It's time. You need to support him wherever I call him to go." And my response was a lot like Moses in Exodus 33 (which ironically I read yesterday as my devotional), "If you don't personally go with us, don't make us leave this place." 

I find it telling that the Lord's reassurance that He would go with Moses and everything would be fine, came right before Moses' statement. It wasn't that Moses didn't hear what God said, or didn't believe him, it was that he needed his heart to catch up. Moses had no idea what God was preparing ahead for him and His people. Because of Moses' obedience to eventually leave "that place," we have the 10 commandments. Because of those commandments, people saw their need for a Savior. Because of that need, we got Jesus.

The truth? I don't want to go anywhere without His presence. And no doubt that I'll be reminding Him of that as we pack up and say goodbye to this place tomorrow. 

“The LORD replied, “I will personally go with you, Moses, and I will give you rest—everything will be fine for you.” Then Moses said, “If you don’t personally go with us, don’t make us leave this place.”

• Exodus 33:14-15