I was smiling, but inside I was desperately trying to hold it all together. Looking around the room at our goodbye party, I wondered how the Lord would ever give me the strength to say goodbye to these dear friends? One moment I was excited over the possibilities of a new chapter, and the next fearful we’d ever make friends like this again. Though many didn’t understand our reasons, and I struggled to adequately explain why we felt it was time to go, we were certain the Lord was moving us on. New Mexico had always been my home, and for the first time in my life, I was moving out of state.
My husband Tim and I hadn’t made this decision lightly. Uprooting our family from the only home and community we had ever known was an agonizing decision. Yet we saw this as a natural chapter break for our family. Our eldest daughter, Caitlyn, would shortly be graduating high school and moving to Arizona for college, and now seemed a good time for the whole family to make a much-needed change. It felt like a ‘now or never’ moment.
Our online businesses gave us the freedom to work from anywhere, so our jobs weren’t the main reason behind the move. When the inevitable questions came of why we were moving, I found myself fumbling around, giving lame answers like, “Oh, we just feel it’s time for a change.” Or I’d try a lighthearted approach: “We always threatened to follow Caitlyn to college, now the joke’s on her!” But those were incomplete answers. Behind the polite smile and the shallow answers, the truth was our family had been through some very tumultuous years and this move represented hope for a fresh start.
Financially it made sense. We had been upside down on our house for over a decade and for the first time in 11 years, we were in a position to sell. By God’s grace, we had avoided foreclosure and personal bankruptcy, however, the years of financial stress had taken a toll. Our family’s needs were growing, and our house was a constant drain. While we praised the Lord for all the ways He had graciously provided for us and allowed us to raise our family there, in many ways it felt like a symbol of bondage. We needed to sell our house.
I rarely felt the freedom to share the deeper reason for moving—the heartbreak of a broken relationship beyond repair. Just a year before, our two youngest daughters revealed to us that someone close to us—who held our sacred trust—had done the unthinkable. The devastation, the tears, the disbelief, and the criminal proceedings that swallowed up our lives had left us numb. We didn’t want to run away from it (okay, sometimes we did). However, we knew a fresh start in a new place would give our whole family the freedom and space it needed to heal. While all signs seemed to point west, the Lord had some detours planned for us before we crossed the desert.
The morning after friends threw us our going away party, the testing began. With only four days until closing, we received word that our buyers had canceled the contract on a technicality from the inspection. No amount of negotiation would fix it. In one fell swoop, we had to start over. The most lucrative few weeks of the summer market were behind us, and old fears of being unable to sell our house resurfaced. And then to our delight, a few days later, a second contract was signed—before they backed out too. We were baffled and afraid. Was the Lord really moving us? Did He really have a plan?
In the weeks that followed, all we heard was crickets. With only marginal interest, we fought for faith. Opening my Bible and journal, I begged God to deliver us from this real estate nightmare. I reminded Him of the situation He’d put us in, then lamented all the opportunities He’d let slip away. “Remember how You gave us favor and our kids got accepted into a new school?” I prayed. “It starts in less than five weeks, Lord! How are we going to sell our house, find another one, and move in time for the first day of school? Have we misunderstood Your will for our lives?”
That morning, the Lord didn’t reveal a new strategy to hasten the process. He didn’t give me the confirmation that we weren’t in sin and off-course, or that we were being reproved by Him. Instead, I heard a familiar small voice as I read His Word: “The Lord will fight for you and you have only to be silent” (Exodus 14:14). I felt His gentle rebuke. Instead of striving to make sense out of it, He reminded me to wait on Him.
During our waiting, we questioned whether God was putting us on an entirely different path or if He was testing us to see if we’d trust Him above all else. While we couldn’t be sure what the Lord was doing, or why He was doing it, we knew we needed to hear from Him. We knew our human plans could only take us so far; we needed the Lord to fulfill them. “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps” (Proverbs 16:9).
We sought to draw close to the Lord while our future was unknown. “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God,” Corrie ten Boom once said. Our future was in God’s hands, and yet we knew we had a part to play in our waiting.
Are you in a season when your plans have been disrupted? Perhaps you’re wondering what to do next. Here are a few ways I’ve learned to wait on purpose:
Lean hard into God’s Word. The Bible took on a new freshness as I scoured its pages searching for hope and reassurance. As a family, we gathered each night and shared insights from God’s Word or a sermon. Our children watched us struggle and cling to God’s Word. Often, they encouraged us to keep trusting the Lord. One day, when I was feeling very low, my daughter said, “Don’t worry Mom, because He lives, we can face tomorrow.”
Look for roadblocks. Just like sin can impede human relationships, it’s also a serious roadblock in our relationship with the Lord. “If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened” (Psalm 66:18). Our wanderings caused us to ask hard questions and face hard answers.
Pray and fast. My husband and I regularly practiced these spiritual disciplines. Often it was tied to a decision we needed to make. “Do we drop the price (again)?” or “What options do we have for schooling if we stay?” We weren’t trying to twist God’s arm into doing our will, but instead, we wanted to align our hearts with His (Matthew 6:16-18).
Be open to the Lord removing (or changing) your heart’s desire. It’s possible to get so fixated on attaining the thing we want that we lose sight of becoming who He wants us to be in the process. This was a time to pray: “Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). We prayed for open hands. We were willing to let go of our plans if the Lord wanted to redirect us.
Seek godly counsel. While no one really liked the idea of our family leaving town, we desperately needed our friends and family to speak truth into our lives and encourage us in our waiting. “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14). The frequent check-ins of those around us helped us realize we weren’t alone.
Give thanks. It’s God’s will that we give thanks in all things (1 Thessalonians 5:18). When we do the hard work of thanking Him in a season of testing, we grow closer to Him. And so we prayed, “Thank you, Lord, for removing buyers and delaying our plans. Thank you that You are working all things together for our good, even when we can’t make sense of it right now” (Romans 8:28).
Wait expectantly. After much heart-searching, we felt reassured that we were exactly where God wanted us to be—waiting in expectation for Him to deliver. I continued to claim Exodus 14:14: “The Lord will fight for you and you have only to be silent.”
With an uncomfortably short three weeks left before school was scheduled to start, and without a contract, we set out in faith to our new city in search of a place to live. After a few days of fruitless searching, a beautiful little house—better than any I had seen in months of searching—located within five minutes of our new school, popped up on the market. We were the first ones in the door to scope it out. A few hours later, we received a promising offer on our house back home. Within the next twenty-four hours, we were under contract and the chosen renters for our new house in Arizona! After months of waiting, and several failed attempts, everything began falling into place in a way only God could have orchestrated.
We still had to move without a closed contract. Our history of canceled contracts at the very last minute made us extremely nervous. Two excruciatingly long weeks after we moved, the check finally came. We rejoiced in our Father’s faithful love for us. His withholding of what we wanted, was the means by which He dispensed an abundance of grace and favor upon us.
We learned to trust the Lord as if our very existence depended on it because, in a sense, it did. We learned to hear His voice as we sought Him because His Word was our very hope. We experienced His peace that surpasses understanding because we learned to cast all our anxieties on Him (Philippians 4:6-7). And we learned to have a loose grip on our plans so that we could keep a tighter grip on the One who holds all things together.
Thank you, Lord, for disrupted plans.
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