Two years ago upon my return from Italy, I received the news that I was no longer welcome at the church in Richmond where I had served prior to my stint overseas. It was a devastating blow. (Read more .) That night I picked up my Bible reading from the place I had left off the night before. And God, as He so often does in these pivotal moments, lent His eternal Word to my present situation:
"Observe therefore all the commands I am giving you today, so that you may have the strength to go in and take over the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess...The land you are entering to take over is not like the land of Egypt, from which you have come, where you planted your seed and irrigated it by foot as in a vegetable garden. But the land you are crossing the Jordan to take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys that drinks rain from heaven. It is a land the LORD your God cares for; the eyes of the LORD your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end" (Deuteronomy 11:8-12).
I cried my eyes out that night, but I also took God at His word, believing that He would faithfully give me a new land (read: ministry), and that it would be (spiritually) richer than the place I was leaving behind and entrusting to Him.
Fast forward two months. I arrived in Nashville for a visit to Forest Hills Baptist Church, where I was being considered for a summer youth internship. Cognitively, I was weighing the decision heavily against another church in Kansas City, but my heart was already tied to Nashville because of several connections here (not to mention my love of Southern cities). As I drove South on Hillsboro Road with a church employee that Saturday afternoon, I remarked at how beautiful the foothills were. She agreed and told me about Moores Lane, a little mountain in Franklin that she loved to drive on. Suddenly, the promise from Deuteronomy came rushing back to me:
"But the land you are crossing the Jordan to take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys that drinks rain from heaven. It is a land the LORD your God cares for; the eyes of the LORD your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end."
"Surely not God?" I hesitated to accept the words; they seemed too literal. Perhaps sub-consciously my selfish desires were manipulating my thinking. But as I looked into the beautifully rough Tennessee landscape, my heart did a little somersault. And as I continued to pray about the decision those next couple of weeks, I couldn't get the words from Deuteronomy out of my head...a land of mountains and valleys...a land the LORD your God cares for...
Needless to say I took the job. I drove into town late in May, and headed straight for the Tims' house, where I would stay for a week before moving in with the Harpers. Surely it's Providence that to get to the Tims' you have to take Moore's Lane. It was a perfect sunny spring day, and as I approached Moore's Lane, Bethany Dillon's song "Exodus" started playing on my pod:
Dance in the healing stream
He has faithfully kept you
Brought you out of captivity
Rejoice, rejoice with all your hearts
Sing Him a new song
That’s heard high on the windswept mountains
It will resound
I couldn't believe it. I cried a little and then laughed through my tears..."a land of mountains and valleys that drinks rain from heaven...a land the LORD your God cares for." Suddenly I knew deep down in the depths of my heart that this would be for me a place of God's provision and rest.
From an e-mail home that night: "I'm sitting here tonight trying to finish up tomorrow's talk about the Old and New covenants, trying to wrap my mind around how faithful God is to us even when we are so lacking in faith, and I am just in awe of this personal covenant He has made with me for this summer."
Move, move your feet
Dance before the Lord
On to the Promised Land
On to your reward, sing
Lead, Lord, with unfailing love
Those that You have ransomed
And we will sing out as we go on
Our God is faithful
Our God is faithful