When we lived in Colorado, I had some workout buddies. Kathi, Gaydene, and (until she broke her foot) Gaye. In the warmer months, we would meet a couple of times a week to hike the Apex Trail, which ran behind my house. When there was a bite in the air and snow on the ground, we met up at the church building, took over the youth room and laughed and sweated our way through various exercise videos until the church staff started arriving to begin their work day. In the months leading up to our departure from that place (before we left for our ministry adventure in California), I arrived at the church building 30-45 minutes before the other ladies so I could have some quiet prayer time. That's when I started talking to God, and stopped listening.
"God, why are you sending me away from this place I love so much?"
Because it's time.
"But, God, I just really, really love it here. It's so beautiful and I worship you every time I walk out my door and see these mountains."
You love my creation more than you love me.
"What!? No I don't. Well, maybe I get my priorities out of order sometimes, but I'll do better. Please, let me stay here."
It's time. You know it's time.
"Ok, I'll go to California, but do you promise to let me come back here?"
"Well, if you won't promise to bring me back here, I'll get Jeff to make that promise to me."
And so I got Jeff to promise to move me back to Colorado someday. I told him when I died, I expected my ashes to be spread in Golden, Colorado, off the top of Lookout Mountain, or along one of my favorite hiking trails. I "followed" God and Jeff to California, leaving hundreds of miles of heel marks across the west, past the Great Divide. And then I succeeded in making my family miserable for the entire year we lived in Marina del Rey, California, as I dragged them through the saga of my depression.
The whole year, every single morning, I let God know I was mad at him for bringing us to that beautiful beach front ministry, even though he introduced us to a church full of wonderful, supportive, Christian people, and opened the hearts of hungry people, starving for His love. I hated it. Hated it because it wasn't Colorado. I loved listening to the sea lions barking and the dolphins playing in the waves, but I hated them because they weren't in Colorado. I loved the soothing rhythm of the waves and the smell of the salty-fishy air, but I hated it because it wasn't my soothing mountains or the smell of spicy pine and smokey fire places.
I complained to God every single day.
"God, I don't want to raise my kids in this crowded place. I don't like living in an apartment with no space for my kids to run and play."
"God, the people here are so materialistic and all they think about are celebrities and getting "discovered" by big-time directors. Please, I don't want to live here."
"God, if one more reality TV producer hits me up to audition for "Super Nanny", I am going to throat-punch them. I swear it."
Silence. And then our funding for the ministry there in Califas fell through.
"God, is this you releasing us from this place?!"
"God, I know we've been offered other funding to keep the ministry here going, but do we have to accept it?"
"Ok, so, God, Jeff has an interview with a church in San Antonio, and I really, super-duper want to live in San Antonio. I think maybe you're calling us there, aren't you!?"
"Um, so it's kind of weird, God, that the church Jeff was supposed to work for in San Antonio suddenly had a budget meeting and decided on a hiring freeze. I thought you were calling us there."
"So, God, I guess Jeff is going to take that job in Arkansas...(clearing throat)...I said Arkansas...you don't really want us in Arkansas, do you? I mean, I'm really not feeling called there, God."
"Ok, God, so here we go...we're going to Arkansas, now. This is when you are supposed to miraculously come through with the San Antonio thing. We have to feed the family, you know...All right, so maybe we'll go to Arkansas for a year or two and then you'll open up the San Antonio job, right?!"
"That must be it! A few years in Arkansas and then we can be on our way."
And it's been 8 years of me not listening to God (at least not much), because when I say, "Arkansas?" he says, "Arkansas." And when I say, "Really? Still?" he says, "Really. What's the problem with it?" I say, "Well, nothing really, except that it's not Colorado or Texas, and that's, like, important to me." and he says...nothing. For 8 years.
I can't figure it out. Except, lately, I've been thinking maybe God has a job for me to do here. I don't know...probably just a crazy notion...but, still...if he does have something for me to do, I'm thinking it would be a good idea for me to start listening again.
Of course, that's easier said than done. Usually, I'm more like a 12 year old boy in a pocket knife shop.
So, today, we were at a flea market in Hot Springs, and my 12 year old son wandered into a booth that sells pocket knives. And, obviously, he wanted one real bad.
Jeff said, "Son, you already have a pocket knife."
And Elijah said, "I know, but I don't have this pocket knife."
Jeff said, "You can't do anything with that knife, it's only 3/4 of an inch long."
And Elijah said, "I can clean my fingernails with it."
Jeff said, "No."
And Elijah said, "I'll spend my own money."
Jeff said, "No."
And Elijah said, "Come on, Dad."
Jeff said, "No. And don't talk about it anymore."
And Elijah said, "Ok, I won't talk about it anymore, but if you'll just let me spend my own money..."
Jeff said, "No...and you're talking about it."
And Elijah said, "I wasn't talking about it anymore, I was just saying that if you let me get it..."
Jeff said, "No." and this time Elijah quit talking about it, but you could tell he was still thinking about it.
So, I'm going to try to do a better job of listening to God; being still in the moment and hearing what he wants from me right now, right here in Arkansas. But, I can testify that it is most definitely an uphill battle to get control of my desires. I want what I want, just like a 12 year old boy in a pocket knife shop. My Father has said no and I'm not sure why, but I am pretty sure he loves me.