pillars of fire

I typically don’t feel the need to be shown the way. I enjoy cutting my own path. “Going where no man has gone before.” But recently I felt how very good it is to have someone light the way for me.

It happened on the same day. I witnessed 3 pillars of light just ahead of me. In the shape of Kris, Heidi and J.D. Though none of them can see the next step, they keep moving forward, led by God’s voice calling to them in the darkness. They’re all a bit worn by their drawn-out transitions. But they are so sure of God’s presence. They could speak so confidently of God’s love. They’re a bit ahead of me on this journey into the unknown. Through the light of their stories I knew we were on the right path. Seeing their footsteps in front of me gave me courage to take the next step.

Heidi left everything she’d known, a job she loved (and was brilliant at!) to marry a man she barely knew and move to a strange place to do impossible things. She found herself in a country where women have no public role and where she had no private relationships. No job, no language, no friends, no competence at anything in this new world, no husband during the days in her sparsely furnished apartment. She paced her small space wondering what she was doing in this predicament and desperately searching for something to do.

So she began to pray. Every day. “Today, God, let me see 1 thing that makes this worth it.” And, surprisingly, every day God answered. It was in those moments of answered prayers that she knew – again – that God was present with her. And that He was enough.

Kris is another brilliant woman. Intelligent. Competent. And jobless. She’s also very confident that God is present with her. As she moves forward in the darkness of her own journey, she hears God’s invitation to ask specifically for what she wants in a job. So she’s asking. Praying for a job that allows her do what she loves to do. Asking for a job that lets her shine. Praying not just for “sufficient” but for “abundant”: for money to live here and to travel the world and to offer her gifts and skills to those who can’t afford to pay for them. It seems crazy to hope for meaningful satisfying work in a world where it feels we should be grateful for any job. But Kris’s hope is not in what she can see, but in the loving voice of the One who’s proven in her past to be more than enough.

Heidi and J.D. prayed for us that evening as we sat sipping our chai at the end of our meal together. Heidi said we’re being led by God like the children of Israel – by a pillar of fire and cloud. We are unable to pierce through the flame and the cloud. Unable to see what’s ahead. Or make sense of what’s behind. And though we don’t know where we’re going, God is taking us from “some comfort and a bit of slavery” to lead us to a promise. All our needs will be provided on the journey. All that’s been promised lies ahead. Just keep moving. Follow the fire.

That’s comforting! You can’t miss a pillar of fire in the dark. It’s a sure sign of God’s presence and a clear indication of the right direction. Just like these 3 friends.

Over the past 12 years I’ve watched 100’s of remarkable people step into the unknown. Each one confident of the voice of God. Each one courageously moving ahead in the dark in spite of heart-pounding fear and the many visible and invisible obstacles in their way. Each one a tangible demonstration of what can happen when we follow after God even when we don’t really know where He’s taking us.I’m grateful to all those of you who I have known as “Link staff” for lighting the way for me.

In the dark it's easy to think you're alone. You're not.

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