"The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?" ...1 Kings 19:11-13
This passage flew to my mind when I read yet another blog post today hinting that the country life is the best life, the one closest to how God meant us all to live.
And well, let me tell ya... The best place to live is where God calls you to live.
If God wants you in the suburbs, well, you can move out to the greenest, most-natural patch of country land--but He won't be out there. At least, not in the way you're hoping to find Him. You can go 'back to the land' and off the grid and drink milk straight from under a cow, yet you won't find any extra-closeness to God out there, no matter how many people tell you that that's where He lives.
No, if God's called you to the suburbs, you'll know Him best and feel His joy while fulfilling His purposes for you there in the 'burbs.
If God has called you to a cabin in the woods, you won't find greater happiness on Rich Peoples' Boulevard. And of course, if He's called you to a big countryside farm, you won't be 100 percent happy on a tiny lot in the city.
Trust me. I know.
Three years ago today I moved to this large countryside lot and--on a scale of 1 to 10-- my Joy Level has averaged a 6. Maybe a 5. But in our suburb house squeezed between two other houses? That level usually ran around a 12.
The truth? I have often resented this too-big-for-me farm for zapping my best energy. Too many times I worked harder than I wanted to just to keep up with things that always need doing--when instead--I just wanted to write in this blog. Or rearrange the furniture and paint a wall. Or read a book, make a craft or sit outside and dream in the sun--and come away with more blog fodder.
Lots of bloggers told me the simple life was in the countryside and I've (sadly) resented that, too. The simple life is out here? Ha! Never have I known such extreme complication, such a need to plan everything beforehand and to always be one step ahead of the myriad details out here.
And yet I needed to move out here in order to realize where I truly belong. To learn that I can't run a farm and write my very best in this blog simultaneously. I'd heard before that when you have a gift you must arrange your life so to pursue it and seek to do it better--but I forgot that. Or didn't make the connection in this case.
Believe me, I'll never forget again! This amazing experience has been so huge, so memorable, that from now on I'll arrange to make room for my writing and encouraging gifts-- my strongest giftings. To put them before lesser things, not after. I'll sacrifice, even, to devote my best strength to God's purposes for me.
For your sake I'm determined (and excited) to do this.
"Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life." ... Proverbs 4:23
Only today did I see this so clearly. Took me three years (talk about your slow puppy!), but that's ok--the value of this lesson is priceless.
Julie asked a great question so I thought I'd publish it and my response out here for clarification:
Julie From Texas said:
So, you didn't feel, at the time, that God was calling you to be a country dweller?
Julie--hmm... Well, it's not the countryside that's the problem, really. It's more like the *size* of it we bought! :)
I still prefer this lovely area (and our sweet little town) but as Peter Walsh would say, "It's all too much." Tom and I need to downsize our house, yard and possessions and then I can more easily fulfill God's purposes for me.