"Repeated First-Time Guest"

After almost seven years of being plugged into the same church, God called our family out of it.

To say this uprooting was “difficult” would be an understatement. This was an extremely painful relocation process. Many tears were shed over this decision. I remember driving away from our church after attending our last Sunday there and thinking, “What have I done to our family?”

How were my husband and I going to explain to our seven and nine-year-old that the only church they had ever known would no longer be a part of their life? Would their young minds understand an act of obedience by their parents with the simple phrase, “Because God told us to leave.”

We sat them down on the couch and tried as best we could to satisfy their questions. Here is the one that we did not have a clear answer for: “Where are we going?”

However, this question presented an opportunity to teach and apply Scripture to present day circumstances. God doesn’t always give us the next set of directions until we follow the first. This was the case for Abraham when God directed him to leave his home and family in order to answer his call.

“The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you.’ ” (Genesis 12:1 NLT)

There’s the key phrase, “that I will show you.” It takes faith and trust to leave everything behind when you don’t even know where to go next. But we don’t have to know the entire plan today, because GOD WILL SHOW us where to go—in His time. Often this requires us to take the first scary step of leaving the familiar and advancing into the unknown.

And so our great “Church Search” began. This quest was exciting at first because change can be refreshing. It was such a blessing to see how many different “flavors” of Church there are.

But after about the fifth new church, our elementary aged children were just not feeling it. “Can’t we just go back to our old church? I still don’t understand why we had to leave. I don’t like visiting different places anymore.”

Change and transitions can be difficult, especially for children. They knew that every Sunday they would have to be the “new kid” and start all over again with introductions and unknowns. So my husband came up with an attitude incentive.

Each week after we visited a new church, our family would go out for a treat to talk about our feelings and list pros and cons. Now our kids looked forward to ice cream, pizza, or other delectable eats to make it through our mission. It was a fun family activity and helped ease the feelings of frustration with not knowing where to go next.

After months of being a repeated first-time guest, in over a dozen churches, we had acquired an assorted collection of complimentary pens, mugs, gift cards, key chains, t-shirts, swag bags . . . but still, we did not find the right fit for our family.

Change can quickly turn from exciting to exhausting. It would be nice if I had a perfect ending to this story with the comforting words, “We finally found our new church home and are all settled in.” But that’s not our family’s experience.

This is our current testimony . . . We are still traveling. Still trusting and obeying. Still relying on the Holy Spirit to direct our path and make it clear to us when and where to stop and stay. I don’t know how long this journey will be, but I do trust that God has a plan for us and it will come to pass in His timing.

If you are experiencing a period of wandering and waiting in your life, you are not alone. Keep going!

Whatever your “search” is (church, spouse, house, job, etc.), continue to let the Lord lead you so that He can bring you to the place or person He has already selected in advance for you. Don’t settle for less. Practice and develop patience.

Even though the next set of reposition instructions may not have been revealed yet, know that a divine plan is there and that GOD WILL SHOW His children where to go.