Well, we’re back from my third trip to Europe (and Sara’s second) this year. I had an amazing time with some of my friends in Germany and then did it all again in Switzerland with others. Though I don’t love travel per se, I have enjoyed all the people God has graced me to meet over the years in countries all over the globe. You’ll hear more about this trip next week at The God Journey as Silvio, my Swiss friend, and I reminisce about my last trip to Europe.
Coming home, however was a weird experience for me. This is the first time in 18 years that I have come home from a trip without any other trips ahead on the schedule. I didn’t realize how much I’ve come to live my life in blocks between trips. On the way home, I’m usually talking to God about what I need to get done before the next departure. Sometimes that has been a matter of days and at other times a few weeks. But I have not come home in the last three years with nothing on the schedule, not this year, not next, and not any time thereafter. I even found myself wondering, “What if this is my last trip?” Weird… But, I’ve got to be honest, it sounded so good.
Why haven’t I scheduled any travel? It’s not because I lack invitations, in fact I’ve got more than a hundred from people who have enquired about my coming. The reason I haven’t booked any is because I haven’t sensed Father’s direction or timing in any of them yet. I don’t travel for me, or even for “the ministry.” I only travel when I sense God has a purpose in it. But not all his purposes are fulfilled in my travel. I am freshly being drawn to spend some time at home in his purpose, both as part of his work in Sara and to take on two important writing projects that have been on my heart for some time.
Do I really think I won’t travel again? No, not really. In fact, at the moment I’m actively in discussions and prayers about returning to Brazil, South Africa, and Australia in 2013, as well as visiting some people in the States. But none of that is certain yet, and I’m not rushing to fill up a schedule. I’m going to let this season play out as long as Father wants it to, and move on only when that is clear.
When I was finishing one of my last two books, In Season: Embracing the Father’s Process for Fruitfulness, I knew I was in a winter season, as God had slowed down my life as he was pruning off some of those things that had grown up around my life that he no longer wanted me actively engaged in. No one wanted that more than me, and if you asked me at the time, I’d have thought I’d be well-past that season by now. But over the last few months he has continued to empty my life and bring me back to a simpler place and time. And I love him for it.
The most incredible thing I’ve been involved in this summer is watching God transform Sara and set her free to be more the Sara God created her to be before other people intruded on that gift by using her for their own ends. I told her the other day that I’ve never had more fun with her than I had this summer being inside this process with her. It’s been amazing, and though the work is not done yet, it has opened a door for us to love each other differently and more deeply than we have before. It’s the greatest thing I’ve ever been part of, and I don’t want to miss any more of it.
I’ve met with a lot of people of late frustrated that God doesn’t seem to be answering their cries for wisdom in desperate times. Almost in all cases they were looking for God to give them a strategy that they could pursue. I find God doesn’t often work that way. If he gave us grand strategies, we’d only end up trying to fulfill them ourselves. I am convinced now that God’s will unfolds each day as we simply love the people he’s put before us and do the things he nudges our heart to do. The fruit and consequences of those decisions will open and close doors that will allow us to make other decisions, as we lean into his life and freedom. I like that. I don’t have to know the whole process, but simply wake up tomorrow and pursue what’s on my heart. I’m content to let the grand strategy be his.
So Sara and I arrive at this moment in our lives with a clean slate. We are not just going to keep on doing things that have gained a momentum of their own. We have laid all that down——the travel, the podcasting, the writing, even our hopes and expectations, so that we can sense more freely where the wind of the Spirit wants to blow us for this next season of our lives. We find ourselves immensely grateful for all that he’s allowed us to be part of over the last twenty years and the people we’ve gotten to know all over the world. At the same time we are alive with anticipation at whatever pleases him for this next season.
When I saw this picture (taken by a friend last week in Switzerland) it captivated me as a metaphor of where we’re at spiritually now. We rest content on the mountain of all God has done in us, drawn more closely together by his grace, and looking out across an future still shrouded in clouds, but confident that God’s purposes will continue to unfold in days to come.
And we wouldn’t want to be anywhere else…
On La Chasseral outside St-Imier in Switzerland looking over the low-lying clouds to the majestic Alps in the distance.