Desert Roads

desert-1840453_960_720.jpg

She had it all. Fame. Popularity. Accomplishments. But, something was missing. She felt happy. She had fun. She felt passionate. But, something – a quiet whisper – kept telling her there was more to this life. Her knuckles, white as snow, gripping tightly to her dreams, her passions, her goals. That whisper kept nudging her – He wouldn’t let up – to let her fingers loosen and let Him fill her up with something else, something better, something more. How could she let it all go after all this time and effort? How could she just walk away from something that made her feel so alive? So fulfilled? So complete?

Have you ever felt God leading you into a new direction? A direction so different from the place you are currently in, that you have no idea how he could ask you that? A direction that was emotional, painful even? A direction that didn’t have much security or many answers?

I have.

That “she” I was referring to in the first paragraph is me. Soon after I got married, almost five years ago now, a new hobby came into my life. I had always had a huge passion for music and the arts, but DJing was something I had never considered. Throughout high school and college, I had gone through many – many is an understatement – career ideas. A dancer. A teacher. A singer. An actor. A graphic designer. An interior decorator.

The list goes on.

Forever.

But, when the idea of DJing entered in, this was different. It came natural. It felt right. It was like putting on that perfect pair of jeans and looking fabulous in them. Finally, I had found what I wanted to do.

It’s an accomplishment when you reach that point – feeling like you’ve finally made it – and for three years I gave it my all. I DJ’d anywhere and everywhere to get my name out there. I DJ’d weddings, and parties, and clubs, and at home, and for my friends. I posted mixes online, promoted myself on social media, entered in contests (and won!) – I was making it.

I’ll never forget the first time I got to play in the largest club in downtown Chicago…on the main stage. It was like a dream. I was nervous and excited all at once. I felt like a rock star. I remember looking over at my husband, who was standing off the side of the stage, and both of us were just in awe. We couldn’t believe we made it.

Fast forward a couple years, after taking a maternity leave and giving birth to my son, I quickly got back into swing of things – sort of. My husband and I decided that going down to the city on the weekends just wasn’t plausible. We had a baby to take care of and family was more important then my DJing dreams. I continued to do events, that were local to our home, once or twice a month.

But, you see, life was different now. Not only did we have an infant to take care of, but my relationship with God had blasted off as well. No longer was my life about me and what I wanted, but instead was prayerfully put into the hands of the Lord. My past had made it clear what happens when we take control of our lives without God – destruction, sadness, failure. So, I had made the decision to follow God’s lead instead. Only problem? He didn’t want me DJing anymore – at all.

The Lord had actually been leading me away from this career choice for some time. I, being the headstrong woman I am, just kept ignoring and doing my own thing. However, the Holy Spirit persisted. He kept nudging me to quit and leave it all behind. One summer, the Lord allowed me to become exhausted from my DJing endeavors. I was ignoring God’s calling for my life so much that He had to use exhaustion – physical, emotional, and mental – to get my attention. And yet, still, after my son was born I went back.

Even if it was only once a month, I couldn’t let it go. But, every time I would prepare for an event something just didn’t feel right. I kept praying that the Lord would just shut the door of my DJing opportunities if that wasn’t what he wanted me to do. Although, I already felt he wanted me to quit. I just didn’t want to have to quit myself. I wanted to be forced out of it instead. But, that still, small, quiet voice kept saying, “I want you to let go of it. For me. All by yourself.”

Crap.

How could I let this all go? How could I abandoned the one passion that made my heart beat faster? Why would God allow me to have such a passion for music if he wasn’t going to place me in that kind of a job?

I was sad. I was disappointed. I was confused. But, I knew that I had to follow His lead. I kept having this picture in my mind of me, standing on one side of a wall with a small bag of gold coins, and God, standing on the other side with a treasure chest of jewels, waiting for me to drop my small bag and walk over to Him. I couldn’t just stand there anymore, gripping my own desires, and not having faith to trust Him and His plans for me.

Did that treasure chest of jewels mean more fame? More fortune? Not necessarily. But, regaurdless, I stood firm on the promise that God’s plans for us are good (Jeremiah 29:11). That they are bigger than anything we could ever imagine (Ephesians 3:20). And that, if we follow Him, our truest desires are fulfilled and are ways are established (Psalm 37:4-5).

So, I let it go. Without knowing what was to come next. Wondering if being a stay at home mom was it. Saddened that I had to squash my dreams. Frustrated that my passion wasn’t going to be used. Hoping that the Lord would bring music back to me some way.

In Acts 8, we learn about a man named Philip. He had been called to ministry in Samaria. The ministry was successful. He was famous for performing signs and miracles. I can only imagine how much he loved doing what he did.

Then later, “An angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road – the desert road – that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” ” Acts 8:26

Ok, let’s stop for a second and get some perspective. Not only is the angel asking Philip to leave his current, successful ministry. But, he is also asking him to take a desert road and go to Gaza. Gaza is a Philistine city. That means the territory was not necessarily safe for a Jesus follower, especially if he was going to preach about Jesus there. And on top of everything else the route from Jerusalem to Gaza, according to scholars, was possibly a wasteland, destroyed during the Jewish war. A hot, dry, desert, wasteland road. It was definitely not the normal, frequented route. Let’s continue…

“An angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road – the desert road – that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch.” Acts 8:26-27

Did you get that? If I were Philip, I would have said, “God are you sure you want me to go down that road? Are you sure you want me to abandon all that’s going on right here? I’m pretty comfortable with what I’m doing. Could you please send someone else?”

But, Philip didn’t do that. He got up and went right away! The story goes on, and Philip ends up helping the Ethiopian man interpret some scripture about Jesus and baptizes him. The Bible doesn’t tell us anything about that man afterwards, but I like to think that after his encounter with Philip, he went and spread his newfound faith to his family and friends. Maybe, just maybe, he even spread it to his whole town or city. The possibilities are endless, but it was important enough to God to send Philip there at that time.

Not only that, but after that encounter, Philip continues his travels, “preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea” (Acts 8:40) where he settles down, eventually having four daughters. And even later, in Acts 21, we find out how important it is that he landed in Caesarea. Philip was able to give Paul a place of rest while Paul was on his own journey spreading the gospel. (See Acts 21:8-9)

Could you imagine if Philip had said no? All the opportunities he could have missed out on? Ministering to that Ethiopian man? Spreading the gospel “throughout the towns”? Settling in Caesarea and starting a family? Being able to host Paul, one of the most famous evangelists in Christian history?

When we become the kind of people who “get up and go”, we activate God’s plan and purposes for our lives. The less resistance we have and the more obedience we give, the more available we are for the Holy Spirit to guide us and use us.

I think it’s easier to stay comfortable. It’s easier to ignore the calling and keep doing the routine. But, when we break the chains of the mundane for the freedom of living for Christ, when we walk away from the safety net we’ve created for ourselves and fully embrace the safety our Father has for us, that’s when life becomes colorful, fulfilling, beautifully, and meaningful. That’s when we get a glimpse of our deepest desires – desires that can only be quenched by the living water of God – and see our real dreams come true.

God still hasn’t brought music back into my life, but he has brought me so many other things. A passion for reading and writing was infused into my soul. A fire for spreading the freedom we have in Christ was lit. A desire for knowing Him exploded into an obsession, an addiction of sorts. An addiction that isn’t life threatening, but life giving.

I don’t know for sure what the plan is, except that, for now, he wants me to write. I have no idea if this will lead to a lot of money, or fame, or acknowledgement, but I don’t care. I have never been more full in my whole life, knowing that I am doing what He wants and pleasing Him is exhilarating.

My life, since I let go of my dreams and let God place His plans in my heart, has been changed for the better. I am more alive. More energized. More excited. More passionate. More at peace. All I had to do was say yes to God and no to myself. Hard at first, but so worth it in the end.

If you are on the fence, trying to decide whether to stay or to “get up and go”, let me encourage you. The grass truly is greener on God’s side. Try and scrounge up the teeny, tiny bit of faith you can find and use it to jump. Jump into the hands of God and see what happens. You’ve got nothing to lose with Him! He’s got this, and you, in His hands. And there is no better place to be.

“Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands.”

Isaiah 43:18-19 MSG

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Jeremiah 29:11 ESV

“God can do anything, you know – far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!”

Ephesians 3:20 MSG

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit yours way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.”

Psalm 37:4-5 ESV

2 thoughts on “Desert Roads

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s