The news is finally official – Brittany and I are moving to Dallas! She was offered a great job last week at the University of Texas at Dallas that we are both very excited about, which means we will be packing up and moving in 13 days.
In case you don’t know, we have been talking about this for over a year now. Before we got married last summer, I was offered a couple of ministry positions that led us to begin questioning what we really wanted out of the upcoming years. Was it teaching in youth ministry? Was it taking a job outside of ministry and continuing to attend our church? Was it pursuing seminary? As may be apparent, we felt the latter. Personally, I knew I wanted to attend Dallas Theological Seminary before I even began researching other institutions.
So we agreed that our goal during the upcoming year would be to pursue seminary with the strong possibility of moving to Dallas. Now, after months of prayer, indecision, stress, and confusion we finally have clarity. It does come with some bittersweet sentiments though. Having 13 days to pack up and leave certainly restricts our opportunities to get face-time with the people we love here in Austin, but it also keeps us from spending all of our money on our favorite restaurants. I guess there is some grace in the urgency after all!
It has been quite a journey working to discern God’s voice in this, but I learned an important lesson in the process. God does not promise to tell us every aspect of His will for our lives just because we ask for it. For the last few months, Brittany and I have been toiling over whether to stay in Austin and begin my classes online or uproot and officially move to Dallas. My prayers often consisted of asking God to tell me His will. Is it Austin or Dallas, God? I was greeted with silence, but I don’t think the reason for that silence was because God wanted me to struggle. Rather, I believe it had to do with my motive for asking in the first place.
There really isn’t anything morally wrong with staying in Austin or moving to Dallas. I don’t think either of them would have been outside of His will because ultimately He wants us to love Him and love others. Maybe I’ve overlooked it, but as far as I know there are no verses in Scripture clarifying where I should live and where I should study. There was a lot of cowardice behind my prayers for clarity. I wanted Him to tell me where we should go so that I wouldn’t have to make a decision. I wanted Him to tell me the choice that would be most fulfilling so that my future wouldn’t be hard. But He doesn’t do that in Scripture, does He?
He tells Abraham to pack up and leave his home without informing him of his destination (imagine having that conversation with your wife!). He anoints David to be king of Israel and then watches over him as he flees the murderous rage of Saul for years before sitting on the throne. He frees the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and leads them by His visible presence, not good fortunes.
In his book, Just Do Something, Kevin DeYoung says, “We become what we behold” and I find that to be so very true. The Lord wants us to behold Him. If He told us how everything would turn out, we would have no reason to look to Him. We would either become paralyzed by what we see as potential devastation or we would grow prideful as we look towards favorable conditions. God does not always tell us our future because His for us is to behold Him. When we do that, it does not matter where we live or what we do. So long as we are striving to love Him, we are free to live in Austin, Dallas, or Bora Bora while studying in seminary, working for a university, or selling coconuts on the beach. It is the motive behind our decisions that matters most.
What God absolutely promises is that He will be with us wherever we go. He will be leading, guiding, and prodding along the way. I am humbled by the words the Lord speaks to Joshua after he is given primary leadership over the Israelites. This guy is asked to step into the shoes of Moses, someone who is, for the most part, universally considered to be an epic figure in history for his relationship with the Lord. God chose to use him as the face of the great Exodus, the parting of the Red Sea, the instituting of the Ten Commandments, and the wandering in the wilderness. Yet God’s words to Joshua aren’t spent telling him whether or not the future will turn out favorably. The Lord says,
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
As we move into this next chapter of our lives, pray that we would not be frightened or dismayed because our eyes are on the Lord. There is no greater comfort than that which comes from abiding in Him.