Stay

I could feel more change on the horizon as the word seminary popped into my mind. I was sitting on my couch, curled up in a blanket, watching the sun rise in the distance. It was the first snow of the season. Sitting there that morning I felt that, despite having just arrived, I would be leaving soon.

You see, my hometown is HOME. It’s a small town surrounded by huge, beautiful peaks. Everyone knows everyone in the best and worst kinds of ways. You can’t walk down the main street without seeing a familiar face. Rivers flow from high, alpine lakes into the valley; in mid-July, the wild flowers are on point. There is only one scent that quiets my soul and that is the smell of October in the San Juans. I know Southwest Colorado like the back of my hand; I know every bump and turn on the ski-hill and every dip in the sidewalk. The winters are long and hard and magical. This place has always been home. And after eight years of being away, coming home was refreshing.

Again, Lord?

Yes.

I was tired of leaving.

Two weeks later I met with advisors from five schools and started asking questions. By Thanksgiving, my essays were written and I had scrubbed one program off the list. On December 1st I had four completed applications waiting for final letters of recommendation. I wanted desperately to hear the words, Stay. I wanted desperately to be affirmed that life inside the round-a-bout was where I needed to be.

But applications became letters of acceptance. Doors opened and shut. He answered logistical prayers that I, quite frankly, handed over to him with the “Lord Willing” mentality. All along I was secretly hoping God would pull the ropes on this one. Looking back on it now, His only hope was that I know Him more fully.

For months I heard “Seek me. Seek ME only. Do not be distracted. By this Man. By this circumstance. By this mess of a church. Seek me, sweet child. Follow me, precious daughter. I have something that you want.”

6 months later, I stepped into my new home in Southern California.

Overnight the verses flipped to those of refinement and character and defining words around dwelling in a place. The voice of the Lord was no longer showing me the next five steps. Just one. Just the hardest pill for me to swallow, and yet, the pill I wanted to take all along.

Stay.

Repeated over and over.

Stay.
Do not let your emotions be your compass.
Stay.
When things get hard, do not run. Lean into hard conversations.
Stay.
Your life is the ministry.
Stay.
Practice humility, child.
Stay.
Learn the flowers, curious wonder.
Stay.
Create art, my beautiful daughter.
Stay.
Fall in love again.
Stay.
Trust me.
Stay.
Do not fear for I am your LORD.
Stay.
Lead like a servant and serve lavishly.
Stay.
This place creates a culture for the world. Buckle up, you have work to do here. You are strong and I have placed you here because of your strength and vision.
Stay.
Make this your home.

Stay.
They need you. I need you.
Stay.
When this culture tells you that you are justified to leave: to leave your community, to leave your marriage, to leave your beliefs, to leave your ministry and your friendships; When it says it is okay to wander and leave me I want you to stay.

Lord, you are Holy. Come into this space. Sit with me.
I ask you to bind my wandering heart to thee. Let my song be one of mercy, grace, fulfilled promises, and redemption. Thank you for supplying me with a place to explore. Jesus, I am a lousy dweller. Teach me humility. Refine me. Let others see the mark you have on my life. Break me. Wreck me.

Thank you for hearing my heart. Let me stay well in this place, Lord.

Amen

-C

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