A short month after we got married, my husband and I moved to Las Vegas — for me to serve at a local church and for him to work at one of the fine dining restaurants in the hotels. We’d planned to live there forever. We were going to raise our children there, commit ourselves to the local church, the people, the city. We bought a house in a growing neighborhood, ready to plant long-term roots in the community. We knew we were right where we were supposed to be, that we were being faithful to God’s call in our lives. So it never crossed my mind that after seven years, we would pack up everything and move away from the place we’d decided to call home.
The move didn’t happen because of a rift in relationships or drama in the church or being let go from our jobs. It was the kind of change that required time and prayer and wisdom to know it was the next right thing to do.
In my younger years, I used to ask God for clarity and direction and then expect an answer to be displayed in lightning bolts across the sky. I wanted the fleece-and-dew kind of answer that Gideon had asked for in Judges 6:36-40 because I was willing to do whatever it was that God wanted me to do as long as it was clear that it was His plan. But getting to that certainty was often filled with doubts and questions because the signs I prayed for were never that clear. My prayers would be repetitions of the same thing again and again: God, just show me what You want me to do! And then, as I tried my best to live out what I thought that was, I’d wonder if I had heard Him or understood Him correctly. There have been times when I have gotten it very right and times when I’ve misinterpreted His leading completely.
For most of my faith life, I fumbled through as best as I could, guessing when I didn’t know for sure and seeking wisdom and direction in external signs, such as a closed door here or a great opportunity there.
But when the time came for our Vegas chapter to be closed, there weren’t any doors that were closing or great opportunities sprouting. Instead, it began with just a sliver of excitement after a visit to Southern California where I’d met with a pastor who shared what God had been doing in the area. Then it was the little things — seeing my husband’s grandparents age more quickly each time we visited, remembering his grandma’s prayer that we would move back to California, recognizing that my heart was beginning to shift in how I felt leaving ministry and Las Vegas, and noticing the quiet confirmations God gave me each time I asked Him if He was sure this was the right thing.
Wisdom can be gained in many ways, and in this situation, I learned how wisdom and discernment comes from paying attention to the movements of God in and around us.
All those things I began to notice was the Holy Spirit at work. He is God with us, who is present in our lives, in this world. As Jesus said to His disciples in John 16:13-15, “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”
We don’t need lightning-bolt messages written out in the sky. We don’t have to have fleece-and-dew moments for us to follow the paths God leads us down. In Christ, we have the Holy Spirit who guides us into all truth, who shows us the way, confirming His word to us when we need it.
It took a whole year of paying attention to God’s movements and listening to the Spirit speak to my heart for us to eventually move back to Southern California. And we were able to go with confidence, knowing that whatever we did, wherever we went, God was going to go ahead of us and be with us.