This bible study group came to me at the perfect time in my life, where I needed confirmation from God. Just before this study was to begin, I had my very own experience with God. He doesn’t speak to me in this way very often. If fact, it had been 3-4 years! I woke up from a dead sleep in the middle of the night, feeling wide awake thinking about how I needed to move with my daughter out of South Florida. There were no other details just that strong idea placed in my head. I couldn’t go to sleep, my thoughts were so loud. So, I got up and started Googling the best cities to raise a family. Many cities were named, but the one that kept standing out to me, maybe because of familiarity, is Colorado Springs. I started praying about where I was to move my family as I searched. In the weeks and months to come, I kept seeing signs pointing toward Colorado or Colorado Springs. It was on the news, mentioned on my favorite TV show and in conversations with people. Colorado Springs just kept popping up everywhere, so the feeling grew that this is where God was leading me.
About a month later, I started studying Experiencing God by Henry and Richard Blackaby with a small group of single ladies from my church. This happens to be a study that I had really wanted to do for the past 4 years after going through the Esther study by Beth Moore (also amazing). I was placed with a wonderful group of Godly women, who offered support and companionship.
In Day 1 of the very first Unit, the story of Abraham was mentioned with the bible verse, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you (Genesis 12:1).” This is exactly how I was feeling being told to leave, but not knowing for sure where to go or even HOW to go. Remember, I am divorced and am not supposed to move my daughter far from her father. This is why I had never considered moving before. Besides that, I didn’t want to move her away from her father or his family, which play an important role in her life. I never wanted to move to South Florida, in the first place. I followed my ex-husband here. I have no family here, but I do have many friends, as I’ve now lived in South Florida for almost 14 years. I don’t, however, have a job yet, so this would be a good time to start somewhere fresh if I was going to. But moving would be scary, especially to a place where I don’t know anyone. So, I was simply trusting God and continuing to pray for one step at a time without getting too ahead of myself.
At the end of Unit 1, I learned that, “When God is about to do something, He reveals it to His people. You cannot stay the way you are and go with God.” Day 4 talked about how, “God’s invitation for you to work with Him always leads you to a crisis of belief that requires faith and action.” In order to be obedient, a major adjustment may be required. If we look back at how God worked through Bible characters, we see that, “When God spoke they knew it was God, they knew what God was saying, and they knew what they were to do in response.” My problem was that I knew what God was telling me to do, but I didn’t know how it was possible legally. I simply started by taking one day at I time. I knew God was telling me this for a reason, and I had to trust Him with the outcome, whether I end up moving or not.
My crisis of belief was knowing how humanly unachievable this seemed. I feared my ex-husband’s response. Moving so far away seemed so impossible, or at least calling for a huge battle in court. Is that what God wants? I found in the study that with Moses God first told him the plan, then He told him how and what he was to do. I still didn’t know the how in my situation. But I did know that all things are possible with God, including this big move, if it is truly God’s will. One quote that kept me faithful was, “When you believe nothing signification can happen through you, you have said more about your belief in God than you have declared about yourself.” I continued to trust God and pray that He would make His will clear to me.
Unit 2 began with how to live a God-Centered life stating, “God-centeredness requires the daily death of self and submission to God (John 12:23-25).” Sin is the outcome of a self-centered life. I continued to focus on what God was doing, rather than my own fears. As I read further, I learned that if we do not submit to God’s will, He will allow us to follow our own path. However, we will miss what God wanted to do on our behalf or through us for others as part of His plan. In other words, we will miss the blessing.
Furthermore, it is also important to be able to decipher God’s will from our own. If we want something bad enough, we might think the idea came from God, when really it came from our own desires. In order to know for sure, one must know God’s voice by maintaining a love relationship with him. The better you know someone, the better you recognize them. God can speak to us in different ways. We each are capable of a personal relationship with Christ. He can use the bible, prayer, circumstances, the church, or another way to communicate with us.
In that moment, when God is speaking to you, that is the time He wants you to respond to Him. He doesn’t mean for you to wait several months or even years down the road to decide God’s timing. He speaks when He is ready to move. I had been thinking that God was telling me to move, but He could mean many years down the road, until I read this. God meant for me to act now. So, I started preparing for a move. I may not have control over my ex-husband’s response to the news, but I was in control of the small things I could be doing now to prepare for a move. It was then I found a realtor and began looking at houses near Colorado Springs. I also started going through my house to get rid of clutter and organizing, which would make a move easier. So, I was being proactive, although still wondering how God would pull this off. I set the goal of putting my house on the market in January to move the following summer, if God willed it.
I was feeling more and more confident that I was experiencing God through this bible study at the perfect time. I trusted God with the outcome. I was doing my part. As I thought about it, the timing for a move was really quite perfect. I had recently finished grad school and had a 2-year financial buffer to move and get settled in a new home. I could see how things were falling into place. Yet, I feared a fight with my ex-husband as I try to move our daughter so far away. But I also knew if it’s God’s will, He would handle him. It would be nothing short of a miracle if this came to pass, because I had no legal grounds to move. I went back and forth in my mind thinking, “There is no way in the world my ex-husband will just willingly allow us to go.” Then I would argue back, “But all things are possible with God.” Then I read, “Human reasoning will not give you God’s perspective.” This told me that I needed only be concerned with what I was humanly able to accomplish to move toward this goal. I also thought to myself, “Sometimes God tells us exactly what we need to know in a given situation. But the outcome is God’s alone. I was content being obedient knowing that it was possible that ultimately, God would not actually move us at the end of all this, but maybe He intended to accomplish a different outcome, one in which I may not fully understand.” All I knew is that I had to be obedient today and not worry about what was going to happen later. I prepared for a move.
In Unit 4 I was reminded again of the story of Abraham. God told Abraham to sacrifice his one and only beloved son, simply because He commanded it. I can only imagine what Abraham must have felt, but he trusted God completely with the outcome. In the mean time, Abraham went through all the steps of getting to the point of the sacrifice. I believe Abraham must have known God would not allow him to go through with this. But he continued in obedience all the way to raising up the dagger to kill his son, when God stepped in and changed the plan at the last moment, providing the ram for sacrifice. God was developing Abraham’s character to be the father of a nation. He needed to see that Abraham would obey him no matter what the cost. This story reassured me that whether or not a move actually occurs in the end, I just had to continue in obedience until God tells me different. If I get to the point of sharing these plans with my ex-husband, and he says no way, then I have my answer for, “His commands are not burdensome (1 John 5:3).” The door is closed. But I also knew that God can work on his heart, and he could allow it. So, the future remained unknown, and I continued working toward that move. God doesn’t mean to restrict us with His commands, they are to be freeing.
It is sometimes humanly impossible to understand God. How He does things and the way He thinks are very different from ours and may often sound mistaken or unachievable. I could guess the reasons God would choose for us to move from South Florida, but it didn’t really make sense. Frankly, it was a scary prospect, yet exciting at the same time.
Experiencing God has a whole unit on joining God where He is working. As I thought about how God may be working in Colorado Springs and what that may have to do with me, I remembered that Focus on the Family is located in Colorado Springs. I am to be a Mental Health Counselor. Possibly God intended for me to work there as a Christian counselor, which would be like a dream to me. However, I didn’t want to get too ahead of myself. This was just an interesting observation and possibility for what God may have in store for my career.
I continued in prayer, praying for God to work through me and show me His way. In 1 Kings 8:56, Phil. 1:6, God says that when He lets His people know what He is about to do, it is as good as done. When God speaks, He guarantees it will happen. I started talking to a hand full Christian friends about what I was experiencing. For the most part, they kept saying, “Wait and see. God will do this.” I started seeing the testimony I could share if this move did come to pass, and I was filled with excitement. Every week in my bible study, the ladies were anxious to hear what I had experienced during that week’s study. I knew that I could leave everything behind, because God would go with me. I knew He would provide all that I needed, and the blessing awaited me in Colorado Springs. If I choose not to obey, I am sure to miss the blessing that God has for me.
I did have some people who didn’t believe that I truly heard from God. In Unit 5, I learned that God speaks to different people in different ways. The way God speaks to me may not be the same for someone else. We each have a personal relationship with him. All I knew is that I was sure what I heard. The Lord spoke to me plain and clear. I knew His voice, because I have a personal relationship with Him. The more time you spend with God, the better you will recognize him. In that moment when God clearly spoke to me, all He said was to move with my daughter away from South Florida. Next I started praying about where to move. God stated the answer to that question in a different way, but that doesn’t make it any less real. He answered through signs, having Colorado Springs mentioned all around me for months. God may not tell you every detail at the beginning, but He will tell you exactly what you need to know to make necessary adjustments and to take the first steps of obedience. God tells you all that you need to know to act now. When He wants to you to do more, He’ll offer more instruction in His timing. In order to discern God’s will, pray and wait. Have patience. Depend on God’s timing. If He’s silent, seek Him more intently. Strengthen your love relationship with Him, in the meantime. John 8:47 states, “He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is because you do not belong to God.” I heard God speak. I know what I heard because I belong to God.
Like Moses in Exodus 3:11-4:13, I knew I heard God, but I questioned Him. We can get so tied up in trying to debate God instead of simply trusting Him. When you choose not to obey, God may stop speaking to you. I chose to do all that God told me to do for now, even though I didn’t fully understand. In the story of Noah and Abraham, God eventually shared with them His purpose in the work He had for them. In Noah’s story, He was going to destroy the world. In Abraham’s story, He was going to build a nation for Himself. What was God doing in my story? Well, He hadn’t told me that part yet, which meant I was to only worry about what God did tell me to do. The rest will come in His timing. I still believed that God could make a way for us to move, but I also knew that if this came to pass, it would be completely and totally because of God, for it seemed impossible.
In Unit 5, I started praying that God would make a way for us to do as He commands, for it would take a miracle for my ex-husband to allow us to move. I started thinking about what I can do now to prepare, tasks that are within my reach. I decided to get a realtor in Florida to see what my house is worth. I also decided it was time to share these plans with my ex-husband. I was going to send Him an email, in order to give him time to think about His response.
Up until this time, my feelings had gone back and forth. I wasn’t sure what to set my heart on. Will I be moving next year, or will there be a closed door at the end of all this? It was time to know. My heart desired to see a miracle! Although, I knew one way or another, I have been obedient and God will bless me. I trusted God with the outcome.
In Unit 6, I read, “I will never give you an order without releasing My power to enable it to happen. Trust Me and obey Me, and it will happen.” This Unit made me believe it really was going to happen. Somehow, God was going to work on my ex-husband’s heart. But all along, a little doubt lingered. I trusted God. I knew that if it was God’s will, He would enable the outcome. So, I decided to just release the outcome completely and totally to God. All I needed to know is that I was working toward what God told me to do. I was doing my part. God would have to take care of my ex-husband and enable this move.
As I looked at houses in Colorado Springs in my price range, I noticed that I could afford a much larger house than I have here. The cost of living is lower. Houses there have basements! I wondered what I would do with the extra space. I prayed about it. God told me that I could have bible studies and even house missionaries in the extra bedrooms. God can use the extra space! Looking at houses in the mountains with lots of trees and land was very exciting! I wanted this move to happen more and more.
I was a woman of faith. I believed that God called me to this assignment, and He was the One who would provide for attainment. I continued to think on the blessing God might have for me in Colorado. Without firm faith, I would stumble and fall. I didn’t want to fall. I wanted to see God’s outcome.
Unit 7 explains, “When God speaks, He is revealing what He is going to do, not what He wants us to do for Him. He wants to work through us if we will join Him. God does not expect us to accomplish the task with our limited ability or resources. With faith, we can confidently proceed to obey Him because we know He is going to bring to pass what He purposes.” In Mark 10:7, Jesus indicated that what is impossible with man is possible with God. But we must remember, we won’t always understand God’s purposes in a given situation. The outcome may not come to pass as we expected. At the same time I hung on to this, “Then you and the people with you will rejoice that you have experienced Him. You and the people around you will know more of Him than you have ever known before.” The people around me were my ladies bible study group and the others I shared my story with. I wanted so much to be a testimony of faith to all. I wanted my story to glorify God.
I was willing to make the necessary adjustment. To show faith you must be willing to act. Action requires adjustment and obedience. Some requirements for obedience are, “You cannot stay where you are and go with God at the same time. Obedience is costly to you and to those around you. Obedience requires total dependence on God to work through you.” Sometimes, you have to be willing to take that leap of faith. Following God isn’t always easy.
In Unit 8, I heard back from the email I sent to my ex-husband about the move. He responded as humanly expected, denying my plea. I was really hoping God would enable this move in the end by working on his heart in a way unimaginable to man. I was hoping for a miracle, knowing that most likely this would be the outcome. But I wanted so badly to trust God and see Him come through in the end. Now, I’m left wondering what this was all for?
At that very time in my reading the chapter stated, “Sometimes obedience to God’s will leads to opposition and misunderstanding.” I admit I was feeling discouraged and disappointed at this point. The response of my bible study group was, “It will happen, just not now.” Ok, maybe it will happen one day…or not. Maybe God just told me what I needed to hear to get my life in order. I’ve been working really hard to simplify my life and organize my house getting rid of the unnecessary clutter. These are certainly positive things. Maybe there was an effect on my ex-husband that I cannot see. I know for a couple of weeks, he changed his behavior. He was kinder to my daughter for a time. She even made comments to support this, which are usually unheard of. So, that’s certainly a positive outcome. They weren’t normally known to get along very well. We will not always understand God’s mysterious ways, but we still must obey with God speaks.
God’s timing is everything. It is possible that God wanted me to prepare for a move now, with the actual move happening later. Who am I to question God? He has a plan, and he doesn’t always share every detail with us. I read, “When circumstances do not align with what God is saying in the bible and in prayer, assume the timing may be wrong. Then wait for God to reveal His timing.”
Moreover, when God directs you, His purpose will come to pass, but it may be in a way you had not anticipated, as in my situation. Just because the outcome is different from expected, doesn’t mean God didn’t fulfill His purpose. Or maybe He is still working in the situation and the timing for the outcome is in the future. God may still move me one day, or it may be to a different city for Colorado Springs. God may even keep me right here, as I learn to appreciate where I live right now. When God called me, I allowed Him to work out the details in His timing. In the meantime, I will be in prayer and continue to do all that I know to do and wait for the next word of instruction.
The message for me was to wait on the Lord. Psalms 37:34 says, “Wait for the Lord and keep his way. He will exalt you to inherit the land.” I continue to wait in prayer. I prayed to know God, His purposes and His ways. God was silent. God has perfect timing, and apparently the timing for this move was not for now. But His ways are always right. I continue to depend on Him to guide me in His way and in His timing to accomplish His purpose whether that is here or in a new land. I continue doing the last thing God clearly told me to do, and that is to get organized.I also decided to start embracing South Florida living. I live in what most people would call paradise, although, I don’t get out and enjoy it enough. Knowing now that I must remain in South Florida, at least for now, I decided to start checking off things from my bucket list. I went kayaking, loved it so much, I bought one myself. I went parasailing off Key Biscayne with the beautiful view of Downtown Miami. I bought camping equipment, so that I could enjoy traveling around the campgrounds of Florida seeking out places I had never seen before. I got certified in scuba diving, so that I could enjoy the beauty of the underwater world that God made in which we rarely see. I made the decision to appreciate wherever I live from day to day. I love Colorado, and I have imagined all the great adventures I could have if I lived there. But I could also find some pretty good adventures right here. I guess the lesson here is, “The grass is not always greener on the other side, just different.”