Last week, Laura and I moved our family to a new apartment in search of more space for our soon-to-be family of five. So, that means I’ve spent the last couple of days carrying boxes, cleaning out the old place, carrying boxes, unpacking those boxes and carrying a few more boxes!
But I’m not writing to grumble about moving.
I’m writing in the hopes that the journey our family has been on for the last few months will be helpful for you as you follow God in your life. I’m writing because Laura and I never thought we would end up living in a mid-rise apartment in the west end of Alexandria. Yet, that’s exactly where the Lord has us.
And it all goes back to December 8, 2015.
I remember being in the gym that morning, doing my best not to die on the treadmill, listening to a podcast and praying/thinking through the day ahead. Later that afternoon I was going to be meeting with a group of Southern Baptist pastors interested in supporting church plants in DC. So, I was getting my vision caster/fundraiser game face on. As part of that, I was mentally rehearsing stats about how many people live in this area, how quickly it is growing, etc… I was getting more and more excited to tell these pastors about the mission field God had called us to. And then all of a sudden, I felt like Laura and I should be doing more to reach our community. I remembered my conversations with the leaders of a ministry called Apartment Life and felt like God might be leading Laura and I to move into an apartment in the Crystal City/Pentagon City area through this ministry. That was a stretch for us – we had been renting a row house and weren’t thrilled about going to an apartment (our kids are loud and we didn’t want to live underneath someone running a makeshift dance studio in the apartment above us!). But we felt like it was how the Lord was leading.
So, Laura and I started down the road of getting plugged in with Apartment Life. We did applications and interviews. We introduced the ministry to the church one Sunday morning. I told the whole church Laura and I had applied and wanted to serve as a CARES Team through this ministry. We were accepted into the program and totally believed this was God’s next step for us as a family.
But by the middle of April, it was starting to look like Apartment Life wasn’t going to have a community to place us in. Honestly, I wasn’t worried. I totally expected the Lord to pull something out at the last minute. But by the beginning of May, that was looking less and less likely. And we knew we needed to be out of our old place by May 31st. Unsure of what else to do, we started looking for other places – including apartments. Honestly, we probably never would have included apartments in our search if it wasn’t for the months of praying for Apartment Life.
Finding out that we’re having our third child this fall made it really clear we needed to move. We knew we needed more space and didn’t have a lot of room to increase our budget. So, we started looking. And getting frustrated. And discouraged. And concerned. There wasn’t anything available in the time frame we needed!
Finally, we found the place we’re in now. It meant we had to leave the Del Ray neighborhood that we loved so much. But it’s the best option for our family in this season of life. So, we moved in last week.
That story is in some ways very boring – we thought we were going to serve with a ministry, God closed a door, so we did something else. But I’m also hoping it’s helpful in at least two ways:
- Don’t be afraid of messing up God’s plan. Clearly, Apartment Life wasn’t the Lord’s will for our family in this season. We really thought it was, were excited to serve, prayed for God to open doors and did everything we could think of to help open those doors. But as Job writes, “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” (Job 42:2) Don’t worry. You aren’t going to mess up God’s plan for your life.
- Go for it. That means we have the freedom to go for it more often. I would rather live my life trying to make things happen and trusting God to close doors than waiting idly for God to open doors. I don’t regret trying to get placed through Apartment Life or feel badly that it didn’t work out. I like knowing we went for it, put ourselves out there and did everything we could to leverage our lives for the sake of mission.
More often than not, this is what it looks like to follow Jesus – an unexpected road to an unexpected destination. Even when the road doesn’t make sense, we can trust the One leading us and know that He’s in control and unfolding our lives according to His plans.