Marching Orders

In less than two weeks, I’ll close the door of the U-haul and make my way to my new state of Kentucky.

I am ready and excited! Amazingly, I don’t feel anxious.  But it wasn’t until last week that could honestly say that.

 

A few weeks ago, when friends would ask me how I was feeling about the move, I would feel myself take a long, slow, deep breath and say, “Mixed emotions: excited and anxious.” I’m sure no one would fault me for having mixed emotions, but I could tell there was more anxiety in my heart than peace…I figured it was normal, but I didn’t like it.  Still, I wasn’t sure how to fix it.

 

Feeling anxiety makes us question if we’re doing the right thing. I heard questions in my head like, “What if I make this huge move and then I hate it there?  What if I don’t make friends?  What if I miss my Indiana life even more than I can imagine?  What if one day I wake up and feel stuck?  Lord, is this really what I’m supposed to do?  Please stop me now if it’s not!”

There’s nothing quite so refreshing as being honest with God. Whenever I tell Him how I really feel, the load gets a little lighter, and then I know He’s “on it.”  If I have an issue or a feeling that only He can fix, I know He will.  I just have to be on the lookout for Him to fix it.

 

Recently, I have felt a bit like Abraham as I’ve prepared to uproot and replant my life.  I remember what the Lord told him:

“Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.” Genesis 12:1

It makes me want to say, Uhh…That’s not a whole lot of detail there, Lord.  You’re asking a lot of ol’ Abe to leave out the specifics, don’t you think?

But the Lord has His good reasons for not revealing the future.

I think the Lord has been telling me something similar. “Molly, go from your city of Carmel, Indiana, your life-long friends and your family to the land of Morehead, Kentucky.  I will show you more when you get there.”

For now, that’s all I get to know.

 

So for now, I will move into the upstairs of Guy’s mom and step-dad’s house. For now, I will teach 4th graders at the elementary school there.  For now, I will work on building relationships.

No matter what happens, our God always has a good plan.  Sometimes we just need to catch the vision.

For me, that first glimpse of vision came from my friend, Leslie.  She’s the one who set me up with Guy in the first place.  She grew up in Morehead and now lives in Indy.  As I shared my concerns with her one day, she responded, “Molly, I am so excited for you to move to my town.  I think you have something to offer.  God is going to use you there, just as He’s used you here, and I can’t wait to see what He does.”

Hmm. Well.  I hadn’t ever thought of that perspective before.  All I could think about was what I was giving up.  I had never thought that maybe God wanted to do something in and through me there.

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”  Ephesians 2:10

When I question the purpose of my life, I come back to this verse.  Not only was I created to be loved by God and to love Him back, but there are things He has planned for me to do, and things He’s planned for you to do.  The only way to find out what they are is to keep going in the direction He’s pointing.  Today, He’s pointing me to Morehead.

 

I recently read a quote from Elisabeth Elliot in The Path of Loneliness that said, “…a new set of marching orders.  That is what always follows loss of any kind—a mother’s loss of her child, a wife’s of her husband, a lover’s of his beloved, a man’s loss of his job, his health, his self-esteem, his home—if only we have ears to hear those orders, eyes to see the gain God intends to bring out of our loss.  Even when trouble stops our ears and clouds our vision, He goes on working in secret and perhaps years later reveals what we had not faith to lay hold of.”

The phrase “marching orders” is defined as instructions from a superior officer for troops to depart; a dismissal or sending off; orders to begin a march or movement; orders to start out, move on, proceed, etc.

That’s exactly what this new beginning is.  I am about to depart, to start out, to move on and proceed in a new direction.  It doesn’t mean it’s not a bit nerve-wracking at times.  I suppose marching orders always are.  Unsettled lands and uncharted waters are not predictable, and they’re certainly not comfortable.  But I am relieved that there’s always something for us to do, a purpose in every season of change.  I find no purpose sitting around twiddling my thumbs, and I’m glad the Lord doesn’t either.

 

Is this not the way He has constantly been working in my life?  With each loss, there have been new marching orders with gains and growth that I wouldn’t trade. There have been new roles and experiences that have changed me completely for the better.

For example, when I lost my mom, I began to work with a caring ministry at church that taught me listening and empathy skills I’ve used often over the past decade; losing my sisters when they moved out of state gave me time to invest in other people; losing my son pushed me deeper into Scripture and into writing and speaking.  Those are just a few of the many!

Every single loss brought some type of new marching order.  And as scary as they were, they never harmed me.

In fact, I can honestly say that the worst things that have happened to me have become the best things!

I know the Lord now in new ways and trust Him as I never had before, I have a greater understanding and love of His Word, I have more empathy and compassion than I used to, I can stare death in the face as it no longer scares me, I have an appreciation for how fragile life is, I am less judgmental of others, I have grown in my understanding and excitement for Heaven, and I live more purposefully and passionately now than I did when life was going as planned!

 

But even with all of that, there have still been moments of uncertainty.

My sister Marylou, who relocated to Minnesota some years ago, gave me great advice when I shared my concerns.  She said, “Molly, plant roots right away.  Get to know people. Get involved.  Don’t put that off, thinking you’ll move back to Indy in a few years. It took me three years to embrace life in Minnesota, and the first three years here were hard.  Once I started digging in, it became home.  Now, I love it!”

“I know,” I said. “I just don’t feel that way at all yet.”

“Yeah, sometimes I have to start by just praying for the willingness to be wiling,” she laughed.

 

Sometimes praying for a willingness to be willing is the hardest, most powerful prayer we can pray.  But as I’ve prayed that prayer, the Lord has changed my anxious heart completely.

Author Mike Mason says  “To embrace God’s point of view, however briefly, is to be joyful.”  And God’s point of view is always completely calm.  He sees what He’s doing, He knows why He’s calling us to each new place, and He knows He is going to go with us, so we have nothing to fear.  He has the plan, and we have marching orders.

Wherever we are, it’s about showing the glory of who God is.

This confidence has given me joy and a new perspective and purpose in Kentucky.

 

I will get to love Guy.

I will get to encourage and support his two daughters.

I will get to learn more patience with their very sweet albeit hyperactive, cross-eyed bird dog.

I will get to bring joy and an extra set of hands to the home in which I’ll stay.

I will get to build relationships with my new friends.

I will get to bond with the women in a book study that starts in July.

I will get to serve the community as a 4th grade language arts teacher.

I will get to help build a successful team with my new coworkers.

I will get to grow and support the church where we attend.

I will get to bring a little Light wherever I go.

 

And I think they all will do the same for me.

 

If nothing else, being a Christ-follower is not boring.  It is a calling to be brave, to serve, to share, to sacrifice, to demonstrate the ways of Heaven on Earth.  This is not just for me.  It’s for you, too, friend.

So, I wonder which of your marching orders are changing right now?  Perhaps you’ve recently experienced a death, or your youngest child moved out on their own, or a good friend moved away, a marriage ended, the fertility struggle is lasting much longer than you ever imagined, you are stuck in a job you don’t like, or that thing you’d been wanting so badly is just not going to happen.

All Hope is not lost.  God is working even in the midst of that, and He has good things in mind that He wants you to do with your current location, role, or time.

As we look at the long list of Heroes of our Faith in Hebrews 11, we read this excerpt:

“Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see. Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation.

By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.

It was by faith that Abel brought a more acceptable offering to God than Cain did. Abel’s offering gave evidence that he was a righteous man, and God showed his approval of his gifts. Although Abel is long dead, he still speaks to us by his example of faith.

It was by faith that Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying—“he disappeared, because God took him.” For before he was taken up, he was known as a person who pleased God. And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

It was by faith that Noah built a large boat to save his family from the flood. He obeyed God, who warned him about things that had never happened before. By his faith Noah condemned the rest of the world, and he received the righteousness that comes by faith.

It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith—for he was like a foreigner, living in tents. And so did Isaac and Jacob, who inherited the same promise. Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God.

How much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets. By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight. Women received their loved ones back again from death.”

All these people followed their new marching orders, not knowing the outcome, or how long it would last, or if they would even live.  But, in faith, they stepped out anyway and will receive “much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world” (1 Peter 1:7).

Author Beth Moore once commented that we are blown away by the faith of these people.  But that’s just what they are — mere people, average humans.  They are not any better than you or I.  They just obeyed what God was asking them to do.

Which makes us ponder: what if our name was added to the list of Heroes of the Faith: “It was by faith that Molly moved away from everything she’d known for almost 33 years…”  I wonder how that sentence might end years from now.  I get excited at the thought!

Now imagine if your life and name made the list!  Your turn: insert your name, “It was by faith that ______ did…”

What is it God is inviting you to do? What amazing things does He have planned for you if you would trust Him with what He’s doing?  What if His glory is going to shine so brightly though your life, and you don’t even have a clue yet?

With God, there is no need to panic.

Because sometimes, new marching orders are just the beginning of the best thing that has ever happened to you.

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