I want to experience God. I don’t want to just read about him; I want to know him.
Reading Hebrews 11 and living Hebrews 11 are two vastly different enterprises. A person can read Hebrews 11 comfortably, but a person cannot live Hebrews 11 comfortably.
God is a mystery and a puzzle and a riddle and enjoys hiding…enjoys the chase, being searched for, and being found. He leaves clues all around for us to discover more about him. Sherlock Holmes…okay, okay, Benedict Cumberbatch…recently inspired me to practice collecting clues as well.
To cultivate the Sherlock within, I began creating a list with two columns. “What He Likes” was on one side, and on the other, things he doesn’t enjoy, or what the Holy Spirit refers to as “deesgusting,” in his quite good Clesaue impersonation. (The Holy Spirit is more fun and better at impersonations than me.)
This list of what God likes keeps me on the lookout for clues. Later I found out that God likes this, too!
Ephesians 5:10, and find out what pleases the Lord…
We make many assumptions about Him, and they’re not accurate. He’s not solemn, moody, religious, uptight, hard to please, he’s not a middle-class American and he probably doesn’t care as much about your being smart, together, with-it, impressive, well-read, as just Being With Him. He’s wild. And he takes you into the wilderness because he is a bit of a show-off. He wants to take you into a space where you have to rely on him instead of yourself.
Last May, Rodney (my husband and co-leader) and I were asking God what was important to Him for the next couple of months. We began making a list and attempted to plug in each of His priorities on a calendar. One of the things He began talking about was the idea of organizing a float trip for some people in our community.
Worth Noting: we did not have ANY extra money. I don’t know how to emphasize this more. How about: ZERO EXTRA DOLLARS.
Because of Matthew 6, we knew when God places the order, he pays. And as we sat with him, we didn’t have an agenda. It wasn’t a backwards, “WE really need to do this, so please provide…” This was all His idea!
As we filled in the calendar, the camping/float trip fit snuggly on June 21-23; we would float on the 22nd. We naively assumed we’d have everything we needed before we left.
A friend and the internet confirmed we wanted to float the upper Buffalo River. However, it looked like an impossibility that the water level would be high enough that late in June.
Each time we touched base with God he told us to keep going.
About a week before the trip, the upper Buffalo was too low to float. Again, we touched base with God…do we move our location? Nope. Keep going.
We began getting disoriented, as friends would email and text asking for details about the float trip. We hadn’t reserved the canoes yet because we didn’t have the money. We kept touching base with God…are you sure you want us to do this…while trying to remain vulnerable and honest with our friends. (To their credit, they still wanted to go!)
A few days before the trip we experienced a flood in the area, a historic flood, and the river became too high to float.
The night before our scheduled departure we were at a crossroads…either disobey God telling us to continue or stop because of a lack of resources. Who goes on a float trip when the water is too high to float, without money to pay for the canoes?
Apparently we do.
We left the next morning feeling more than a little bit crazy. We were going to float on a river that was unfloatable in canoes that were unafforable.
We were following in Abraham’s footsteps…and it seems in Hebrews 11 and Romans 4 that God really digs it when people follow him and trust him even when they don’t know where they’re going.
I know it’s a canoe/camping trip…and not our inheritance, not the formation of the nation Israel, but it seemed we were following an ancient, although unfamiliar and hidden, path.
When the day to float arrived, I had a last-minute Idea, made a phone call to my dad asking for an extremely early Christmas present, the river was at the ideal floating level, and we floated on one of the most beautiful sections of this river in late June, which is extremely rare.
And ironically it ended up being a gift…a beautiful, amazing gift from both of my dads. We spent the entire day being wrapped up in, surrounded by, and floating on Beauty. It was a remarkable day.
When Rodney and I returned to camp that night, we felt as if we’d just had a baby. It was such a wrestle to keep going, keep trusting God to be our safety net at the last minute. I know he doesn’t dwell within the realm of Time, but seriously, did that journey have to be so difficult? Why not just map out the plan for us a month in advance?
I wonder how many of God’s dreams are aborted due to lack of finances. God wasn’t joking when he said you can’t serve God and money. There really are times when those roads diverge and you can only choose one.
I have some new clues to add to my list of Things God Likes:
coming through for us
following him when we don’t know where we’re going