When I walked into my friend’s house a few days ago, I knew I was in for something good.
I had attended the IF Gathering 2014 in a small town 2 hours from home. This year I would get to enjoy snippets of the IF Gathering 2015 in my friend’s living room, gathered together with about 10 other amazing, godly women.
I didn’t even know the theme of the Gathering, I just knew it would be good. So when the DVD started and I found out the theme was Joshua, I just sat there and smiled.
I smiled because I could see another glimpse of what God was up to in me – this theme has been running through our lives over and over for years, and especially the last 3 years. Every time it comes up it’s time to take another step into the Jordan, not seeing how the water will part, just trusting we’ll make it through to the other side… somehow… in God’s will.
I think I already had an idea of this next step to take… but I’ll get to that in another post…
It’s funny, when God plunks down His will in the middle of your life, and leaves the choice up to you.
It’s like coming to a wall, right in front of you, and you can go either one way or the other, but you can’t continue going forward – not in the direction you were heading.
Because you are never the same person after God presents His will to you.
No matter what choice you make, whether yes or no, you will go either one way or the other, but never be on the same path again.
You will always know that either you followed God or you didn’t. And either one can change you forever. You will never be the same. Going forward on the path you were following is impossible.
And so it was with My Joshua. I met him in a chiropractor’s office in 1997. He was a patient, I was a receptionist. His personality would consume the entire office space as soon as he walked in the front door, I would keep the office running smoothly in the background. He would have every single person laughing and connecting in a matter of minutes, I spent quality one-on-one time with the patients as I led them down to their treatment rooms. We had such different gifts and abilities, and we used them to minister to those around us in different ways, neither more important than the other.
I checked his file soon after meeting him.
HHmm… just a few months younger than me…. this could work.
Except I look younger than my actual age, and he kept inviting me to the youth group he was pastoring at the time. I kept telling him I’d let my YOUNGER brother know about the group.
Then I went off to Bible college for a few months, thinking I would never return. I had these grand plans of missionary work and being a jungle bush-woman. Marriage and children were NOT on my radar.
I returned home for the Christmas break. I never went back to school. There was such a tug on my heart to stay. My mission field was here first, with my family and friends.
I needed to find a church I could plug into (I had grown up in the church, wandered away for many years, and my own faith developed while working for the chiropractor – a man who served on the international mission field for 45 years, practising his chiropractic methods for free on whoever needed them). I remembered My Joshua (just Josh at the time). We started attending his church.
Within a few months my YOUNGER brother was part of the youth group, My Joshua (still just Josh) now knew my correct age, and I was volunteering as a leader with the group.
Then came the wall.
I had prayed that if God ever had marriage in mind for me, I would only be attracted to that person, I was done with the emotional roller coasters and mind games of dating. The more I got to know My Joshua, the more life was changing for me.
I had a choice to make. I could go in one direction or the other. I could follow the plans I had for myself and go to the mission field. Or I could stay and most likely marry My Joshua (I knew he would still have his own choices to make once God presented him with the wall that was Anna).
I struggled and prayed and pleaded with God to show me His will. Now I realize He already had. Now it was my choice. If I chose marriage, Josh was the man.
I chose marriage, and left the missionary work in God’s hands, knowing He may or may not give that to me also, hoping He would. josh seemed to have a pretty big heart for it as well.
We started dating soon after, we were engaged not even 3 months after our first date, we were married not even 3 months after our engagement.
What a whirlwind romance!
But when you know, you know, and we knew.
My Joshua has lived up to his namesake in the Bible many times over. He has listened to God and marched around many strongholds and brought them down in God’s timing and God’s power. He has served leaders well and led others well. He has met with God in the desert time and time again, and done his best to follow whatever it is that God says to him there, no matter how ridiculous it may sound to everyone else (including me, maybe even especially me).
My Joshua has seen the promised land and brought back reports of its amazing bounty to others who longed to live in that kind of a land. He has offered to lead them there. Giants don’t distract him. He is a fighter through and through. I love to watch him fight for the things God lays on his heart. (Especially when it’s me and the boys he’s fighting for!)
My Joshua also has a Caleb in his life, someone else who has seen the promised land and brought back reports of its bounty to us, whispers of what heaven must be like. This Caleb is our son, who was stillborn in May 2003. I will write more about that soon…
And My Joshua’s life verse is Joshua 1:9 –
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
I’ll get to that word GO in an upcoming post. I’d love to keep unpacking the IF Gathering 2015 with you over the coming days…
For now, even though the Gathering was just starting, I knew that God would be speaking to my heart about marriage to My Joshua and about going into the promised land. Over the last few months God had shown us a vision and direction for Reaching the North, and I knew it was most likely time to take another big step of faith.
I also knew that for me the step might just be from within.