Returning home, after my mom’s passing, marked a turning point in our lives. After months of wrestling with God and ourselves, we decided to take the step of faith and help plant the church in Rhode Island. Logistically, we faced a handful of challenges, but nothing we felt disqualified us from the calling. However, we soon learned the elders at our church didn’t share our same enthusiasm.
We asked for a meeting to discuss our family helping with the church plant. In our minds, everything made sense: We would put our house, in Maine, on the market and Jamie would start looking for employment in Eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island. In the meantime, the kids and I would relocate to Rhode Island full-time, temporarily renting a house, while Jamie traveled back and forth on the weekends. If God wanted us to stay, we would sell the house and Jamie would find a job. If not, the kids and I would return after the six months.
We knew this wasn’t ideal. In a “perfect” world, all the pieces would fall into place… the house, the job. The six of us would get to be together. But ascertaining perfection was never our goal. Our hearts longed for truth; we yearned to experience Jesus, an opportunity to walk by faith and not by sight… something we would come to realize was GREATLY missing in our “church” lives. As we sat in the room, surrounded by the elders, I remember them becoming visibly uncomfortable as we shared the plan we felt the Lord laid on our hearts.
Financially, none of it made sense. With the passing of my mom, we inherited her house… and mortgage payment. Until we could sale her home, moving to Rhode Island essentially meant taking on three house payments. (And we were already living paycheck to paycheck.) Additionally, Jamie’s commuting back and forth meant he would arrive late on Friday nights (Driving through Boston is never ideal… but rush hour on Friday is a nightmare!), and leaving at 4:30 on Monday mornings.
The elders worried about the financial toll, but more so, they worried about the strain our family would endure due to the distance. As we sat in the room, I felt the walls starting to close in. Each of the elders refused to look us in the eyes. Some stared at the floor and others stared off as if in deep contemplation. (Were they waiting to hear from the Lord, hoping another elder would speak up, or thinking about their to-do list for the following day?) The longer we sat in silence, the more frustrated I became.
Eventually, our pastor broke the silence stating, “I think… if this is truly of God… He will sale your house and provide the job. I don’t see how separating your family is God’s will.” But, what another elder said next delivered the final, crushing blow. He told us that financial hardship and prolonged separation were the leading causes of divorce in the church and followed up with this question: “You’re asking for both of those if you do this. How is that God’s will?”
Not once did they ask WHY we felt God’s will would place distance and financial hardship in our path. Not once did they ask how we arrived at the decision. Not once did they ask if we had prayed over, or received wise counsel for, our decision. Not once did they use scripture to back up their counsel. Not once did they ask us to use scripture to support our decision. (And there are PLENTY of scriptures about suffering, giving up possessions, and sacrificial living to cover all those bases for us!) We left that meeting questioning God, but THANKFULLY, His voice was louder than theirs.
Long story made incredibly short, we proceeded with the plan. It WAS hard. It DID financially drain our accounts. We DID suffer from the weekly separations. BUT, IT WAS THE BEST SEASON OF OUR LIVES. God was faithful in His provision… but not in our finances or in selling our home. He was faithful in showing me that my husband was an idol. He gave me a heart for single moms because I faced the role Monday through Friday. (Not even a comparison to what single parents face!) He was faithful in giving my husband quiet time to spend with Him during the week. He was faithful in showing us how to spend quality time as a family during those weekends together. He was faithful… and we would have missed it had we taken the advice of the elders. Looking back, it’s so easy to see that worldly wisdom and common sense dictated their counsel. It took a deeper faith to overcome that… and I’m so grateful the Lord gave it to us.