"We have come this far by faith: leaning on the Lord" - Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals
This quote marked much of my devotional time in the early part of July. As I found it used repeatedly I began to reflect on how significant it was in describing our present moment.
At the end of May my family knew we would need to be in Springfield, Missouri by July 1 so that I could begin a new role as Pastor of Discipleship at Schweitzer United Methodist Church (sumc.co). But we had almost 40 days between the ending of the Beeson program and the beginning of the new role. We had two weddings to attend at the end of June, we had to figure out where we would live in Springfield, and how our things would find their way to Missouri, but there was not a responsibility keeping us located in one spot.
At the end of May we set out on a westward trip that was spontaneously planned. We had talked for almost a year about how it would be fun to go out west. When we realized the the window of opportunity was before us, we stepped on the gas and went for it. We traveled to Denver, Driggs,Idaho, Billings, Montana, Gillette, Wyoming, Rapid City, South Dakota, and Osh Kosh, Wisconsin. By the time we arrived in Springfield at the end of June, we had added 9,000 miles to our van and visited 13 states in about 40 days. .
Our travels connected us with some great people. We stayed with friends and family in Denver, Gillette, and Osh Kosh. It was marvelous to be in their presence and see what God is up to in their lives. In other cities and the great wide open spaces we met fellow sojourners who added a rich harmony to the tremendous sights of the incredible west. There exists a sweet reflective tapestry between the places and the hospitality of the people we met along the way.
As we traveled we kept the phone lines open to a realtor from the Springfield area who is a member of the church. We met Phil on our first visit to Springfield and he gave us a tour of town and showed us a few houses. In a short amount of time he began to sense what kind of people we are and understand what things we might find of value in a home. As we were traveling, he was looking for houses in the Springfield area that might fit our needs and maybe meet some of our desires.
We talked with Phil often. As we were arriving in Jackson (Hole), Wyoming we pulled into the local library to print off documents so we could make an offer on a home. We had looked at it on-line, watched some videos Phil made of it and decided to make an offer. Our trip felt like a sprint in places, we had to print, sign and send documents, ASAP. We would do this on two houses with no success. Phil would say, we just need to keep praying. He was right.
About 10 days before our anticipated arrival date in Springfiel, Phil called with another possibility. We had surrendered hopes of buying and were sure renting was going to be the only option. Phil went to a meeting where they talked about new listings, he thought we would be very interested. He made some videos and posted them on youtube. In about 72 hours from the time of listing we had made an offer that was accepted. We had a place to land, and a place to grow and live into.
The place is east of Springfield - mailing address is Strafford - about 6 miles. It is about 10 miles from the church. It is a ten acre parcel that has a gradual slope from the rear of the property to the road, mostly flat. It has a great blackberry patch and an old cemetery on it. There was a pond but it no longer holds water, and most of the ponds that do are dried up because of the drought. The back three acres are fenced and are helping to feed the neighbors cows. The sunsets are beautiful and the sounds of the country compel us to quiet wonder at the goodness of God. I think of that God's goodness and love as I peer west over the fence and see the lights of downtown Springfield. The city and the people are not far away.
The journey we have been on has been filled with unknowns. Today we wake up thinking that we know a little more than when we were traveling across the country, but the reality is, we have come this far by faith. It has been a great journey leaning on the Lord. We have been led to good places, with peaceful people, who are in the midst of the God's project in the world.