When God calls you to the desert…
As I get ready to make this next huge transition in my life, I am a bit reflective. I came to Phoenix a month after I turned 30. I left a staff position at a mega-church, where I had a decent salary, full benefits, my own place, and a nice car. I was living the so-called “life”. I had just finished my Masters degree the year prior, and I was positioned well to be successful…whatever that means. The Lord said to go, so I went.
Yes I had an online teaching position at a university, but that really wasn’t much. It just sounded fancy. I had absolutely no idea what was ahead for me. I gave away majority of my furniture, decorative items, dishes, clothes, etc. Whatever could fit in my car is what I took.
I remember driving somewhere in New Mexico thinking, “This is absolutely crazy. What am I doing?” But I knew I had to get to Phoenix. And when I say God immediately started working, He did. I dropped my stuff off in a storage unit and went straight to a Women on the Frontline conference. Heidi Baker spoke that night, and I had no clue who she was. Honestly I don’t remember a word she even said. I remember people randomly laughing during the service all over the room, and I said, “Oh, I ain’t that spiritual yet.” (Which is hilarious now if you’ve ever been around me when the joy hits me.) But one distinct thing happened that night. I was sitting in the aisle against a pillar, and people were praying for each other. A lady came up to me and said, “The Lord brought you here to free you.” And I just started to cry. I didn’t know what it fully meant, but I knew God was starting to do some things in me in that moment. As I cried, she was breaking off all of the oppression that I didn’t even know I had. Sometimes you don’t know just how bound or oppressed you are until you are placed in a free environment. And that’s where we began.
Phoenix has been full of freedom, healing, pain, misunderstandings, loss, gain, and everything else in between. I wanted to run back to Texas many days, but I knew I couldn’t. Texas would just be easier. Being around people that know me and know my heart would just be easier. But I had to stay in the desert.
My picture of success was completely marred. I had been taught that you had to look a certain way, have certain things, and bring something to the table in order for the kind of guy I wanted to be interested. That’s what I was working to establish while I was in Texas. But here I was in Phoenix, all of my stuff confined to a room and a garage, sleeping on a floor, with a repossessed car…who was going to want me? (Sidebar: And honestly, I think I still have residue of those thoughts. I struggle to see myself the way that I saw I myself in Texas. I was more confident then. But I believe I was confident in the wrong things. Now, I have a much more sobering outlook, but I need to know that Rheva is still a bad chick.)
The picture I get of my time here, is a picture of a bloody and beaten Jesus carrying His cross. Every blow hurt. But I’m thankful for the ones that came along to help me carry my cross. Everyone that came to help me get through the pain. I’m thankful for every person that has fed me, given me a place to stay, a couch to sleep on, gas for my car, a ride when I didn’t have a car. This season (the past 5 years) has been the most humbling season for me, and I am thankful for it.
I’m thankful that He loves me enough to not leave me the way I was. I’m thankful that He loves me enough to prepare me and equip me for all that He wants me to do. I’m thankful that He loves me through others. I’m thankful that He never leaves us alone. I’m thankful that He trusts me with every trial, disappointment, and victory.
What’s in Redding? I have absolutely no idea. I just know I’m supposed to go. I might look foolish to some and heroic to others. But only He knows what the full plan is, and I’ll just continue to give Him my yes.