Twelve years ago, on the Friday of Father’s Day weekend, I picked up my husband from Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, AZ, and took him to dinner. He had returned from a weeklong business trip in Denver, and I thought it would be nice to celebrate him being a dad to his then three-year-old and one-year-old daughters. I use the term “celebrate” loosely. I can’t say I went into that dinner date with an agenda, but we both left a little unraveled. And the poor, new, dad I had intended to shower with all things love and honor, well, not quite so much.
In Isaiah 5, the Lord is rebuking Israel, and He describes Israel as a once thriving vineyard, but then says this: I will make it a wasteland, neither pruned nor cultivated, and briers and thorns will grow there. I will command the clouds not to rain on it.” Isaiah 5:6
That pretty much describes what I thought of my dwelling place at the time. I was convinced God had moved us to Arizona three years prior, to just drop us off in the desert and leave us. And I really felt that this particular day in history was the perfect opportunity to share with my husband how I felt. Can you say passive-aggressive? In my defense, I was a new mom, with a spouse that traveled 75% of the time, and it was stinkin’ 110 plus degrees for three months out of the year. I’m telling you it felt like a wasteland.
Let me pause right here and tell you something before I go on. God is so patient with us. No matter where you are at in your walk with Him, I want to encourage you that God is patient. I also believe I’ve matured in 12 years, and I think I have a better understanding of reading scriptures in context now. (Insert winky face Emoji here.)
So after that monumental Father’s Day celebration, we began the process of relocating to Denver, Colorado. God’s hand was all over that move, and it became clear to me He had orchestrated that Father’s Day conversation to open the doors to us making the decision to relocate our family. I mostly loved every part of our 12 years in Colorado: the mountains, the weather, the friends who became family, and our daughters growing into teenagers. It was a great experience, until it wasn’t.
About a year ago, God began stirring in our hearts again. At the time I didn’t see it as stirring though. I saw the too many circumstances we were facing as downright upsetting. I often found myself shaking my fist at God, questioning Him as to His whereabouts in our family’s time of need. I remember crying out to God many times, “Give me something here. Seriously, You’re God, aren’t you?”
Then in January of this year, in the midst of a chaotic season, we felt led to sell our home. We weren’t sure what God was up to. I wondered if He was even up to anything, or if moving was our clever way of finding greener pastures in a new location. Isn’t that funny? I thought, for a minute, that maybe a new location would make all the yuck disappear.
We sold our home six weeks later on Valentine’s Day, however, we had no place to move. The Denver housing market is a strange animal that way. We had walked through many possible home contenders, only to find none of them were available when we sold our home. So now what?
There is a sacredness about this story, and its details, that I like to reserve the right to share in person. I think you need to hear the inflection in my voice, see my eyes light up, hear my children and my husband interrupt and share their insights of this adventure. It doesn’t do it justice to convey through written words. So, to make a long story shorter, and give you the highlights, God slammed shut some doors to stay in Colorado, and opened wide some doors to….wait for it…..move back to Arizona. Say what? The wasteland?
That was pretty much my reaction too, but you should have seen how wide those doors opened. There was no reason to second guess what we needed to do.
On Easter weekend we arrived back in Arizona. We braved one of the most significant blizzards we had ever seen the day we left, (I call that confirmation) and drove to sunny skies, warm temperatures, and a fresh start in a place that once represented a dark, empty wasteland.
As the days have turned into weeks, and the weeks into months of living here, I recalled a scripture that makes a little more sense to me now. Not only does it help tie the journey of the Israelites together, but I can truly see the irony of my own desert journey in the words of an ancient prophet.
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:18b-19