The author explained that such experiences are isolating. That one does not have a tribe to commune with who has experienced such things and therefore leave the adventure-seeking individual feeling left out. Along this same line of thought, the author argues that we should delight in the ordinary. See our every day lives as a gift. Maybe not as glamorous as those who traipse around the world, but more fulfilling.
While I fully understand the author's thesis and under normal circumstances would fully support his message, I cannot embrace them for this experience. This move, this life change, this removal from safety, was given to us. We heard the call from the one who whispered us into existence and we could not deny it. Isolation, so to speak, was the goal of this experience. Not so we could feel left out or withdrawn, but so we could be drawn back to our source of life. So we could be prepared for the next step. Whatever that step may be.
In Ruthless Trust, Brennan Manning writes, "The reality of naked trust is the life of a pilgrim who leaves what is nailed down, obvious, and secure, and walks into the unknown without any rational explanation to justify the decision or guarantee the future. Why? Because God has signaled the movement and offered it His presence and promise."
Had you told me 14 months ago when we decided to sell our house that we would be sitting in Italy a year later, I probably would have laughed at you. We decided to sell because it seemed like the right thing to do. In other words, the Spirit had whispered into our souls. Prompted movement. Was beginning to signal that a diversion from security and safety was necessary. Essential for our spiritual growth. But we still didn't quite get it. Still didn't quite understand. You see, we thought we had our reasons. The things that could justify such a crazy choice. But those weren't the why behind God's leading. We just hadn't figured it all out yet.
And so last November, in the midst of two failed home purchases, a district that was self-imploding before our very eyes, and another school system that was facing some extensive faculty cuts due to merging campuses, we made a choice. We looked at each other and both said, "I've been thinking about teaching abroad again." And that was it. It was decided. We knew what we should do. We had heard that whisper again.
But we half-thought we were crazy. God's whisper wasn't enough. Like Gideon we needed a sign. Bound by our own insecurity we wanted confirmation before we abandoned all that we knew and threw caution to the wind. So we prayed in the car before walking into church the next day. Lord, give us a sign. We want to be obedient to your calling, but we need a sign. And in we went to church to be confronted with one of the loudest confirmations I have ever seen. The entire service was dedicated to discussing the "Jericho moments" in our lives. The times when God calls us to do something crazy. To step out in faith with disregard to reason.
Whoa. What else could we ask for? Our sign had just stared us in the face. We were facing such a moment. Leave good jobs, sell our house, and do something crazy. Step out in faith despite our good reasons.
And that was that. Our house already sold and purchasing deals falling apart around us, we quit pursuing them and moved into an apartment for seven months. We signed up with an agency and began applying all over the world. Virtually no corner of the world was off limits. This was God's story. He was the author. We were simply following his lead.
Just a month later, we heard back from our first school. It was still early in the application process and we found ourselves in the midst of interviews for Italy of all places! Before we knew it, we had signed a contract and were boarding a plane to meet our new director in Boston.
Now that we are here, I fully recognize the isolation the author in the aforementioned article describes. Family and friends back home just don't fully get it. Don't completely understand these sojourners' experiences and the why that lead us here. Likewise, the friendships we find ourselves in here don't fully understand our history. Haven't fully begin to unwrap who we are and where we are in our journeys.
But that is the beauty of this experience.
The only one who can fully meet us in our isolation is the one that beckoned us here. The only one who understands where we came from, what we are presently experiencing and feeling, and ultimately where we are headed, is the one who designed this experience to reveal himself to us more fully. And that is an experience worth pursuing. An experience worth embracing despite the inevitable isolation. An experience that should be pursued so God's glorious unfolding, the beautiful plan that we have yet to fully see and realize, can continue in our lives.