Following the Cloud to the Promised Land

I am reading Holley Gerth’s You’re Made for a God-Sized Dream and am enjoying it very much. This was another book that God just dropped in my life at the right time (on sale for $3 in the bargain section of Half Price Books). It is all about pursuing what God has called you to do. One of the most important things that has stood out to me from the book is that doing nothing is more risky than doing what could be the wrong thing–that God can step in and set things right if you somehow took path A when you were supposed to take path B, but that if you are just sitting around waiting for everything to be perfectly clear, ready, and easy, you will never do anything and never fulfill your calling. She points out that God meets us while we are on the way and can redirect as necessary (think St. Paul on the road to Damascus). Today as I was reading, I got to the part where she was talking about how what once was the dream can become just normal or maybe even unsatisfactory. She says, “You will continue to grow as a person throughout your lifetime, and that means your dreams will grow along with you…The dream you thought would always be your passion may give way to another deeper call that surprises you when it appears.” (p.119)

This resonated with me because I have had this experience in my life many times. As a young person, I felt drawn to the Truth, but rejected Christianity for several reasons. As time went on, God revealed himself to me and I converted to Catholicism. Later, again for several reasons, I fell away from the Church and instead found myself involved with a Messianic Bible study group. There I met my future husband. We married and have 4 children. After the birth of our first daughter, I felt a very strong yearning to return to the Catholic Church. I followed where I believed God was leading me, trusting and praying that everything would be alright. Eventually my husband converted to Catholicism and we are now on the same page. Could it be that this detour, in some mysterious way, was God’s plan to help me meet the husband I had been praying for and also to bring him into his Church? If I had stopped at any point along the way and dug in my heels, resisting the yearnings of my heart (God’s promptings), I may not have carried out what I believe to be God’s will.

Another example from my life is that I was once a single mom earning a living from teaching 3rd graders. Although I enjoyed my life and job, a very strong desire took root in my heart. I was reading blogs written by “antifeminists” and dreaming of being a stay-at-home mom and homemaker under the servant-leadership of my husband, homeschooling my many children (this was VERY different than my former way of thinking). I dreamed and prayed for this. When my husband and I married, I began homeschooling my son. I was very content with this way of life…until I wasn’t. I believe that was my signal that it is time to get ready to “follow the cloud” (see Exodus 40:34-38. A strong desire developed over time for me to go back into the working world–the picture became clear and I know I am now called to go back to teaching in a Catholic school. I feel that this would be best for everyone. Only God knows why I was led to homeschool and be a stay-at-home mom for a time. Perhaps it was something he knew my son needed. Perhaps it was to help me grow as an educator. Could be that it was to help our marriage become stable and stronger in the early days. Most certainly it was because he wanted my precious babies to be born and if I were teaching, I would most likely not have had as many as I did because it would have been too much. I know I was led to that life, and I also know I am now being called to continue on the journey following the Lord’s leading.

Just because something was once right doesn’t mean it is right for everyone or all the time. Just because something is no longer right doesn’t mean that it wasn’t the perfect thing for that person at that time. Sometimes we give in to fear or laziness and choose to ignore God’s calling and justify inaction but still try to seem righteous and courageous by saying, “This is where God showed me to go, so that is that. I will close my ears to any further revelation because it can’t possibly be right if it is not what God said before.” But even in the Holy Scriptures we see God progressively revealing himself and his plan to his people. He prepared them and revealed things to them when the time was right and they were ready to receive the Truth. In the fullness of time, Truth was born, and the gates of Heaven were opened to us through his work on the Cross. God took an awful long time revealing this plan. When they stopped being open to God’s new revelation, they could not receive the very One they were waiting on.

I am not saying that we should just go with every passing whim and not honor our commitments, but sometimes it is just overwhelmingly obvious that it is time to move on, our heart won’t let us ignore it anymore, and then we must be courageous and trusting like Abraham was when he was called to leave his homeland and journey with God to an unknown land that God would show him (see Genesis 12:1-9). We must seek God more than any comfort or certainty–if that means a change is in order, a deeper understanding of Truth is being revealed, then thanks be to God! You are growing! God says you are ready for the next phase in your journey! We must follow the cloud, moving when he does and staying put when he does–no cloud, no good. If my previous plans and expectations said stay in Toronto, but the cloud moves on to Tucson, I want to go to Tucson, even if it was not what I thought I wanted to start with.

Holley points out in her excellent book that, “Even if we don’t fully go the right direction, God can redirect us to end up where he wants us to go.” (p.108) The important thing is to keep in communication with God and not shut him out when we don’t want to be inconvenienced with the Truth or something scary or hard. There is more to the story–turn the page, don’t get stuck in the middle! May God help us all to put him first and follow where he leads us.

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