The hour-plus drive from the rolling green hills of Vermont was worth the steaming cup of coffee now nestled in the palm of my hands. I tried remembering the last time I had sipped something so robust and satisfying, but the memories were playing hide and seek with me. I soon tired of seeking and focused on the conversation coming from across the café table in the little upstate New York city known as Troy.
“So how did you do it? How did you find the faith?” she asked.
She was a new pastor friend I had made. And while she was a city pastor and I was a country one (by accident in my eyes, but not God’s), there was a commonality bringing us together. The most obvious was her upcoming marriage to a “local boy” who grew up in the same neck of the woods as my “local boy”—my husband, PJ.
How did you do it? How did you find the faith?
She was not asking for wedding advice. She was asking about my journey back home to Vermont which involved leaving a traditional pastorate in Maryland for a ministry still emerging.
How did I the faith to come back home without the certainty of steady income?
I sipped and let the most amazing cup of coffee that I have had in (darn, just how long has it been?) buy me some time.
I didn’t want my answer to be an insignificant commentary on “just have faith” or “simply believe.”
No. I had to find the right words for what God was doing was far from insignificant. This was more than just believing in the goodness of God’s provision. This was about allowing one’s self to be changed by God, to trust God in everything and to grow in the knowledge of God’s mysterious ways.
Taking a leap of faith, I have recently learned, was not about being awed that the prayer we say by rote about giving us our daily bread is in fact a promise we can count on. No, awe and thankfulness aside for the manna falling from heaven, leaps of faith are all about deepening one’s relationship to God. They are not about how to eventually fill one’s belly or line one’s pocket. They are about having more of God fill your life.
I had wanted to take another sip of that darn good coffee, but I put my cup down. I could see the searching in her eyes. She had been harboring dreams of a new ministry which still had many details to be ironed out. The most pressing detail was how to earn a living at it. She was waiting for my answer.
“My husband is a logger now,” I heard myself saying.
She gave a quizzical look, wondering where I was going with this.
I wondered too. I tried to explain.
Last week, while on my prayer walk on the rail trail running behind my little old house in Vermont, I learned something about leaps of faith.
I was struggling with my husband’s recent decision to give up driving a truck. It was something he has done for years to earn an income, but it gave him no joy or fulfillment. In our six years of marriage, I have always yearned for him to find happiness in his work.
It was foreign for me to hear people complain about work for I have always followed my heart in terms of vocation. That search for being the person God intended me to be is what led us back to Vermont seven months ago.
Still, this move was about my call, my discernment, my fulfillment. PJ would be that steady paycheck. He would be the certainty in our uncertain future.
God, he can’t do this. Not now. How will we live? Why couldn’t he have waited till you showed me my next step, um, the next step that comes with a salary and health benefits. No, he can’t do this.
I walked on the trail longer than I usual. I guess I had a lot of instructions to give to God as to what our life was supposed to look like. And God, as God always does with my instructions, listened and chuckled and decided it was time to get my attention.
A strong breeze whipped up out of nowhere clearing the stagnant air of my fears and my ranting. The breeze was refreshing and soothing. I looked around and remembered Jesus’ words about worrying. Why do we do it? Look at the birds. Look at the flowers in the field. Look all around. Every little creature is cared for. Am I not one of God’s creatures too?
The breeze continued to minister to me. It was then I realized this move back home wasn’t about me. This move was about someone I loved dearly and his discovery of who God wanted him to be. This was about PJ’s vocation. His contentment and sense of joy.
My coffee sipping had to wait as I continued.
Leaps of faith aren’t always about seeing how God will provide daily bread for our tables. Leaps of faith aren’t even all about our personal dreams and desires. Our leaps could be God’s plan for the other leaps our loved ones are hesitant to take.
Leaps of faith are as mysterious as the God who pushes us to take them. But take them, we must.
“My husband is a logger now,” I concluded with a shrug.
My new friend nodded. We lifted our steaming cups of coffee and sipped in unison. Our holy silence carried on the conversation.
Later that day, my husband the logger came home with a belated anniversary gift and an early birthday present for me all rolled into one.
Two stumps to serve as seats for my rustic fire pit/cooking area I was creating to honor our home’s 18th century heritage.
My heart filled with joy.
They were all I wanted.
They were all I needed.
My husband is a logger now.
Just leap. Don’t worry about having enough faith.
Just leap. Don’t wonder if you have the strength.
Just leap. Don’t fret about daily bread.
Just leap. That’s all God is asking.
The Accidental Country Pastor’s combination wedding anniversary and birthday present— log stumps courtesy of her husband, the logger now.