The Day I Left New York
"Therefore, son of man, prepare your belongings for exile, and move into exile during the day when they will see you; even go into exile from your place to another place as they watch. Perhaps they will understand even though they are a rebellious people. 4 Bring your provisions and supplies out during the day as they watch, as provisions and supplies for [going into] exile. Then you shall go out at evening as they watch, as those going into exile." (Ezekiel 12:3-4)
Early on the warm and humid morning of September 8, 2016, this was the scripture the Lord showed me; telling me it was time to leave. Every morning, I prayed and then listened for God to speak. I had been waiting for this; praying daily for a move. But now it seemed so sudden; too sudden.
It didn't help that I was not a fan of this particular book of the bible either. It warns against disobedience and speaks of judgment and exile. Was I being exiled? It also describes the beauty and glory of God.
Three years prior, God had me leave my full-time job without instruction or a plan. That had been difficult. Two years prior, God told me I was going west. I was ambivalent about that. I thought maybe He meant Los Angeles since I have family out there and had written movies. Maybe it was time to get them out there? But LA wasn't exactly where I wanted to live. Arizona? Nevada? I didn't want that either. Visiting would be awesome, but living there just never appealed to me.
Because I wanted desperately to move to Charlotte, I thought (hoped/wished) maybe He meant west(ern) North Carolina. He didn't. I know that was a stretch, but I tried it. And by tried it, I mean I scouted out the city, where I would live, where the Trader Joe's, Target, and good Mall were, where the dealership was so that my car would be able to be serviced, applied for jobs, etc. I even made plans to visit on my way back from a trip to visit one of my dearest friends in Georgia, but God said no. That's right. He very clearly told me to go home. And showed me a scripture in Joshua 22:4-8. I was mad, y'all. Big mad. I had never been there, but in my heart it felt 100% right. When I visited last year, it felt like home. *shrugs* Later, a friend of mine told me that Oklahoma City was a great place to raise a family. Okay, that's good to know. But why would I leave New York to go there? I know it was west, but no thanks.
Anyway, it was hot that day. I remember that like yesterday. I wrestled with this thought for most of the day until I just ignored it to have peace. I didn't have peace, in case you were wondering. I picked up my mom from work that afternoon and mentioned to her that I thought the time had come to leave. She didn't say anything. She'd been there with me before. Still uncertain, I waited for a sign.
In the meantime, I tossed some things in a bag.
That evening, a young prophet named Joshua Holmes came on Periscope. He's a young guy in his early twenties. He's a little flashy and typically someone I would overlook if I were going on outward appearance. But he consistently confirmed things God had told me and he knew the Word of God. I joined the broadcast. His voice was fuzzy in the background as I moved about. I heard something about Abraham and then it went out of hearing again.
All of a sudden, he was shouting! "IF THE LORD TOLD YOU LEAVE YOUR FATHER'S HOUSE, THEN LEAVE YOUR FATHER'S HOUSE."
I have prayed to God to speak plainly and clearly about some of the things He says because I WILL TRY TO INTERPRET IT THE WAY I WANT TO. Nope, not just you.
And here was this man hollering and getting in my business!
At this time, I was in between living at my sister's house in Florida and living at my parents' house - MY FATHER'S HOUSE. Can you see how my eyes might have bulged out of my head?!
On my last return from Florida, I decided not to unpack fully. The season had been filled with little excursions that God would command which were preparation for this moment. (I know that now. I didn't know it then.)
My heart was jumping double dutch in my chest. My mouth was dry. I showered and grabbed the last of my things before I dashed downstairs.
My mom was sitting at the kitchen table reading. We didn't often see eye-to-eye on what I believed God to be telling me. I asked her what she had to say.
She said she had her own opinion on what my reading was, but changed her mind. She told me to read her devotional for the day. It was about Mary's listening to the voice of God and about her wondrous journey with Jesus.
Before you say, Oh, you think you're Mary now, let me clarify this: Yes, I do. I'm kidding. But like Mary, I had a choice on whether I would say yes or no to what God was asking of me. Mary chose to say yes despite so many unknowns. A pregnancy that was not by her husband? Scandalous! But birthing Jesus was the beginning of her journey with Him. My leaving was not the beginning of my journey with Him, but a wondrous and life-changing one.
And so I left just before twilight with my mother’s blessing and a hug from my completely perplexed, but loving Dad; two suitcases, a makeup bag, paint supplies, my bible, and about $220 in my pocket and no phone service. More on that at another time.
Maybe two miles of driving aimlessly, I pulled over into a parking space under a canopy of full leafy trees outside Prospect Park.
"What are you doing, Lisa?!"
"Where are you going?!"
"What in the what?!"
My insides were screaming this at me. My heart was kickboxing in my chest this time. I’d gotten my stuff and left. But now what? It was a hot night and the windows were open. The breeze was as much missing in action as my common sense. Did I mention I didn't have AC and it was still in the 80's after 9pm at night? And that I didn’t have a phone? And that I didn't have much money? I was scared now. What was I going to do? I couldn't turn back. I heard a 'ping' in my bag. I had my tablet. I see on the lock screen that I have a message on my tablet from my Aunt. She was following up on a request to order twenty books for her church reading group. I cry.
Sometimes, I thought God had hit the pause button on me. I didn’t (and still don't) like to say He’s forgotten about me because I know it’s not true, but it sure felt and feels like it sometimes. At that point, there had been no books sold in about three weeks. No, I didn't take into account that my marketing stunk. But still, it felt like He had my life and everything in it on hold. Maybe the plans had changed and He’d decided (after five years of work and a year of preparation) to cancel that assignment. But no. There was a follow-up on an order for twenty books.
I got a burst of energy. I pulled out of the parking space and drove for four whole minutes before I pulled over at a gas station. I was loathe to stop. When the car moved, a baby breeze floated in the window. But I wasn't moving. Y'all don't know struggle 'til the AC doesn't work. I sat there in the heat.
I'd flown out of the house so quickly, that I'd forgotten one thing:
God hadn't given me a destination.
See you next Monday for the next installment of No Parking!
Sign up here to receive these Journey of Faith blogs (and only these Journey of Faith blogs!) as soon as they post!