“We will use these stones to build a memorial. In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ Then you can tell them, ‘They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant went across.’ These stones will stand as a memorial among the people of Israel forever.” Joshua 4:6-7
If you would have told me four years ago that I was about to move to a blip on the map called Leesville, SC, I would have laughed in your cheery little face. My bags were packed for L.A., ya’ll! I was headed solo to the BIG city to make all of my prophecies and dreams come true even if it took sheer might to do it. That Christmas visit to California in 2015 was the start of an unwinding process in my life. It was a good trip. I remember having a blast doing all the tourist-y things and smiling at how many people mistook me for a Los Angelos native. I went to art museums, got tattoos, visited the church of a hero of mine, and lived like a local the best I knew how. But when that trip started heading towards its end, I felt the Lord say, “Take it slow. Slow your breath down. Stop running and just be with Me.” I was kind of taken aback, thinking that there was nothing wrong with my pace, but I trusted Him. So, I extended my trip through the New Year and spent the next week or so between apartment and coffee shop just writing and listening.
Part of me was planning that move with the dream of seeing Hollywood redeemed. I would raise up an art culture so glorious that the Church would have to embrace her creativity, celebrities couldn’t help but get saved, and signs and wonders would burst from frames of art! All I’d known up until that point was that Christianity was about Jesus and fulfilling your “calling.” Life was about little more than making sure that personal destiny was fulfilled. When you met someone you knew loved the Lord, “What do you want to do?” was second only to “Hey, what’s your name?” It was a noble cause, but it was fueled by much more than the Onething.
Then there was the other part of me that was moving just to get away from the broken dreams of where I’d been. Things I’d been believing for felt aborted–as if a million dead ends was all I’d ever see. I was tired of “ministry” and tired of my own cycles. I felt abandoned, discouraged, and more than a little lost. All I knew was that to overcome something you just keep moving! Don’t stop! Fight for the land! Slay the giants! Intercede until your throat is raw! So, when He whispered, “Slow down,” I had to quiet myself enough to be able to hear. And what I heard in that whisper jarred me:
“If you move here you will have a “promise land.” Doors will open for you. But my Presence will not come with You.”
WHAT. Wasn’t it You who told me to dream big? Wasn’t it You who spoke all those times about my impact with the Arts? Wasn’t it You who gave me the faith to believe that celebrities’ hearts could turn?
I felt His Spirit give His nod of the head, but still He just said, “Slow your breath down. Find your heart. I will not come with you if you take this land.”Well, excuse my language, but sh**! I can’t come now. It’s not a Promise Land if YOU’RE not there. What’s the point? If not here, then where? There’s nothing for me where I was. Then He he threw me another punch: “Go back to Mark and Destani in the Carolinas. Also…consider Andrew.” Mark and Destani were the leading voices of influence in my life. They are friends and places of safety. But most of all they were and are family; a mother and a father. But at that time they had disappeared off my map. Remember that blip of a city I mentioned? Yeah, they’d moved there. And Andrew? He was the friend-zoned weird guy. Talk about major life changes that weren’t even on my radar.
Seriously, Lord, did you have to take me all the way to California just to tell me NOT to move to California?
Then began the (just shy of) three-year-journey in sweet South Carolina. A time that I now lovingly refer to as the ‘Interlude.’ An interlude is defined as a ‘break in activity, an intervening space, a pause, rest, relief, or breathing space.’ Most commonly it is used to define the intermission between acts in a play or, my favorite, the musical composition between two parts of a longer composition of music. South Carolina would become the stillness that would lead me to KNOW God. The music I found in South Carolina will never stop playing, it’s just getting a little more beautiful, with notes upon notes and glories upon glories.
As I take steps forward into the land of my inheritance I can’t help but also look back and say, “Thank You.” My heart is full of gratitude and awe. So, over the next few weeks I want to lay out blog posts like memorial stones, forever recorded in time that I can revisit again and again. I am doing this for myself, but also for leo and the ones to follow. Though this blog has always been about that journey, there’s a story more vulnerable still. It is the story that I will forever tell. It’s the lessons and encounters that came to me in that little city that have forever changed who I am and the course of my life. So, yes, these next posts will be more personal, but as always, if you’re in for a story, you’re welcome here. I am choosing to make them public so that when they ask, “What do these stones mean?” I can point to where it all happened… in the BEWILDERNESS.
Abba, thank You for the journey. I am filled with gratitude over things I haven’t just learned with my mind, but have grown in my heart. I now have a banquet within and without. You have taught me to be still, and now I can see the true You. Lord, may these words be a witness to those on paths in the wilderness, that they may hope to see it bloom and burst with rivers. May these words testify to my children and my childrens’ children of a God who is good and faithful. May these stories answer the questions of those wondering, “What did you go out into the Wilderness to see?” Together, may we answer. In Your Name, Amen.