At the age of 64, my dad took a huge leap of faith and did something most wouldn’t consider at his age: he resigned from the church he pastored, and he and my mom moved across the country. My dad, the planner, mapped a six week road trip, a tour that wound them through the towns of their childhoods, national landmarks, museums, bucket list sights, points of interest, and thanks to my dad’s clever planning, they even trekked through the few states they’d never seen. By the time they reached my house – the last stop before their new state of residence – several things were certain: my parents could proudly say they’d been to all 50 states; they were eager to eat home cooked meals; and they were tired of living out of a suitcase. With so many miles and weeks and history between them and their old home, they were ready to venture the final 12 hours to their new home.
But tired as they were and ready as they were, there was something unsettling about arriving ‘home’ – there would be no more map. Long as it may have been, the journey across America had been a predictable journey. They awoke knowing where they were headed, they could reasonably estimate how long it would take, and the destination at the end of the day was the destination they had intended to reach. Every place had its unique delights and surprises, but the road trip itself had been a month and a half of anticipated outcomes.
New home, however, was a blank canvas. There was a house to find and new employment to secure, and neither of these things would be a one day road trip. Months after settling into their house, my dad was still sending out resumes, interviewing, and making follow up calls. He kept in forward motion, volunteering and meeting new people. Some days offered new possibilities, other days closed the door on hopeful prospects, but every day was a waiting day. He could choose to do many things, but the outcome was out of his hands.
Empty feelings find us when we’re waiting in the blank canvas spaces, when we can’t see the big picture and we’re unable to paint our desired outcome. Weaknesses are exposed and fear and insecurities surface. My dad wrestled the fear that his age was an obstacle, a seeming disadvantage he could do nothing about. He concluded he had two choices: He could trust God, or not. There was no in between. He could feel powerless against disadvantages or trust God’s power. He could consider waiting as wasted time, or trust it was training. He could hold on to fear, or hold on to the God of hope. Following the example of his namesake, David, my dad took everything to God in prayer – his age, his efforts, the waiting, the disappointment, and the questions. He trusted God could take all the ungood and make something good.
Wide open spaces of uncertainty are the journey places we’d avoid if given the choice, but these tough places are trust places – places where the complexity and simplicity of faith stretch for miles and we must choose our form of surrender: give up or let go. We assume weakness or resume in His strength. Doubt consumes us or we let worry go. We claim empty and quit or we gather the full confidence of hope and continue trusting the God of our faith’s beginning; continue trusting that He sees what we can’t see. Surrender prayers are the privilege of faith, not because they assure certain outcomes, but because in prayer we are reassured that God – though unseen – is certainly with us, now and forever.
My dad is now the prayer pastor of a Christian radio station, where his job is literally praying for every request a listener sends in and personally responding to each one. I imagine those responses are read with a sigh of relief, not because my dad understands all the mysteries of God, but because He understands the heaviness of desperate prayers, and the importance of grit kind of scriptures that strengthen weary hands in waiting. His age is no longer a disadvantage, but a gift of wisdom and tenderness. God is using the trials of faith for good. And my dad, the prayer pastor, is encouraging others, by faith, to keep going and keep holding hope in the God who can be trusted.
My friends, One More Truth is 3 years old! Want to see where the journey began? Right here.