Even before my last relationship ended, I kinda felt like it was going to end. For the first part of it, I figured if it ended I would be very deliberate about the next woman I chose - meaning I wasn't going to listen to God, whether I admitted it or not. I believe God allowed the relationship to last until a point where, when i expected it to end, I planned to fall back in His arms and on His mercy. The second thing that happened was me expecting to get jilted at the altar. Had this happened, I planned to walk straight out of the church, get in my car, and start driving until I ran out of gas. I probably would have headed west, just because that's where I would have thought to head, and this was even before i knew that Jesus came all the way to Texas from Heaven/ Yeah He walked with me and talked with me all night long. Having thought about that, I've come up with the premise for a new short story, so you may just see that happen one of these days.
After it ended, I had a few weeks left of school, which happened to be the hardest few weeks of that semester...but at least I didn't have a woman to distract me from my class work. After the semester was over, I was gonna take a solo road trip up to the International House of Prayer in Kansas City and seek the Lord while I was there. Pastor Ben wisely told me that I didn't need to go all the way out there to seek the Lord, and so I didn't, but here's what I learned out of the desire to go out there.
- My real desire was to get rid of everything else and draw closer to Jesus. At the time, I was only working a couple days a week, so there was no reason I couldn't just take a day or two where I already was. That part of me wanted to do like Elijah and run away to Mount Horeb, (I Kings 19) although I can't say there was a Jezebel chasing me seeking after my life.
- Part of me was thinking, "I failed. I need to retreat somewhere, figure it all out, and then come back." The problem with going away to fix your life is you have to come back to it. Just like a church retreat, you may do fine within the confines of the campground, but real life is still there waiting when you return. I love what E. Stanley Jones said about Acts 1:4, that the disciples were called to wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit came upon them. In other words, stay right here where you failed and watch God turn things around here. Don't try to get it all straight out in the wilderness and then come back, because if you can't succeed here, you won't truly succeed anywhere (paraphrasing part of Christ of the Mount).
- City of Refuge is and has been where I belonged spiritually. Most of the people who knew us as a couple knew that we went to the same church, and many asked, "Will you try to find another church?" I responded, "By no means! This is the church where I belong, and it's also the church where she belongs. If she leaves, fine, but there's no way I'm going anywhere else." And that's still true. My answer wouldn't have been at IHOP. I may have been able to block off all of the distractions of south Louisiana, but my ram in the bush was where it had been all along, in New Orleans. I just saw this passage last night: "Take heed to thyself that thou offer not thy burnt offerings in every place that thou seest: But in the place which the LORD shall choose in one of thy tribes, there thou shalt offer thy burnt offerings, and there thou shalt do all that I command thee" - Deuteronomy 12:13-14. This is further confirmation of Jeremiah 18, we don't just go wherever we feel like going, we go where He calls us to go.