[Editor’s note: The following story was originally published on Rhonda’s blog on October 20, 2009. View it here: http://musingrhonda.blogspot.com/2009/10/writing-on-wall.htm]
There is no place more beautiful than upstate New York in the summer. The weather is perfect and the people are happy to be warm and unthawed. The Adirondacks are at their best, the fishing is world class and the shops are buzzing with Canadians looking for a deal. So our lives on June 10th of 2009 were just as perfect. Rob’s sister was getting married, it was Arianna’s 9th birthday and our church was poised for a great revival. Happiness for everyone! And then…it came…an email from a holy, dear and trusted friend. We hovered over our laptop together and read it again and again, hoping it would make sense the 7th time, the 8th time.
Blessings Pastor Rob,
I was in prayer yesterday and the Holy Spirit told me to contact you. The Lord gave me a word for you.
He said, “take the job offer and leave the church.”
Grace and peace
Rob and I looked at each other. “What? Job offer? What job offer, there’s no job offer…leave the church? Now? No. Never. We’re happy. Finally happy. Job offer? There’s no job offer…and even if there were…why would we leave? We’re happy. We don’t need to leave. We just hit our stride!”
Rob paced the floor. Cody wasn’t the type to throw out a heavy “thus saith the Lord” without the worn knees to back it up. So we paused and reflected.
“Maybe God is trying to humble me,” Rob lamented, “because the Church is doing so great…I’m so proud of how far we’ve come…I don’t deserve it. He wants me to take a job and leave ministry….ya think?”
“That’s crazy,” I countered, dutifully as the voice of wisdom (as all wives are). “Maybe Cody had too much coffee, or not enough. Sometimes well meaning, Godly people, miss it,” I reasoned.
After all, I just finished school and got a job. We just remodeled our house…and the church! The church had gone from dead to vibrant. We were off and running on every level. This was no time to pack up!
Rob hit “Reply” and let Cody know that there was no job offer but would keep his eyes open for God to move unexpectedly.
Ten days later, Cody wrote back:
I received your email this morning. I am committed to pray for you and Rhonda and I know the Lord will send a beautiful confirmation!!
I do not know anymore than I had shared with you before. Just that one sentence. I know that when the Lord confirms the Word He will wash over you with His presence and comfort. I have yet to receive the presence of the Holy Ghost when the Lord confirms His word. It is like a giant Hug from heaven! Today has enough worries in itself and His yoke is easy and burden is light. I pray the devil is not taking advantage of this situation and filling you with anxiety and burdens from Hell. I to am fighting from being anxious about the word- being the one who delivered it but I know it is from God!
While I was praying in the spirit today I saw a vision of you and your family.
There were two cliffs and connecting the two cliffs was a rope bridge with wooden planks. You and your family were leaving one ledge and heading toward the other. You were in the front holding Elijah in your arms and Rhonda was behind you holding Ari’s hand. As I looked at the other side, I saw people and they were African Americans. I believe that the Lord is going to bring you to an African American community…
The Lord’s grace and peace be multiplied to you.
Now. This was even worse than not knowing. Now we thought we were going to Ethiopia. Which would be wonderful if we had a heart for third world missions. I envisioned giving my kids malaria shots and homeschooling in Africa.
“This can’t be right. God’s going to send us to a jungle with rope bridges and wooden planks and danger all around?” The thought kept me up at night.
Why wouldn’t God just tell us? Why did He tell Cody to tell us? Is it because we wouldn’t listen? Is it because He knew how much we had come to love New York and the broken souls of our church that He had so mercifully let us watch mend and grow and bloom? Because He knew that love would deafen us to any call away from them? And so specific. Does God really still do that? Write on walls? We couldn’t let it change our path. We pressed on. We finished a huge remodeling project on the church. Siding, painting, laboring, sweating, investing. We decided that if the Missions department called, we’d listen. We spoke about it every once in while and went back to reread it.
“Hmmm,” Rob would say, “if I’m going to carry Elijah across a bridge, it’s got to be soon. He’s six.”
“What if we got a job offer out of the blue? A really good one,” I asked, “Without Cody’s prophecy, would we listen, would we consider it?”
“No,” he answered flatly.
”I would have just seen it as a distraction and turned it down to finish what we’ve started here.”
“But now?” I asked.
“Now….now I’d listen,” he answered.
So we waited. Waited for the phone to ring. And it did.
“Rhonda, this is Rob Moore,” said the voice on the line and nostalgic giddiness ran through me. Rob Moore was our Ministry to the Military boss. He appointed us to England and then to New York. He was part of every pivotal move we ever made in ministry and there he was…calling from his new job as the State Overseer of Louisiana. Rob wasn’t home. So I listened while Brother Moore spoke.
“I have a job opening and God put Rob on my heart,” he said.
“Hmmmm…could this be it? No, this can’t be it….,” I thought to myself as he continued.
“The community here is really culturally diverse. You guys would love it. There’s a big African American population, there are French, there are…” his words kept going but my mind was now fixated on the vision, the ledges, the people on the other side.
“Really? Wow, he’ll be so flattered to know you called and thought of him,” I tried to stay calm and sound dignified.
Brother Moore went on about the food and the work but all I could do was pray while he talked.
“Is this it? Is this the job offer God? You want Rob in a state position?”
“You know,” he continued just as I came to my senses and was able to hear him again, “if you’re the ones to come down here, we really need to start putting the planks in the bridge.”
His words – planks in the bridge – the vision – it echoed in my heart and gripped me so that I stopped in the doorway and was unable to move.
“WHAT? What did you just say?” I was thinking out loud now – and sobbing too.
“Did you just say ‘planks in the bridge’?” I blubbered.
“Uhhhh….yeah…it’s a metaphor….you know…it means…”
I stopped him before he could explain and told him about the emails and the vision that had preceded his call. After a proper goodbye, I ran to the church in tears to tell Rob it came – the call – it came. And I relived the conversation over and over with him and then with our families and then a few trusted friends….and now, with you. We kept looking at one another and stating the obvious: God must know something we don’t know. (duh). My husband wasn’t looking for a promotion or putting out resumes and it never would’ve dawned on either of us that we’d fit in Louisiana.
It wasn’t over by a long shot. There were still hurdles to be jumped through. Rob Moore had received a hundred applications. There was a Louisiana youth board that would be asked to look us over. There was the international offices that would give us a nod…or not. The I’s had to be dotted and the t’s crossed. We waited and wondered. In the meantime we put our house up for sale. In an unremarkable market, it sold immediately without a sign in the yard to the very first couple to look at it.
“We should write all this miraculous stuff down,” Rob suggested.
We began to go through a bit of mourning. Rob talked about how far so many in the church had come. He didn’t like the idea of leaving them but we were sure – if God was so perfectly orchestrating our exit, He was busy orchestrating someone else’s entrance.
Rob called a trusted professor back at Lee University to relay the word, the vision, the call.
“What do you make of it?” he asked.
“Well,” said the trusted professor, “it’s a clear call and you should take heart: The clearer the call, the more difficult the task.”
We broke the news to our daughter first. She’s nine and her friends mean everything to her. She wept at the thought of leaving them. I reminded her that the first word from God came to us on her birthday.
“God wants you to see this as a gift. He could’ve picked any date to tell us. He picked your birthday on purpose. He has a plan and it includes you.”
We finally told Elijah the news by asking him if he’d like to move somewhere that had two Chuck E. Cheeses.
“YES!” he answered.
“That would be like heaven,” he said.
“Only hotter than heaven,” his wiser, older sister added.
“Because heaven has a thermostat that you can set with your mind,” reasoned Elijah.
So there. I wanted to tell you the story because I think it’s important for us to be reminded of how it happened and maybe God needs you to know that He still writes on walls…and, on occasion, if need be, sends an email.
Pray for us as we pack and travel to Louisiana November 9th.
Rhonda, Rob, Arianna and Elijah