And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the LORD being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city. Genesis 19:16
I was sitting in new, cushy, purple chairs. The sanctuary looked entirely different, and yet still the same. I knew the rooms, I’d roamed these halls, and I’d loved many of the people of that sanctuary. I’d met the love of my life (Freddie, my 3 yr old, curly red-haired puppet), and received a small insignificant gift that meant the world to me. I’d also spent my time on that platform growing more as a musician than I’d ever done before as I finally had other musicians to play off of so I did not have to play lead on every song. It was challenging. It was growing.
But it was wrong.
It wasn’t always wrong – I’m confident that I needed to make a pit stop at that church and learn and grow. But I’d been feeling the strange stirring in my heart that it was time to go. But I didn’t know where I would go, and the idea of going back to having church in my house was…not a pleasant one. So I continued to sit in those pews, wondering what on earth to do.
And while I lingered…
God grabbed me, and my brothers family, and being merciful, dragged us out of the church.
It didn’t feel merciful. It felt awful. For everyone. And then there was the question of where to go, what to do. I eventually ended up parking in a small Baptist church that needed a piano player until I finally kept a promise I’d made to a pastor who, also, literally grabbed me by the arm and made me promise to attend his church for just one service.
And in that one service I found my own little Zoar. I’ll never forget that church as I first found it. With a pastor so obviously anointed but with problems. And with a family in the church that knew the power of incessant phone calls when I stopped attending shortly after arriving. I needed to move to Zoar.
But I didn’t do it on my own.
I wish I could, but I can’t actually claim responsibility for some of the best steps in my life. Because too often, those steps came from, while I lingered, a man laid hold upon my hand, and the Lord being merciful to me, brought me forth and set me outside of the familiar.
There isn’t a narrator on our lives. No deep James Earl Jones type voice who narrates what’s happening so that I can know that whatever this awful event is that’s changing my life is just another “and the Lord being merciful” moment. No deep voice saying: “And the Lord, being merciful, kept her off the 410 loop until after the accident” while I change a flat tire. No great epiphany as I find myself without a job that it’s because the Lord is being merciful to me while I would linger.
And, granted, not every event (good or bad) is God yanking you around because of His mercy. Sometimes we just make mistakes. And it’s hard to know the difference because sometimes you’re sitting at a Baptist church wondering what on earth you’re doing here and if God is ever going to show you a better place. But… He will always get you to your Zoar. Even if He has to take you by the arm and drag you.
And, while in the middle of it I likely won’t enjoy it, I’m breathless with gratitude that I serve a God not afraid to yank me when I linger.