I slowly shared with people in my life that I was praying about moving to Nashville to be a part of an organic body of believers, assuming each time that they would tell me it was a terrible and unwise idea and that I’d then have a reason to forget about it. But no one ever did that. Each person affirmed that it seemed to be from the Lord. I couldn’t believe it! And yet, I had to. The Lord was making Himself and His plans known, which can sometimes be a bit frightening.
I spent an evening at a very good friend’s home and shared some of this with her. She encouraged the move and started telling me how awesome of a city Nashville is. I admitted that I thought I was probably going to “have to” move to Nashville at some point, but I paired that with a list of reasons (read: excuses) that I thought I needed to wait awhile (at least a year!). She managed to blow all my excuses out of the water. I left her house and walked a block to my car, talking to Jesus as I walked. “Lord, I think you want me to move to Nashville. I don’t necessarily understand it, but I really can’t deny it. If it really IS what YOU want, you’re going to have to get Jon to say something to me because I CAN NOT (read: WILL NOT!) bring it up to him.”
Jon: I had been talking with both Shanda and another friend about organic church for a while, but neither lived in a place where one existed. At the time, we had an itinerant worker here with us in Nashville who was imparting a foundation of Christ and how to function in an organic church. I decided to ask him what people should do who have a longing and desire for this but live in a place where it doesn’t exist. He said that they had two options: pray that it might one day be birthed where they live or they could move to where one exists. This slightly freaked me out, because I couldn’t tell Shanda that she should think about moving to Nashville. No way. Not with our past. It would be awkward to say the least. But as I beheld the Lord over this for a few weeks, I felt more and more that I needed to tell her that she needed to think about (read: pray about it for a long, long time).
I knew that Christ was able, but I thought it would surely take some time. As I opened my car door my phone beeped. I looked at my phone and saw it was Jon. I looked up (as if looking into the Lord’s face) and said, “WHAAAAT?????” You’re kidding, right?” The message Jon sent led to a conversation the following day. We were talking about some other things and then he shifted the conversation saying, “I have been thinking about something… As crazy as this thought is… And I know… Oh I do…” The moment he said that, my heart stopped. I knew what was coming and it was SO much faster than I imagined possible. He continued on and said that since I wasn’t really tied down anywhere, maybe I should consider moving to a place where the Lord was building an organic church (like Nashville). I told him that I was already praying about that very thing. We were both pretty freaked out at this point. I ended up sharing the story of the weeks/months I’d been seeking the Lord on this subject. It was amazing to realize that Christ had been at work on both my side AND Jon’s side of the story.
While it was clear that Christ was doing this, neither of us were really sure HOW it would all work out. We slowly talked more about it and began communicating more often through email. It was a slow process, but the more I heard from Jon, the more I was amazed by what the Lord was doing in his life and the more healing occurred and trust grew.
About a month later, I asked Jon to connect me to a sister in the body here in Nashville. I needed a connection and a tangible way to see that this wasn’t about Jon but about Christ and His body. He connected me to a wonderful sister and I was able to talk with her a few times. It really confirmed for me what the Lord was doing. We decided I should probably fly to Nashville for a visit to help finalize the decision and get to know other members of the body.
Before that trip, I sent Jon an email about what I was learning through our story about trust. The Lord had told me before Jon came to China to “Just trust ME and trust Jon.” But I didn’t really understand then what that meant then. It did not mean, “Trust Jon because he will never make a mistake.” nor did it mean, “Trust Jon because he will never disappoint you.” nor did it mean, “Trust Jon when it’s easy to trust him.” It meant that I needed to trust him because Christ is in us both and ultimately, it was HIM that I was to trust IN Jon. So, at this point in our story I told him, “I’ve made a choice now, that I didn’t know how to make before, to just trust you (the Jesus in you) no matter what and I’m sure I won’t always do that perfectly, but it’s a choice I’m going to keep making.”
On that note, I made a trip to Nashville the first weekend of December in 2011…