"Are They Pilgrims?"
When Hannah was younger (maybe just starting school), Joanna spent a good part of November teaching her about Thanksgiving. We learned some fun facts, like that she is a descendant (by about a dozen of generations) of someone who was actually on the Mayflower, and that our traditional Thanksgiving meal was quite different than the original (which likely included cod, eel, onions, and venison). Of course, she made it a point to teach that the Pilgrims were thankful to God who had sustained them through their struggles.
Joanna was also intentional to tell Hannah how and why the Pilgrims took a dangerous trip across the Atlantic. They had gone from England to the Netherlands to the New World, in order to have the freedom to worship God like they wanted. We explained that what they did wasn’t necessarily right or wrong; they were just trying to make the best choices they could, for the sake of worshiping God.
Around this time, I ran into someone that used to attend our church, but had left our church a couple of years earlier. At dinner one night, I mentioned that I chatted with him, and that it was good to catch up on how his family was doing. Hannah asked why they left. Not knowing the exact reasons, I explained that this family felt like they needed to worship God at another church.
With all seriousness, she asked, “Are they Pilgrims?”
You know, sometimes people leave their homeland, or where they have lived, or their churches. Sometimes people start new jobs, or new blogs. Sometimes they do this for good reasons, and sometimes for bad. Often, a change is just needed. How can we know whether we are going about this decision-making in the right way? Here are some guidelines:
- Seek God. My tendency is to start with human reasoning (usually, my own), but I need to trust in God’s wisdom, especially through prayer and the Bible.
- Question your motives. Admit that your heart is deceptive and evil (Jeremiah 17:9). Be open to the fact that you may be wrong.
- Be in community. Seek the counsel of others, not just your friends, but also make sure that you have put yourself under authority. Be humble enough that if someone in authority over you says “no,” you can listen with a soft heart. It is very dangerous to make a big decision in isolation, and you have few (if any) examples of people working in complete isolation in the New Testament and the early church.
- Don’t be afraid. If your personality is like mine, fear is very common. “What if it fails? What if I’m wrong?” But, I need to remember that “Do not fear” is the most command in the Bible, often coupled with God saying, “For I am with you.”
And when the choice is made to leave or to start anew, expect God to work. After all, He might just have a New World in store for you. And when He does, don’t forget to give Him thanks.