Wednesday, April 11, 2018

It’s Time To Go

Leaving Miami has been on my mind for some time now, but it wasn’t until last summer that it became clear that it was time to go.

I had just spent a great weekend with several friends in Orlando (Fact: Any weekend that includes SeaWorld is a great weekend), and as I was exiting the Orlando city limits and following the highway signs pointing me back toward Miami, an interesting thought flashed brightly in the forefront of my mind: I really didn’t want to go back.

I wanted to turn the car around, stay in Orlando and just start over there. As I fought back the urge to go A.W.O.L. and continued driving south, I started to reason with God and with myself on the idea that Orlando was where I should be: The traffic is not as bad... and there’s SeaWorld! I can actually afford SeaWorld annual passes. Some of my closest friends live here now and it’s not too far from home. If I wanted to go home for a weekend, it’s only a four-hour drive away. This makes a lot sense.

Shortly after arriving back in Miami and getting my master’s degree, I applied for several job openings in Orlando… and then one in Nashville.

I’ll let you take a wild guess which one got back to me.

* * * * * * *

And that leads me to some personal news I’d like to share with you all: This weekend, I will be moving to Nashville, TN. Goodbye, Magic City. Hello, Music City!

I’ll be joining the writing team at Ramsey Solutions, which helps millions of people everyday get out of debt, set financial goals and build a legacy. And anyone who knows me knows I’ve been a huge Dave Ramsey fan for years, so this is an exciting opportunity for me! Their work has changed my life for the better, and now I get to create that content myself. It’s a dream come true.

There’s one thing that this whole process has taught me: Our first choice isn’t always the best choice.

Proverbs 16:9 says, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” We might have one idea, but God usually has a better one in mind. God sees the bigger picture. He sees things we often can’t even see for ourselves. And I am so thankful for that!

We can plan our journey and chart a course for ourselves all we want, but if we want to truly discover where we were meant to be, we have to let God lead the way and correct our course whenever He wants.

* * * * * * *

Whenever I’m facing a big decision or a dilemma, I pray a simple prayer: Lord, close the doors you want to close and open the doors you want to open.

I’ve prayed that prayer a lot over the past few months. It’s a simple prayer, but not always an easy one, because that means consciously putting your first choice on the altar and being open to something else entirely. Praying that prayer means you’re looking for God’s will to be done in your life instead of your own.

There have been doors that I really, really wanted God to open, but they remain stubbornly closed. But then another door creaks open elsewhere. And walking through that door requires a lot more of us.

God often opens doors that will force us out of our own comfort zone. Walking through those doors will require us to trust Him more than ever before.

When God calls us to go, it’s time to go. And if I have questions and doubts and fears? Good! Now is the time to bring all of those to Him. If we want a faith that is strong, we have to let our faith be tested.

This move is going to require a lot more of me than a move to Orlando would have. I don’t really know anybody in Nashville. I’m leaving a job that I love at FIU, a university that has given me so much and has always felt like home. And Nashville is 700 miles further away from home than Orlando is.

I feel like God was saying to me, "If you're going to do this, Joel, you have to go all in. Go the extra 700 miles."

* * * * * * *

Nashville is going to be a huge transition and transitions (change in general, really) have always been a big fear of mine. But transitions, if we let them, can the best thing that could ever happen to us.

My friend Paul Angone in his new book, 101 Questions You Need To Ask In Your Twenties, put it best: “Transitions are not simply a bridge to the next important season of your life. Transitions are the most important seasons of your life.”

Transitions force us to change, to grow, to adapt. They force us to ask the big questions and define the kind of lives we want to live and figure out how to get there. They force us to ask for help, to take stock of the things we too often take for granted in our everyday lives. Transitions make us realize what is truly important to us.

There’s a verse that I clung onto when I moved to San Antonio right after college that I’ll be tapping into again this time around:

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” - Joshua 1:9

Where is God calling you to right now? Where is he asking you to be strong and courageous in the face of the unknown? He’s reminding time and again that He is still right here with us, and He will be with us over there, too -- wherever ‘there’ is.

It’s time to go.

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