Sharper Focus – “Life interrupted”

by Erin WikleUprooted and replanted in the not-so-fertile soil of limestone-laden Lebanon, we prayed that through our obedience, God would work a miracle in us and in this hardened place. What followed was unexpected.
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by Erin Wikle

Six months ago, my family left everything familiar and moved from Seattle down South. We live in a small, quirky house built in 1904 in an equally small, quirky town. Thirty miles outside of Music City (Nashville), Lebanon boasts a Super Walmart (our only nightlife), a handful of good BBQ joints, and an outdoor pool paradise—a lifesaver during the stifling heat and humidity of summer.

Some say we ran away. Some criticized us for making a hasty decision without a “plan.” Some gave us their blessing and have faithfully prayed for us since we left. Call it (or us) what you want, we call it obedience. We came to be part of a new body of believers committed to growing in close community. We came to learn how to be better disciples and how to disciple others. We came to get real with Christ and him with us.

Uprooted and replanted in the not-so-fertile soil of limestone-laden Lebanon, we prayed that through our obedience, God would work a miracle in us and in this hardened place.

What followed was unexpected.

When life doesn’t go as planned

After an unplanned month of living with friends, (leaders of the Army outpost planted two years ago), the house we were waiting on “fell through” overnight. Days later we moved into a much smaller home next door to our friends. During that same month, my husband remained without work and we went through what small savings we had. I was employed with The Salvation Army—something I figured would be a cakewalk given my history with the institution.

After an abrupt end to my time working in disaster relief, I was left heartbroken and angry. Unemployed (again) for a few months and still healing from deep wounds, bitterness took root in my heart as I daily battled depression and a ferocious anger that was neither healthy nor holy. My husband did find a job, but his schedule was odd—the kids and I barely saw him. In my self-pity and misery, the Enemy was having a hay-day.

I began to long for the familiar: friends with whom I shared deep history and experience; family to whom I could escape and spend sweet moments with: money to at least soothe the sting of being without; distraction in any form of media to ease my mind and kill time. All the “comforts” I had over the years turned into obsessions and idols were now gone. I was completed depraved.

Furious, I penned angry words up to heaven because I was too stubborn to speak them aloud: Is this how you respond in our obedience to you, Lord? We left everything beyond in earnest pursuit of you! Why are you withholding your blessing? How can you allow my reputation to be ruined in the name of injustice? Are you even listening?


In what seemed my deepest moment of despair, I gave up. The burden of personal expectation and the great weight of my circumstances overwhelmed me. I fell to my knees and wept. Something was breaking. The roots first planted in the shallow soil of my dry spirit had grown into little plants, choking the life rooted even deeper within. I was weary and done allowing the Enemy to destroy my belief in a compassionate and caring God. As I cried out, something broke.

I had nothing. And in my depravity, I found mercy. God stripped me of everything common, comfortable, and familiar and showed me life without dependence on him. I can say, not just with knowledge and rhetoric, but with belief and experience that God is good.

It is easy to say you are living for Jesus when your circumstances are ideal, but if they’re only ideal for you, you’re living for yourself. It’s simple to say you trust in him alone, but really, you’re trusting that the money will keep flowing and you’ll never be without. It’s not hard to praise God when he’s shown you his goodness, but when your world becomes hazy and obscures the unchanging character of Christ, we falter and ask questions.

It took moving my family thousands of miles away to recognize that God didn’t want more from us so much as he wanted to do more in us: to refine our character, purify our intentions in ministry, teach us to love authentically and without condition, aid us in giving freely of everything he’s given us, and to really be about the business of living selflessly to enrich and expand the kingdom of God.

As I learn to trust in him alone, my eyes are no longer focused on myself and the world around me, but on the One who doesn’t change, the One who brings freedom from everything that promises anything less.

Christ is all,

Yes, all in all.

My Christ is all in all.

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