After my 3am wake up call from God, I kept wondering how He was going to show me the way. Not knowing exactly what He meant, I didn’t realize He’d actually be leading, and taking my hand, and showing me The Way. I had never read the Bible. I hadn’t been going to church to hear sermons. I thought maybe I could find “the Way” myself. I had enough common sense to know that there were things I needed to go away from [like living with my boyfriend] but I really did not know where I would be going, or how to get there, or when it would happen, etc. There was no one around saying, “Read your Bible.” “Trust in the Lord.” “In His timing.”…You know, all those pat phrases that we use when we are trying to convince ourselves or others how to live each day in Christ. I did consider going to church, but remembering the vacant feeling I had at churches kept me from immediately gravitating toward them.
So, in August of 1980, I quit my job, left my boyfriend and moved back home to Columbus. I decided that was a good start. Then, I thought I needed a vacation from all the stress and depression I had been dealing with, so I went to France with my sister Julie. She was going over there to study, and I was going over there to…I don’t know, collect myself? Maybe God was in Europe.
Anyway, we got to France, Julie and I found a place to live, and things were going well. We both felt like God was calling us to attend church every Sunday, so we’d go to the closest church, depending on what area of France we were in. But it seemed they were always Catholic. That would not have been a problem if the service were in French, ‘cause we both spoke French. But the mass was in Latin. We hadn’t a clue what was going on, and we’d leave, each Sunday, thinking, “Well, that was a waste.” So we quit going to church.
But while we were there, God did two remarkable things. First, He brought me into a beautiful relationship with my sister. She and I bared our souls to each other. We shared stuff about our lives that no one else knew. We laughed, we sang silly songs, we walked everywhere we went, arm and arm, pooled our money and slept in some mornings till 11am ‘cause it was too cold to get out of bed. One day we even took an inordinately long bus ride to the animal shelter and got Julie a kitten. She named her Caixllous (which is French for Pebbles). We had never been close growing up ‘cause she was six years younger than I. But here we were, bonding, eating French bread, exploring France before school started for her, and loving every minute of it. I had not expected that when we first took off.
Second, God began talking to me -but not in my head like at 3am. Not using words. He gave me “knowings”. Like, one day, I said to Julie, “We must call home. Mom is worried about us.”
“How do you know?” she said.
“I don’t know. I just know she’s worried, and if we don’t call her, she’ll think we died.” So Julie found a post office in the late afternoon (that’s where you made overseas phone calls back then), and she navigated the French operator’s questions and prompts. Mom answered, and Julie said, “Hello mom. It’s me and Patty. We’re OK.” And mom proceeds to cry, “Oh, thank God. I was so worried about you. I hadn’t heard from you, and I thought that you two might have been kidnapped or something awful.”
Now even though I wasn’t fully seeking Him, He was seeking me. God was showing me His way. He was starting me out on a journey toward Him. He was taking me out of the old and into the new.
You know, sometimes we don’t know when God is doing something until we look back and we see where we have been. It wasn’t until about eight years after I got back from France, that I came across these words in Jeremiah.
The word of the Lord came to me, saying, “ Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.
Now, while I’m not a “prophet to the nations,” I knew when I read this that God formed me, made me who I am, and set me apart to tell His stories. I knew that I was already on my way.