Follow The Lead
I’m a horrible dancer! (For any of you that really know Mary and I, that’s a dead giveaway that Josh is writing this one!) However, let me rephrase that. In most people’s eyes, I’m a horrible dancer. In mine, I’m amazing! I invent new moves that I picture myself doing in my head, and I guarantee they’re awesome! The look on Mary’s face… tells me otherwise.
In God’s word it says this in Zephaniah 3:17, “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” Did you know that the root Hebrew word for rejoice can be translated as, “to spin round under the influence of any violent emotion.” WOW!
I see this picture of God, the Mighty Warrior who not only saves, but dances and sings over us. Can you imagine our God spinning around with emotion that is so visible that you’d classify it as violent? That is a breathtaking word picture for the imagination! The God of the universe does this for us.
So, in dancing there’s a lead. This is usually the male, but not always. This is very much a challenge for me since my wife is an exponentially better dancer than I.
In a spiritual context, God is our lead. While my leading consists of stepping on feet, God is the perfect lead all the time, everytime. Sometimes it’s go; sometimes it’s stop. Other times He says step this way or just sway a little to your left. Maybe you’ve felt Him say, in the craziness of life, “it’s time to do a double backflip!”
We are in a season right now where He is saying slow down and just abide. Abide isn’t a word we use a lot. I use to sing a song taken from John 15:7 that said, “If you (ye) abide in me, and my words abide in you, you shall ask what you will, and it shall be done.”
Those have always been encouraging words to me, but today I’m taking something new from them. I, like many others, have always been excited about the “you shall ask what you will, and it shall be done” part. However, there’s something way more exciting about this passage. By abiding, we know His will, we know His heart--we know where He’s leading. This may take time, and it may take waiting. However, because of this opportunity, we will know Him on a deeper level. And, when He steps to the left, we’ll be right there with Him.
The Story of the Stroller
God always finds us. He sees us wherever we are with whatever life we are carrying. Nothing can hide us from His sight. I love this and I’m so thankful for His pursuit of us.
I have been made aware of this aspect of our Father as we have been on this adventure. He sees people and He wants them to know that He sees them. He has arranged our lives to have us interact with His children… the very ones who need to know that their Father sees them, knows them, and loves them.
Here is the story of one of these encounters:
I needed a bike trailer/stroller. I was praying God would provide the perfect stroller for the needs of our family and I had my eye on one of the top strollers on the market. I knew that it would make our daily journeys so much more accessible. I know that I am a child of God and that He would provide just the right stroller, at a great discount… Ha! So, we searched the facebook marketplace pages. We searched and searched for about four weeks. Nothing panned out.
Then, I saw it. I looked on the marketplace page one day and saw the very stroller I had been searching for. I promptly messaged the lady (we’ll call Beth) and tried to make myself not sound too desperate. We really wanted that stroller, but we also really wanted a deal. Then, I prayed that God would come through for us.
We agreed upon a price and a place to meet with our 55’ traveling home. Beth arrived within minutes of us arriving and we began to chat and look at the stroller. Then, something AMAZING happened. Beth had forgotten one necessary piece, so I offered to jump in her car and ride back to her house with her to fetch the missing piece.
God is so good.
On our drive to her home, I was able to hear her story. She shared that her and her husband had adopted 3 kids who were now 11, 9, and 7. Then, she shared that her husband had passed away one year ago and she was in the process of selling things to have more money.
My journey for the perfect stroller wasn’t really about us at all. It was God wanting our lives to intersect with His precious daughter who needed to know that God sees her. This beautiful single mom of three kiddos, who was having to deal with incredibly difficult life circumstances, was the very lady we were supposed to meet up with to purchase our beloved stroller.
We were able to bless her with a little more money than we had agreed upon for the stroller and we were able to pray for her. God always sees us and knows what we need. Then, He sends people our way. He pursues us and wants us to know that He is always faithful.
That is the story of our stroller. Now, every time we see it we can think about the faithfulness of God and we can pray for Beth’s life. Please pray she would experience God in new and beautiful ways as her husband and provider and Father.
We carry the very presence of God every place we go. Holy Spirit loves to orchestrate our lives to display God’s love for His children. Every detail of every day is an opportunity to experience the love of our Father God, and then we get to give it away.
Coffee and Relationship
One of the mandates God has emphasized over and over for us is loving the person in front us. One of the ways we’ve done this is at rest stops. We never knew how many truck drivers were on the road until living full-time in an RV.
Waking up at a rest stop surrounded by trucks and trailers one morning, I (Josh) had this thought, “I bet truckers like coffee.” Of course, we just happen to have 700 lbs of coffee in our trailer! So, after making a very large french press, I brought it out to our neighbor next door.
“Who is this guy? What does he want? Should I open my window?”
I stood there a couple feet below his window, smiled and waved. The look on his face said this: “Who is this guy? What does he want? Should I open my window?” After staring at me for 5 seconds, he opened his window. I said, smiling, “Do you want some coffee?”
From this one act of kindness, relationship began. This past summer, we asked God if we should bring coffee on the road. We knew it would be a lot of work and could create a lot of problems. We prayed and had peace about it. The look on that truck driver’s face said 1000 words.
After that experience, we realized that there are thousands of truck drivers on the road for days/weeks at a time. Do they have a community? Do they have a group of people that support and encourage them? For some, I think it’s a very lonely life.
I don’t think we’re starting a full-time coffee ministry to truck drivers, but God has opened our eyes to the need. It is definitely something we look for at rest stops now. The last time we served coffee to our truck driving neighbor, we met a man named Raymond. After following me all the way to our RV, Mary poured him some coffee and he said, “How much?” We kind of laughed and told him nothing of course.
He looked a little thrown off and asked why we’d do such a thing. We had an open door to share. Coffee is a great gateway to share the gospel. I won’t go into how many times Jesus ate with people, but it’s all over the gospels. Jesus even commented on the Pharisees scoffing at how He ate and drank all the time. I believe it was because when you sit down with someone and share a meal, or even a coffee, relationship begans. Eating and drinking are part of a common human experience.
So, pray for people like Raymond. We were able to minister to him and pray for his needs of getting a new load to bring back to Chicago. God cares about people more than we can imagine, and they’re all around us all the time. We just have to open our eyes.
Our First Month
We have been living full-time in the RV for over 1 month. Wow! Where has the time gone and what have we been up to?
Well, that's a great question: what HAVE we been doing with our time? Answer: being filled up spiritually and emotionally, second guessing our decision to embark on a new adventure, reminding ourselves that God actually did speak to us, learning to just rest, and trying really hard to be okay with not being busy.
This has been our emotional and spiritual journey this past month. Ohh, man! We spent 10 days in Redding, CA and it was unbelievably refreshing for our spirits. We felt Holy Spirit confirming all of the words he has been speaking to us over the past year. And, we were surrounded many times by thousands of people completely in love with Jesus. It was so beautiful!
Then, we left Redding and headed south. We felt like we were leaving the safety net that would protect us if we fell to our doom. Honestly. We were leaving into the complete unknown with absolutely no plans until February. What are we supposed to do? Where are we supposed to go? What will people think of us wandering around California?
We knew that this would be our journey. We knew we were entering into a lifestyle of complete trust in our Father God. A lifestyle that would require us to pray a lot and listen even more. A lifestyle that would be unusual to most people; an out-of-the-box life that would bring us to the places God needs us.
Knowing all of this doesn't make the quiet, uneventful waiting times easy. We are so conditioned to being busy; to be working and doing and being in endless, exhausting movement. We are trained from such an early age that being busy is equivalent to being productive.
I would have to disagree.
We have lived many years of busy. We have spent seasons where Josh worked 50+hrs per week at a regular job, we managed a coffee shop, we served regularly at our local church, and had 4 young children (2 of whom were foster kids)... All of this was at the same time! I'm 100% convinced that if God calls you to something, he gives you the grace needed to complete it. We actually thrived during that season of our lives.
It was actually in a different season that we began to feel the effects of busyness. When tedious tasks began to get in the way of ministry, we began to feel the tension of burnout threatening the fringes of our family. When our family's peace was threatened, we knew something wasn't right. So, we pressed into what God was speaking to our hearts. I began hearing God say, “striving is NOT a principle of the kingdom of Heaven” and “BUSY-ness is a trap to rob us of the joy of life.”
In John it says that the enemy of our souls comes to steal and kill and destroy. Therefore, if our peace and joy were being stolen or destroyed, I knew it was from the enemy. I began to recognize that God was calling us to a lifestyle of rest.
And, that is how we land back at the question from the beginning: what have we been up to? Learning to rest and trying really hard not to be busy are actually super difficult! It honestly seems counterproductive to not be busy. But, that's a lie.
We are learning to spend quality time with our family...doing nothing. Not really nothing, but not “working”. Just being together. We believe that our kids are our first disciples and we want to train them to listen to Holy Spirit and follow wherever he leads. So, we pray together and we play together. We have gone mini golfing and swimming and chasing geese. We have spent hours in worship and prayer and talking to them about participating in God's Church.
None of what I've mentioned sounds like something worth writing home about, but it is the only thing God has put before us. Because of that, we are trying to do it with all the gusto and intentionality of anything we have been a part of in our lives.
So, we are writing home about it, so to speak. We are writing to you, our online family, so that you know we are still on this journey and we are still hungry to hear the voice of our Father God… It might not be him giving us specific instructions on where to go. It might simply be him speaking to us deep in our hearts about what is important to HIS heart. And, we want to be totally, 100% involved in whatever that is.
In Dreams and Visions
God has given us a lot of dreams lately! We’ve been writing them down whenever we can (i.e. when we don’t fall back asleep and forget them:) With that in mind, we feel some of them are very encouraging and want to share them with you all.
Dream 1 - The Fireplace
I (Josh) came into a house where a lady was working on an old fireplace. It had tons of little holes in it that were filled in with spray foam. It wasn’t in working order but looked well used. The fire had once been there, but had left.
When I woke up, I immediately had this sense that this is how many people use the Holy Spirit. We (the church) think that the Holy Spirit should be confined to a space on Sunday mornings or in our quiet times… when we feel spiritual or awakened to the things of God.
When Jesus was about to leave earth, He said that it was better that He left so the Holy Spirit could come. Instead of having a temple where the Spirit of God dwelt, now the Holy Spirit would dwell in every believer. Our bodies became the temple. The question, then, is do we let him occupy a nice, ornate fireplace or every area of our being? He wants to be in every part of our lives, not just Sunday mornings or when we pray.
When the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost, tongues of fire were on the heads of believers. Those believers became witnesses with power and boldness. The fire was never meant to be kept in the church building. It was meant to rest on every believer to empower us all to be witnesses of Christ.
Dream 2 - The Building
I was walking into an old building that had started to be rebuilt. It was very shaky and it seemed like a strong wind could blow it over. Two or three guys were looking at and talking about the building and one man was actively fixing it up. One man was kind of giving me a tour and telling how he and his brother grew up playing in the building. However, his brother died when he was only ten. Towards the end I was eating really good grapes that had only been planted that year.
Now, I am not a perfect dream interpreter, but God has been teaching me things in this area. I feel like dreams are an invitation to seek out the creativity of how God speaks to us. With that said, there are some awesome things about this dream that God has spoken to me.
I’ve had several dreams lately with buildings. I believe they confirm things from God’s word that are really encouraging. 1 Corinthians 3:9 says we are God’s building. We are where the Holy Spirit dwells. Ephesians 2:19-22 talks about Jesus being the chief cornerstone, the foundation of a building. It also says we are being built together for a dwelling place for the Lord.
Jesus said to Peter, concerning the revelation of Christ, on this rock I will build my church. The awesome thing is that He is still building it! And, we can be part of that. So, on to the dream.
God is rebuilding churches (groups of people sold out to His purposes) in places that were dry spiritually or in a season of complacency. Planting a new church is a powerful strategy for the Kingdom. But, I believe re-digging spiritual wells in places where there was once a thriving community of Christ followers, goes hand in hand with that strategy. Restoration is always God’s heart, and communities need new and fresh life.
God is looking for people to know His heart in this and see the vision of restoration for the church in certain areas. I think the man telling me the story about his brother signifies there has been spiritual life and death in these areas, but God is rebuilding them into life and life to the full!
Lastly, I believe the most exciting part of the dream is the grapes. If you know anything about grapes, they don’t produce the first year. In fact, many times it’s a three years before any grapes are on the vine. The bible says the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. I believe we are in a time where spiritual seeds planted will be ready for harvest quicker than we’ve seen before. That same passage says to pray for workers/laborers to work in the harvest fields. My prayer is that we would see workers rise up and that they would be blessed by quick-producing fruit like we’ve never seen.
New Life in the Ashes
Sometimes fire destroys. Sometimes it brings new life. Many times it does both. On July 23, 2018, the Carr fire was started in Northern California. It took over one month to get it contained. At the end of the sprawling $1.5+ BILLION in damages, over 1,000 homes were lost and several people lost their lives. But, something beautiful came from the ashes.
The true word of community responded. Organizations that specialize in disaster response showed up with supplies and manpower. At one point, during the fire, there were over 4000 people responding in some way to the devastation. However, after the fire, I'd argue there were more people from all the over the country and world praying, giving and helping in any way they could.
Bad things happen, but our response determines the final results. When the city of Grand Forks, ND flooded in 1997, it was terrible. Many people moved away, people shut down their businesses and many homes were bulldozed and demolished. Over $1 billion in aid came their way and now Grand Forks' downtown area, and even the spaces destroyed (such as Lincoln Park), paved the way for a better city and a better downtown community. Everyone could have picked up and left, but people came together and new life was breathed into a city.
We have seen the same thing in Shasta County, CA. People are rising up to help their neighbors and hope is on the rise. We can clearly see new life rising from the ashes. And, that is exactly what God promises He will do. He will work everything together for good.
When we walk through a 'fire' in our lives, we can choose defeat and despair or we can see it as an opportunity for new life. It's not always easy, but sometimes a fire brings to the surface things we don't like to see. In fact, they look black and charred and dead. They don't look like Jesus. But, if we choose to endure through the process of healing, new life is waiting on the other side.
So, let fire destroy the things that don't look like Jesus. Rise up in the midst of what looks like terrible defeat and join forces with your community... for new life is just around the corner.
We left it all behind this week. Everything we had known and loved for the past 9 years now lives only in our hearts and our memories. So much life was lived in those 9 years and we have become the people we are today because of that life and the people we lived it with.
Hi! We're the Hoeckles.
We're a family of six living full-time in a skoolie (aka a school bus converted into an RV). We are inviting you to join us as we live life to its fullest and empower others to do the same. Welcome to the family!