Another Example of How God Doesn’t Play Low-Stakes Poker

I got the call on the way to Virginia.

First I should tell you that when we approached our wonderful landlords about our upcoming trip, we told them we would be moving out. We couldn’t afford to pay rent AND be on the road, so we planned to put our stuff in storage and then find a new house to live in when we got back this summer.

Our landlords surprised us by telling us not to move out. We could keep our stuff in the house, stop paying rent while we were away, and then pick up where we left off as soon as we got back. That was a shocker. Amazing news.

But there is a small chance we may sell the house before you leave, they said. If we do, you’ll need to move out before the trip.

Then came the phone call the other night, 21 days before our scheduled departure in the big blue bus.

“I’m really sorry,” my landlord said. “We sold the house. You’ll need to move out before you go on your trip.”

Deep breath.

* * * * *

Since receiving the news, Maile and I have come to see it for what it is: a liberating circumstance that frees us up to enjoy our trip even more. Now there’s no need to rush to ensure we get back by the date we had agreed with them. We can take our time. Want to spend another month on the road? As long as I still have writing work, sure, why not.

But I’ll tell you something that has changed: there’s an entirely different feel to a four-month trip that has a home waiting for you when you return, and one that doesn’t. Sort of like the difference between bungee jumping and skydiving. With a bungee jump, there’s that physical attachment to the place your launching from, that thing that will snap you back up away from the ground. But with skydiving, it’s all hidden, a parachute packed away by someone else that you have to trust will open when the time is right.

When I pull that bus on to the road, there isn’t a single thing in the world that’s keeping us anywhere in particular.

Maile looked at me with this strange look after receiving the news and said something I hadn’t expected her to say.

“What if we don’t come back to Lancaster? What if we’re driving around the country and we find a place we want to live.”

It gave me a funny feeling in my stomach, like free-falling.

* * * * *

The more that I engage with God, wrestle with him, try to figure out what he’s up to, the more I begin to realize this one thing: he doesn’t play low-stakes poker. With God, the antes and blinds are always high. I try to minimum-raise him with a fairly decent hand and he just smiles, shakes his head from side to side, and shoves his entire, formidable stack into the center of the table.

“If you’re going to join me in this exciting adventure,” he always seems to say, “you’re going to have to go all in.”

* * * * *

We are still looking for folks willing to set up writer’s gatherings (I’d love to sit and chat with other writers about the art and craft of words) or service projects that we can help out with along the way. Take a look at our itinerary, and if we’re going to be close to you, and you’re interested in helping with one of those two things, email me at

13 Replies to “Another Example of How God Doesn’t Play Low-Stakes Poker”

  1. Friend, your story blows me away pretty much non-stop. I am seriously stoked about the opportunity to spend some time with you and your family.

  2. This development in your adventure with God on the road gives it even more excitement. The more risk and commitment, the more we are all on the bus with you, cheering every amazing feat of self-and family-discovery. You will awaken all the latent dreams of your readers. Go in peace, even when it doesn’t seem peaceful. Blessings will abound.

  3. He has a great sense of humor and sometimes he gives us the freedom we didn’t know we needed to make the choices we would not have otherwise know we available to us. Good Luck Shawn I can’t wait to read all your adventures. And post lots of pictures!!

  4. Thanks for sharing your story Shawn. When God asks us to jump, we can’t leave one foot where we started. I’m really happy for you, as I’ve personally found that those moments of having empty hands, so to speak, made me all the more reliant on listening to God. The steps of discipleship make us more dependent on God in a good way. Be blessed as you pack.

    On a side note, I think I know now why you haven’t returned my e-mail from a day or two ago! :)

  5. Just don’t park by the river. Then you will literally be “living in a van down by the river” and as a writer you’re only a step away from a career as a motivational speaker. These circumstances combined might be cause for hilarity.

    Seriously – home shmome, you’re a ramblin’ fam now. The Von Trapps, the Jacksons and the Partridge Farmilies – all made it work.

  6. huge news.

    More of an adventure than you anticipated. You are in for nothing less than EPIC and life-changing. I can’t think of anyone better ready for the challenge. Heck…you’re mostly packed!

    Prayers are sincerely lifted up for you in this.

    I really think you have all the ingredients for some family bonding, and faith building as you make your voyage. And thank goodness, for me, and others, you’ll be keeping us posted. (I can’t handle too much extreme suspense.)

    may Blessings richly shower you and your family in the coming weeks and months.

  7. Wowza – God wearing a green visor. LOVE that image. And love that you and your family are venturing out into the unknown. Kudos for taking the leap – and who knows? Maybe you will find somewhere else to settle for a while. It’s a great big, wonderful country. Praying for health, for stamina during the move, for joy all along the journey.

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