Winds in the east, mist coming in. Like somethin’ is brewin’ and bout to begin. Can’t put me finger on what lies in store, but I fear what’s to happen all happened before.
We met downtown for a friendly game of catch up. Two friends whose lives had gotten a bit too crazy. Two friends who hadn’t seen each other for too many months. I told her all the recent news. I shared all of my happy, all of my heart. And she likewise. And then Priscilla asked if she could take me somewhere. “I think God wants me to drive you around Knoxville, is that weird?” It might have been, but I’ve learned not to ignore any prompts from God. So I agreed and out to the car we went.
She took me in her car, onto a route she walked every week. A prayer route. But as she started it, even she wasn’t sure where exactly we were going.
We drove through the Old City, through Downtown Knoxville, and then down through Worlds Fair Park. And as she drove I saw streets and buildings that I have loved over and over. There is something about this city. Something I will never grow tired of. I love the way even the ugly grit of Knoxville creates a character I can’t help but adore. And on those streets and in those buildings, there were people. People of every shape and size. College people, and homeless people, and taking a walk at night people. There were business people and hanging out with friends people. There were so many people for a not so special Tuesday night. And just like the streets and buildings, there was something in those people that made me adore every one. I will never grow tired of people. And that is exactly what I was thinking when He spoke to me.
Have you ever thought about how much you love this city? Have you ever thought about how the others you know don’t see Knoxville quite like you do?
A brainstorm of thought swirled into my mind. Over and over, I remembered all my friends, all my sweet friends who have said time and time again how Knoxville is a special kind of something for me. “Knoxville is great, don’t get me wrong. I just think you see it differently than most of us.”
It was true. Knoxville is my Narnia. Its like I walked through that wardrobe several years ago and have seen nothing but wonder ever since.
But then I remembered more. Because that phrase, that I had heard so many times over, well it sparked something else, something I had heard years ago, only in a different context. “I just think you see it differently than most of us.” I could see her face but I couldn’t remember her name. But she had said it. Almost those exact words. Almost 10 years ago. “I just think you see people differently than most of us. Even the ugly are beautiful to you.” I remember when she said it. I remember sitting in the dorm rooms on her peach quilted bed, staring at homework but listening to her, I remember being confused when she said it. I remember thinking she didn’t know what she was saying. And then in this moment, here, in the car, on the streets, with these people I remembered. And as I did, He spoke again.
“That is Me in you.”
It was a holy moment. I don’t know why five words would shake a person like those did. But they did.
And then Priscilla took a left into a parking garage. “This is my favorite place in Knoxville. I just want you to see it.”
Up and around we drove. Up and around ten times, until we were at the top of that garage. And as I got out, I looked around to see one of the most beautiful views Knoxville had to offer. I saw all of downtown. I looked from the Sun Sphere, to Campus to Chesapeakes Restaurant to Henley Street Bridge. Lights were flashing, people were walking, life was happening. In a city I loved, in a city that held so much speciality, life was happening.
I have called you for such a time as this.
He spoke into a moment of equal stillness and anticipation. And with those words I saw a floodgate of thought. For I saw how moments had worked together linking up in order to place me exactly in that moment. Twenty-eight years of moments. Twenty-eight years of life. Twenty-eight years of things happening outside of how I wanted them to go. Years of confusion, years of insight, years of learning, years of struggle, years of blessing. Twenty-eight years of Him calling me to such a time as this. I’m not saying it makes sense now. I’m just saying, it makes more sense. Because I would never be where I am now, had I not been where I was. And this, this is where He wanted me. This is where He wants me. In my Knoxville. And in that moment, it was the only place I wanted to be. It is, now, the only place I want to be. I want to be in such a time as this.
I looked over the city again. Onto a place I always knew I loved but never realized why. It was no longer just my city. It was my Knoxville. It was such a place as this, for such a time as this. I don’t know what is happening here, in this city. But I know He has called me to it.
For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place…
And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?
Who knows. Who knows what we have been called to. Who knows whether we have not come to the Kingdom for such a time as this. We have been called. We have been called to the Kingdom. We have been called to further the Kingdom. We have been called for such a time as this. And winds from the east and mists coming in. Like something is brewing and about to begin. Such a time as this. We have been called to the Kingdom. Can’t put my finger on what lies in store, but I fear what’s to happen all happened before. Its Mary Poppins weather. Its an Esther Moment. It is what is calling you and me at such a time as this. It is the Kingdom, and you and I are apart of it. We have been called. Together. To our own. To His purpose. We have been called. And I have no idea where these winds will take me. I have no idea what Narnia has in store. But I know I have been called. To a people I love with a heart that is not my own. To a city that has become more than just my own. I have been called. And so have you.
Knoxville is my Narnia. And I look around with anticipation at this Kingdom.
For Aslan is on the move.
Winds in the east, mist coming in. Like somethin’ is brewin’ and bout to begin. Can’t put me finger on what lies in store, but I fear what’s to happen all happened before.¹
¹Sherman, Robert B. & Richard M. Sherman, Chim Chim Cheree. Mary Poppins. 1964.
She took me through the Old City, Downtown Knoxville, around Worlds Fair Park. We drove and I listened to the music. I didn’t know what I was listening for. In fact, I was a little nervous. What if He didn’t say anything.
But as surely as my thoughts of doubt came, so did His voice. He spoke to me, bringing together things I never thought were connected. Reminding me how I see Knoxville. Because if you don’t know, I love this city. I think it is the most beautiful city in our country. I am never without something to do here. The people, well, they are uncomparable. The scenery is fantastic. And every time I leave, no matter where I go, I find no city to match it. In fact, I’ve been told if I were in the business of selling Knoxville I’d be a rich woman. I guess I just see this city differently. And when I realized that, He brought another thought to my mind. Or rather, He brought a memory. Of a friend long ago, who said to me, “I think God has given you the ability to see beauty in all things and in all people. You see everything as beautiful, no matter how much everyone else may see it as ugly.” Could it be, I saw Knoxville, through a different lens. Could it be I saw Knoxville with God given lenses. A heart for a city, I never knew I had. These were the questions I threw up at Him. God, is this what you are trying to tell me?
We drove through streets, and I saw the people. And I saw them in ways I never realized before. I saw hearts. I saw mission. I saw opportunity. I saw life.
And then He said this: Remember such a time as this.
I went back to the scriptures to read more. And isn’t it funny how you think you remember a scripture one way, but when you read it again, straight from the source you find so much more. Eyes went wide as I read. For a verse with only so many words, said so much more than I ever could have imagined.
For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your fathers house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this