How Long? Character: Rachel Kivitz

Rachel Kivitz is another character who shows up in It’s a Dance, but becomes a key character in How Long? The Trek Through the Wilderness. Here’s how I introduce her in the book:

Because of her hurried morning, Rachel feels she looks like the yard—a bit sad.

She had thrown on a more casual outfit than usual, left her long dark hair wet and put on an Adidas cap to cover it, rather than carefully styling it. It occurs to her this look is a lot more fitting, really, now that she’s no longer an executive in an L.A. marketing firm but a full-time seminary student— spending more time with the kids and more time with God than she ever has before. Somehow, though, she’s not any less tired, hence her lingering frustration and regretted words that she’s hoping her daughter Monica didn’t hear.

We learn in later conversations that Rachel has a fair bit of a past, and ended up in a lot of trouble. Her faith grew when she was in the depths of despair, and now she is walking down a road of hope and renewal, sharing a deep wisdom that comes from both study and experience. So much wisdom, in fact, that Nate thinks she might be the choice for a new leader when he leaves. What does Rachel have to say about this apparent opportunity? What words of wisdom does she share with others who find themselves totally lost and seemingly abandoned by God? Rachel is a teacher, a student, a friend, and most importantly, truly dedicated to walking with the Spirit in her life. Things she learned from wrong turns and hard struggles.

Here’s a passage in which she’s chatting with Nate:

“We are always asking the wrong questions,” Rachel continues, with a slight change of direction. “That’s the trouble with so much theology I’m studying now. It’s all asking questions, sometimes very deep questions and often very complicated questions. Interesting questions, but so often I hit this wall, especially recently. I get to thinking about what questions God wants us to ask. And I realize they’re not the questions we are good at answering.”

“What kind of questions?”

“What you are asking, in part. ‘Where do we go?’ ‘Where is God right now?’ ‘What am I supposed to do next?’ ‘Why the wilderness?’ ‘How can I do this next step?’ ‘Where’s the vision and plan?’ We have all these questions. You’ve said it before— God doesn’t always give us the answer. We’re left with this one question, and it’s the one we can answer, but it’s the one we don’t want to answer.”

“So, the question really is, ‘How do we respond?’” Nate asks.

“How do we respond to the darkness and emptiness and problems? To the frustration? To the terror? We’re not given an explanation. We’re given life and told to live this life in faith. And it seems—seems from this passage—the more we learn this the faster life comes at us to shake us from our stance. Maybe that’s why Ephesians 6 gives us all those great images, but ends with, ‘just stand.’ We just have to keep standing.” She takes a drink from her glass and mostly empties it. Then continues, “I think Melissa is really getting this one area. This is the question she’s asking. Maybe not directly or with the Bible verses in her mind, but she’s asking this very question. How does she respond to all the mess? Does she stand?”

“She’s not coming up with a quick answer,” Nate says.

“Neither are you,” Rachel quickly responds. “That’s all part of the process. We’re not expected to grow instantly. Paul gives us a goal and tells us to keep at it: ‘Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,’ he says in Philippians 3. That’s how we are supposed to respond. We see in Exodus a lot of ways we’re not supposed to respond.”

Read more about, and from, Rachel in How Long? The Trek Through the Wilderness

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