Friday, January 1, 2016

New Beginnings

Yesterday my brother-in-law and his very lovely bride started a new chapter in their lives.  They are moving to the far side of the country.  Both of them were born in small towns in the middle of our state.  Neither of them has lived in another state, and they haven't done a whole lot of traveling either.  They are young.  They are adventurous.  They are ready for some new experiences in their lives.  I get that.  I really do.

We went to church with them weekend before last.  It was his last Sunday to lead worship there, and we wanted to be there to support him.  Can I just tell you?  I was a mess.  Before Andy had played a note or spoken a word, my eyes welled up and the first of many tears rolled down my cheek.  With everything having been so busy, that was the first moment for me to really process that they were moving away.  Really, really far away.

Honestly, it is not like we have seen them a lot anyway.  Other than major holidays and birthdays, we have not spent much time with them.  But when we are together...our families have a good time.   And my children absolutely completely adore Uncle Andy and Aunt Lauren.  Seth spent all day at Thanksgiving wrestling with Uncle Andy.  A dream come true for an eight-year-old boy.  Hannah spends every minute on Aunt Lauren's lap, playing with her beautiful long brown hair.  Or letting Aunt Lauren play with her own hair.  They love all their aunts and uncles, of course, but these two have captured little hearts in a very special way.

So we are sitting in worship, and I keep thinking about how much Andy and Lauren are going to be missed.  They are moving far enough away that they won't be able to come back for every major holiday or child's birthday party.  I really don't know how much or when they will be able to visit home...or when we will be able to visit them.

At the end of the service, Andy shared some things about his life, and how he never expected to be working in a church.  But there he was.  He talked about how much he had grown in his faith and as a person in the last two years.  One day over the summer, he was in a meeting with the pastor and some other people.  He was getting ready to pray, and someone prayed the exact things he was thinking.  Someone else followed it up with exactly where Andy would have gone next.  He felt like he was really in sync with his colleagues at that moment.  That's when Andy asked God, in his own private prayer, if this is where he was supposed to be because it really felt like he was in the right spot.

There was a pause.  Andy heard this answer.  "No.  They are going in the right direction here.  They have it under control.  You are dismissed."

Whoa.  You are dismissed.  That stopped me in my tracks.  It also brought on a new round of waterworks.  You are dismissed.  Now I realized that they were not moving away on some youthful, spontaneous whim.  They are following God's call in their lives.  They are going where they think God wants them to be.

It reminds me of Abram and Sarai.  In Genesis 12:1, we read, "The LORD had said to Abram, 'Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you.'"  The LORD continues with a blessing and a promise for Abram, and then they pack up and head out to Canaan.  Everything they knew, everything they were familiar with, everything that felt like home...they left it all behind.  And for what?  To journey to a place where they know no one, where they have no roots, where everything is new.

Could I do that?  Could I leave everything behind and start completely over?  I don't know that I could.  If you have ever met me, you probably know that I don't like change.  I am not a risk-taker.  I am pretty good with the status quo.  Spontaneity and quick decision-making are not characetistics that I really possess.  So could I do it?  If God called Todd and me to leave what we know behind and head to a brand new place in a brand new direction, could I do it?  I don't know.  I am afraid that I would "Gideonize" it and keep asking for signs to see if that was what He really meant.  (I think I just made up that word Gideonize; I kind-of like it.) 

I admire the faith of Abran and Sarai to travel to a foreign country on a long and difficult journey to set up a new life based on the promises revealed to them through the LORD.  I admire Andy and Lauren for being open to God's call on their lives.  It is a long way off, but at least they won't have to travel by camel to get there.

Today I am reminding myself to be thankful for cars and planes that can travel back and forth between here and there.  Although I don't know when, I will see them again.  I am also thankful for texts, Facebook, Skype, and whatever other technologies will allow us to keep in touch as the miles separate us.

In the meantime, I am praying this blessing over them every day:

"The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace."  (Numbers 6:24-25)

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