What are you not doing?
Everything but this.
So packing? Selling? Saying good-bye?
When’s the garage sale?
Go away, Ethan.
Two years ago we sold a ton of stuff, packed our remaining belongings, and moved from one international place of service to another in response to a change in calling. We left behind friends, incomplete projects, a culture and language our family understood, and a nice apartment in the mountains. In exchange, we sweated in a small house in a place whose language seemed impossible while hoping our kids would adjust well to living far from the only homes they really knew. Our roles within the IMB changed dramatically, and we experienced a loss of vocational identity along the way. We asked ourselves, “Was this a mistake? Are we really accomplishing anything? Should we have changed ministries so radically? Will the family be alright? Will we ever stop sweating?”
When David Platt came along, we looked forward to what his team would do. We watched the changes unfold, only a little nervous. We assured the kids that their newly-placed roots were safe because that’s what leadership was telling us.
That lasted right up until someone came along and said, “Great job. Thanks for moving all the way over here; use those transition skills to move again. Buh-bye.”
Down the street there’s a dog we take care of periodically. We feed her when the owners are traveling. We strap on the harness that replaced multiple broken collars and go for walks. As long we’re heading along her usual route, everything is smooth sailing. The moment we turn in a direction she doesn’t want to go to, she digs her paws in firmly; there are weeds yet to be examined and dogs to be intimidated. No matter how hard I pull, she refuses to move; I can’t force her, either. She will eventually give in, but it takes a minute.
That’s me in these days of transition. I just want to plant my feet and lean back against the direction the leash is tugging me. I don’t want to sell the washer that’s so new it still has the plastic on it. I resist filing papers with the school to transfer records. Ethan and I argue over whether to keep the TV (or blender, microwave, coffee pot, bed, dresser, tools, whatever), or sell it at half its replacement cost and get an overpriced new one when we move.
For a time, our travel date drew ever closer without my making the slightest progress on our overwhelming to-do list. I shuffled things around the house and threw away old shoes, pretending these were necessary steps to our move; don’t even ask how many company emails I ignored.
Then somewhere along the way, I began to remember.
Memory is a useful thing. Moses and Joshua recited the history of the Jewish people to inspire obedience and worship. John and Peter, in their various works, reminded believers of the lessons they already learned. Memories of His works are powerful, recalling God’s mercy, love, guidance, and protection even as life gets difficult. We see that obedience and calling remain even as physical location and specific duties change.
As Ethan frequently says, this is not our first rodeo. As we prepare to fly off into the sunrise, we’ll be heading towards our 11th different home/house/apartment while on the clock with the Company. We’ll land in a new country we’ve never visited prior to moving – just like every other move we’ve made. Our family will adjust and find amazing new blessings – just like every other move we’ve made. God has always been there, both before we packed and after we landed. It’s impossible to arrive alone because He’s always already there waiting for us.
Most importantly, we get to serve Him in a new place, among new people, in a new way. The joy of service that we experience wherever we go will once again be ours.
“The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” (Deuteronomy 31:8)
– She really did get it all done in time, all while winning multiple mother-of-the-year awards.