On my way to work yesterday, I took a different route to Wake Forest, one that took me past the ranch we bought when we moved to North Carolina way way way back in 1998.
It felt good to drive past our old stomping grounds. I felt deep emotions -- thanksgiving, humility, happiness, nostalgia, and, yes, even a bit of sadness. Moving to "Maple Ridge" (as we called it) was the most important move Becky and I made in 37 years of marriage. In the first place, it brought us to the rural South from having lived in Southern California for 27 years. Nothing wrong with SoCal, mind you, but being history buffs it felt good to be so close to the many historic sites you find in Virginia. It was pretty amazing how we found this place. In November of 1997, the seminary flew Becky and me out to take a look at the school. It was love at first sight. After the interviews had ended, we got a definite nod from the administration that they wanted us to start in the fall. So B and I spent a day traveling to various properties with a realtor. We told her we needed a largish house (Becky loved to host guests), plus we needed acreage for our animals. I will never forget that day. We started out house hunting at around 8:00 am. Six hours later we had still found nothing we liked. I was worn out from all the meetings I had had on campus and wanted to call it quits. When Becky said, "Let's look at just one more house," I reluctantly agreed. All that changed when we drove up the driveway. All Becky saw was a 4,100 square foot house that was more than adequate for her needs. All I saw was a fenced-in pasture and horse barn. We made an offer and, as they, the rest is history. The seminary was so gracious to us. They not only moved our family to the new house, but they also paid to transport our horses and goats. That was a true gift in our lives.
Why am I telling you all this? Well, I've never found transitions to be easy. Maybe you're like that too. We do not always know where we are going in life. I was leaving a job I loved. We were leaving friendships forged over two and a half decades. Any honest Christian will admit that, like Abraham, he is sometimes perplexed when God asks him to move. But we need not despair. For even though we might not know what is ahead, we know Who is ahead. Fog there may be, but we are in the hands of a Pilot who always reaches the right destination.Looking back now, the move to North Carolina was the best thing that ever happened to us. Sometimes, like Jabez, we need to push out our borders a bit, to "enlarge our coasts," to possess our new possessions in Christ -- all under God's guiding hand. All too often it's easy for me to forget how truly dependent I am. I start to rely on my own brains and skills. God fades into the background because I am sure I can handle everything. Our move in 1998 rocked that confidence to the core. So did Becky's cancer diagnosis 11 years later. But you know what? As I came to the end of myself in each of those instances, I had found that God had only just begun. No, there were never flood lights to illuminate the entire road. But there was always, ALWAYS, a flashlight for my feet.