A Better Country
I've been caught off guard by how hard it is for me to leave this place. I'd thought that once we got the confirmation we were Colorado-bound, I would be nothing but elated. After all, I've always wanted to live in Colorado, and here I am getting my lifelong wish! But it turns out that, over the past two years, I've made a home here, and surprise of all surprises, I am sad--deeply sad--to go.
Many times throughout this month, the Israelites have come to mind. Their punishment for unbelief was wandering--not being allowed to enter into Canaan, to possess their permanent home and promised land--until the last member of their faithless generation died. Their bodies fell in the desert as they walked in dusty circles, only faithful Joshua and Caleb living to see that land dripping with milk and honey. When the now-grown Israelite children and their families did at last cross the Jordan and take possession of that which God had promised them, they settled it and divided the fields, hills, and valleys. They put down roots. They stopped wandering, and this permanence was one facet of the Lord's blessing upon them.
Now, I don't mean by this that God is punishing me by making us move. I don't believe that by any stretch of the imagination. We are a military family, and moving comes with the territory. For as long as we are in the Army, the Lord has called us to minister to the other military families we encounter, to come alongside and pour out Christ's love upon them. In addition to the actual work my husband does, this is our mission. I know that it is God's will and that, in our being obedient to it, He is pleased. It is a blessing, not a curse. What I do mean, however, is that wandering, skipping from place to place every few years, can wear on a person--even when being hand-fed and sustained by God--and that there is something profoundly satisfying about having a real, enduring home, a place where relationships have time to grow deep and wide and fertile.
The author of Hebrews, after describing the grand faith of Abel, Enoch, Noah and Abraham, writes,
All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country--a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. (Hebrews 11:13-16)
At this moment in time, right before we pack up our house and head west, the Lord knows I'm upset, and He understands thoroughly the groanings of my spirit, my propensity to look back and want to cling to that which is familiar. I don't need to pretend with Him that it isn't hard. But I also see that holding on to that which is earthly and temporary is self-defeating and foolish, and that all my longings for permanence and painlessness will only ever be satisfied when I go to be with the Lord. I am an alien and stranger here on earth. My citizenship is in heaven, and I long for that better country, that beautiful city God has prepared for me. In the meantime, while I am still earthbound and clothed in this perishable body, I can rest in His presence, take comfort in His immutability, and do my best to keep my gaze heavenward.
I know, without a doubt, that I will love Colorado. Once we are there and settle in and put down roots, I will never want to leave. Ever so often, the Lord has to pry my hands loose from some new thing I've grasped onto for security and safety rather than Him. I make that sound like a light thing, but it's not. It's unbelief and idolatry, and He loves me too much to allow me to try and hang my proverbial hat on anything other than His heavenly coat rack, to permit me to find my satisfaction and joy in something other than Him. And so I suppose that's part of my problem now. I'm grasping white-knuckled to the life we've made here instead of to Jesus Himself. He is my anchor and refuge, my peace and very great reward, regardless of where we go, and He never changes, even if everything else does.