Sorry for all the radio silence. Solomon said in Ecclesiastes, “For everything there is a season,” then listed a dozen or so comparisons – “There is a time to be born and a time to die…a time to mourn and a time to dance”, etc. But he left out, “There is a time to move and a time to stay put” (no doubt because the memory of moving into his new palace was still fresh and painful.)
Truly this season of moving is all-consuming, swallowing up all but the most-essential of activities. Peripheral things like writing, P-90, and petting the cats have been set aside.
But things are moving forward (no pun intended.) We were mentally ready to have the house on the market all summer. But once the house was listed, we had showings every day and after a little more than a week passed, two offers were made. After a few more weeks of back and forth, contracts were signed, and once the banks do what banks do (which is anybody’s guess) a closing date will be set, probably for early July.
While such a quick sale is indeed a blessing, I’ve been letting out my joy in carefully controlled doses. Not only because I’m an Iowan, and Iowans are not known for ecstatic outbursts. (What do ya call an Iowa Christian who cracks a smile? Answer: Pentecostal.) But because this entire move is a massive enterprise, with all kinds of moving parts. Moving is like the game Mousetrap, where there are multiple sections, and each one must work right for the whole to succeed.
I was talking with a missionary friend years ago. We were chatting about Christians in the first three centuries who were willing to die at the hands of Rome rather than deny Christ, and wondering if we would have the same courage. My friend said, “Well God doesn’t give dying grace for a living day.” (i.e. God gives us the strength we need at the precise time we need it.)
Remembering that line has bolstered me through this odyssey. In phase one as we prepped the house (six weeks of my life I’ll never get back), he carried us along. In phase two as we sold the house, again we have felt his steadying hand. But now it really gets interesting. Phase three is a whopper. Finding a place in LA to call home while simultaneously preparing for the day when U-Pack drops off the moving cubicle and we have to load it. (Then phase four: the cross-country trek itself, with two aging cars, two aging cats, and two aching backs. Please God, don’t let us get stuck in the Sierra’s like the Donner party. I don’t want to have to eat Maggie.)
When people ask me if Christianity “works”, it’s seasons like Janis and I are in that prove it to me. The power of the risen Christ in our lives isn’t ordinarily seen in great, outward miracles suitable for an Avenger movie. Jesus said that God’s kingdom is found “within us” (Luke 17:21).
So when I took a rock in the eye a week ago while edging the sidewalk with my trimmer (ignoring the inner voice inside that said go fetch my safety glasses), then dragged myself to the ER at 4:00 in the morning because each roll of my eyeball caused a stab of pain that made sleep impossible, and yet all the while there was a sense of inner calm that carried me, and not once did the old Barry who is more than capable of Hulking out with profaneness and anger come near to the surface…well, to me that is Jesus Christ working. (The English major in me is wondering if that whole last sentence is even a sentence. You judge.)
Each day I meet with my Lord, cup of coffee in hand, open Bible in my lap. I think deeply about the Scripture I’m reading, and listen closely for any nudges or whispers that seem appropriate. I look at the day ahead with all its unique challenges and opportunities, then talk to God about what’s coming and commit it into his care, trusting that he will then give me whatever grace I need – whether it’s packing grace or rock-in-the-eye grace. And then I check in with him throughout the day to make adjustments.
That’s usually how Christianity “works” if you’re wondering. It’s not complicated. It’s what Dick and Jane taught us. You gotta stop (sit your butt down and seek God), look (open up the book and give God a chance to speak), and listen (then do what you think he’s telling you.)
It won’t lead to a perfect life. Goodness, I’ve blown it so many times during this journey. (Last night I had just a terrible night of sleep, tossing and turning about stuff.) But it will lead to a better life. A more peaceful life. And a life where you begin to realize that yes Virginia, there is a God, and yes you need him very much.
Certainly if Omar Mateen had met Jesus Christ, there’d be 49 families not in agony today.