“But our fathers refused to obey him. Instead, they rejected him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt. They told Aaron, ‘Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who led us out of Egypt—we don’t know what has happened to him!’ That was the time they made an idol in the form of a calf. They brought sacrifices to it and held a celebration in honor of what their hands had made. But God turned away and gave them over to the worship of the heavenly bodies.”-Acts 7:34
This morning I was preparing breakfast and coffee thinking of all the things I need to get done today (a task exhausting enough itself to make me want to go straight back to bed), and as I was about to sit down I felt a strong desire to grab my Bible and crack it back open. Sadly and honestly, it’s been awhile. I opened it up to the place where it was bookmarked in Acts and began to read.
If you know me, you know I’m not hyper-emotional. Generally speaking, I’m pretty even keeled across the board. However, reading through chapters 6-8, I broke down twice in reference to things I read. It was the strangest thing. Words I’ve read a million times, but this time affected me so deeply. Reading these words I felt as if I’d been sitting in the desert for weeks, craving salt when what I needed all along was water. And suddenly I was drenched in water.
About a month before the big move I went through a really dry spell Spiritually. Sadness and bitterness began to seep into my bones, and it began to obscure my vision. The reality of everything I was leaving behind was suddenly right in my face, and in those moments I did exactly what I ought not to have done, I stopped seeking the face of the Lord. Partially, I think I was taking my bitterness out on Him for leading me out of something that was so comfortable to a place so foreign and new (sound familiar?) And while this was not entirely intentional, I was aware that it was happening. I had stopped reading the Word, had missed a significant amount of church services and just allowed myself to be consumed in all the chaos of “necessary preparations” for the move. Essentially, I just lost myself in “busy.” Of course, nothing could have been more detrimental.
On Sunday, I had a going away gathering. This was on the eve of the big move; the day I would drive 16 hours straight through from LA to Salem, Or. There must have been well over 20 people packed into our little home in Culver City. Friends brought wine; we had snacks and amazing company. I floated around between work friends and church friends and was feeling a surge of energy after an exhausting day. We had spent the day loading up the u-haul, running last minute errands, and catching lunch with a dear friend for the last time, but in that moment with all of the people I love so dearly surrounding me, I felt nothing short of overwhelmingly full. With all the things that had brought me to this point, I had not yet cried or gotten emotional about the impending move. I just went on with life, business as usual, crossing off items on my to-do lists, being productive. But when the last person left that evening, as we hugged goodbye only to assure each other it was not goodbye, and made promises and cracked jokes to ease the hurt, as we both turned away and headed in opposite directions, it finally hit me. I went from feeling completely full to utterly and astonishingly empty. Of course my dad and sister were still inside about ready to pass out from exhaustion due to the high-paced day I had made them endure, so I crept quietly back in, went to the bathroom, turned on the water and wept. I don’t think anyone was fooled, but there was no comfort to be had from either of them, so I wept alone, and that was my last evening in LA.
I probably got all of 3 hours of sleep that night. I woke up around 3:30am and couldn’t get myself back to sleep. My mind had switch right back to task-manager mode and I couldn’t stop thinking of all the final items I needed to be sure I grabbed, and all the loose ends that needed to be tied up. So around 4:30 I began my morning. I hustled around gathering, packing, scrambling. And around 5 my dad and I had to unload the u-haul, load up my couch, which had not yet been packed, and then re-load it over again. We were finally on the road by 8am (about 2 hours later than we had hoped). 16 hours later at midnight, we pulled into the driveway of my parent’s house. Totally wiped out, I went in and got ready for bed. But when I lay down, I couldn’t suppress the hot tears. And once again I wept. Why was I here? However, this time, I did not cry alone. I reverted back to childhood ways and crawled in bed with my mom and let her hold me as I cried.
I have now been in Portland in my new apartment for roughly 3 days now. Everything is still chaotic here, especially my room. But it has definitely helped having my own space and having all the heavy lifting out of the way. And thank God for believing roommates. This simple reality inevitably creates a space for mutual encouragement and for the Spirit to move, and it reminds me of the Lords kindness regardless of our faithfulness, or lack thereof.
So as I sit here, in what feels like the wilderness (quite literally actually, so.many.treeeees!) I am struck by the words Luke wrote in Acts to the Sanhedrin. As foreign and frightening and desolate as the wilderness feels right now, I absolutely do not want to allow my heart to turn back to Egypt, away from what I know God has called me to. (Please note: this is not a direct parallel so as to suggest that my time in LA was like years of bondage in Egypt, certainly not. But to turn back, and continue living my life here wishing I was there, would be a) unhealthy, and b) a far cry from faithful to the God who is in fact constantly bringing me out of bondage daily, and bringing me closer and closer to the promise land with each new day). I of course have the ability to choose to create for myself idols and worship what I have created with my own hands, and in His kindness, the Lord would give me over to my choosing. But more importantly, and much more profound a thought to dwell on, is the gift that I may rather choose to surrender my life and plans and heartache to the Lord. Furthermore, in so choosing, there is a promise that waits for me which assures me that over time I will witness the grace of God as he turns my mourning into gladness, transforms sorrow into comfort and joy. For He has said, “my people will be filled with my bounty.” – Jeremiah 31:13-14
So in this time of wandering and finding my feet, I will be thankful for the tears, because they mean that where I am coming from was a fruitful place and is worth mourning. And they mean that I am feeling and not hardening my heart. May they water the soil beneath me now so that new blessings may spring up out of this dry ground.