“Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me?” Psalm 42:5 (NASB)
Careening Between Colorado Springs and California – Summer, 1976
“One frog, two eyes, four legs, Ker-plop, in the puddle…”
Sandi and I try to entertain each other in the back seat of the car with an old camp song Mom taught us somewhere in Europe, but my heart really isn’t in it. We’re moving again, but this time Sandi and I are furious. We are leaving behind our brother, the only city that feels like home, the place we’ve lived the longest (5 years), and the place where we finally made significant friendships – Sandi and I both have boyfriends.
“Two frogs, four eyes, eight legs, ker-plop, ker-plop, in the puddle, in the puddle…”
New town, new people, new school.
Another start over whether I want one or not. I don’t. This unexpected new is not welcomed nor eagerly anticipated. I’m a senior in high school and am supposed to have the year of my life. That won’t be happening. I’m on the varsity tennis team. I was selected for an elite choir and was installed as the editor of the school’s newspaper; all great honors, but ones I will have to forgo.
My father has retired from his twenty-year career in the Air Force and has accepted a job offer in California. Relocation is our only option, but Sandi and I intend to make this as unbearable for our father as humanly possible. Crying hysterically in the car, Sandi and I make Dad stop at almost every rest area between Colorado Springs and Barstow so we can throw up. Even Sandi’s cat can’t handle this. Mom had to medicate the cat so she could endure this 1,300-mile trail of tears with us. The cat’s dopey eyes stare vacantly at me through the rails of her carrier prison and I realize she looks exactly how I want to feel.
Somebody please drug me up until this pain is gone.
Dad is unfazed and undaunted by all the feminine hissy-fitting around him and says nothing. He simply grips the steering wheel of his faithful Chevrolet Nomad and points the car west to southern California. All I see, however, is Colorado Springs in the rearview.
The first order of business after arriving in Rancho Palos Verdes is to find a church and get involved. It’s not on my list of top priorities, but it is on Dad’s. Off we go under duress. Plopping down on the sanctuary chair our first Sunday, I determine to hate this church, my life, and everything else around me. That lasts only as long as it takes the pastor, Wayne Frase, to open his Bible and read from Philippians 3:13-14.
“…But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (NASB)
Instantly, the leaving is over.
The more Pastor Frase talks about leaving behind those things that hinder us from our present walk with God, the more I realize this is exactly where I need to be. My future has come. Wave after wave of liberating relief washes over me and rocks me peaceful in the midst of this disorienting pain. Underneath all the emotional upheaval and commotion of the past few weeks, God’s voice of assurance has consistently pulsed through my pain.
Hope swells, pushing out the discontent of my loss. God’s intention wants to offer me more than I’ve left behind and I try to embrace the new with God that lies ahead. No more hide and seek from him; he has pursued me to the Pacific and now openly reveals himself. He wraps me in his consolation. God understands.
I’ve done this before – this moving thing. In fact, I’ve done it all of my life. After 35 times, I lost count of how many times I’ve moved. It has a familiar feel to it, a predictable rhythm. A decision to relocate is made. Shock ensues, sorrow follows close behind, and then all the goodbyes begin. Sometimes they feel like they will never end.
Sometimes they never do.
Then, one day when you least expect it; morning dawns.
The leaving is over and new life begins.
2011 was a stressful and difficult year for a lot of us.
I moved and left a place and people I absolutely love – maybe you did too. Perhaps you had to say an unexpected goodbye at the bedside of a person you cherish, or you sent your kids off to college for the first time. Some of you courageously sent a family member to Afghanistan, or received them home from deployment and now face the challenges of re-entry. Some of you might not have been accepted into a course of study you’ve always dreamed of pursuing, or your finances ran out and were unable to continue your education. Divorce may have invaded your family and claimed your marriage in 2011 and you are still reeling from the disorienting loss of your spouse or your parent’s marriage. Whatever challenges 2011 threw at you, here’s the good news: Psalm 42:5 isn’t finished. Here’s the entire verse:
“Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence.” (NASB)
I really want to put an exclamation point at the end of the verse.
“Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence!”
Hope. We can’t live without it, and God never intended that we do. God is able; hope in him. He has suffered; hope in him. He is compassionate; hope in him. He is faithful; hope in him.
2012 might also bring some “unexpected new” onto the roadway of your journey. You might be tempted to look back or to run away from God and abandon your relationship with him.
Instead, run into the help of his presence.
The leaving is over.
You’ll never move forward if you’re living in the rearview. Forget the past and reach forward to what lies ahead for you – his future!
©Copyright, 2012 by Donna Tallman.