It’s a bit of a promised land for us – not quite flowing with milk and honey but there are plenty of bees – so there’s bound to be some honey somewhere. As for the milk – well the kids are sure going through it, so I guess it’s flowing.
We’ve been here for over two weeks now. The move was big. Much bigger than we had anticipated. We thought we had a standard 3 bedroom house-full of furniture etc – turns out we didn’t, this became clear when the movers arrived and said they’d need another two guys and another truck. BOOM!! that was the sound of the moving budget being blown out of the water! No wonder we’d been feeling cramped.
Still we’re here now in our “promised land” as he refers to it. We were looking for a few things in a home – space, peace and privacy. And here we’ve found them. We have enough space for everyone. The kids have a living space – we do too. They all have their own rooms. There’s bike riding space, and not just for the kids. There’s going to be an off-road remote controlled car track. There’s even space for a new puppy! We have fresh flowers daily, fruit to collect from the trees. We’ve set up a hammock, a climbing rope and will soon set up an old-fashioned wooden plank and rope swing.
We’ve met two sets of neighbours so far – one is the head of the neighbourhood watch committee. The others informed us that pretty much everyone out here sticks to themselves – “we’re all there for each other but really we just stick to ourselves” It seems that most people have come out here for the peace and quiet. You can’t imagine how that warmed the heart of this introvert. Now if we could just educate the kids, on the great benefits of being an introvert (!!)… No, I know it’s not going to happen – I’m working through it… but that’s a blog for another day.
Life is good for us at the moment – and I want to celebrate it – I know that it’s through the goodness of God that we’ve landed in this spot – I know that it’s not as a result of anything that we have done. It’s not a reward for our “faithfulness”, or a sign of our spirituality, nor is it as a result of our persistence in prayer. It is, quite simply a sign of his goodness and his love- and that right now this is what He has chosen for our lives.
I want to celebrate but there is something that holds me back. Well maybe there are a few things. But the one that is my focus is on the fact that at the moment I know some people who are suffering. A few people who have recently had news they weren’t expecting and have found themselves facing challenges they had not anticipated. And I can say that I know that they aren’t suffering because of their lack of faithfulness, or because of their lack of persistence in prayer. Why are they suffering? I’m not sure. I know that God allows this to happen. I think of family members who moved to South America around the time I was born – and have been missionaries there since. I think of this uncle who lost his first wife and then his second wife and then a daughter to cancer, and now his son bravely battles the disease. I think of the elder daughter who for some time has been like a sister to me, even though she has for many years been far away. She made an impression on me in my early years – one that sticks. And I know that my heart aches for her as she watches another one so close to her suffer.
If anyone was ever assured of a trouble-free life, surely it would be those who sacrifice their life and livelihood to travel to a foreign country to serve their God, to further the Gospel, to tell others of the Saviour and His love. If anyone was assured of a trouble-free life surely it should be those who’ve already lost someone close. If anyone was assured of a few trouble-free years surely it’s the godly, surely it’s these people, this man, this uncle.
But I guess from a fairly young age I’ve seen that there is no guarantee that life will be easy or trouble-free. I saw my mother and my grandparents mourn the loss of a sister and daughter who was living far away in another country. I remember my grandparents at our home one night after they had returned from visiting the far away and gravely ill daughter, and my grandfather speaking through sobs of the suffering of his daughter. I know my mother has a photo of a graveside in Colombia that she treasures. I think from that time on I’ve known that God doesn’t protect his best and brightest from suffering. Sometimes it’s the suffering that marks them out as his best and brightest. The lengths to which they are called to suffer is what causes them to shine so bright. Wasn’t that true of His Son?
There is no guarantee that we will be protected from pain, suffering and heartache – and any one who promises otherwise is maybe following a different Saviour to mine. I have seen too many godly, great and wonderful people suffer to believe that a lack of suffering is a sign of God’s favour or God’s love. The guarantee that we do have is that God will be with us, that His Son understands us and that His Spirit will minister to us. We will experience seasons and that He will travel through them with us, He will carry us and that His ultimate goal is our sanctification, and the destination for our journey is actually His home, His place, His presence where there is fulness of joy and pleasures for ever more.
This house we’re living in now – isn’t really the promised land it isn’t always going to be a land of peace and rest – there will be times when it is. We will have seasons of rest, we will have seasons of happiness, we will have some sorrow though, we will have some pain and through it all we will have our God with us.
We will rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. We will keep travelling on towards that land where there is eternal peace and rest.
And, for now, I’ll enjoy the view. (If you look closely and maybe squint a little, you can see our water views .. i.e. the lake/dam next door.)