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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Connected

I opened the front door to let in the man who would walk through our newly-finished basement to assess the work and to make sure that it was up to code.  The inspection process would take under an hour, we were told.  Our contractor was a good one, and he didn’t cut corners.  I wasn’t worried.

The inspector was a friendly guy, and we made small talk as we moved through the large room.  I learned that he lived thirty minutes away, but was originally from another part of the state.

Oh yeah?  Me too.  What town?  I asked.

He gave the name of the city I always give when people ask me the same question.  Me too! I said, smiling.  Though not really.  My hometown is smaller, but no one has heard of it, so I usually don’t bother mentioning it.

Me too, he repeated.  He offered the name of his hometown.

My eyes widened.  It was the same small town I knew, the one where I grew up.

What is your name?  I asked. 

He told me, and I smiled again.  His last name was familiar, belonging to two school pals from my younger years.

Do you know them?  I asked, mentioning the names.

Sure, he said.  They are my sister and nephew.

We laughed as I explained that his sister and I were friends when we were kids, and we talked about our other mutual connections for a few minutes.  He told me what his sister was doing now, and called her to say hi and to share the coincidence.  He handed the phone to me and we said hello and asked how are you and laughed about this chance meeting.  Small world, we inevitably agreed.

The older we get, the more people we know.  I’ve run into people from my past in airports and on vacation, and the longer we live in our current home, the more connected to others we become.  It’s no longer surprising to see familiar faces at the grocery store and gas station.  We are rooted here.  It’s a comfortable feeling.

I love connections.  This affinity was passed to my daughter, whose teacher once remarked on all the connections she makes between topics at school.  We come from a long line of people who love to share connections.

They’re comforting, these connections. They remind us that we are not alone in this world, that there are others who relate.  Others who know what we know, believe what we believe, feel what we feel, and who understand what we’re all about.  Finding a person who gets me is all I ever wanted in life.  It’s a nod to my existence, a chin up that acknowledges that I’m really here.

After a lifetime of looking for connections, I’ve learned that a deeper connection with God is much more satisfying than any connection I can make with another person.  The Holy Spirit connects me to God as I navigate this life down the road he laid out for me, and I dwell in his presence as my life moves forward.  This  connection has shown me that God is always consistent.  He knows me. He gets me.  His love never fails despite my own failings.

I am here.  I exist.  And I am his, forever connected.


*******

Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.

But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.


Ephesians 2:1-10

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Homesick

“Go wherever you can,” was their message.

My parents were not the kind to make us stay.  They were adventurous travelers, and encouraged my brothers and me to spread our wings and see as much of the world as we could.  Homesickness was discouraged in favor of new experiences and new places.  Home isn’t going anywhere: this was the unofficial motto of our family.  In high school I joined clubs and did activities that would take me away from home.

Ours was a small town like so many others, sheltered and far from the larger, busier world.  I cynically thought that no one would leave if they didn’t run as fast they could in the opposite direction, despite home being a pretty nice place.  I was free to leave if I wanted to, and I did, right after the summer I graduated.  Eventually, life led me away from home for good.

We – my husband and I – are not pioneers.  We didn’t do anything out of the ordinary by moving away from home.  We lived in cities where our jobs took us, finally settling into and building a life within a smallish community not unlike the ones in which we grew up, but still hours away from our families.  About half of the people we know are from somewhere else, often even further away.  People just don’t stay home anymore.

“Home is where you hang your hat,” goes the saying.   It’s true.  Most of my immediate life is contained within the walls of our house.  The things I need, the people I depend on and who depend on me – they are here.  The friends we’ve made, the roads we take to school and to church and to work – they surround home now.

But home is still there, too.  Away.

It takes a gathering – most recently, my grandmother’s funeral – for me to really focus on what we’ve built so far away and to become homesick.  Familiar faces made strange by time and fading memories are brought to the forefront and remind me what we are missing.  Time passes quickly everywhere.

People change and life goes on, and we miss it when we are gone.  There’s no way to really catch up, to make up the time that we missed.  It’s like we moved away, and everyone was lost.

I worry.  I worry that we are far away, and might even move further away someday.  I worry that I will miss more, that I won’t be able to help as I could, as I feel I should.  I worry about the time I am missing with my parents and siblings, and the other relationships that have been left to weaken and fade.


God teaches us to pray when we struggle and to trust that we are where he placed us for reasons that go beyond our understanding.  These truths hold me up, and I am thankful for them.  I don’t really need to know why I’m here, and when the feelings of homesickness threaten to take residence in my heart, I am given the reassurance that I am exactly where I’m supposed to be.

And that even when I feel far away, he is ever so close.


*******

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.  
Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. 
Proverbs 3:5-6