Life has definitely taken a turn, things are dramatically different for us as a family. It’s hard to let go of something familiar, something you love, but now it is actually freeing to take our hands off and back away. We need some space but have such a mixture of feelings: love for friends but the need for our hearts to move on from a chapter God’s finished writing for us. We watch Him turn the page with some sadness, reflection, and fondness. It was a chapter wrought with change, quite a bit of stress and challenge, but also growth, much love and joy. Toward the end of it, some of the characters God had written in affirmed us and let us know that what we had been and done in these last few years made a difference. I hope many of those characters will also appear in the next chapters as we watch our life story keep unfolding, as God writes it one page at a time.
I was sharing with my mom how I was intent on staying close to these friends, keeping in touch, not letting things fade away. She understood but said, “be careful.” At first her words hurt a little – why would it be bad to stay close with these special people who had become so important to me? Then I was talking with another friend who helped shine a different light on the situation. If ever my friendship or closeness with my friends would make it hard for them to move on, for them to look eagerly to the next chapter God is writing for them personally and as a church, that wouldn’t be good. I wouldn’t want that. God will have to guide and give me wisdom. I was asking one friend in particular about the weekend the church was meeting and voting on the new pastor and his wife. She shared some things with me and then said quietly, “I don’t want to talk about this anymore with you because it’s making me sad.” I agreed. Can we just be friends and not talk about church? Probably.
Think of runners in a relay race who pass the baton one to another to another. When the time comes to pass it, the one running up behind has to hand it to the next runner and then let go. It would be impossible for them to run together, both holding the baton and it would drag the “passer” down into the gravel to hold on too long. I know, that happened to me once in 8th grade track! I feel like God is telling me that it’s time, and it’s okay, to let go. He’s got it all under control. He won’t let my friends down. He has amazing plans for them.
Before our last Sunday at our church in December, God had already started writing on the next fresh, blank page of the new chapter. Not knowing how long of a chapter it will be, we can see already it is and will be a chapter of quiet streams and green pastures. We’ve had time to rest, time to enjoy family we hadn’t seen for a long time, more time to spend with our own girls, their friends and each other, time to be still, and time to be free of responsibility. At times it fills me with a stillness and peace. At times I’ve been almost giddy with joy. We’ve visited the church family we were a part of a long time ago and saw familiar faces, felt at home. Once in a while I feel a twinge of guilt that I should be doing something right now, witnessing to someone, pursuing something. Then I can almost see God hold up the book of our life and show me what he has written for this time, “I, the Lord am your shepherd; I have all that you need. For now I am letting you rest in green meadows; I am leading you beside peaceful streams. I am renewing your strength. I will guide you along right paths, bringing honor to my name.” Tears well up, peace floods in once again. I prayed and prayed for a break often in the last three years or so. In times of pressure or anxiety, when I felt I had too much to bear or too much to do I cried out to Him sometimes, “Lord, please just give me a break. Help relieve me of some of this. It’s heavy and I’m tired.”
It’s funny that it has taken me a few weeks to realize He is answering my prayers right now, for me and for my family. I hear Him saying it’s okay to stop for this time and just rest. I can spend this time just being with Him and drawing nearer. I know the green meadows and quiet streams won’t be our permanent home always – there will certainly be dark valleys ahead sometimes, rough roads, mountains and obstacles to scale with His help. But for now, with the sun warming me, I am laying down in soft, lush grass, curled up in the crook of His strong arm. I am looking up into His clear, loving eyes and reassuring smile and then closing my eyes to rest. Let my Shepherd, my Author, write on…