Four boys and one mom headed up the driveway, heat dissipating from the gravel and wildfire haze in the air. We dug through dusty totes, and as we found the ones we were looking for, we brandished them back down to the house. Smacking one a few times to relieve it of dust, I unzipped the large canvas duffle and began dispersing its contents upon a shady place on the ground.
"I miss the RV", 15-year-old man-child remarked, in his witty, deadpan, tongue-in-cheek way that we all love. A few chuckles erupted from our small crowd and we set to work, setting up the family tent for the first time since that man-child was a wee boy.
Unfurling the tent, something sprayed out which literally made my heart skip a beat. I became immediately aware of the familiar, hollow space in my gut, which has lessened from time to time but definitely has not dissipated like the heat from the gravel on this sultry 95 degree day.
Sand from the Little Susitna riverbed.
It had remained for all these years, tucked away in crawl space and moving vans and garages…and when those tiny fragments of my beloved homeland met my eyes, so did the tears. It's amazing the love God can give for a place. So deep-seeded that no matter where we find ourselves, it is carried along with us, like His presence. But then again, His name is Love.
So often we find ourselves in the in-between. That space from which we can still so easily look back with love and longing, and yet we can also strain to see ahead that place in life we are hoping for yet seems so out of reach.
Why He isn't relieving the physical symptoms which have surfaced due to
so. much. stress. for. so. long.
Why we just aren't settled. We wonder these things, and wonder if they ever will be. And it's so hard to be in this in-between, and to seek Him continually, and to continually hear, "You'll see. Be still, and know that I am God."
"Be still and know that I am God"
Be still…when there seems to be no forward movement. Be still…when it all seems to be falling into place for everyone but you. Be still…as the number of jobs applied for over seven months continue to mount. Be still…while your kids grow like wildfire and you feel desperate to be settled while they're all still home with you. Be still…in your two-bedroom house. Be still…while housing market skyrockets. Be still…when panic attacks well up and you can't quell them. Be still. Be still.
That is the answer. We know this, and yet to put it into practice? Not so easy. Yet perhaps when we find ourselves "in-between", that is the most fertile ground for this lesson to grow. It's easy to trust when things are going easily and smoothly. Easy to "be still" during the honeymoon of a big exciting life change. But when time goes on and on and on and we hit the real grit, will we "be still" then? Will we trust He has our best good in mind…even when it doesn't match our dreams. When the forward motion seems to have lost momentum. When nothing makes sense. When the ground seems fallow.
Our present home was in dire need of landscaping. Of any sort of green. The elderly couple who lived here previously had embraced low-maintenance, and rocks are low-maintenance. So after the snow said farewell this past spring, we chose one small section of yard and began hauling rocks out, load by load. We dug out dead shrubs, made space for things to grow. Placed landscape edging to provide the boundaries of the new green growth we hoped for. Had a load of soil delivered. Spread it by hand. When the soil was prepared, we seeded. And watered. And hoped. For two days, that is, until a massive, freak storm moved in and we watched all our hard work careen down into the driveway in torrents of rain.
We reseeded, and began watering, 6-8 times per day to keep up with the sweltering heat made even more swelteringly by all the ROCK around here.
Our 16-year-old stared at the ground one day, then broke the silence with, "I'm really beginning to resent this yard project. It just won't grow….just like anything here…it's just so hard." Do you ever experience someone putting into words, exactly what is in your heart? Yeah, me too.
But it's growing.
We're being tended like this, and so much more diligently and tenderly, by the Gardener. He knows the boundaries we need for this present time. He is breaking up our hard places. He is sowing and nurturing. When the storms come and the lack of our strength is revealed, He is patiently reseeding. We're in His good care, and though at this time of in-between we aren't readily seeing the growth, it is there, if only hidden in tiny seeds beneath the surface of fertile soil. The fertile soil of the "in-between".
This is God's will for us right now. Evidenced by the fact that this is what is. It won't always be like this, but right now it is. And it's my choice, my responsibility, to live fully in this time. To spurn the temptation to put life on hold until things fall into place. Grow a garden, if even a small one. Get the chickens I've been dreaming of having for ten years. Possess the land He's given us now. Be thankful for what was. Look forward to what will be. But live fully now.
Be still and know.