On a steep uphill climb during a college retreat, this freshman and first-generation college student felt rather lonely. For multiple days before the retreat, I had been steeped in the challenges of dissecting financial aid nomenclature, navigating an obscurely written campus map, and combing through my nearest Bed Bath and Beyond to stock my empty dorm room. My parents weren’t there to drop me off (we could only afford one plane ticket from New York to Chicago), and I had no compass to guide me through the uncharted territory I faced. Thinking about all of the unknowns ahead, I lay in my twin bed the night before the retreat feeling totally and utterly alone as a single tear dropped down my face and onto the dry, brown carpet below me.
I keep a relatively busy schedule and often feel like I have a lot on my plate. Some weeks it feels like my husband and I are running on several different schedules from one another, only connecting for brief moments maybe at dinner or a shared responsibility.
I learned recently that the Hebrew word that is translated to “wilderness” in the Old Testament, midbar, comes from a root word that means “word” or “to speak.” One common understanding of this connection is that the wilderness is where you go to hear the voice of God.
I was 12 when I first got my Facebook account. My parents believed it was a good way for me to stay connected to my family who all were starting to disperse across the nation. I already had an email account through a child-friendly service so my parents could access and read every email (even if it had previously been deleted). Facebook felt like my first account that had true freedom on the Internet. I could post whatever I wanted, and I could talk to any of my Facebook friends. My parents warned me not to accept anyone I didn’t know in real life and that even if the Internet seemed temporary and I could delete, posts live on forever. Soon, I was on my way.
This week we packed our two cars full of kids and dogs and clothes and moved across the country. Moving is destabilizing. Most of what you know is stripped away. You have to have your GPS for a trip to the grocery store. The schools are different. Your church is different. Your home is different. Your neighbors are different.
With or without a move, the world is destabilizing right now. Things seem different, in constant flux and change.
Have you ever been through a season where life didn’t go as planned? Maybe a vacation you planned was canceled or a cruise was postponed. Or maybe you didn’t get into your top school for college. Most of us have gone through a season where life took an unexpected turn. It can cause pain from unmet expectations, make us stress, and even cause us to doubt the Lord’s goodness.
Yup. Sometimes situations in life can cause us to doubt God.
My husband recently made this statement in a sermon: “As Christians, we believe in an alien identity and an alien purpose. We believe that our identity and purpose come not from within, but from above.” These days, that kind of statement can be an unusual way to talk about identity!
Have you ever experienced a seemingly mundane interaction that was actually very impactful?
But I didn’t notice at first.
Let me tell you what I mean.
If you ask Christians why they go to church, the answers will vary. We recently went through (some of us are still going through) a time when regular church attendance was not possible. It left many asking the question, “Why do we go to church?”
This blog post is adapted from Overcoming Life’s Sorrows by R. Reed Lessing.
“I Only Have Eyes for You.” Harry Warren and Al Dubin composed this song in 1934. Numerous musicians have recorded it, including Peggy Lee, Frank Sinatra, and Art Garfunkel. Rolling Stone ranks the Flamingos’ version of the song 157th on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
The Lord has His own version of this golden oldie. He only has eyes for exiles. Compare this with what Babylon said to Judean deportees: “You’re slaves, prisoners, cogs in our vast and ever-growing political machine!”