"Remember not the former things, nor consider things of old.
Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness and springs in the desert."
So, what happens when a family of five, the adventurous brother-in-law (brother, uncle), and the trusty pup, pile in the urban adventure wagon and set out across the US? How hard will it be to get along? What smells will emanate from the back seat? How many times will someone ask, "Are we there yet?" Will all seven make the final destination? These are the questions that must be considered in this week's installment of Road Rules: Big Bertha Edition...where the pleasantries may go away as the family must become real.
Yes, we all piled in the silver Suburban, outfitted with a roof bag and a rear carrier. My kids and my wife have affectionately dubbed the family car, Big Bertha. It is fitting I must say. Surprisingly, we all fit into this monster of a car leaving only three boxes of to be mailed later items at my in-laws. (Thanks Phil and Marge!) Then we started on the first leg of our cross-country journey.
That is kind of a simplistic assessment though. Sure, we started our physical trip yesterday, but we have been on this journey for a long time. As I drove Bertha down the interstate yesterday I could not help but wonder how we will all change because of this trip we are taking. I looked in the rear view mirror and saw my wife and three girls smiling and laughing as we pulled out of the drive way and turned into the afternoon sun. How will these people be impacted by changing everything they know and all they are familiar with? Will they be stronger? Will they be more caring? More loving? More patient? Or, could this possibly be a disaster through and through?
The last few weeks have helped me to formulate some answers to those questions. (Isn't is wonderful how God works!) Prior to heading to the beach we stopped by Wingate University, our Alma Mater. It was a wonderful trip down memory lane. The school and I have a lot in common. Although both of us our recognizable we have both gone through many changes. Some of the core elements remain steadfast, but there is growth in areas of expertise and in the capacity to let more people in. Construction abounds at the University and it is not lacking in me. Some of the changes at the school, I didn't like, and some of the things I previously found displeasing still remain. And, it would be remiss, to not mention that both of us are a bit bigger than when we last saw one another.
Looking back, I find it hard not to consider how different of a person I am now then I was in those years. Better? Not sure. Different? Totally. I have a better grasp of the importance of faith and the strength of hope found in the person of Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross for humanity. But, how does that make me different? I can still focus the flaws of others more readily than I am willing to tackle my own weaknesses. I still say things and do things that most would consider out of place for a minister. I am still growing. I am still under construction.
Perhaps, the fortunate opportunity to stroll through the memories of my past were not as much for the opportunity to remember them as much as it was for the ability to let them go. This journey, this path we have taken, is decidedly, to invoke change in each of us. It is a path God has made clear and a road that we trust He leads us on. There is a new idea of who we are to become and it is rooted in the Creator of heaven and earth and made possible in us through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. We cannot forget who we once were, for that is part of the journey, but we must let it go to be renewed in the glory and righteousness of God. There are going to be bumps in the road and, even with GPS, we are going to get lost. Also, I am positive that something funky is spoiling in the car. But, it is life. It is the path to renewal. It is the stretching of who we know ourselves to be to form into the person God has created us to become.
Over the last three weeks we have spent time with family. We all know each other very well and there are very few secrets that exist (unless we have some really good secret keepers!). But, the point is, these people know me now and they knew me then. They have seen the growth, the slips and falls, and have been there to dust me off and get me back on the path. There is no denial that I am often times not the friend, brother, son, father, and in-law I am supposed to be. But, in part of this renewal and in part of this growth into the service of God, we have been placed into a family of understanding, support, and love that accepts those inadequacies. They have loved me no matter what. It is hard moving so far away, but the bonds we share are unbreakable by distance.
I feel the new thing God is doing. I feel the pull taking us through the wilderness and into the springs of the desert.