I have gotten good at this. It is odd. I don’t enjoy it. I find it to be a pain, but I have gotten really good at this. We all have those talents that we never thought we would develop, but by the sheer number of times you do it, you get good at it. Here I am again, and I know what to do. I have done this so much lately, and I am good at it. What is it? Well, you would think with a thesis very close to being ready to submit, it would be writing, but no I am still really bad at that (just ask my poor supervisors who need to read my writing… I am pretty sure they wonder how I got into this program). It is saying good-bye.
Every few years, I feel like that’s what I am doing. Since I went to college I haven’t stayed anywhere too long. College was four years in Chicago. Then a few years in California (am never quite sure how many that was). Then three years in Colombia. Five years in Nashville. Now I’m about to finish just under three years in Edinburgh. Then off to the Chattanooga area. I am pretty good at this.
It is odd. Spending just enough time to put roots down in a place. Grow to love it, and then bang - we move. Honestly, I don’t love moving. Who does? I don’t love transitioning to a new home, new people, new life. Who does? But this is what my life has become.
The more we move the harder it gets. Leaving Bogota was hard. It was where Taryn and I met. We spent our first year of marriage in Bogota. Leaving Nashville was even harder. So many things about that place, friends, church, ordination, and well… Calvin. Leaving Edinburgh will be hard. We have fallen in love with this place. We love our friends. We love our church. I love my work (yes, who would have thought sitting and reading was something I would love… just kidding). Each of these moves is a little harder.
However, we have an amazing next step ahead of us. I mean, on Friday next week, we get on a plane to spend three weeks in Africa, picking up our daughter! I honestly, can’t believe it. We will then go back to Nashville only to move to Chattanooga. Where we will start our lives all over again; only this time with a daughter. We will start our lives anew, in a new city, with new people with whom we will become friends, in a new church. It will all be new once more.
In the midst of all this, I often find myself groping for some sort of stability. I look for something on which to place my hand that does not change. It can’t be my family. Just look at the three of us, we are about to become ‘the four us’. The three of us that came to Edinburgh are very different from the three of us that are leaving Edinburgh. It isn’t my work. I am going to a new job. It isn’t my friends. We have all changed, and the friends I go back to the States to reunite with will be different from the ones I left behind. No, everything in my life seems to change. The truth is ‘you can never step into the same river twice’ or as the old proverb goes, ‘you can’t go home again.’
Yet, isn't that what we all want? Don’t we all feel the constancy of change. We see it happen all around us. Nothing is ever the same. We become nostalgic for a time that probably never actually existed, but that we remember in our heads; the ‘good ole days’. What sustains me in the midst of all these changes? What sustains me as I struggle with the uncertainty that lies ahead? The only thing that sustains me is the only person who never changes.
We read all over the Scripture that God does not change. ‘There is no shadow of turning’ (James 1:17). ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever’ (Heb 13:8). God’s name is ‘I AM who I AM’ (Ex 3:14). He is the one who doesn’t change. We can hear the author of Hebrews apply a passage to Christ that was written of YHWH, ‘But you are the same, and your years will have no end’ (Hebrews 1:12).
In the midst of all the change in my life, I grasp hold of the only One who stays the same. Because he stays the same, because he does not change, I can have hope. This hope holds forth the truth that in my life, the God was, is, and forever will be, is my refuge. I can take shelter under the shadow of his wing.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah — Psalm 46:1–3
So, today we get one step closer to everything changing again. I have gotten used to it. My constant companion for most of my adult life is uncertainty. However, The Great Unchangeable I AM holds me in his hands. So, even now as I struggle with all the new things coming into my life, I can have hope. I can have faith. I can be of good cheer. God holds me in his hand, and he cannot be shaken.