You've heard the old saying, "It's good to go, and it's good to come home."
Last week I returned from a road trip of over 1670 miles. I wound my way through the misty mountains of Pennsylvania, passed rows of giant windmills with outstretched arms, and tunneled my way through fields of corn and beans. Family in two mid-western states drew me like a magnet . . . every mile a little closer, every hour an accomplishment.
My trip was everything I hoped for.
Barry's siblings, their families, and I all gathered for a long-overdue rendez-vous over lunch. I enjoyed my sister and brother-in-law's warm hospitality where we picked green beans and zucchini from their garden, reminisced over breakfast, and chatted before bed. My youngest daughter and I laughed and talked, visited her workplace and church, and savored the sun at Silver Beach on Lake Michigan. I saw where she rents a room and rides her bike. We walked her trails together. On my last full day, she, my sister, and I picked blueberries in a large dewey patch in the country.
For me, the best parts of any reunion are the conversations. Seems we start out by catching up on the news and seeing whatever is new since last time. Yet, it's the sharing of thoughts and hopes and fears and dreams . . . the sharing of souls . . . that I treasure.
Sometimes multiple conversations blend together to give us a takeaway that rides the miles home with us, taking root in our hearts and giving us courage to face whatever's next. This time I've come away with three words. Three words to take with me through these next weeks of uncertainty and challenge.
Gratefulness Faithfulness Contentment
If you're like me, life's surprise trials can "throw you for a loop," as my mom used to say. We feel blindsided, panicky even - and find ourselves wondering, "Is this my fault? What could I have done differently to avoid this circumstance? What about the others this will affect? Where is God in all this?" We just want to get back to normal, after all. We want to be healthy, stable, predictable . . . fine.
But maybe "perpetually fine" is unrealistic. Jesus said, "In this world you will have tribulation" (John 6:33), but He doesn't leave us alone. Can we trust His sovereign yet loving hand? Will we choose to express gratefulness to Him and to the people around us? Will faithfulness characterize our daily walk? Can we learn contentment, regardless?
These are some of the questions I've been contemplating since coming home. A brochure came in the mail this week with these settling words: "Because God loves us so much, He never allows pain without purpose. He longs for us to run to Him and find shelter, courage, strength, and help in our times of distress. In these moments, we are drawn closer to Him and we begin to understand His working in our lives."
Gratefulness, faithfulness, and contentment. Three words to live by in troubling times.