A sprint through final exams and it’s all over. Friends pack up and move away, leaving nails in the walls and echoes of laughter and a jar of peanut butter on the shelf.
They teach me about grapefruit slushies, opening a home to strangers and a love unconditional.
I sift through my closet looking for something ankle length that can scrap along dirt paths and fish out my flip flops from the back of my closet. Fold up a few articles of clothing to put in my carry on, stop by the store on a rainy day to pick up some coffee creamer in meek preparation.
My Bible sits dusted under a pile of textbooks and I shove them to the floor and flip it open to Exodus.
Where do you begin when such a beautiful chapter is ending?
From their glory to His glory.
From their city, to the foreign wilderness, to His promised land.
I flip these pages smudged with soil, cookie dough batter and the trail of lead my left hand leaves behind.
How quickly I forget.
The Israelites, frankly, seem so ignorant when they turn to something so fragile and meaningless as a gold calf.
And yet how often do I find myself turning to my own glittering, gold wants for myself.
They hold on to resentful bitterness as my white knuckles grip the economy class seating KLM flight bound for Uganda.
And as for me, I clench my pride.
I glance down 30,000 feet below at the tiding ocean beneath me and stay held here, steadfast here cradled in the sky. High above the limits of text messages, internet connection, and conversations with any strings attached. Dangling above safety or anything comforting and known.
And my stubborn heart looks across my own red sea and laughs at the impossibility of the unknown.
Suddenly a trembling ripple that starts small and quakes big. Brushed along by disbelief.
Then, surely, as the tides roll back he makes a way.
He alone makes the way.
It’s not a way without bumps and rocks and potholes. But He made it.
And when I start to grumble, I thank him instead. And grace the ground in front of me with my first toe.
His presence goes before this faith walk. And I can’t rest certain that the sea won’t fall in and crush me. But it’s the path he has led me on. And so, I walk it.
How often I doubt.
I release my fists to pick up something greater. To run my fingers thru his very footprints. That it’s not about getting through life with the least mistakes, but giving glory to something greater.
Three weeks pass, and before I know it, I’m headed back to where I came from. Will I always be anchored in Nashville? Does every season end with my return?
The driver peels me away with the yellow and red and orange flowers lining the way, little buds of encouragement cheering me home. Home? Only, I’m crying.
And I wear my big sunglasses and sniffle and take a sip of water and excuse my shyness as the result of a headache.
The day before I had walked up those big stone steps and caught eyes with small Betty, her face lit up, and her hands no longer shook as she lifted her fork to her mouth.
Tears welled. Peace overwhealmed.
I board the plane knowing no one and not wanting to–with this mess of a ponytail and mayhem of a heart–I keep to myself and watch the quilted green fields pass by underneath.
Soon I drift over the ocean and all too soon I’m back on US soil. 16 hours alone in the air isn’t even enough time to try and fill the hole in my heart I left behind.
I land, and my phone dings a thousand times and a multitude of sights and smells confuse my jet lagged senses, people rush by and I lose my boarding pass and somewhere on the trek my bags got lost but I don’t care about those things anyways.
So I stop.
And unfold some letters and pray for my friend Betty and a prayer for myself that somehow God would use me here.
And there in Detroit, I decide to take His manna, his portion.
To be filled with Him.
Manna means “what is it?”
So instead of asking, I’m thanking. For provision and living here and now.
And ruining comfortable.
For showing me something more and forsaking my definition of peace. For sending my contentment in the American dream crumbling. And ripping the rungs of the social, corporate, and financial ladders of America out from palms and soles of my feet and replacing them with this, manna.
To think, could I ever be satisfied?
What ever is in front of you, He placed it there. And he will continue to place exactly what you need, still there.
So why doubt?
The question remains not how God will use you, but if you will let Him.
If you eat what He gives you. Instead of refusing it.
“Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders? You stretched out your right hand; the earth swallowed them. You have led in your steadfast love the people whom you have redeemed; you have guided them by your strength to your holy abode.” Exodus 15:11-13