The song “Misty Mountains” from The Hobbit soundtrack is stuck in my head, and its haunting my thoughts. Though I’m a big fan of the Lord of the Rings, this isn’t the reason I’m thinking so much about it.
Like Bilbo in The Hobbit, tomorrow I’ll be going on an adventure. It won’t be a quest to reclaim a homeland and slay a dragon (I could include so many more quotes from the movies), but it will be an adventure nonetheless. I will move to Wenatchee, WA, tomorrow, a city of which a week ago I knew nothing. After losing my last job in August, I have now moved on to another job in the center of the state. And if you know much about Washington, you know the center of the state has little in common with the green, urban, ocean-hugged west side. This will be a new experience for me. A new chapter has begun in my life.
Yet I cannot claim this accomplishment myself. God has done all the work. He has provided for me yet again. In February I told Him I was desperate to get a job, so He answered with a job in an architecture firm near Seattle. That required moving north, but I was still near many friends and my family, not to mention several large cities. Then I lost my job at summer’s close, and prayed the same plea to my Father in heaven. Again He answered, but now He is pushing me further away from comfort: this time, He is leading me to a city where I can think of only one person in a fifty-mile radius whom I know, where there is much more land taken by mountains than by skyscrapers, and indeed where I couldn’t point out on a map six months ago.
My biggest concern isn’t any of those things, though. My biggest concern is what I will do to connect with the body of Christ, his Church.
When I moved to Redmond in February, a dear friend from college who lived nearby introduced me to a church of which he seemed very fond. I quickly grew to enjoy the group of people also, and made plans to become more involved in the community. However, when I lost my job, I had a hunch my time with those people would not last much longer–and when I received the offer for the job in Wenatchee, my hunch was confirmed.
Now that I will move to a city where I had never been before last week, what do I do? And what do I do with the people I met and befriended in Redmond? For that matter, what do I do with the people in all the churches in which I have been part?
This is the reason the constant relocating is causing me to feel weary. I moved to college. I moved away from college. I moved for a job. I moved away after losing the job. And now I am moving for another job.
That is quite a bit of moving, and I am losing energy to establish myself. My resolve to plant roots is wearing out.
I don’t think the moving itself is causing this fatigue. If I planned to wander from area to area, I am certain the travel would invigorate me. But I haven’t planned these moves. Each time I relocated, I expected to stay in the location for a long time. Yet never yet has that been the case. Each time I hope to stay somewhere, the hope uses some of my vitality. And with so much vitality gone, I don’t know if I will retain the ability to feel like anywhere is home.
When I feel this discomfort and disillusionment, Jesus’ honesty about his life comforts me: “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (Luke 9:58). Even now, as I prepare for the long drive tomorrow, I plan to bring blankets and a pillow in case I need to sleep in my car. As of now, I haven’t signed a lease on a place to live, since Wenatchee is experiencing a miniature modern-day exodus: masses of people from the northern regions of the state are seeking shelter after their homes burnt down earlier this year. This is making places to live hard to find. I will stay with the one person I know in the area for a little while, but I fear overstaying my welcome and as such am prepared to rest my head on my steering wheel.
Even as I think about it, though, my fear is losing space in my thoughts to the excitement. This is an adventure–a real-life adventure! Uncertainties, dangers, constant travel, a dragon: all of it comes with being on an adventure (though the dragon might not be in this one). My future looks dark, yet I am eager to follow God as He guides me through the darkness. He has always provided for me before, and I know He will continue to provide. His provision will at times come in unusual forms, but it is provision all the same.
Soon, for a while, I may have no place to lay my head. But this is a worthless loss compared to the joy of following my Lord. He is the Suffering Servant, and he has called me to follow in his stead, even to follow him to death. I will learn more what it means to suffer as I follow him, and I will also learn more what it means to live in his Kingdom, a kingdom where shalom–peace–comforts and satisfies all.
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In this world you will tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.
// John 16:33