Friday, June 23, 2006

he lived in tents

Last week our family went on vacation to Virginia. We stayed at my aunt and uncle's house in the mountains (thank you Aunt Nancy and Uncle Larry!). It was GORGEOUS up there! So cool (relatively speaking!) and green and hilly. As we drove through the twisting mountain roads, I exclaimed (as I always seem to every time I go anywhere north of Georgia) - "Why, exactly do I live in Florida?!" I've decided that after I go to Thailand for a few years, I'm definitely moving to Tennessee or North Carolina. (Or perhaps Oregon...I was reading Blue Like Jazz all week and found myself daydreaming of living in green, lumpy places. : ) Anyway, I'll try and post pictures so you all can see exactly what I'm talking about.

This trip was especially meaningful because it included all and only my immediate family (excepting my brother-in-law, who was unable to come with us) - the last trip with all of us before I move. The last time we went on a family trip with just us, it was before my older sister got married (which was 8 years ago!). As we were headed up, my dad told me, "You know, Catherine, this trip is for you" - MY trip before I leave home. And I couldn't have asked for a better, more precious gift.

My family has been hounding me this past month for ideas of what I want for my birthday (which was several weeks ago) and I've had the hardest time coming up with a birthday list this year. It's not that there aren't things that I would like to have, it's just that every belonging of mine seems to be attached with a weight or size (and hence, cost) in my brain as I try and figure out how I'm going to get it all in a few suitcases to take across the ocean. I'm already stressed as I look at my room and office, trying to figure out how on earth I'm going to take or ship the things I'll need and then what on earth to do with the rest in the meantime. My poor hope chest that is filled with linens and tea cups and small kitchen appliances that I "hoped" to one day use in my own apartment or home will now be set aside for another few years. The thought of adding another physical possession to the lot is almost more burdensome than it is a joy.

I've been memorizing Hebrews 11 this spring and have been especially struck by the testimony of Abraham to the worth of following Christ:

"By faith, Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith, he made his home in the promised land, like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God."

Every phrase speaks so personally to where I am right now. I've had the phrase "he lived in tents" going through my head all during this packing and shipping process. At first, when I read that, I asked myself, "What is our modern-day version of living in tents?" I don't think it's just talking about RVs (though I suppose that could be part of it). It seems to speak of a life lived in constant movement or change of location, the exact opposite of being "settled down" - like living out of suitcases or boxes or something. And that's where I feel like I am now.

How do I live this way - especially being one who is so in love with home? Like Abraham - by faith - with my eyes looking ever forward to that glorious, blessed, promised city that DOES have foundations. The city where my Jesus lives. One day I will be there with Him and all the moving and upheaval will be over, and I can settle in for all eternity to delight in my Savior and all His awesomeness.

On Jordan's stormy banks I stand
And cast a wishful eye
To Canaan's fair and happy land
Where my possessions lie.

All o'er those wide extended plains
Shines one eternal day;
There God the Son forever reigns
And scatters night away.

No chilling winds, nor poisonous breath
Can reach that healthful shore;
Sickness, sorrow, pain and death
Are felt and feared no more

When shall I reach that happy place,
And be forever blest?
When shall I see my Father's face,
And in His bosom rest?

I am bound, I am bound, I am bound for the promised land.


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