This past weekend, Stephen and I started packing to move out of the rental house where our family has lived for the last 5.5 years. When we moved back from Italy, broken and reeling from the events that led to our family leaving full-time missions, this house became a safe place for us to land and settle while God healed our hearts and pieced our lives back together.
As we have started decluttering, I am reminded of our early days here, when we had almost nothing. In the beginning, the house was largely empty of furniture and belongings, just echoing rooms with a few mismatched pieces given to us by caring friends and family who wanted to help in tangible ways. I am so grateful for those kind souls who donated basic essentials so we could establish some sense of normalcy in the sea of chaos that swirled around us.
Over the months and years that followed, we slowly furnished each room, piece by piece, and settled into this house, making it a home. Our kids spent their high school years here and brought friends over often, filling the rooms with noise and laughter. On quiet Saturdays, Stephen and I would curl up on the thrifted sectional in our den, watching movies and eating popcorn. For holidays, our extended family would gather for meals in our kitchen around the large, oak table that had previously sat in my mom and dad’s dining room for decades.
This house has witnessed a multitude of joys and sorrows, mundane moments and jubilant celebrations. We have been thankful for the Lord’s provision of this place to settle and heal. But over the last few months, I have become acutely aware that this home represents our wilderness season. Our family has made a life here and in many ways, it has been a good one, but this was never meant to be the end of the road. It has been a temporary stop, although a long one, on our journey.
Now we find this season coming quickly to a close. With our son off serving in the military and our daughter preparing to leave the nest to start her next chapter, the Lord has made it clear this year that He is calling us to new things. In the wake of heartache and devastation, God has brought healing and restoration here. With that, He has given new vision and promises for the future. Dreams are being reawakened and the glimmer of possibility is both exhilarating and terrifying.
I find myself wondering if this is how the Israelites felt after Moses’s death when Joshua sent word for everyone to prepare their provisions because it was time for them to cross over the Jordan River into the land God had promised (Joshua 1:10-11). The wilderness had been their normal for as long as they could remember, but their time there was swiftly winding down. The Promised Land beckoned, but would they be courageous enough to follow the Lord’s leading and take possession of it?
In a similar way, God has given me a glimpse of the future He is calling us into, and it requires packing up and moving from this wilderness place. However, as of yet, He hasn’t revealed much beyond that. We know the direction we’re headed, but not a lot of details. In fact, as we pack with a looming deadline to be out of this house by October 31st, we still don’t know where we will be living next.
A few years ago, something like this would have sent me into a tailspin of anxiety and desperation. But while there have been moments when I have cracked opened the door when fear knocked, I am determined not to put out the welcome mat. The Lord has done too much over the last few years to prove Himself faithful to our family. As sure as I know my own name, I am confident that my God has a plan and that His provision for us can be trusted absolutely. So I wait with an expectant heart, with my eyes and ears tuned to what the Lord may be doing or saying.
As the Israelites waited on the banks of the Jordan for the Ark of the Covenant to clear the path through the river (Joshua 3:13-17), so I wait for the Lord to go ahead of us, leading the way. I know that He has prepared a place for us and that He will show us the next step in His way and in His timing. Until then I will keep packing in faith for what’s to come.
In the first month after we returned from the mission field, I made a decision that I would choose to follow God even though our lives seemed to be completely falling apart. At that time, I bought a piece of art with the verse from Joshua 24:15 - “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
It was the first thing I hung on the walls of this house and it will be the last one that I take down before our moving truck pulls away. When God leads us to the next stop on our journey, I will hang it again, as a resolute declaration that we have chosen to serve the Lord no matter what. Because despite the hardships and difficulties we have faced, God’s presence and provision have been with us every step of the way.
So we trust that God will provide the next place for us to live when our days in this home are done. And we will pray for God to bless and show Himself faithful to the next family to dwell within the walls of this house, just as He has done for us.