Recently I was packing up items from a closet in our house. Next weekend we are moving from our home in Knoxville to stay with family in Pennsylvania. We are entering into the transition stage of our journey to Zimbabwe. Most missionaries go through a stage like this in which they live or operate from a temporary place until they are equipped and prepared to finally move to their new country. For us, every day is full of sentiment as we spend time with beloved friends, give away items we can't take with us, and pack up items that have beautiful memories attached to them. The items in this closet made me especially sentimental because they were photo albums and journals from years past.
I was sitting on the floor looking at the stack of journals thinking, "What do I do with these?" So I decided to scan through one to see if it would help me to decide. It was from 2006. And I found 2 quotes inside that apply directly to this season of transition for Tuck and me.
The first comes from my friend Dan Butler who has been a missionary for a long time. "Closure is the art of bringing to a satisfactory conclusion the passage of life through which we have just passed. Closure enables us to move on from one passage of life to another without carrying burdens of guilt and false expectations. It allows us to build on previous experiences instead of camping in the emotional fog of past memories." Dan gave me this quote a month before I had left Ethiopia in 2004 to help me process reentry into the States, and I have revisited it frequently since.
The other is a prayer that comes from Augustine's Confessions: "Gracious God, our Heavenly Father, we confess that we have sought from people and things what only you can give. Our hearts hunger for intimacy, our souls for significance, but only You can satisfy our longings. Truly "You have made us Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in You." Forgive us, help us, heal us, we ask through Christ Jesus our Savior and King."
As I sat on the floor, surrounded by my old journals and photos, I contemplated that prayer. It made me think of Simon, James and John's reaction to Christ's call. Luke records their response in chapter 5 of his book: "they left everything and followed Him." Christ told them that He would make them fishers of men, and they were so compelled, they dropped their nets and joined Him.
I guess it feels a little bit like He's calling us in the same way. It seemed like it was easy for those young men to leave their jobs and families to follow this young Rabbi, but it probably wasn't. We hope to step through this passage of life with good closure and joy for the next. We don't know what to expect but we can trust that He will satisfy our longings along the way.