” The LORD works out everything for his own ends—even the wicked for a day of disaster (Proverbs 16:4).”
Almost one year ago I moved to the land of my childhood. I grew up in the mountains of southwest Virginia, and a job offer provided me the opportunity to return to this place from overseas. I jumped at the chance.
I saw many advantages to this move, especially for me and my family. We’d have the opportunity especially to raise our kids in American culture and the Christian environment we so appreciated.
One thing I was particularly looking forward to, though, was the mountains and the scenery. I expected to go on my own nostalgic tour, mentally, emotionally and physically, the latter through hiking my head off.
However, while I awake every day to the mountains, and I have been on some good hikes since I have come back here, I am not really enjoying the experience. This is because that the change of venue hasn”t changed my life circumstances.
All coming back her has done is to transport my same old problems across a continent and an ocean to a different place. Thus, the mountains and other nature I so looked forward to don’t pique my emotions the way I thought they would.
It’s galling to me that what I had hoped to be so satisfying has in fact been colored by other issues. I can relate to Solomon’s observation and complaints about one reaching the pot at the end of the rainbow and discovering it was empty:
“I have seen another evil under the sun, and it weighs heavily on men — God gives a man wealth, possessions and honor, so that he lacks nothing his heart desires, but God does not enable him to enjoy them, and a stranger enjoys them instead. This is meaningless, a grievous evil.
A man may have a hundred children and live many years; yet no matter how long he lives, if he cannot enjoy his prosperity and does not receive proper burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he. It comes without meaning, it departs in darkness, and in darkness its name is shrouded. Though it never saw the sun or knew anything, it has more rest than does that man- even if he lives a thousand years twice over but fails to enjoy his prosperity (Ecclesiastes 6:1-6).”
“What is the meaning of this?!” I ask God. I mean this in the same way as the person who asks this in the fashion of “What do you think you are doing!?”
In reality, I think God does have a meaning and purpose to my relocation experience. It’s just that his goals are not the same as mine at the time of my departure from Europe.
Frankly, I think God couldn’t give an owl’s hoot whether I enjoy the nature and my magical mystery nostalgia tour I have tried to engineer for myself. He’s more interested in changing my heart than He is my location. I am beginning to think that our move was meant more to change me than my domicile.
Am I happy with that? No, I’m not, in all honesty. It’s been a hard landing for me here, and I don’t appreciate it.
I should have known this would happen, however. The way of God seems to involve pain in order to bring happiness in the end. Here’s what Jesus told his disciples as He was ready to depart this world:
“I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.”
As a middle-aged man, just eligible for a senior coffee at Hardee’s, eternity seems to be coming closer. God’s plan seems to involve preparing me for it.
At this point, all I feel like doing is looking up and saying “Maranatha”. I’m tired of this old world, including the old-new one I just moved to.