This is the Year of the Move in my family. My mother and middle sister moved in May. My younger sister, her husband and their four kids moved this past summer. My brother and sister-in-law…well, they’re always on the move, but it usually has to do with global travel for my brother’s work. Now Michael and I are among the Fellowship of the Vagabonds, moving to a home 1,600 miles away, but moving first into a temporary furnished apartment 100 miles away for a few months in the meantime.
We’re not alone. A consulting firm called Twentysomething, Inc. claims 85% of 2011 college grads moved back home last spring, already drowning in college loan debt and unable to find jobs.
The New York Times reports that America’s Blacks are moving south in record numbers–the highest rate since the Great Migration of Blacks from the South to the North in 1910. Atlanta has now replaced Chicago as the city with the largest population of Blacks, second only to New York City.
I used to think all this moving around was a product of our collective restlessness and the hyperactivity of our culture that has an attention span of about 45 seconds. But the U.S. Census Bureau, which keeps track of such things in mind-numbing detail, reports that in the 1940s about 20% of the population moved in any given year. By comparison, in 2010, the latest year for which we have data, only about 12.5% of Americans moved. Does that surprise you?
However, in all these exhaustive statistics, I have yet to see anything that measures the emotional, physical, mental and spiritual toll that is exacted from us when we move. With this most recent effort to sell our home, our dog was so traumatized by the unending stream of strangers visiting our home during all the real estate showings, she began biting people. Not a good way to endear yourself to prospective home buyers.
My biggest stress was reserved for moving day when the dispatcher called to say the 70-foot-long moving van couldn’t make the turns into our housing development, requiring a shuttle truck to carry our belongings from our home to the Mother Ship. Four very hard-working guys were forced to load everything twice.
It gives me a new appreciation for Moses who was tasked with the job of moving more than a million men, women and children through the desert to The Promised Land…wherever that was…and, oh, did I mention, it took forty years? Now that’s a logistical problem to give any dispatcher heartburn.
Or take Abraham. God tells Abraham He has an incredible plan for his life, one that will change the course of history. But it requires a major move of Abe’s entire clan to a foreign land. God gives no carefully planned route to get there. In fact, He doesn’t even give the poor guy a destination! God simply says “Go!” and Abraham goes.
If I were Abraham, it would be an entirely different story. I’d be saying, “God, you’re killin’ me here. I need details. How do I know what stuff to toss out and what to take? How do I know if my sofa will fit in the living room and if the pantry is big enough? How can I make arrangements for trash pickup and cable and utilities to be activated? I need a floor plan of the new digs and a list of the nearest schools, the name of a good painter, a handyman, a doctor and hairdresser. Help me out here, God!”
The process of moving is a lot like the journey of faith. It can be as simple as saying, “I believe in you, Lord. I don’t know where this faith thing will lead me, but you went to such extraordinary lengths to demonstrate Your love for me, I’ll follow you because You’re trustworthy. Let’s go!” Or I can complicate it–not with reasonable questions, but with questions that demonstrate the real issue, which is who’s going to be in charge of this journey, who will call the shots? God says, “That would be Me.”
We can learn something from Abraham. When God says “Go do this,” our first response should be “Yes,” then prayer asking for as much detail as He thinks we need to know, then steps to do the next thing, Just the next thing. Repeat as needed. It’s the prescription for a peaceful journey, especially on journeys where the destination is unknown.