The Way of Loss
In the middle of September I was reading in Exodus about the wandering of the Israelites in the desert. I've always been struck with the frustrating circling and seeming randomness of God's leading during that time. There was no efficiency or structure to their going or their resting. They simply followed the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. They moved when God's presence in the cloud moved and stopped when it stopped. And along the way, there was loss as the older generation died off. It hit me that I felt a little like the Israelites. I was trying to follow God, but I could not discern any progress toward whatever thing he had for me; my "promised land". I began to draw my year on a piece of paper, noting major events and times I had been instructed to move and times I had stayed put for weeks or months. As I reached the date of my drawing, I drew the pillar of cloud. I don't know why, but my heart sank. It felt frightening because I had no idea what was on the other side. Even though I trusted I would eventually be led to a new place full of life and freedom, I had a sense that the wandering and the loss wasn't yet over.
Two weeks later I was standing over my dad's hospital bed as machines and medicine worked overtime to keep him alive. And then he was gone. Loss that I couldn't have imagined.
After the Storm
I'm looking forward to a new year. A new season of life. And a respite in the wandering and loss. But I am filled with gratitude at the constant presence, provision and protection of Jesus through it all. What an amazing year!