The Way of Loss
Sometimes when God closes a door, he also boards up all the windows because he's leading you through the desert and he's protecting you from a dust storm. All that's left, then, is to sit quietly inside and wait until the wind and darkness finally subside. I've yet to find a plaque with that sentiment in any bookstore, but it has come to mean more to me than any promise of ease.
I began the year knowing there would be transition--MAJOR transition--but I had no idea how it would all play out. At the beginning of each year I spend time reviewing the previous twelve months and asking God to show me where he is leading in the next twelve. I have a series of questions I usually ask, but this January I recognized my questions would not be helpful. I threw them out and began to list the changes I knew were coming. In every one of my roles something big was shifting in 2015. I was sending another child off to college, I was finishing my graduate program and losing that regular community, my health was declining and open heart surgery was scheduled, my book was being released, friendships were ending painfully, Richard's job was changing, and my regular consulting jobs and travel were suddenly ended. The only role I saw untouched was my role as daughter. Little did I know.
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
So much of our imagery of death is around the wilderness and the wandering toward the promised land via the Jordan river. In a beautiful way, my dad and I crossed the metaphorical Jordan together; him to eternity and me to the end of this season of wandering and the beginning of what God has been preparing me for. The storm has passed and I find myself sitting in my house on the other side of the Jordan with all the doors and windows wide open. And, the reminder that this life is not all there is.
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!
Kelli is a writer, speaker and consultant equipping leaders for a deepening intimacy with Christ, greater impact in ministry and more effective intentionality in all of life.
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