Imagine you are halfway through a road trip to a favorite destination. The initial excitement of the getaway has worn off, but you aren’t quite close enough to the destination to see signs for it yet. Traffic is cooperating perfectly- in fact, other than a sporadic car that either you pass or passes you, you are alone on the road. The scenery is monotonous. Occasionally you hit a pothole or have to slow down for a work zone, but mostly, nothing is happening. You go on autopilot, your thoughts wander, and you lose your sense of time and distance for a while.
That’s how 2021 has felt to me so far.
I feel like I’m going through the motions, hitting a few potholes on occasion (but nothing that slows the journey), and time has passed without me even being aware of it.
In the Old Testament, we see leaders often setting up memorial stones. One example of this practice is in Joshua 4. After God parted the Jordan River for the Israelites to cross into the promised land, God directed Joshua to set stones as a memorial so that, “When your children ask in time, ‘What do those stones mean to you? Then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord.’”(6-7).
We have a tendency to forget, to zone out, to mindlessly go through the motions, to lose sight of what God has done. The result is often complacency, apathy, and passivity. God had Joshua establish a memorial so that the Israelites would have a physical reminder of God’s power and provision.
While we have lost the practice of building stone memorials, we have apps that remind us of what we were doing at this point last year, two years ago, five years ago, and however far back we allow. A few of these memories popped up for me this past week.
Journal entry from the first week of March, 2019:
For a whole year, every decision I made was weighed against the possibility of reuniting with my husband. Every financial choice I made, every prayer that I prayed, every professional decision I made, every personal decision I made; it was all under the assumption that I could reunite with my husband and rebuild after his betrayal and adultery. And when that didn’t happen, I was devastated and lost a lot of sense of purpose and meaning in what I was pursuing in life. I questioned myself; I questioned God; I questioned everything…I’ve been acting as if my life is over and there is no more hope or love or future prospects in my life because of this label of divorce, but really none of those things would have been provided by my ex, and none of those things will ever be provided by any human relationship. I need this time to be about making my relationship with God the most important aspect of my life and letting him orchestrate the events in my future because he is the one who will never leave me or forsake me. And I need to stop letting the way people have interacted with me affect the way that I view God because all of those things that I fear are human flaws and human deficiencies that are not present in God, yet I’ve been acting as if they are and I have not been seeing him for who he truly is a loving compassionate merciful forgiving God who knows all and loves me enough to want what’s best for me…
A little over a month later, I started dating Jon…
Journal entry from March 2020:
Here’s where I’m at: I don’t like to do hard things. I don’t want to do hard things. I don’t like change. I wish the easy way were an option. But, it is not. Therefore. I CAN and WILL do hard things. I CAN and WILL embrace the changes coming. I CAN and WILL trust that God has a plan. I CAN and WILL maintain my testimony and my integrity along the way. I CAN and WILL do what is right regardless of the difficulty.
A little over a month later, I married Jon.
When I read these journal entries and remember how I felt during those moments, I am first grateful for what God has done in my life. For the growth that took place. And for the rest that He has finally allowed in my life. Next, I am convinced that though I am in a time of rest, that doesn’t mean I get to be lazy, apathetic, or passive. Instead, these days that feel monotonous and uneventful give me the perfect opportunity to continue the work started, and to prepare for the next detour, traffic jam, or devastating wreck. It’s time to fortify, replenish, and renew.
When the journey feels tedious and I’m tempted to disengage, I will look at my memorial stones and remember that every part of the journey provides an opportunity to purposefully grow closer to God.