It has been 691 days since I moved back to Ohio from Colorado. The speed at which time has passed seems to differ depending on what I’m thinking about.
I’ve lived in Ohio for 691 days. That went fast.
It has been 364 days since Kelly got married. Again, so fast.
Remember ugly crying from the South Springs to Limon? 691 days ago – that seems like a really long time.
The last time I hugged my Colorado roommates? 691 days ago. THAT IS FOREVER.
When I consider the time here, it seems like it has flown. When I consider what happened there, it seems like a different lifetime.
I wrote in my journal earlier this week: Sometimes when I think of Colorado, I can’t believe that was my life. It honestly feels as though I dreamt it or it happened to one of my friends. It’s been almost two years since I moved back, and memories are vivid but they come like bubbles — kind of brief and technicolor in the light — the way childhood memories often are. Sometimes I’m afraid I’ll forget, so I make myself go through my life there. I don’t ever want to forget.
Something I’m learning as I get older, is that memories can be amazing, and it is so good to remember, especially for the purpose of remembering the goodness and faithfulness of the Lord, but so often, it’s the people who are in those memories that we carry with us. The memories would be nothing without the people who are a part of them. And those people are still here ( though maybe 1700 miles away ).
It’s hard staying close so far apart. And I’ve had to learn to let go of a lot ( not just people, but expectations, dreams, etc.) in the last 691 days. It seems that since I was 19, that has been the recurring thing..letting go, which frequently means Jesus has to love and coax me out of my death grip by reminding me of His goodness and faithfulness. People are hard to let go of though. You know what I mean?
If I’m in, I’m in, in any relationship and any commitment. It often takes a lot to get me to the point where I am in, but once I am, I am…Until the Lord removes it. And He’s typically removing it, because I’ve probably made it an idol. He’s asked of me, many times it seems, in the last six years, to let go.
Anything I put before my God is an idol
Anything I want with all my heart is an idol
Anything I can’t stop thinking of is an idol
Anything that I give all my love is an idol
( Clear the Stage; Jimmy Needham )
And letting go is often not just letting go. It probably should be, but there is so much fear, and ache, and longing involved.
There is fear in letting people go, because what if that relationship is lost forever. There is even fear in giving people space sometimes, because what if they drift away, and don’t return, or what if they think you don’t care, when really your heart is broken that you’re having to do this. But then I think of Abraham. And I think of God the Father. And I think of how both of them, put on the altar, the very thing they loved most — their sons.
God asked Abraham to put Isaac on the altar, because maybe Isaac had become an idol; the son of promise needed to be killed — the idol removed. Abraham obeyed. He believed God could do anything, including raise Isaac from the dead if He chose. So he did it. And God stopped Abraham, seeing His obedience, his faith, his love for Him, and the angel of the Lord said, “‘Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.’ And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son” (Genesis 22:12-13). My friend’s dad said years ago “the Lord always gives us a ram caught in the thicket.” And for a long time I didn’t really understand what that meant. I knew he was saying that the Lord provided financially or materially, but it took a little longer for me to see that he meant in every circumstance where the need is not met, especially when we must sacrifice the very thing we love the most in order to obey Him.
“‘So I put you on the altar,’ he said…We were silent for a very long time…What Abraham did was the ancient prelude to the full revelation of the love of God. The readiness to give up his son and the rewards promised because of it…” (Elliot, 61).
So Ellie, are you willing to put _______ on the altar? Are you willing to let go of _______? I am asking you to let go. Remember _________, remember how faithful I was there? I am always faithful, and I work, always, for the good of my beloved children, who love me.
The entire reason I began to write this morning is because today, for the first time in 691 days, I will get to hug one of my Colorado roommates. Janae arrives at 2:45 this afternoon. I am counting the hours. This is by the faithfulness and goodness of God. Even if He hadn’t let today and the next week and a half together happen, it would still be by His faithfulness and goodness that we are where we are, and who we are, and have the friendship we have — a friendship only paralleled in closeness and sweetness by a handful of others in my life.
And so I thank Him for this gift. For this reminder. Because He is letting me see so vividly and clearly in this particular gift, a heart cry answered, that He knows me, that He hears me and sees me and knows the ache and loneliness and tendency to hold on to. In a season where I hear Him asking me to let go of yet another treasure, and struggling to do so, He is reminding me that He knows, and He will be faithful in this too. Even if it doesn’t happen or go the way I think it should, He is faithful.