Last week I moved from my rented apartment of 14 years to my very first home. The move was less than a mile away, but change for me – even good change – does not come without a fight. I do not let go easily.
I try hard to suspend all judgment, because if I think about it at all, I will notice more sharply how unnatural it feels. How my silverware is in the wrong drawer, how I get into bed from the wrong side, how it takes so many more steps to run from the kitchen to the upstairs bathroom to brush my teeth. I need to deal without thinking about the leaking hot water heater and the clogged heating vents. I need to focus on one moment at a time, or be overwhelmed by the scariness of transition.
A few nights after the move I was desperate for a familiar comfort. I was desperate to see something that was still the same. So I leashed up my dog, grabbed my flashlight, and headed for my favorite walking trail. I knew it was further away now, but I needed to prove to myself that it could still be done.
I escaped the nest of houses and trudged along the road against the glare of headlights. This was not my usual evening stroll, but the further I went, the more determined I was to make it. Surely – surely! – I can still get there from here.
At last I made it to the trail and stopped at the first overlook. I heaved a sigh of relief, but even as I did, I felt it.
It was not the same.
It was not the same because the journey is as much a part of the destination as the destination itself, and I was now on a different journey. Yes, I could still get there from here, but God was prompting me with a new lesson. God had calmed me many times through this place, but God is not tied to a place. God is not just at the destination; He is with us on the journey. You don’t need to come here to find me, He seemed to whisper.
I’m struggling with a physical relocation right now, but that’s not my only journey. I’m on a journey with a job that is changing and a journey with relationships that are changing. Sometimes I’m not even sure where the “there” is that I’m trying to get to. I wish it were always as simple as dodging a few cars and walking a little further. But this one thing I do: I press on. Because perseverance produces character and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts (See Philippians 3, Romans 5).
In fact, God loves us so much that He joins us right where we are, sometimes in unexpected ways. I think in some of our greatest upheavals, God intentionally uses unexpected people to share His love so we don’t rely on one individual more than God. Part of our journey is recognizing the many ways God loves us, and being open to His promptings when we can reflect that love to others – both inside and outside our most intimate relationships.
Whatever changes you’re facing today, remember: God has a plan for you. And no matter where you are, no matter how far you have moved, you are never beyond the reach of God’s plan. You can still get there from here.
Janet Beagle, Ph.D. serves as director of graduate programs for Purdue University’s College of Engineering and is a writer, a Bible study teacher, and a student of God’s word. In her spare time, she likes to eat other people’s cooking and hike with her dog, Marly. Read more of Janet’s Christian reflections at www.mustardpatch.org.