It’s been a year since a job transfer brought us to a couple of rolling acres bordering Fort Knox, Kentucky. Out in the country, we have all the space we need to ponder, wander, and attempt to make our mark on the world by planting a few shade trees. It’s rather quiet here, accented by an occasional jogger passing by or a determined turtle making his way across the road for whatever reason. Horses meander to their fences to check on neighbors as they each take turns mowing their their own two-acre paradise.
It’s perfect, really.
We’ve settled in nicely, but something is still missing, and I think I know what it is.
Allow me to explain.
This move also launched that awkward phase in our lives known as the Empty Nest Years. Complicated by the fact that we left behind, or “ditched” as they like to say, our grown kids and extended family in our hometown of Nashville about three hours away, we are now forced to determine who we are without the predetermined bonds that answered such questions in the past.
No longer are we the youth trip chaperons, or church camp audio/visual crazies willing to try anything to create a great memory for a kid.
It’s not just our home that’s empty. It’s our social calendar, creative energies and innate desire to make a difference.
Seriously, who are we now and why should anyone around here care?
I was thinking through this on a recent walk around the neighborhood. Training drills were in progress at Fort Knox, and the unmistakable sound of helicopters, gunfire and explosions interrupted the silence. Somehow, it gave me comfort knowing the soldiers were preparing and training for whatever battle may come, wherever that may take them.
But battles aren’t won within in the protective confines of the fort. They take place on the battlefields where good confronts evil.
Before armored vehicles took over, trench warfare was the ultimate way to fight such a battle. Trenches offered the ability to stay together, to come up with a plan of action before moving forward as a team. They provided protection, but also advanced the front lines. As soldiers inched into the most dangerous territory, they risked it all to achieve the common goal.
As Christians, the same is true. Battles aren’t won within the safe confines of our church building. Lives are changed on the daily battlefield, when we look into the eyes of another and meet them where they are hurting. We have to get our hands and feet dirty, to go places we are afraid to go, to find those who aren’t walking through our church doors.
Wherever we are, God calls us to go deeper. I suspect this is what God is doing with us during this quiet season, running training drills to prepare us for a future we never saw coming.
But He did, and I trust He has a plan to use us here.
It’s time to advance past our homesickness and to seek out others who are hurting. To look for the lonely rather than focus on our own loneliness. To jump into some trenches where the battle is already going on and the weary soldiers are in desperate need of backups.
Maybe our weaknesses can become our ministry. When our arms ache to hold our infant grandson, surely there are babies around here who need to be rocked. When we long to see a familiar face, maybe we can be a friend to someone who needs one even more than we do.
We’ve joined a church that is abut to open it’s doors on a new campus just down the road in Elizabethtown.
From what I hear, this area truly needs the hope and acceptance Jesus offers.
That sounds like a trench to me. And most likely, our new battlefield.
Guess it’s time to go all in.