I know that it has been said that there are no coincidences in this world, only circumstances that were meant to be. That extends to examples like chance meetings which turn into close friendships or a change of plans that lands you in a place where you hear of the perfect job opening. All of us have had such experiences. They are, of course, quite amazing, but sometimes, they can change our path and alter our perception.
I received a lovely gift this Christmas from a special friend. The book, called Jesus Calling, is a daily devotional, filled with beautiful, affirming messages of love and hope. I cried when I opened it because it reminded me of one of those life-altering moments that occurred almost thirty-two years ago, brought about by a similar book entitled God Calling.
I had lived in Louisiana all of my life, but the tanking economy in my homeland and concern about our financial future and that of our children convinced my husband and me to set our sights on greener pastures. Atlanta seemed like the promised land, deemed the New York of the South, with bustling industry and numerous opportunities. And so, it became our choice. It was close enough for us to be back “home” in a day’s drive, and still Southern enough to not throw us into culture shock.
It was a difficult decision. The thought of leaving family and friends behind, of walking away from a teaching job that I adored and a home that we had lovingly restored seemed like a great sacrifice, especially since we had none of that awaiting us. But such a move is never easy as the entanglements of a lifetime in one place makes for a complicated transplant. Severing those roots requires careful pruning.
And so, my husband went on before us to find work and housing, while the kids and I stayed behind to finish the school year and sell our home. It was the worst of times, as the uncertainty loomed large and our family was separated.
My dear mother, whose faith could move mountains, assured me that all would work out as it was ordained. And she gave me a copy of God Calling to read daily. Written in the 1940’s by two English women, it, too, was a series of daily messages, words that addressed the reader. I came to see it as love letters from the divine to me, and it became a source of inspiration and strength during such a challenging time.
The house took longer to sell than we anticipated since there was little interest because of a stagnant market with decreased property values. I was close to giving up hope when a call came from my realtor. A recent viewing had resulted in an offer. Once the rejoicing was over, we set about packing up our belongings, anxious to join my husband in Georgia. But timing is everything, and since the move coincided with the end of a very busy school year, by the first of June, I was an exhausted, stressed-out mess.
As we loaded the last of the boxes into the back of my "mom van," I questioned my ability to drive the 583 miles with my three very active sons. On the morning of our departure, I walked through the house one last time. There is a nagging pain that accompanies saying goodbye to something that has been important and meaningful. I paused to remember all that had happened there, the good and bad times, for indeed, this place had held our laughter and tears. Was I prepared to leave it all behind, equipped to handle the uncertainty, I wondered?
I took a deep breath and got everyone buckled into their seats. But before I backed out of the driveway, I reached for my little book, pausing to read my message for the day.
“Fear not.” It said. “There will be obstacles, but I am far greater than any you might encounter. Rest assured that I will part the Red Sea for you.” I sighed. It was the assurance I needed as I set my sights on a new life.
Seven hours later, when the boys had grown weary of asking how much longer until we reached our destination, I tightly gripped the wheel, praying for the energy to drive the last leg of our journey. The flat lands had given way to hilly country. On either side of the interstate, I marveled at the sight of huge mounds of red clay, so different from the rich black Louisiana dirt. “And I will part the Red Sea for you,” a voice whispered. And within seconds, there appeared a huge sign on the highway “Welcome to Georgia.”
I smiled. I was about to be home.
Through the years, I have reminded myself that trust means acceptance and faith that everything, even the trials, are part of a Divine Plan. And when the road gets rocky, the climb steep and treacherous, when the river seems impossible to cross, that’s when He steps in to part the sea…. Or perhaps build a bridge.