Today marks exactly one year since I moved to Kent. I moved on a warm day with my mom and her mini van. My apartment smelled like natural gas and I was being falsely optimistic-acting as we cleaned the kitchen cabinets, set up my Ikea table, and took a drive around the town I would now be calling home. While I certainly was excited to be in Kent, I can’t say I felt easy about it. Being in a new place with new people is never very easy, even if you’re happy to be there. Change–even good change–I’ve learned over the years, is accompanied by grief. To work through grief requires patience, a virtue I’ve never quite mastered.
In the last two weeks, I have been reading the book of Acts. With Easter having passed and my Lenten devotional having wrapped up, I wasn’t quite sure where to go next, so I decided to just keep going. As I’ve been reading, I’ve been struck by the realization that these were men who boldly took on change – the Lord calling them to ministry without Jesus alongside them–knowing that they, like their Savior, would face disappointment, dissent, and death. Yet they went. And as they did, there are moments of joy in them that I never saw before now. Moments where the Spirit the Messiah promised them breaks in and the Kingdom comes to Earth. Reading about my spiritual forefathers—the great cloud of witnesses—has reminded me of something I so often take for granted: wherever I go, He has gone before me. The Spirit is with me, preparing my heart for moments of clarity where I get to see and believe that Kingdom really can come in part right now.
I think back in all the difficult times of this last year but realize the beautiful moments have been breaking in throughout, too. Moments of genuine conversation, of walks in the snow around my lovely town, of Sunday night dinners with the believers and friends who make up the church I now claim as my home.
So many times this year and in life, I’ve rejected the idea—the truth—that God is faithful. I’ve complained at the timeline of things, I’ve questioned if I’ve wasted time, I’ve gone blind to the Kingdom breaking in. Unfortunately, I’ve discovered that the traits that play out in my relationships with people do play out in my relationship with God. Trust is the key, but trust can be hard when you’re the kind of person who would rather play it safe then risk the consequences when trust-given becomes trust-broken.
But as I’ve reflected on my tendency to not trust God, I came across these words from an author named Fredrick Buechner I’ve learned a lot from this year: “The world is full of dark shadows to be sure, both the world without and the world within, and the road we’ve all set off on is long and hard and often hard to find, but the word is trust. Trust the deepest intuitions of your own heart. Trust the source of your own truest gladness. Trust the road. Above all else, trust him. Trust him. Amen.”
While some might first read this as a postmodern plea to “listen to your heart,” the longer essay shows that what Buechner is referring to is what I’ve been reading about in Acts: the Spirit. As a follower of Christ, I have the assurance that though I cannot see the savior, feel the wounds in his hands, eat fish with him on the banks of the sea, His spirit lives IN ME. Right here, right now. And wherever I go, whatever I do, whatever changes come, I can trust that He has my best interest in mind. I can trust that even if the road may be marked with disappointment, dissent, and even death, it will also be marked with Kingdom moments. Moments like this morning, when the sun rises up over the Cuyahoga River and I have the assurance, the confidence, that for right now, I trust that I’m right where he wants me to be.