The adage says "you never know what you had, until it's gone." At times like these, in transition in life and location and relationships, I don't think those words have ever meant as much to me as they do now. I've always valued friendships and relationships (I'm sure we'll discuss why in a later post), but I've found new appreciation for some of my old friends, and I've been disappointed in others.
That's not to say that some of my friends are true friends and others aren't. In fact, one of the things that I've learned in the last month is that most people truly think they're doing the right thing most of the time. Some people have viewed my broken engagement and said "You have to move on." They think that's the right thing to say. Others have said, "Wow that sucks... take all the time you need... time heals all wounds." Those people think that's the right thing to say. It's all relative, and I'm getting to a point where I realize that it's not what is actually said, but the sentiment behind it.
Everyone has his own motivations for doing what he does, some of them purer than others. In coming down to Culpeper, I've tried to cling to friendships that I thought would help me make it where the other person in that friendship thought that it would be best to talk less and go and meet new people. Both of us feel that we're right, but it's the motivation behind it... the fact that we still care enough to try to do what's best for the other person that impresses me.
Other people have called and checked in, seeing if I'm ok, seeing if I'm settled, seeing if I need anything. It's been great to see that kind of outpouring of love as well. It's a lot more comforting to know that when I get home at night, if no one's home, I don't have to be bored and lonely.
I'll take the opportunity right here to thank everyone who has shown that love and care for me in one way or another both those who I knew before I left, and those who have met me here and welcomed me. It has meant more than I could ever say, and whether or not you believe and realize it, God has used you as an instrument in my life to encourage me, and make this transition bearable, as well as to reveal Himself to me, and reaffirm that as long as I'm in Him, I will truly never be alone.
In the end, I'm sure that God's going to work things out. But this whole situation has given me new perspective on Him. We have trouble appreciating God, specifically because He's never gone. When have any of us ever needed to face a trial when we could not rely on Him? There have been times on this journey where I have felt, honestly, that God was being unfair, that I couldn't do this alone, and I was angry that God was letting bad things happen to me. After all, I felt He called me to Culpeper to preach? Why were things so difficult. And yet every time I doubted, in the matter of HOURS, God responded.
I'm sure that Moses felt a lot like I have in the past month. Surrounded by all kinds of people and voices... some supportive, others not... he had to lead a nation who didn't want to be led. The people grumbled and complained even though God was feeding them and leading them for most of their journey. I'm sure that Moses got disheartened at times, but every time he needed proof, God was there with water coming out of rocks, or manna, or quail.
That led Moses to a point in his life when he was going to die. It was time to turn the nation of Israel over to Joshua. When he was about to leave:
...The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." (Deuteronomy 31:7-8)
Moses could not have said that, had he not believed it and experienced it himself. So while we go through tough times and lose touch with friends, relatives, neighbors, we can learn to appreciate what we had by their absence. But be careful, because you should always remember what you have and what you will always have, because He will never leave you nor forsake you.