That's the number of miles I drove in a 4-day time span.
In a minivan packed with 6 kids and a dog.
And when you're the chauffeur of that many kids on a cross-country trip, you do far more than just drive. You change movies, charge and hand out devices, dispense snacks with one arm, and mediate millions of questions akin to a presidential press conference.
I logged those miles on a cross-country journey that changed our lives forever.
I do have a flair for the dramatic, but I'm being serious this time.
God has flipped me upside down in more ways than one over the past 4 months and my head is still spinning.
It's so easy to profess faith and obedience when things are coasting along nicely, moving at a calm pace and the most the Lord is asking of you is to apologize to your kids for snapping at them.
But when the storm is raging, the rubber hits the road, and you're faced with living out your profession of faith, that's when things get hairy.
I've wanted to write this out for so long, but the twists and turns just kept coming, so I couldn't find myself on the other side of it enough to sort out my thoughts. Just when I thought I'd mastered it, a new wrench was thrown in the works and I was sent into a tail spin again.
One thing I've learned? If you tell the Lord that you put Him first and that you'll obey, He will surely test you.
And He has such a knack for digging under the surface of our fist-pumping proclamations, doesn't He? I mean, He's God, after all. He knows our inner-most thoughts and feelings. He knows when we mean it or not, even when we don't know for sure. And boy will He ever call us on the carpet when it's needed.
I've been called on the carpet. More times than I can count in the past 4 months. It stings.
It induces gut-wrenching, tear-filled, snot-producing sessions where you call out to God asking Him to "just take it all away."
Sometimes He does and sometimes He doesn't.
Sometimes, He allows us to work through these times seeingly on our own (although we KNOW that He never leaves us) and we have to put our faith into practice. We have to fall back on those scriptures that we read and professed to believe at the time when we stood inside our picket fence.
We have to dig deep and determine if we really meant it when we said, "Anything for You, Lord!"
We have to decide if we'll follow His directive all the time or if we just follow Him when it's easy and comfortable...or something we understand or enjoy.
See, I was ready and willing to follow what I thought He was calling me to. It was when the tables turned and the real thing I was being asked was revealed that I had to take a stand. I had to make a decision.
Suddenly, I found myself eating all the words I'd said to others who I thought weren't being brave and were "too comfortable." Suddenly, everything I'd believed I was, I realized I wasn't.
But the beauty of the Lord is that He is so gracious and He allows us the oppportunity to dust ourselves off, wipe the egg off our face, and try again.
When we ask forgiveness and for His strength, He comes through.
So here I am, 1200 miles from what I've called home for the past dozen years. Everything is new and foreign.
I worked myself into a frenzy to unpack and set up "home" in an effort to establish "normal."
Something else I've learned (and OH! I've learned so much) is that when God calls you to something new, He really IS calling you to something new. Even when we bring some familiar things to that new place or season, it will never be the same.
We may have all the furniture, the family photos, and the magnets on the fridge, but this house still isn't home. At least not yet. We're getting there.
I have successfully found my way to and from some places, which does so much to amp up my comfort level in the face of a tidal wave of stress and a sea of unknown.
I find myself struggling with my own displacement while simultaneously trying to encourage my children through their own. It's hard to coach them that "soon enough this will feel like home too and we'll make friends for sure" when I'm sobbing over my own missed comforts and friends.
And then, when I'm quiet and in a moment when the tears stop, I know...
I know that He has plans for me...for all of us here.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" Jeremiah 29:11
Moving hurts, but that's just part of something bigger. It's not because God enjoys watching me ache or seeing my kids sad. It's because with growth and change, something has to end for something else to begin. Something has to die in order for something new to come to life. We can never stay exactly the same while also changing.
Right after God tells us His promise to give us a hope and a future, verses 12 and 13 say:
'Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.'"
I must call on Him. I must pray to Him. And when I feel lost, I must continue to seek Him and then I will find Him...when I seek Him with all of my heart.
Seeking is a verb. It requires action. It requires effort on my part. I cannot possibly stand still and seek the Lord at the same time. That means the scenery will change. My environment won't always look the same. But what will be the same is the Lord. He will be found.
That means that as I unpack our things and set up a new home, I must pack up all the doubt, all the sorrow, and all the negative energy I'm focusing on anything other than seeking Him.
It means that new doesn't have to equal sad. It only equals new. And different.
And if I'm consumed in looking at what's in my rearview, I'll miss what's up ahead. I don't want to miss it because God promises it's something amazing and for my good.
Are you in a new season? A new home? A new city? I get it. I do.
"I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:14
Let's encourage one another to press on to the goal. Let's hold hands and run across the finish line toegther, champions in this race of life.