The week before Gretchen and I left Illinois for Louisville, we listened to the Caedmon's Call album 40 Acres almost non-stop as we packed and dashed here and there tying up loose ends. It was a means of grace to us in those final days as we said goodbye to friends and everything familiar. We were closing the book on a very important chapter of our lives. That album made a painful time a little less so by reminding us that the Lord who loves us, bought us, and called us surely orders our steps and knows what is best for us. The song "Faith My Eyes" seemed especially apropos:
But if I must go
Things I trust will be better off without me
But I don't want to know
Life is better off a mystery
So keep'em coming these lines on the road
And keep me responsible be it a light or heavy load
And keep me guessing with these blessings in disguise
And I'll walk with grace my feet and faith my eyes
So it seemed fitting two days ago when I was studying for an exam in a lounge area near the campus convenience store and 40 Acres started playing. In that moment I was overwhelmed by the faithfulness of God to me over these last months. He has done so much for me. I was convicted too. I thought, "God's grace has accomplished so much for you - for heaven's sake don't try to handle finals in your own strength!" 40 Acres was helpful once again, and stands like bookends at the beginning and end of five extraordinary months. What do you say in the face of unthinkable Divine favor? A hymn comes to mind:
O the deep, deep love of Jesus,
Vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean
In its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me,
Is the current of Thy love
Leading onward, leading homeward
To Thy glorious rest above!
Here are some things God graciously gave us:
- When I unexpectedly needed a new laptop the day before we moved - something I couldn't afford - I called my dad to see if he could help me out with the expense. He just happened at that very moment to be setting up a new laptop he had purchased for an employee. He generously gave it to me instead.
- My dad and seven other friends/family members helped us move into our apartment here in Louisville. Many others helped us pack in Louisville.
- The Lord provided us an on-campus apartment six weeks earlier than we had expected. We thought we wouldn't know until mid-December, but we received confirmation the first week of November.
- Generous love gifts from our church family helped defray moving expenses. Our church in Illinois even paid for our moving truck.
- The week before we moved, Gretchen found out about a job opening at the campus bookstore. She applied online, got an interview for the day after our move, and found out two days later that she got the job!
- The Lord provided me a Friday and Saturday-only job at the little Italian restaurant we ate at on Valentine's Day. I saw a sign by the door advertising the position, gave them a call, and got an interview - only they thought they were interviewing an experienced waiter named Neal. Since I was there they hired me anyway. I think I got Neal's job some how - sorry Neal! The weekend-only job left my weekday study schedule undisturbed.
- Regular visits from friends and family kept us encouraged and feeling connected. It's a lot of fun to show people around your new town.
- The amazing worship, teaching, and friendships at Clifton Baptist Church provided encouragement and conviction at crucial moments.