Sometimes when we visit the US, I just want to stay.
And honestly, not because of the delicious food or all the English speaking, or even the soft beds.
It’s usually because I don’t like being the one who disrupts the peace.
All of Stephen’s sisters and their families have recently moved to the same area of Arkansas. His parents are eyeing houses and will probably be there soon, which just sets the scene for family birthdays and holidays and Sunday dinners. A few are looking at sharing land and building houses together.
And then there’s us: living halfway around the world, not buying into the land, missing family birthdays, and Skyping into Christmas.
In my family, we are much more scattered, but I still want to be the one who stays close. I don’t want to be the aunt who always gets on the plane; I don’t want to make my parents love & hate the airport. I don’t want to miss everything.
Sometimes I don’t want to be the kids who make our parents cry.
The more we feel like we should stay longer in Mae Sot or Burma or who knows where, the more aware I am of the burden to our families. I become more aware of the weight it is to us–how it changes our lives and futures–as well as the weight it is to them–it changes our role as daughter & son, aunt & uncle, sister & brother.
I was praying about this yesterday: praying for our parents and our families and our futures in another country. I found myself praying for God to show Himself to them in even this: that in our absence or in the sadness we cause, that God would be present.
As simple as it seems, this is the first time I thought of it from this perspective. What if God is showing himself to us in being away, but also is showing himself to our whole families in this?
And of course He is, because He is God. He is good and he is sovereign; of course this is true.
It was just a reminder that this isn’t simply a tapestry of our lives. This isn’t a tapestry He is weaving of just our lives, but of everything around us. Seven degrees of separation, if you will: all woven together into a tapestry of the Kingdom.
It reminds me of a quote I read by Tozer the other day:
Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshipers met together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be, were the to become ‘unity’ conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.
In each of us knowing the Lord more and moving toward what He has for us, what He is teaching us, how He is shaping us–we are actually moving closer to each other than we every could by living within driving distance or celebrating birthdays together. We are tuning, weaving, whatever symbol you want to give it–we are unified in purpose, not in location or life stage or shared cups of coffee.
And this is true in family, as well as with our friends and the many people who support us. While we are Stateside, we just don’t always get to see everyone we want to. It’s hard to know there are so many faces we won’t see and new little babies we won’t meet and new seasons we won’t get to celebrate. It’s hard to know there are people we won’t get to thank for the blessing they are to us month after month.
But there is a unity being formed, as we are of one purpose. As they hold us up financially, as we pray for one another, as we celebrate new babies and new marriages and new jobs, as we swap Instagram photos: we can be unified, if we are being woven into the tapestry of the Kingdom, if we are being tuned to Christ.