Active Limbo

It’s a blustery windy day today. As I sit here typing on my dirty, grimy keyboard (I need to clean this thing), I can every once in a while hear the wind howling outside; leaking through our chimney into our fireplace, resulting in rattling metal from within the chamber. All three kids are napping. The preacher boy (as he referred to himself several times today) is relaxing in the recliner. And I’m in a poetic mood to write.

Many things have been swarming in my mind these days. Of course there is the continual excitement of the seminary news. The news seems to keep on sinking in, in all new surreal and novel ways. But my mind is filled with other meditations- such as death, life, prayer, the Word, parenting, the gospel, marriage, missionaries, politics, relationships, etc. I have moments of utter captivation concerning the things of God and moments of complete boredom and dull standings about this mundane life.

I find myself dreaming dreamily into the future, picturing us in a new vintage home on some quaint glassy lake. I imagine quiet cozy nights in an earthy neighborhood while snow is blizzarding outside, the kids are reading to each other, and the husband and I are fantasizing about what God might have for us next in life. I have imaginary friends’ faces, the people who will someday and hopefully be our new friends, popping into my daydreams like little happy movie sets. I even go so far as to envision our family deep into a jungle, living in a Swiss Family Robinson tree house, playing with lizards and jumping into waterfalls (although I’m sure you will ask any missionary that that is not the paradise life you sign up for!).

When I am with family, I don’t have sad, sulky, and regretful feelings, as much as I have hopeful, creative, and further strengthening ideas of how these relationships might develop. I’ve witnessed out-of-town family members become closer than in-town ones. I’m excited for our families to endure a hardship that I know will bring us together in ways that the easy and convenient life wouldn’t otherwise do. (I’m already designing our guest bedroom in my head!)

I feel cheesy! All the time! I feel sentimental, and cheerful, and reflective; constantly. I love getting my hands on a life-changing quote. I stumble upon writing my own inspirational life motifs. And even worse, I find myself trying to live them out too, in dramatic slow motion pinteresty ways.

I find myself asking a million questions, and burning to write them all down. I don’t need to answer them, I just need to ask them. I catch myself drifting into mystical thought, only to feel guilty I’ve neglected the humans right in front of my face.

Bobby e-mailed some pastors at one of the Bethlehem churches, inquiring about any possible job opportunities. We began scheming all the ways life could look if we went to this-and-this-church, and had such-and-such house, and made all these friends and connections. What if a job opportunity came up early, and we moved sooner than we expected!? What if Bobby found a job, and they wanted him, say… January? The adrenaline of our next steps was giving us springs in our steps, anticipation in our day, and giddiness around the corner. Since the news of seminary is as final as earthly decisions come, we are wired toward adventure.

We are still in limbo. But we are in active limbo now: the hunt for a job. Then the hunt for the house. Then hunt for friends. And hunts for all the other things that will make up just regular ol’ life.

But beneath all of this– under all the gusts of the near future –underlies a new, fiery, undergoing. It’s a willingness to sacrifice. And it doesn’t stop just at willing, but it’s an eagerness to it. A transcendent zeal for a radical life for Jesus. I feel as though the question from months ago, “How do we steward Bobby and Sarah?” is being explored in the nuts and bolts of our future, to the fullest. I find myself thinking, “The call to be a martyr must be the highest call as a Christian.” Or, “Suffering doesn’t prohibit life, it produces it.” Or even yet, “Suffering isn’t an accident of God, it’s a purposeful means to our good.” But, at the same time, we don’t pursue suffering. We certainly don’t pray for it. But we expect it. And we long to give ourselves up cheerfully so that God’s Kingdom would come.

Like our Christian fathers from of old, we long to walk the walk of faith and talk the talk of the King. We look into the future, not as scary increased possibilities for suffering, but as increased possibilities to spend ourselves for Christ. Any good person would be excited for something that promises them a high, lofty purpose right? Like the first astronauts to go to the moon. Or the first American explorers. Or even first responders rushing to the scene of a fire. Humans long for purpose. People may be perceived as lazy, gluttonous slobs more than they ought, but in general, humans are run by their need for purpose and happiness.

It’s not as if Bobby and I didn’t have a purpose before, but we just have a renewed purpose. A narrow and zoomed-in purpose. A direction and a path that is going to stretch us, and going to stretch us together. (I’m also not saying that our purpose is comparable to going to the moon…as if!). But there is something about all of this that exhilarates us, and is bringing an intimacy and bond between us. But it’s also funny, because I don’t even know what our “purpose” is yet too! It’s not as though we’ve named it and claimed it. It’s more of just an anticipation to a mysterious path to a great and curious life trajectory!

I read this today in Genesis 11 verse 31:

Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. But when they came to Harran, they settled there.

Now, that is not a verse you pluck out, slap on top of a picturesque sunset, and post on Instagram right? No particular instant inspiration that will boost your self-esteem here.

But just wait.

I feel like we can talk about the call of Abram as if it was the most random, out-of-the blue initiative. We put some extra fabrication on the story, start at Genesis 12:1, and make it out to be like God asks Abram to do this obscure, foreign, completely random and irrelevant order… just because. Sometimes when we talk about it, it feels like we make it out to be a senseless and blind ordeal.

I do think it is right for us to hold Abraham in high esteem for following the Lord point-blankly without any fighting, questioning, or refusals. And I think it completely appropriate for God to call us to something or somewhere without an explanation. But the verse I just referenced (11:31) made me realized: Abram was on his way to the promise land anyway! Even before God calls him to Canaan (Genesis 12:1-5), Abram was on his way to Canaan, because his dad was going to take him. He was Canaan-bound before God made it a command. He was on his way to the place he would end up, without knowing that a direct divine intervention was going to make sure he got where he needed to be. But for some reason, his dad “settled” and their Canaan trip was put to a halt.

Then God said “Go,” and, “Abram went.” So what I never realized before, is that Abram may have been prepared and ready to go (maybe years) prior. I would guess, going to Canaan didn’t seem outlandish to Abram. It probably wasn’t arbitrary at all. Maybe Abram was like, “Oh yeah! Dad was going to take us there. Okay. Let’s finish this road trip!”

Okay, so maybe I’m inserting some things in the text that aren’t there. I can only say “maybe” and “probably” at best.

So, how does this all wrap up for today? How does Abram and the Kunkle’s present state come full circle? Not totally sure. I’m not going to put ourselves in Abram’s narrative as if God is calling us to be the protagonist in some heroic account that is Bible-story worthy. God may call us to something ordinary and uneventful. But I do like the idea of waiting on God, being prepared to go, going prepared, and remaining faithful to whatever next steps God may show us- whether indirectly or directly.

Following God at times may feel like a dizzying maze, but it never really is. God knows exactly where you are going, and he will take you exactly where you need to be, and He will give you what you need while you’re at it. So we pray as we go that God’s Kingdom would come on Earth as it is in heaven, despite our inability to foresee how it happens. It’s an active, exhilarating, adventurous waiting! Our in-between-time is not pointless time, and I’m oddly enough enjoying every second of it.

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