Moving On or Settling In?

My Presence will go with you. Exodus 33:14 (NIV)

Throughout all their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel would set out. But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out till the day that it was taken up. –Exodus 40:36–37 NASB

I’m a city girl born and raised, but a country girl at heart.

This truth was never more apparent than on our vacation this summer—not a rest-and-recharge vacation, but a “see as much as we can in the four weeks we have” vacation. We pulled our 29-foot fifth-wheel camper nearly 7,000 miles through 15 states. We rarely stayed more than one night anywhere. Most of the time we stayed at RV parks.

I learned there’s a difference between an RV park and a campground.

An RV park is where you park your RV. It has electric, water, and sewage hookups. It may have a fire ring (a place for a campfire), but it may not. It may have a picnic table, or it may not. You don’t have a campsite, you see— you have a parking space, and most often a gravel one. Not grass.

It’s not a place to set up and settle in. It’s a place to park your RV while you visit the sights or just spend the night between long stretches on the road.

A campground, on the other hand, is a place to settle in and relax. You have grass, trees, fire ring, and a picnic table on a site that isn’t merely a parking space.

Oh, you can probably guess which one we prefer.

But travelers need both, depending on the journey.

Isn’t that just like life?

Just as God guided the Israelites through the wilderness to the Promised Land, God leads us through this wilderness we call life to our Promised Land—Heaven.

Sometimes He has us stay in one place for a while. Sometimes we want to settle in and stay there. But eventually we have to move on because that is not our destination. God has much more for us to see and experience. More than we could ever dream of.

Sometimes we don’t’ want to stay. We’re itching to get out of there and move on. But God says, “Not yet.” In His time—His perfect time—we will move on.

Other times He pushes us forward, mile after mile, day after day. But, remember, we travel on His timeline, His route, His map, His agenda.

He has a plan and purpose for our sojourn on earth that go far beyond what we can imagine –“far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of—infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes” (Ephesians 3:20 TLB).

Although it wasn’t our style of vacation and the entire trip extended us beyond our comfort zone, we had a fabulous time. We experienced parts of the country we’d never before dreamed of visiting. We learned more history on that trip than we have our entire lives—history that will stick with us because we were there.

We are campground folks. We like the wide-open spaces, the slower paces. We like to settle in and explore the area.

And so we shall. We’d like to spend a week or so exploring Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. And visit as many lighthouses as we can. (I’m a lighthouse freak.)

And I want to spend time in the Colorado Rockies and see the sights on horseback.

Dreams don’t die as we grow older. Instead, they grow bigger and better.

And they challenge us to step out of our comfort zones, push aside the fears that hold us back, and live to the fullest the life God has given us—whether we’re moving on or settled in.

Thank You, Father, for both the moving on times and the settling in times. Thank You that You have a purpose for each one. Amen.

Read and meditate on Exodus 13:21; 40:36–37

(c) 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

 

Expectations

 

View from our campsite along the Maple River in Michigan, October 2016
View from our campsite along the Maple River in Michigan, October 2016

 

“We can’t see the road ahead, so we must take it as it comes, not as we wish it would be” (Our Daily Bread, 10/20/16).

  “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” – Jesus, as quoted in Matthew 6:34 (The Message)

Every year my husband and I spend weeks getting ready for our annual weeklong fall camping trip. Dean works on the camper and the truck, and packs the man things (tools and that kind of stuff), while I plan our destination, route, activities, and meals, as well as clean the camper and pack all the food and clothes.

This year, I spent the three days prior to our departure preparing meals for 10 days on the road so that all we’d have to do was “heat and eat.”

My plan was to read, relax, and recharge, so I crammed a large tote bag with the stack of magazines and books I’d saved to read, and downloaded several novels on my Kindle. I envisioned myself reading while Dean drove, and spending hours plopped in a chair by the campfire, lost in a world of words.

And since we both love to hike, I researched the trails in the areas where we’d be camping.

The plan was to spend a weekend at a campground in Fancy Gap, Va., with our daughter, Jaime, and her family, then drive to Michigan to visit our son, who’d moved there at the end of last year.

So, did everything go according to plan?

Of course not.

First, there was the drenching rain for the first two days, thanks to Hurricane Matthew. But not to worry. I’d packed plenty of games, and our campsite had cable TV.

But when sun finally came out on Sunday, I couldn’t go hiking with Dean, Jaime, and Adam because I had to keep my leg elevated for 24 hours. I’d stumbled into the metal step to the camper Saturday evening, which warranted a trip to the ER 20 miles away and seven stitches.

Then, there was road fatigue.

Whatever was I thinking when I planned the trip? By the end of the two-day drive from Virginia to Michigan—on roads we were totally unfamiliar with—I was road weary, cranky, and sore. Since the route we took was new, I couldn’t enjoy the sights or read. I had to be the navigator. It’s a wonder we’re still married.

We did have a lovely campsite along the lazy Maple River in Michigan—and, because our stay was through the week during the fall, we had the campground to ourselves. But there weren’t any trails to hike. And even if there had been, we couldn’t have gone because Dean’s knee, which he wrenched at the end of August, was too painful.

On Sunday morning, we headed for Pennsylvania in a downpour, arriving home nine hours later—after 10 days, five states, and 1,880 miles.

Was I disappointed in the trip?

Not at all. I’ve learned the difference, you see, between plans and expectations. A plan is a detailed scheme about what you want (or plan) to do. An expectation, on the other hand, is a belief  you’ll achieve something.

See the difference? We planned our trip and prepared for it, but I didn’t set any expectations. I let the trip unfold before us, moment by moment—and the unexpected became an adventure of discovery instead of a disappointment.

On the journey of life, I’ve learned, if you want to be happy, don’t expect anything, except to expect God to work His sovereign will in your life. Plan, prepare, pray—then leave the rest in His hands.

Thank You, Father, that You travel with us on this journey called life. Amen.