I woke up in Oregon today. This has happened before, but this time I’m not visiting.
Last weekend we officially said our goodbyes and got in a car to drive away. It was gut-wrenching. I’m not good in these types of situations and this one was as overwhelming as anything I’ve ever done. In the video above you can watch our formal send-off in the services (watch from the 3:33 to 13:07 mark). It even includes a video the staff made that gets to me every time.
This afternoon I pick the rest of my family up from the airport and bring our #jerniganchaos officially to Portland. I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on all that I’m grateful for and to stare ahead at both my fears and excitements. A friend sent Michelle something that Henri Nouwen wrote from his book The Inner Voice of Love called “Enter the New Country.” I’m not sure what transition prompted Nouwen to write these words, but I deeply resonate with them right now. Maybe you will as well.
You have an idea of what the new country looks like. Still, you are very much at home, although not truly at peace, in the old country. You know the ways of the old country, its joys and pains, its happy and sad moments. You have spent most of your days there. Even though you know that you have not found there what your heart most desires, you remain quite attached to it. It has become part of your very bones.
Now you have come to realize that you must leave it and enter the new country, where your Beloved dwells. You know that what helped and guided you in the old country no longer works, but what else do you have to go by? You are being asked to trust that you will find what you need in the new country. That requires the death of what has become so precious to you: influence, success, yes, even affection and praise.
Trust is so hard, since you have nothing to fall back on. Still, trust is what is essential. The new country is where you are called to go, and the only way to go there is naked and vulnerable.
It seems that you keep crossing and recrossing the border. For a while you experience a real joy in the new country. But then you feel afraid and start longing again for all you left behind, so you go back to the old country. To your dismay, you discover that the old country has lost its charm. Risk a few more steps into the new country, trusting that each time you enter it, you will feel more comfortable and be able to stay longer.
So here’s to the New Country, and to finding God in new ways on the adventure. May we always be willing to follow where He leads.