December was marked by wonderful memories, but also numerous occasions in which the Christmas carol got stuck in my throat; the tears flowed as I drove down a beautifully-bedazzled south Jersey street; instances of wishing that I had the superpower of being able to make time stand still for awhile so I could continue living in this thin slice of time which is nearly over.
We will be returning to Japan on February 9th. It has just come upon us. As much as there are a lot of reasons why we are excited to return to our home there, the difficulty of again leaving this home; our family and friends here; the new roots that we have somehow allowed to sink into the garden state soil — these thoughts have clouded some of the joy of the return this past month.
January first I began taking down Christmas decorations. Most of them need to be returned to someone who lent them, or boxed up to be given away. As I began packing them, I made one box to go back with us: “Christmas Japan” the box says in bold Sharpie black pen. And then I packed another box of just this and that – – momentos and items that we want to have with us. And I realized that with this new day; this new month; this new year — God has graciously helped my heart to turn a corner and begin again to look forwards. I am in preparing and packing mode. It is how my heart, which really does have an intense disliking for transition, is coping with needing to say goodbye. It is God’s gift that I am a planner and I can divert my energies into the myriad of tasks that are mine this month.
At the same time, we are enjoying visiting with friends and family; helping to implement a women’s Bible study at our church; sharing with others about what is happening in Japan. But I am set on what is to come, and even actually excited about what God has in store for us. (And scared as well!). The first verse that I read this year was this:
“And He said, ‘My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest'” (Exodus 33:14).
This promise anchors me. Wherever we may be… missionary housing or Japanese rental home or on an airplane somewhere in between, He will be with us. And isn’t that a wonderful promise tacked on at the end – He will give me rest. I get weary at just the thought of the next two months. But look — He will give me rest.
It really is wonderful to start this new year knowing the One waiting for me around each and every corner.