139 Days (There & Back Again)

We tend to track our lives in numbers and milestones. Firsts and lasts, birthdays, anniversaries, miles, days, weeks, years. Until and since. Before and after. There and back again.

139 days. Our time spent in Saskatchewan spanned just 139 days, and it’s also how long we’ve been home in Alberta as of yesterday. I counted? Oh, yes. I counted some time ago and have been keeping track, until we’ve been home as long as we were gone. There and back again.

Incidentally, the 139th Psalm counters the worst fears we have about ourselves. That we are alone. That we are not known. That we are not heard. That we exist by chance or by accident. That our lives are random and count for little, if anything. That there is nothing and no one to call us or anyone else to account. That we live in a prison of chaos masquerading as independence. We like to think that we are in control. It helps with all that fear. Because we are made of dust and to it we will return. There and back again.

Where can we go to escape God?

Nowhere. Whether that incites internal relief or despair depends on the individual posture and perspective I suppose.

At the end of July we left everyone and everything that mattered to us. We threw our whole lives in to this risk of believing that God is with us wherever we go. It was beautiful and it was ugly. We encountered the holy and the profane. People changed our lives and we were part of changing some lives. It was a mission which lasted only for a moment. No sooner had we settled in there, than we had to come back again. There were unanswered questions, unfinished conversations, unresolved conflict, unmet needs, and unbelievable miracles.

139 days and we were home. Just like that.

Letting go has felt impossible some days. We aren’t wired to simply disconnect and stop caring about the people in our lives, when we felt such a call to invest ourselves in those relationships. The heart does not operate as quickly or efficiently as a light switch, although it would certainly be nice if that were the case. No. Letting go has meant tucking away our care and concern, putting it into it’s proper place here and now, believing that the call is still there even if it is no longer ours. Letting go has meant forgiveness, over and over. Forgiving others and ourselves and each other.

Something about that 139th day yesterday brought some peace. Time is fleeting and our days are numbered. We may never again take for granted that we have a say in how our time anywhere is going to play out. We do have confidence though, that our time is never wasted. Not here and not there.

Because we are not alone; God is with us. Everywhere and in all things.
Because we are known and we are heard; deeply and to our core by the One who made us.
Because we do not exist by accident or for nothing; our lives are on purpose and for a purpose, set out by Divine will and authority before we had a heartbeat or took a breath.
Because we are accountable and will be called to account; this life is too short to waste.
Because we not in control; only God can order chaos around.

If all of that is true for us, it’s true for the people and circumstances we left behind. 139 days is not a lot of days. Not a lot of days there and not a lot of days back. Circumstances can change so quickly. Plans change. People change. Dreams die. So we find new dreams and choose gratitude.

God gave me a verse when we moved away.

“Keep your eyes open, hold tight to your convictions, give it all you’ve got, be resolute, and love without stopping.” 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (The Message)

That verse was my anchor and mission for 139 days. Every time I felt confused, homesick, heart sick, lonely, or hurt, I rested in those words. God was not asking me to save the world because He already did that. He was asking me to do 5 simple things where He had called me to be in the world and at that time.

Keeping my eyes open, holding tight to my convictions, giving it all I had, remaining resolute, and loving without stopping are what brought me there and what carried me back again. It was how I fought that battle, because it was a mission but also a battle, for me anyway. My measuring stick was how well I measured up to that verse, one day at a time. It went better on some days than it did on others.

Today though is day 140. We made it there and back again in 139 days each way. Now it’s time to turn the page, and it feels good. I snapped a photo of a tree last night on a walk in the park. Spring is just barely edging out winter here, and so there is not much visible life outside. It was a long winter. It’s taking time for the leaves that were there, to grow back again. So it is sometimes with us in our little lives. New leaves grow back when the season is right, and new life is breathed into us when our time is right. It isn’t an overnight process, nor should it be. Blue skies and warm sunshine replacing all the snow and cold, aren’t hurting though. We’re coming back to life again. It only took 139 days, plus one, to get us here.

Nothing but blue skies.

copyright (c) 2018 Jenna Pelias // all rights reserved




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