This past weekend we remembered an anniversary. It’s hard to say we “celebrated” because that certainly wasn’t the tone, but we definitely remembered. Some anniversaries are, after all, hard to enjoy.
The moment in recall was the day I lost my job, January 16th, 2015, and the day our family began a year like none other we’ve experienced. In the 12 months since the afternoon I took my last walk from the office to my house, we’ve experienced the life of faith like never before. Traci and I have felt the love of friends and family like at no other time in our marriage, and we’ve felt some of the highest highs and lowest lows. It has been a wild journey.
The first seven months after that departure were filled with many couch-surfing adventures (with our family of five!), thousands and thousands of miles on the road (two trips to the West Coast and back) and many tearful nights and tension filled days. We had to make tough never-been-here-before decisions, and trust in God’s hand to take care of us. We made some great memories along the way, including the time we spent on road visiting friends and family.
I remember vividly, the August 5th morning that we were returning from our six week, 11,000 mile road trip to the West Coast. We were still uncertain about the details of the future, but confident that God wanted us to stay in Michigan. We were driving in from a couple night’s rest in Galena, Illinois, and we literally didn’t know where we were going to stay that night (or any night thereafter!).
Some dear friends texted with my wife asking about our living situation, and they assured us that their home would always be available to us, and for the next two nights we would rest in their hospitality. As Traci and I fell asleep in their camper (not even joking when I tell you that it was the absolute best night of sleep I had experienced in months!), I became profoundly aware of how much God had taken care of us. How much He had provided for us along the way.
By that night in August, I had lost track of the number of different beds we had fallen asleep in (well over 30!), and the number of times financial gifts came in to bless us at “just the right moment” of need. Two trips to the West Coast had gone off without a hitch, literally, without a single problem from our 280,000-mile-old vehicle. Hundreds and hundreds of emails, FB messages and posts, texts and phone calls had come our way from people who just wanted to encourage us along the journey. Truly, in the midst of being homeless and jobless, I had never had a more profound sense of God’s work in my life.
So this weekend, on the one year anniversary of watching God change things up as only He can do, I remember, somberly, that His ways are not mine. I remember that He holds the future in His hands — He already knows tomorrow better than I know yesterday! While I was experiencing (perceived) injustice, hurt, uncertainty and far more questions than answers, God already knew where the path was leading, and He was directing me — the whole family! — with the patience, grace and mercy of a loving father.
Ultimately, the goal of living the Overboard Life is that, through an active faith in God and His work in our lives, we are becoming more and more like His Son. That transformation is worth all the uncertainty, hardship and challenge that God directs our way and that this world throws at us. I am praying that 2016 is vastly different than the year we just put behind us, but even more, I am praying that the seeds of change God planted in our hearts and minds last January, take full root and began to blossom and produce fruit in this year.
When I think of the past year with that perspective, I have no choice but to celebrate this anniversary.
What about you? Do you have a painful anniversary that you need to see in a different light? It’s not easy, but it is freeing. After all, since becoming like Jesus is the goal, we must learn to embrace the process that gets us there.
Go ahead and take the plunge, life — even your painful past — is better on the water!