Thursday, July 11, 2013

Faith inside a fish.

I started this blog two years ago as a way to keep people informed of our whereabouts and experiences traveling up to Alaska. I just realized the last time I posted was over a year ago. Clearly, Alaska is just too fun of a place to be wasting time sitting at a computer writing blog entries.

I thought about titling this entry "Where to even begin?", but that's so ironic, as really this entry is about an ending, not a beginning.  We've been in Alaska just one week shy of two years today. In three weeks we'll be hitting the bumpy roads to travel out of here and be on our way again to a new place, a new home, a new city, a new church, new friends, new favorite restaurants, new. everything.

I remember writing an entry before we left NE about how sad I was that our wonderful friends in Omaha were going to become just more people we wrote Christmas letters to. I just couldn't fathom leaving them all behind, while we moved on to make new friends. I pretty much cried all the way to Seattle on that road trip. It was devastating.

And now?  Really? Again, Lord?  Really, US government? REALLY?!? We have to move again?  For the third. time. in. four. years???!!! That list of "Christmas card" friends has grown immensely since we've been here, and stamps are getting expensive!

I don't even want to think about not being able to meet my friends for coffee in the sunshine, or take my pick of which mountain I'd like to hike this weekend. It's unimaginable to me to think that I'm not going to wake up to beautiful, majestic mountains that still steal my breath away every day I look at them.  It's inexcusable that I would have to leave our sweet, homey little church with genuine friends, and amazing students who have blessed me more than they could know. I don't want to go back to dark nights in the summer.  I don't want to give up cross-country skiing in the winter. I love the variety of salmon, halibut, moose, and caribou that have graced my freezer all year.  And I mean, come on... I just  bought a Skhoop skirt last winter.  What the heck am I going to do with a snow skirt in Virginia?

Oh believe me, there is plenty to gripe about.  I'll spare you the rest.

And then the Lord speaks to me and reminds me what a weenie I'm being and what a big God He is.

Remember Jonah from the Bible? He's the guy most famous for being swallowed up by a big fish. Some might remember it as a whale.  Well, Jonah has been on my heart the past few days. So I opened up his story and read.

Jonah was a guy who God told to go to Nineveh to announce to the people God's judgment against their wickedness.  Jonah immediately turns and runs the opposite direction of where God told him to go, thinking he can escape this task given to him. Along his journey, he ends up on a boat with some other men, there is a huge storm, and the men decide to throw Jonah overboard because they blamed his God for the storm.  As soon as Jonah is thrown off the boat, the waters calm and the men become believers.  And Jonah is swallowed by a fish.

Ok, I've had my fair share of fish being up here. Growing up, I didn't eat a lot of fish, mostly because my dad didn't like it, so Mom never cooked it.  I also had this aversion to fish because it usually reeked the house up for days after cooking it. But in Alaska, the fish is so fresh (once I ate salmon literally caught in the creek by my house), that it is unmatched by any fishstick or McFilet you'd have elsewhere.  It doesn't smell. It just melts in your mouth.

Depending on how you've grown up around fish, you may be thinking at this point in Jonah's story, "Ew, he's swallowed by a fish."  But really, God saved Jonah's life with that fish.  He gave Jonah time to think about his loyalty to the Lord, of which Jonah eventually did travel to Nineveh to deliver God's message and save those people.

I am Jonah.  God has called me to another place and I just don't want to go. Every ounce of my being wants to stay here, right where I'm comfortable and pretend like God didn't say "go" at all. But I know that if I obediently, willingly go where God is sending me, there will be great blessings and plans for me that are higher and wiser and more exciting than any plans I could possibly come up with for myself.

Right now I'd say I'm sitting in that fish's mouth, contemplating which it's gonna be. Run away or walk forward.  Truthfully, I know that no matter what I choose in my heart, my physical body, husband, and everything I own is moving to Virginia. But my heart can choose where it will go or stay without those things. And if I choose wrong, I might miss out on an incredible experience that could bless many people and save lives.

I think it's time to step out of the fish.

"As my life was slipping away,
I remembered the Lord.
And my earnest prayer went out to you
in your holy Temple...

I will offer sacrifices to you with songs of praise,
and I will fulfill all my vows.
For my salvation comes from the Lord alone." -Jonah's prayer while in the mouth of the fish, Jonah 2:7,9