On the Side: July 2019
For The Ages
by Carol Shrader
Our new home is not exactly a new house. It has been standing here for almost 100 years. Never having owned an old home, I was concerned about the home inspection prior to our closing. My girlfriend looked at me and said, “Relax. That house has been standing forever. It is fine.”
Perhaps it is this moving transition then, or maybe it’s the life-transition of watching my three oldest graduate college, I am sure there are many reasons, but I am finding myself drawn to verses this week that talk about forever, that focus on enduring forever.
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever” (Psalm 118:1, NIV 1984).
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8, NIV 1984).
In 28 years of marriage, we have lived in seven states for at least one year, and one more state for a residency rotation of three months (felt like a long time), so eight different places have been home. When I meet people who have lived in this new community their entire lives, I can hardly wrap my brain around that. I struggle to understand the implications of the word forever.
When I was feeding three babies and sleeping hardly at all, the days felt like they lasted forever.
When we were in Wade’s orthopedic surgery residency and his time at home was very little, and our funds to feed/clothe/care for three tiny littles was smaller than my husband’s time at home, the residency felt like it was lasting forever.
And last year, when Wade was living in one state, and I in another while our children finished school, completely, utterly, felt like forever. For. Ever.
And yet, those sweet babies started sleeping through the night at just a few months old. And today, they are college graduates scattering around the world. Those days did not in fact last forever—they didn’t even last as long as I actually wanted them to.
Residency did come to an end. Our budget did increase. Our ability to provide for our family did the same. In hindsight, those years taught us so much and actually did only last five years.
And last year, well, we made it. We survived. And it turns out that 18 months is not actually forever either. On this side of it, it doesn’t even feel like it was close to forever.
So with changes happening literally all around me, how can I seek comfort in Jesus love being the same forever—if that word has very little meaning to me?
My resident Greek expert (my son Mason, who will soon be working on his masters in classical archaeology) tried to help me. Apparently, the word forever means to an age, to the ages, for all time. Jesus promises to be the same for all time. I like that. But still, in my world where permanency is not a thing, I need more.
“Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people both now and forevermore” (Psalm 125:1, NIV 1984).
Oh yes, this helps me. I have had the privilege of being in Jerusalem twice in recent years and actually saw houses that have been standing for almost forever. I could not even take it all in, the forever-ness of the buildings we toured and the sites we visited. We walked on roads that were older than our country and had glimpses of roads under those that dated back to when Jesus walked them. We saw walls built when David was king. We entered the room where Jesus is believed to have had the last supper with His disciples. That night as I prayed, I was overcome talking to Jesus so near a place where He actually walked. Perhaps that was as close as I will come to understanding forever.
Standing on the mountainside outside of the old city of Jerusalem looking down, it is evident that the Psalmist had stood right there looking at how Jerusalem is surrounded by mountains, hemmed in to protect her just as God surrounds us, hemming us in when things are hard.
Today, I am choosing to focus on the permanence of Jesus when life feels brand new, unknown, unfamiliar. As we learn which cabinet houses the kitchen items that I unpacked last week, as we find the right grocery store, right activities for my 13-year-old and a loving church community—all new, all unfamiliar, all hard—I am clinging to the fact that the God who built Mount Zion to protect Jerusalem knew I would be making this move at this time. I am clinging to the fact that not only did He know, He ordained it. And not only all of that, but He loves me. His love is never-ending. He loved me in Minnesota, in Arizona, in Mississippi, and He loves me still in Delaware. My surroundings may change. But He does not. Forever.
Oh there is such a great comfort to me in that. I am praying you find the comfort there too!
Carol Shrader is a brand-new resident of Delaware—the first state of the U.S. The history surrounding her new community is rich and deep, and yet, it has not endured forever. She is thrilled to once again be in the same state as her wonderful Wade who is a pediatric orthopedic surgeon. Her fervent hope is that the abundance of boxes and the smell of cardboard are not enduring and resolve themselves fairly quickly!