This past summer my wife, Shannon, and I began our move from our small urban apartment to life on the road. We had both moved a few times before, and we knew exactly what it took to make it happen. We needed a rental truck, an entire Saturday set apart for moving the big stuff, at least three days spent packing up the little stuff and the task of enlisting volunteers to help with it all. The help of others was particularly needed this move due to my wife’s fractured elbow she had sustained a few weeks back. Our apartment was on the third floor, and if people didn’t show up, we knew that the ominous process that awaited us became formidable.
The move took a smidgen longer than expected, coming to a grand total of five days. We loaded the last box in my SUV only minutes before Shannon’s scheduled appointment to have her cast removed from her right arm—this doctor’s visit was our last stop before leaving town for good. Right there with us and even following us to my parents’ house where we were taking some things to store away, were two special people bearing a familiar resemblance to One who dropped His interests for the sake of the world.
We had great friends volunteer time and energy over those five days for us, and we will always feel indebted to them. It was people taking time off work, away from their families and driving in the crazy Hampton Roads traffic—all to minister to us whom they called friend. It is a very sobering thing to witness.
Our experience with a couple of these people was particularly humbling as they did things that my one-armed wife could not do, as well as much more above and beyond the call of duty. These two friends sacrificed two entire days helping us pack things up, carry boxes up and down stairs, drive to and from a location an hour and a half each way, and labor for no tangible compensation other than some inner reward that I know they must have acquired while doing it. When all was said and done, minutes before they left my parents’ house, we exchanged hugs and thanked them for all they did, and not just for their doing, but also for their being there. Their mere presence, just like those others who had helped along the way, in that moment of our lives had subtly reminded us of God’s caring presence. Their being there not only helped us move, but it also helped us enjoy those days. We laughed with them, reminisced and had late night dinners where we dialogued on the future.
You could say I retrieved a theology lesson from those days. Part of it contained a glib reminder that God, no matter how many times we underestimate and overlook Him, is the nurturing Father of our souls and real life experiences. The other half of it was as timely as it was prolific, as universal as it was uniquely relevant to what was about to happen to my wife and me. We were leaving our lives in our familiar city for a new adventure where we would trust God to provide us with our first consulting project. We knew there would be at least a six to eight week period before we would be assigned somewhere, so, in the meantime, we would have to assume the art of just being. We would be required to trust that God could use our mere presence, our restful beings, as part of His plan for our lives.
During these six weeks of rest, we drove across many states visiting family and friends. During one long stretch on the highway, my mind started wandering back to the matter of doing, and I began fearing that God couldn’t possibly be pleased with us two vagabonds. All we had been about these weeks was visiting people—eating their meals, sleeping in their beds, spending time with them for a while and then once again hitting the road until we arrived at another doorstep where we could rehash the same pattern. How could our lives possibly be adding any spiritual imprints to the days in which we lived and helping to procreate faith in the world?
My mind diverted back to the two friends who had helped us move. It wasn’t so much what they said or did that made those days so special; the most meaningful thing was how they made us feel and think. They brought so much life and light into our days through being in our lives. Apart from them being there, we would have eventually somehow, some way, gotten moved (albeit at a much slower pace), but we would have never gotten the artful inspiration they gave us. They inspired the feeling that God was close, the thought that His unconditional love makes us more abundant than money ever could and a prompting to enjoy what life is and to stop worrying over what we think it should be. It all came to be a reminder to smile at the day, receive it as the one God made and that was the end of it.
Living is a matter of being, not doing. This is what my wife and I discovered from our two friends and over that memorable period of six weeks. After our road trip, we had several people thank us for stopping in and tell us how much they enjoyed the visit with us. Today, being means helping direct a consulting project, but back then it simply meant traveling around and reconnecting with those close to us. Tomorrow, being may mean it is time to take a financial risk, to create a new discipline or maybe even to help someone move. God has made the string of our days—some come with an invitation to work, to create, to rest or to travel, but each comes with the invitation to live as created beings.