Some people are scared to go.
Others are scared to stay.
I was like that once. From this side of the Atlantic, going to Scotland seemed like a one-time thing. But the place got to me. Once I’d wandered the cobblestone streets of that fifteenth century university where I studied, stood on the cliff tops overlooking a ruined castle and felt the sea air make my hair dance, sat in my dorm room reading Pride and Prejudice while the tree outside my room turned from winter to spring, the place got into my blood, got into my soul.
A few weeks in, there was a gathering, a cup of tea, a charming red-head with an accent so thick I had to smile and wanted to cry, and did. Three years later we were married, kilts and empire waistlines and all.
We only meant to stay in Scotland for a year, though it turned out to be eight.
And I never did believe it, even after all that time, that I could be so blessed.
I could have stayed forever.
There, in that green corner of Scotland where we lived. As if Scotland has a corner that’s not that color. That’s not green.
Yes, I would have been quite happy to keep our home at the foot of the highlands, with our view of the village and the valley and the hills beyond. Our home and my great white kitchen with those walls thick enough to park your car, and our winding staircase, and the window seat John built me, where you could close the curtains and open a book and get lost for a while.
The nursery, where we spent the tenderest moments with our boys, singing lullabies, kissing toes.
The paths we walked—field and forest, castle and garden, playing Pooh Sticks, collecting rocks.
And I loved it.
But sometimes, sometimes you can love a thing too much.
You can love a thing, love a person, so much that your heart grows gray.
Gray and cold as stone.
I looked green enough, I’m sure, from the outside.
But not all green is grass.
Because I never missed a Sunday. Bible beside my bed never collected that much dust.
But I’m quite sure, if you’d gone looking, you would have seen the moss.
And moss means damp, and sitting, and rotting, and feeling comfortable too long.
It means clinging on for safety to what’s not really safe. It means being happy to linger in the shadows when you should be chasing light.
It wasn’t easy leaving. I must have left a trail across the country where I tried to dig in my nails and hold on tight.
But I’ve felt God’s love like I’ve never known it, and I’ve seen that He will take you places if He knows it will bring you closer to Him.
God will lead you to green pastures. He will lead you to a desert.
He will take you halfway round the world.
And He will bring you back.
He will bend you far like a reed, or wrap you up and cradle you like a newborn.
Whatever it takes.
Sometimes God borrows human hands, to cup your face and turn your eyes to His.
Other times His hands look like painful goodbyes, or a loss so big you don’t think you’ll ever smile again. Or a turn of luck so grand your mouth hangs open. Wide open. And you’ve got to dance.
Whatever it takes.
Whatever it takes to make sure you’ll be with Him. Today. Tomorrow. Forever.
He’ll chase you like He’s been chasing us humans from the beginning. He’ll forgive you again and again, make a way to bridge the bottomless gap. Pursue you, even when you’re running. Even when your heart is so gray and your deeds so black you make Him weep.
And what else could you call Love?
Some people are scared to go. Others are scared to stay.
But it’s not the going or the staying that matters.
Not really. Not to Jesus.
It’s what’s in your hands.
It’s where you’re looking.
It’s the color of your heart.
Psalm 37:23-24, Isaiah 43:22
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And so on my birthday — some things that always get me . . . happy sigh?