Last Fall I had the opportunity to take an extended vacation. I had five major destinations: Asheville, North Carolina; New York, New York; Crown Point, Indiana; Racine, Wisconsin; and Coeur D’Alene, Idaho. I’ll admit it was a little ambitious to think I could accomplish all five of these geographically diverse destinations in one trip. But, in one afternoon I had worked out a reasonable itinerary that wouldn’t break me or the bank! Before I left, a close friend gave me a journal. The cover of it read, “Keep Calm and Carry On.” She told me that she had seen an address book with that saying on it in a bookstore and knew that I was supposed to have a journal with that title. She searched through the entire store until at last she found it. At the time, the saying meant nothing to me, or to her for that matter. She just knew God wanted me to have that journal. It wasn’t until months after the trip that I realized the significance of that saying.
I enjoy traveling alone but mostly because I go to great lengths to plan ahead. Anything that can be done in advance is usually done long before “wheels up.” Train tickets, plane tickets, hotel reservations, theater tickets, car rentals, shuttles – you name it, I’ve probably got a receipt in my carry-on… and a spare in my suitcase (just in case). It affords me a worry-free, enjoyable trip. All I have to do is show up.
For this particular trip I was flying about 4,000 miles, driving 2,000 miles, and taking the train for 500 miles. I stayed in 8 different places and traveled through 15 states in 17 days. Every day was a new adventure. But, every morning, like an alarm clock, I was awoken by a twinge of anxiety. Even after all the planning there were a few moments of panic. Where was going? How was I getting there? Where was I staying that night? Did I have everything I needed? It never lasted long, but it was there everyday. The journal cover seemed appropriate, but I still didn’t put much credence in it. I did have a sense however, that these moments of insecurity were preparing me for something that was coming. I can’t explain it exactly, but I felt as though God was using those moments of panic as “practice” for me.
Fast forward several months… I sold my condo in April. The new owner was gracious enough to allow me to rent back from her for a time. My deadline to move was set for July 31st. Of course I assumed that would be plenty of time to find a new home. I was wrong. In just a few days everything I own will be put into storage and I will be moving in with my parents. Not exactly what I (or they) had planned. 🙂 There have been those same moments of panic in these recent mornings. What is today going to bring? What do I need to do? Where am I going? Do I have everything I need? But, just as He was faithful to calm me during those “practice” days, He continues to calm me today. And, He has shown me in His word that same British phrase that adorns my journal…Keep Calm and Carry On.
I was in Exodus when I stumbled across it. God, through His servant Moses, had just led the Israelites out of Egypt and Pharaoh’s soldiers were closing in on them at the Red Sea. Their enemies are on one side and the sea is on the other. They’re trapped! But Moses says to the people, “Don’t panic. Stand your ground. The Lord is going to fight for you, all you have to do is be still.” The very next verse is God talking to Moses. He says, “Why are you crying out to me for help? Tell the people to move forward.” (Exodus 14)
Two messages that at first glance seem to contradict one another – be still and move forward. But having experienced them both on my trip and in my current situation I can tell you they are not contradictory at all. Within my soul, in my spirit, I have to be still. I can’t be in panic mode. I have to know that everything is in His hands and not mine (thank goodness!). In that knowledge and trust I can be calm. I may not know what I will encounter each day, but God does. I can be still in Him because I know He is in control. He will lead me.
On the other hand I have to keep moving forward. When I was on my trip there were a few moments when I just wanted to pull the covers over my head and sleep in. But, there were hotels I had to check out of, trains and planes I had to catch, friends to meet up with, etc. I couldn’t skip a leg of the trip, I had to keep moving forward. And the Lord kept urging and cheering me on. Now too, I can’t stay in this place I’ve called home for 10 years. It’s time to go. I’ve had to keep packing each week, making the proper arrangements, planning ahead, and looking for a new home. I can’t stop. I can’t stay in bed on the 31st and skip this leg of the trip. I have to keep moving forward.
The miracle that Moses and the children of Israel witnessed and experienced that day was that they saw God open the sea for them. They moved forward into a miracle. They walked through a body of water on dry ground! I know that God has a miracle for me too… for all of us. He has a plan for our lives that He wants us to follow. The plan requires us to both “Keep Calm and Carry On.” Be still and know that He is in control, and move forward, following Him as He leads us into the miracles He has planned for us.
What I didn’t mention about that trip were the amazing “God moments” that He had planned for me on those adventurous days. (That may be another blog post.) The people I met, the interactions I had, the unplanned circumstances that He orchestrated in such amazing detail… it was incredible! They were things I couldn’t have planned. They were things I would have missed if I had stayed in panic mode. If I had remained frozen in fear. If I had not allowed Him to lead me through my circumstances into His miracles.
I can’t wait to see His next miracle in my life and I also can’t wait to experience the amazing “God moments” He has planned for me on the journey. If you are waiting on Him for a miracle, if you are feeling panicked, I’ve got five words for you, “Be calm and carry on.”