Sometimes we need to stop, take a good, long look over our shoulder and remember who He’s been … and how that shapes where we’re headed.
The wind rushed around the sleeper train, kicking up dust on both sides of the tracks.
I had a good view of the unnatural dust storm from where I lay on the third bunk, up in the nosebleed section. My feet dangled off the end of the too-short bed into the aisle, and I checked to see how close I was to kicking people in the face as they walked by.
Not close. Not close at all. I was miles above their heads. I’d never make foot-to-face contact from way up here. I wasn’t going to be Jackie Chan, not even accidentally, not even in my sleep.
It’s a long way down.
I scooted closer to the wall.
Two bunks below me, the lady across from Elizabeth was offering her some of the plastic bag of noodles she’d brought from home. In the few minutes since we’d boarded the train, Elizabeth had become besties with the noodle lady plus every baby on the train. Moms would come walking down the aisle looking for Elizabeth, babies in their arms, just so they could grab their little ones’ hands and make them wave and watch her wave back.
It’s instant community, whether you’re trying to sleep or not.
Which … Elizabeth was.
Looking down over the edge of my bunk, I saw her pop in her earphones. But here came another baby …
I should see if she wants to trade at some point, I thought, even though she was getting a kick out of the toddler parade. We still had hours to go, and she might eventually want a real nap. It took some acrobatics to get up here, and sitting up wasn’t an option like it was on her bottom bunk – you had to kind of carefully thread yourself into the space between the bed and the ceiling in a horizontal position.
But up here above head level, above baby-waving level, it was like a pocket of space that no one could get to.
And that was kind of nice. Kind of quiet.
It gave me space to think.
As I lay there listening to the train rush along the tracks, all kinds of thoughts invaded my head and heart, as if the wind was stirring them up on the way by. The depth and breadth of the memories of the past several years exploded in my mind like a kaleidoscope.
God, we’ve covered a lot of miles since this journey started.
All kinds of emotions welled up. My first impulse was to hold everything down where it belonged, slapping my hands down on the memories like they were napkins on the table of a café on a windy day.
But as I lay there staring at the ceiling … I didn’t. I didn’t hold them down.
I let things fly.
This was the space to do that.
And it was a good thing.
Because God was in all of those things.
Sometimes we need to process what God has done, the places we’ve walked. Sometimes we need that space on the third bunk up, a place where the daily grind can fade away for a little while.
Sometimes we need to stop, take a good, long look over our shoulder and remember.
Because remembering takes the truth of who He is, who He’s been, who He will be and writes it on our hearts all over again.
Faithful. Loving. Good.
The other day, I came across some things I’d jotted down about five years ago when I moved to England, back when I’d first put it all on the table and said God, whatever it takes to know You more. That’s what I want.
As I lay there on the third bunk, I thought about that girl who’d left Alabama with wide eyes and a wide-open heart. I tried to put myself back in her skin.
And I smiled.
That girl had no idea what was coming.
And that’s a really good thing.
I think I knew it would be incredible. I think I also knew it would be hard. But I don’t think I could’ve ever imagined just how incredible, or just how hard.
He was in all of those things.
And in every moment, every day, He answered the prayer of that wide-eyed girl, even though she didn’t have a clue what she was really asking for. He gave more of Himself.
Through His Word, He reshaped the way I viewed Him, and that changed the way that experiences changed me. My life began to shape itself around who He is in a way that held its shape even in the moments when He felt farther away, when the really deep waters came.
I’m not the same shape I was five years ago when I was that wide-eyed girl.
And I won’t be the same shape five years from now either.
Because of who He is. Because of His faithfulness. And because of what happens when He invades the spaces of my life, my heart.
As I lay there on the train thinking about the things that did the molding, the places where His grace held me, the moments of pure joy that sent me to my knees in gratitude, I’m overwhelmed. It’s a big, big bag. Of deep, deep stuff.
What will the next five years bring? I can’t imagine.
But I want it. If it gives me more of You, I want it.
God, You are faithful. You have been. You will be. And because of that, I don’t want to stay the same.
Whatever that means.
I want Your story.
The one that leads me to You.