On the Side - June 2013
by Laura C. Thomas
You have heard it before: “the only constant in life is change.” And if you are like me, you either discreetly (or blatantly) roll your eyes. The coming of summer can bring huge change for medical marriages as so many of us are in transition to residency, to fellowship, to a first job or to a new job. This year I’ve decided not to call it Spring Cleaning, but Moving Cleaning! Yes, our family is on the move again too, and as I make school arrangements for our oldest daughter’s 4th elementary school I am reminded again of the Exodus.
When we left Colorado for residency in Minnesota I was so excited for what the future held! We were blessed there immediately with the best neighbors in the world (who would snow-blow our driveway and sidewalk by 6am--no kidding!), great friendships, and an amazing community in Side By Side. I was content to stay forever. But God had other plans.
We matched in Pittsburgh, PA for fellowship. To say it threw me for a loop is an understatement. But in the chaos of my emotions, God gave me a promise. The phrase“prepare a place” started rolling around in my mind. After trying to ignore it for a few weeks I finally sat down with my Bible concordance and looked it up. There it was: Exodus 23:20--“See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and bring you to the place I have prepared.” I cried. I wrote it on our bathroom mirror. During those hard days of sorting, packing, and moving, it was my lifeline.
Since then, Exodus has become a special book to me. It is the story of the Israelites following God and Moses through the desert to the Promised Land.
They settled where the cloud of God settled and they moved when the cloud moved. They had no idea how long they would be in one location.
When the cloud of God lifted, they pulled up their tent stakes, gathered their children and belongings, and followed. Sometimes they made camp near water; sometimes they had to wait for God to make water burst from rocks; but God never failed them.
Over our three years in Pittsburgh, God provided for us just like in Minnesota. The blessings came slower, but they came. We found a strong church family, made life-long friends, and I found a new community in the Side By Side chapter there.
Then my husband decided to do a one-year specialized fellowship. We matched to our hometown of Denver. So last June we once again loaded up the big, yellow Penske trucks and said our tearful goodbyes.
After six short months in the Mile High City we started looking at practices across the country. Sitting at breakfast after a second interview in Eugene, Oregon, we thought we had it narrowed down to two options. Then God closed those doors, and we realized that he was leading us in a different direction: to the desert. Literally.
I have to admit that our life feels like the Exodus, and that right now I am acting like the Israelites often did. I am grumbling. I am whining to God. Will you really provide for my needs? Do you really know what you're doing? Is there any chance we will be happy there? Why the desert?
Like the Israelites, I forget how He has taken care of us! My memory gets as foggy as the kitchen window when I’m doing dishes.
Just like the Israelites, I have been learning through the journey. When they started out from Egypt they were a group of weary slaves who had little or no knowledge of the God of Jacob. But through their wandering, God taught them faith, obedience, and to have confidence in Him alone. He transformed a ragged group of nomads into a strong, courageous people who followed him into battle! Just as he led the Israelites into the desert 3,500 years ago, he will lead our family (if I let Him!) Just as he was with the Israelites day and night, He will be with us. Just like the Israelites we will have stories of his provision in the wilderness, and our faith will be transformed.
In this, our fourth cross-country move we are headed to Palm Desert, California. We are leaving behind all our winter gear from Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Colorado--we won’t be needing any footy pajamas or snow sleds! What we will take with us are the memories of all the ways God has provided for us. As we pull up our tent stakes I will thank Him for His faithfulness and I will look forward to the good things he has already prepared for us--in the desert.
Laura is a stay-at-home mom of three: one child each from Medical School, Residency and Fellowship. So experiences weren't the only things she collected along the journey!