How far can we go?
I’ve sung Psalm 23 thousands of times. Literally thousands. Every night for the past six years, my wife and I have sung “The Shepherd Song” when our kids go to bed. But on Monday I noticed something new.
It’s perhaps no secret that I did not want to move to Okinawa, where we currently live. Around this time last year Helene got a surprise change in orders from the Navy saying we needed to move to Japan for three years. We had barely six months’ notice.
Just over a year prior we had moved our family from Boston to Virginia. We bought a dream home. We started a huge renovation on it. We planted a garden and were planning on chickens and a dog. It was awesome. Then came this sudden, huge, unexpected change in plans. To prepare to move our family of 7 around the world and finish the renovations in time, we kicked into the highest cadence of work we’ve ever had. Just absolute non-stop work to get it all done. Our family and friends helped greatly to push us across the line.
I did not want to move. But it wasn’t a choice, it was an order. So we did it. There were many times last year when Helene and I repeated the phrase “must be God’s plan, cause it isn’t ours.” During the work, it was hard to see the goodness in that plan – we just had to trust. But now I’m beginning to understand.
The last decade of our life has been very busy. For my wife it included medical school, residency, fellowship, and work as an attending and officer. For me it was business school, working in management consulting, corporate strategy, a startup and launching CappaWork. Add in five kids, four moves, two whole home renovations and our life has just been fast paced. We gladly chose it, but it’s been busy.
On Monday, as I was reflecting on Psalm 23 in my quiet time, one line jumped out.
"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want. He makes me lie in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul."
He MAKES me. It’s not a choice, it’s an order. The Good Shepherd isn’t asking if "maybe for a little while I might want to take a snooze in the grass if I have some spare time." He MAKES me lie down.
Life in Okinawa is slower. There are no chickens to raise, gardens to tend, bathrooms to tile or dogs to train. There are no long commutes, networking events or all-nighters finishing a deliverable. The speed limit is even slower here - I haven’t driven over 45mph since July. We miss our family dearly but are reveling in weekend afternoons when we have nothing on the schedule but going to a playground. Our work has been pared back to raising our kids and doing our jobs. That’s it. It’s still demanding, but it’s focused. And our apartment is a stone’s throw from the ocean and a river. He has led us beside quiet waters.
If it were up to me, we’d be back in the states. But it’s not up to me. It’s not my choice. The only choice I have is to either resist the hand of the Shepherd and be miserable in the struggle, or to trust and lie down in the pasture where He’s placed me.
Days before we got the new orders last year, I had set a new quote as the background on my phone. It said: “Instead of ‘how long will it take?’, ask God ‘how far can we go?” Turns out much farther than we imagined. And God isn’t done with us yet.
This weekend I pray that you’ll hear the voice of the Good Shepherd. Listen to how He’s calling you. Follow where you are led. He’ll restore your soul.
P.S. “The Shepherd Song” is actually "House of God Forever" by Jon Foreman. It’s the best.