I was in shorts, barefoot, trimming our Christmas tree, watching The Weather Channel depict scenes from a nor’easter thinking, Those poor suckers up north…Thank God we live down here in the Sunshine State ….My windows are wide open, even in late December.
Then the phone rang. From the stammering of my husband’s voice I knew it was bad news
“Honey… ? Uh...looks like we’ve been transferred to Hartford, Connecticut.” My husband choked out the words that fateful afternoon as I unraveled a string of Christmas lights. His words stung as I argued, “How can we leave Florida after 28 years? We don’t even have overcoats….”
Reality sunk in. I finally unfolded the Connecticut map. About all I knew was Connecticut’s up north, expensive, and cold.
Growing up on ten acres in Texas (where small towns are separated by endless miles of cow pastures), this country girl felt her heart pound as she studied the map of the greater Hartford area. It didn’t take long to realize I did NOT want to live west of the Connecticut River. East of the river seemed more rural, not as densely populated. I panicked, searching for at least one simple road (other than interstates) that crossed the river. Although I‘ve driven for forty years, I avoid interstates, taking the back roads. Raised by overprotective parents, I’ve feared merging since my father first pegged interstates “death traps” years ago when I got my driver’s license.
Well, I’ve survived here in Connecticut for seven years and have crossed the river. But The Connecticut River is only a literal river. I have other “rivers” I have crossed, and others I’m still crossing.
Take needles. Earlier today I went for blood work. A big deal? Not for most folks. But for this weak-kneed woman who used to faint when she just sawsomeone getting a shot, getting blood work done is a milestone. For most of my 56 years, I would have rather eaten dirt than have blood drawn.
My secret? Just don’t look.
Later, as I covered my eyes stepping on the scale, the same nurse reassured me, chuckling, “It’s okay, honey. Again, just don’t look.”
Driving home, the Lord corrected me, It’s NOT okay…Time to look….Time to cross that “river” of dieting.
My husband and I have been slowly recovering from the shock of a family crisis involving our son. Regrettably, I’ve been using food to deal with stress. Our son, whose story is so mind-boggling we could be guests on Dr. Phil, had been in denial for years.
And so had I.
Trembling, I stepped on my bathroom scale. This time with my eyes open. I didn’t like the number glaring up at me, but at least I’d jumped in the river. Now I’m ready to swim to the other side---to the land of better health.
I wish I could say I’ve crossed all my rivers. I can’t. Dreading next week, I’ve shared my anxiety with close friends, relating how next Wednesday will be one of the toughest days of my life. But God has been faithful and has surrounded us with caring friends who’ve been there to pray with us and hold our hands as we face our son in court for DUI charges.
Soon I’ll be crossing another river called retirement. It’s not just adjusting to having my spouse around 24/7. We’re also moving to a new state. Although our new area is much cheaper and warmer, moving and making new friends is another river I’ll have to swim across.
But I have to remember that this former Floridian (who used to freeze when it got down to 60 degrees Fahrenheit), now braves single-digit temperatures, driving in the snow. And I’ve made close friends. With God’s help, I can move, again; I can make new friends.
I know I’ll have other new rivers, yet to cross. But (praise God!) I’ve already crossed over that most significant river. Years ago I crossed over the river of sin and death to the fresh, cleansing waters of salvation to new life in Jesus Christ.
As I continue to cross my new rivers, including that final river of death, I know the One who holds my hand-----Who’ll never let me slip.
Just as Jesus’ weak-kneed disciple Peter, I, too, can cross my rivers. If I don’t look down, but look up, focusing on Jesus and His promises, I can walk across, safely landing on the other side.*
*See Matthew 14:22-33, NIV.
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