The "For Sale" sign went up.
The next day we had the first viewing.
Then the couple came back.
At the end of the day we had an offer we could not refuse.
We're still in shock. Though we realize the deal is not fully done until closing, selling our home that quickly was another "moving sign." Indeed, moving signs have been springing up all around us recently.
For over a year now, we have sensed the Lord was calling us to leave Kokomo. Last summer it was confirmed. The Lord called me away from the church we watched be birthed in this house and grow in Christ's strength over two plus decades to take a teaching assignment in Pennsylvania at our denomination's seminary this summer. The congregation here is truly family to us, as the bonds of love formed through all these years are incredibly strong. Even this town, where for the first decade we felt like "strangers and aliens" as we struggled to church plant, now is home to us. As captured in the title of the book Uprooted, we now feel each "pop" as root-by-root the Lord is working us out of the soil here in this transplanting process.
The visible moving signs are many and varied.
Around the house I see them beyond the sign in the front yard. Packed boxes are starting to accumulate in our garage. Almost daily items are being cleaned out, given away, or donated to the local mission. Every night my wife has new pictures of homes out east to show to me. A dog which I promised the kids when we moved came early thanks to their grandpa, so every day even Oscar's frisky presence is a reminder. Pop, pop, pop.
In the church and the community I also see the signs. A new pastor has been elected here. I've stepped down from several positions I've held for years in the church. The academy where all six of my children have attended is making transitions to new leadership and policies. Monday night I said goodbye to the basketball team I've helped coach since 1999. One of the more humorous changes was a little one. I finally relinquished control of programming the church thermostat to the deacons. All these years I was there so I just did it. Yet the habit did not go away easily (I kept checking every week for a while). But they are doing quite fine without me. Pop, pop, pop.
We are not only moving geographically. In a very real way, beyond the new job, we are moving into a strange, new phase in our lives. Miriam and I just recently both became "quinquagenarians," which is just an old-sounding way of saying we hit the half century mark. (Just for the record, though her looks are holding at 39, Miriam did get there three weeks ahead of me.) We have become grandparents to a beautiful little girl. Two of our children will be married within thirteen days of each other in early summer before we are scheduled to move. Among other things, that means I'll have two less dependents this time next year when I do my taxes. Again, like my creaking bones when I get up in the morning, I hear the pops.
Yet I write these things not to complain, but rejoice. The pops remind me that the Lord planted us in His kingdom by His grace. We have been "firmly rooted and are now being built up in Him" (Colossians 2:7). His roots run so deeply that, even as we anticipate Him planting us now in another section of His vineyard and developing new roots, His Spirit will not sever all our ties. Rather, the deepest bonds of love and friendship are eternal. Geography, age, and even death cannot cut them. Indeed, they will remain even when the time of the ultimate transplant comes. All these moving signs remind us of - and even prepare us for - the truth that our true home is not here in Indiana nor will it be out east in Pennsylvania.
How incredible is it that Jesus says to all who are His disciples, "In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for now I go to prepare a place for you" (John 14:2). The next day after saying that, He died on Calvary's cross, was planted in burial, then sprung forth in life eternal to make good on that promise.
That's the moving sign I'm seeking to keep my eyes on these days.