Wednesday, December 31, 2014

At the border

When I was a child we moved from Michigan to Washington state. We loaded up a U-Haul truck (by we I mean mostly my dad), piled into our maroon and white Chevrolet Carry-all and drove across the country. I had already come out to Washington on a train, and had moved TO Michigan four years earlier, but that trip west, I was 8. At eight, I could read a map and liked them. Once I got tired of playing trolls (you might remember those trolls with the long hair of different colors) I pulled out the  Rand's highway Atlas and started looking at the highway, and saw that after we crossed the Mackinac Bridge in Upper Michigan we'd have to cross a border into Wisconsin.

Some of you might know about the Mackinac Bridge. My quick research tells me it's the 5th longest suspension bridge in the world. However, back in 1965, it was only 8 years old and was the longest one in the world (which is exactly why my mechanical engineer father wanted us to drive across it). It lived up to its billing too. To an eight-year-old, it was like we were on that bridge for about an hour (though it's really only about 800 meters); and it's beautiful with those long lines of steel swinging down toward the road like waves. What I remember from then is the road between those suspension spans, and the water through the steel pillars. The rest, I admit, comes now from pictures I've seen since.

I don't remember much of Upper Michigan. I think we spent our first night there in some small motel. But what I do remember is that I expected the border to Wisconsin to be as large and important as the Mackinac Bridge. I thought there would be a marker that would stop traffic. Now that I think about it, I suppose my eight-year-old brain thought that every state would have something like this:

This is the Peace Arch Crossing between the United States and British Columbia at Blaine, Washington, just a dozen miles from my house.  My little girl brain said something big was needed to mark borders. Instead, what we found on our trip toward our new home were far less impressive. In fact, here's the one marking our last state border:

Not much of consequence to a little girl. Blink and it's easy to miss. But passing that sign meant I was entering the rest of my life. I scarcely knew how important that small marker would be, how much of would hinge on me entering beyond that border that summer I was eight. Everything I am, everyone I love came because I crossed that border. As small and insignificant as it was, it changed everything. But here's the thing. We didn't stop. We simply drove past the sign and drove on. We were a mere 8 miles from our destination that day and my parents were exhausted, I'm sure. They'd driven a long ways. Their work wasn't done that day, either. They still had a hill to climb (and what a story THAT was) and children to feed, and beds to make. Yes, they had work to do. That's how life works. I don't know how they did it.
But I know this:

It's like the border between two states, this marker between one year and the next. It's not a fancy thing. There's no magnificent bridge between 2014 and 2015 for all that we might party or watch fireworks or celebrate any which way. Clocks don't know the difference. Time itself doesn't stop for a moment when the ball drops at midnight. No, it just keeps on moving at its steady pace. And so does life.

It isn't the marker that matters, you know. It doesn't take a suspension bridge or a huge arch to make a border. All it takes is a marker on a map. A change of a single digit on a calendar isn't what counts in the great scheme of things. What matters is that we live from this day in a matter worthy of Him who called us. Honoring Him while this day is still today. That's what counts.
Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.
Today, cease grumbling and complaining and, with everything, with praise and thanksgiving,
let your requests be made known to God.
Today, be of one mind and one Body because We are His Body.
Today do all things to the Glory of God the Father.
Today, at this border of the year, make it your aim to be His.
Today, be filled with the Spirit.
And tomorrow, as Jesus said,
will take care of itself.

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