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When The Dust Settles

This past year has been hard.

Exactly one year ago my place of work closed their doors. Exactly one year ago I was told to stay home. It sounded like my dream for a paid vacation was finally coming true. But this wasn’t exactly the vacation I had in mind. It wasn’t what any of us had in mind.

Exactly one year later and I’m reflecting on what has changed. What will never go back to the way it was.

I’m also thinking about what will forever stay the same. When all the dust settles, when the credits roll, when the light goes out, what remains?

You see I’m walking through yet another transition. Instead of being told to stay home I’ve made the choice to leave the job I’ve held for the past five years. A place of work that has truly shaped me into the educator and leader I am today. A place I’ve called home.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has had to make a similar decision in the past year. In an instant our realities have shifted and for many of us our beliefs, our values, and our dreams have been challenged.

At this time last year I wanted to travel the world but a few months ago I let my passport expire. Funny how quickly things can change.

I guess for some this isn’t a laughing matter, but I think laughter is one of the only things that has kept me sane throughout all of this. That and Jesus of course.

I’ve known for a long time that I wasn’t meant to stay in one place forever. That I was destined to move. To venture out into the world. To dip my toes in a lot of different terrains. I’ve known for a long time I would have to walk away from something really good to make room for something great. And I would have to do this multiple times throughout my life.

This idea has really had me thinking about the life Jesus lived. As a young boy He wandered into the temple in Jerusalem. When his parents came looking for Him he explained His desire to be with His Father (Luke 3:41-45). Jesus had to make the choice to stay with His parents, grow and mature, but soon enough He would wander out again.

Jesus didn’t live an easy life. He didn’t stay in one place, and He didn’t make His choices based what the outside world had to think or say about it. He looked to His father, and He stepped out in faith.

Words cannot express how much I admire the way Jesus lived His life. When the world tried to tempt Him, He retreated to a quiet place. He prayed. And He allowed His Father to lead.

I don’t know about you, but I feel like there was such a simplistic nature to the way Jesus carried Himself. Not that His life was simple by any means, but I believe the way He made decisions was quite simple. Not easy, but simple.

Time and time again He made the simple choice. Step one; remove all the distractions, retreat. Step two; pray to the Father, just like talking to a friend. Step three; listen, don’t search for what you want to hear, just listen. And finally, choose to trust, trust in a plan so much bigger than the not so simple world.

If I could sum up the past year in one word it would be, overwhelming. I’ve allowed the “what ifs” to run wild through my mind and I’ve tried to blame the world for the pain I’ve felt. I’ve been angry, and bitter and straight up heart broken. I had my first panic attack this year. Yes, this past year has been hard, but it’s also allowed me to grow in my faith in incredible ways.

This past year has made me deeply crave the simplistic life of Jesus.

Which leads me to today. Choosing to walk away from a job that has taught me so much, but that no longer aligns with the life I crave. This was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made.

About six months ago I realized that it was time to walk away, and I begged God to free me from the anxiety and disbelief I was facing. I prayed, I sought counsel from a few Christian friends, and they prayed for me too. I was wrecked, but I knew I needed to keep showing up.

I retreated, I prayed, I listened, and I trusted that when it was time to move God would lead the way.

Fast forward six months, and out of nowhere I was met with a new opportunity. I wasn’t even looking for a job, but when this one found me I was speechless. I was overwhelmed and I began sobbing uncontrollably. I didn’t know what was happening, but I could feel God speaking to me so clearly, telling me that it was finally time to move. This was the answer to my prayers.

Since that moment I’ve been met with a lot of outside noise. I became worried about what my boss would say. How my co-workers would feel. And above all, how the children would react. I didn’t want to let anyone down. And I started second guessing something that had so clearly came from God. I'm not proud to admit it but I started doubting God.

Something that was meant to be so simple, I had made complicated in my own mind. Those four simple steps had become lost amidst the outside noise. I was more worried about what the world would think, instead of focusing on what really matters.

Then God led me to the book of Mark. Just as people began seeing the work of God in Capernaun, Jesus moves to Galilee. Just as people began begging for Him, searching for Him, and spreading His name throughout the town, Jesus decides it’s time to move. Just as the noise begins to rise, Jesus retreats. When Simon comes searching for Him, expressing “Everyone is looking for you” (Mark 1:37), Jesus says “Let’s go on to neighboring villages so that I may preach there too. This is why I have come” (Mark 1:38).

How often do we forget why we are here? Why we have come? Why God has chosen us?

As a young boy Jesus knew what He needed to do, but His time had not yet come. When the time finally came, He acted. He wasn't afraid to move.

It is so easy to become trapped inside the pressures of this world, but how much simpler would it be if we were able to just live like Jesus did? Jesus was not confined by the opinions of others. He wasn’t trapped inside His own mind. He was free to walk in alignment with the Father, with His father, with our father.

I’ve known for a long time that I wasn’t meant to stay in once place forever, but sometimes the call of God becomes lost amidst the noise. Exactly one year ago everything changed.

I often wonder, when our time comes will we be quiet enough to hear it?

We will be brave enough to step out in faith?

Will we crave the simple life, regardless of what the world says?

I pray when all the dust settles, you too choose to lean on the one thing that remains. 

It's simple, but it was never meant to be easy.

Kerstan Cooper

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