A few months ago during a rainy Monday evening, I drove to Atlanta from Macon to hear a speaker, but the trip took much longer than normal because of violent wind and overpowering rain. I leaned in close to the steering wheel, trying to watch the road carefully and adjusting constantly the speed of the windshield wipers. About the time I would have arrived without the storm delay, I started to read every exit sign, thinking that I had missed my turn.
Passing under each exit sign and reading every word closely, I saw Interstate 20 fast approaching. Having grown up in Augusta, this interstate had served as my extended driveway. No matter where I had been, I always knew that it led to home. Throughout the years, the red and blue shield enclosing the twenty was a light from the lighthouse leading home, whether I was far-reaching to the west or near the sandy beaches of the east.
Driving through the rain, I saw the interstate sign and thought automatically, "I could easily take a right turn and drive straight to my parent's home," except that my parents were out of town. I remembered that they were on vacation. It dawned on me in the flash of a moment that I no longer had a key to their house. On my key ring were my house key, church key, and car key, but I did not have a key to the house that was once my home.
I will never forget when I removed that key from the key ring. I had waited for so long growing up to have my own keys, but upon finally receiving them and then leaving home, I had been given more than just keys. My home had blessed me with the roots of faith, hope, and love. Then the day came when I removed the key from my key ring that went to the home where I was once a child. It was not a sad day completely, but the ground did shift beneath my feet.
I first took the key off the key ring and left it on my dresser for several months. I could not let go of it all at once. I did not need the key anymore, having my own house, but it was hard to put it down. In many ways, it felt like I was leaving my past behind.
As we travel on our journey of faith, we are reminded that we move from the old to the new. Following Jesus entails putting down our keys from the past. Many of these keys are patterns of living that we are ready to put down, but others are keys that we have valued throughout the years.
When Jesus called the disciples to put down their fishing nets, they were not only leaving behind mistakes and regrets, but also their complete way of life in order to take up a new way, marked by mercy, trust, and love. When I put down the key from my childhood house, where I was given my roots, the ground shifted beneath my feet. Our roots continue to uphold us, though, providing our foundation, but we also continue to grow beyond them. We are becoming the people that God calls us to become, but the ground will shift from time to time.
Along the journey, we do not reject our roots. Instead, we bless them, but we continue to grow beyond them. In blessing them, we leave them in the past, knowing that there is more to discover, to experience, to question, to learn, and to do by the grace of God. We are constantly becoming a new creation, and the ground may shift and feel unstable along the way, but our roots remain firmly in the ground, as we let go of who we are for the sake of who we are becoming.
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