Today is my last day at work. I write this as I sit at the front desk and have less than an hour remaining in my shift. I think of the hours I spent here; I’ve never watched more CNN in all of my life but I got to drink out of a coffee cup that resembles a ceramic Dalmatian.
Throughout this semester, the office became a place that I came to and easily forgot all of the horrible stress from classes and ROTC. I made friends here and laughed a lot with my coworkers. I always walked out in a good mood, feeling productive, even if I just updated spreadsheets and filed papers. This is my last week at FSU, even though I’ll be back next year, throughout this next year of travel I’ll still miss being here.
I’ll miss going to the gym at six o’clock every morning. I’ll miss my friends in Chinese class; of the seven people remaining, only two will be here next Fall. I’ll miss walking the long way to class just so I can stop at the nicest bathroom on campus and fill my bottle of water with the cool, automatic “refilling station”. I’ll miss it here, but now I have eight months of extensive travel ahead of me and as I prepare to leave, I think of Ruth.
We read Ruth’s story in the Bible. After her husband died, her mother-in-law, Naomi decided to return home to Bethlehem. In chapter one of the book of Ruth we read, “When Naomi heard in Moab that the Lord had come to the aid of his people by providing food for them, she and her daughters-in-law prepared to return home from there.” But before they left, Naomi told the two women to return to their homelands. She selflessly said this because they were still young and had a chance of marrying again, “But Ruth replied, ‘Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me’” (Ruth 1:16-7).
I think of her willingness to embark on this new journey despite losing her husband and not knowing what was next. She was determined to continue on, even further from home, because she loved Naomi and they both placed their faith in God. She felt called to stay with Naomi and go to the land of Judah, the land of the Israelites, with other followers of God.
I think of Ruth and then, I think of travel in general. Leaving home and your comfort zone is bittersweet. It’s bittersweet to know when your last shift is your last. It’s bittersweet to realize that you are saying goodbye to people for good. And it’s bittersweet when you finally sit on the plane that in fourteen hours will land on the other side of the world.
It’s sad because you are cutting ties with normalcy and the people you know and love. But, it’s also joyful. Leaving means there is an exciting journey that calls you, it needs to be experienced. And you won’t experience it alone. Because when you place your faith in God, Jesus will be with you wherever you go.
Jesus is the rock that we cling to when nothing is constant. Thousands of miles are left for us to experience and Jesus will be there with us to experience it. Maybe it’s difficult to leave the people and places that we are so comfortable with, but it’s necessary to go where He calls us to go.
I’m going to miss greeting everyone that comes through the office. I'm going to miss my friends here at school. But, I’ll be back soon and I'll come back with all my new memories and stories, and Jesus too. He'll be constant, as always.