Past, present, & future

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Eight years ago (2007), my family and I began a journey. We left our life in the US from BWI airport. My two sons were three and four years old. We flew from BWI to Iceland, enjoyed a few days seeing glaciers and geysers, and then went to England. We were moving to Oxford for me to continue my graduate studies in theology. We thought that we would be there three or four years, but after two years, I accepted a call to be the pastor of Kilmarnock Baptist Church. Our family moved back to the United States, where I have been serving and we have been making a life for the last six years. 
Today, September 17, 2015, we return to BWI, board a British Airways flight, just like eight years ago, and return to Oxford. This time, we are going for my degree ceremony. It is the end of the journey we began eight years ago, in September 2007. 
Life takes many twists and turns. We often end up in unexpected places, or we end up in places where we did not imagine going. I have a friend who was living a simple, happily ever-after, when, six years ago, his wife was diagnosed with cancer. She was a special, wonderful person who died a year ago this week. Another friend had what appeared to be a rock-solid home life, but recently confessed that he and his wife have been separated for quite some time. None of us expected to be where we are, doing what we are doing.
What is next? Only a fool would predict what will happen. We can speculate based on past experiences and our hopes and dreams for the future. What will happen is unknown and unknowable. One interesting aspect of the future is the possibility for it to be better than we ever imagined. 
Life could also be worse. My friend who lost his wife did not imagine life as it is now. My friend who is separated from his wife probably did not think that would ever happen to him. I am lucky, blessed, spoiled, or fill-in-the-blank because my wife and I are best friends. She has walked with me through our move to England, our move back to the U.S., the ups and downs of pastoral ministry, the absolute despair of a struggling academic trying to finish his thesis, and many other adventures and misadventures. 
As I reflect on where we were eight years ago, I see someone who was naive, yet full of hopes and an imagination for the future. I wonder what the next eight years will bring. 

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