Most of the family and I took a short trip back to Dallas-Fort Worth to attend our friends’ son’s wedding this weekend. Two of our older children stayed home because they had work and school. We drove from Charlotte, stayed overnight in Birmingham, and arrived the day before the wedding. Drove straight through on the return, apparently just in time to miss the gasoline shortages hitting parts of the Southeast.
It was a very quick trip, my Mother’s Day present to my wife. I drove our big white Chevy Express van, aka the White Whale, over 1000 miles each way. We barely had time to see a couple friends from our old neighborhood while in town. The whole weekend, we were running around trying to squeeze in as much as we could. Apologies to all our friends if we were not able to connect this time.
The area of North Dallas has just exploded over the last 10 years. Some of it began while we were still living there. A lot of it took place after we had moved to Charlotte. As we drove around, I hardly recognized it anymore.
This place is prospering financially. Jobs are plentiful. So much shopping, dining, and entertainment available. I can’t even begin to fathom how many choices are at your fingertips.
From an infrastructure perspective, the toll roads are quite impressive. Clean, well kept. Efficient. Like any metropolitan area, traffic gets backed up during rush hour, but DFW enjoys some of the best highways in the US. (Not cheap as I know tolls add up quickly, but I’ve always been a fan of paying directly for services rendered as opposed to creating huge, government taxation slush funds to be used as they please. A topic for another time.)
I took the children by our old house. The youngest didn’t even recognize it. He was 5 when we moved. The others could see that trees had grown, landscaping had changed a bit, but overall our old home looked a little more worn than when we last saw it.
While it was good to be back, even for a brief few days, and it was certainly a joy to see our friends get married, I had an epiphany this weekend. Our family lived in DFW for over 10 years. 3 of my sons were born and raised here. Many of our dearest friends still live here. Our children, especially the older ones, have fond memories of growing up here and some still consider this their hometown.
For the first time since moving over 6 years ago, I truly felt like a visitor in DFW and not someone with any stakes set there.
It felt bittersweet. I didn’t want to be the crotchety old guy remembering “ye olden days”, as my boys like to call it. I’ve got plenty of things to secure that title ad infinitum. Thing is, I’m happy for those in DFW, if this is what they want. Being a Free Market Capitalist, one would assume the more choices available, the better.
But for me, I’m at a point in my life where I’m learning to find contentment more in what I have and not focus on what I don’t have. So as a result, I don’t really miss places and things that I used to have access to but no longer do.
When we first moved to DFW from Chicago many years ago, I distinctly remember feeling a sense of pause, slowing down, and enjoying the moment without the rush that the Windy City seemed to embrace. This weekend, I can honestly say that we’ve slowed down even more here in the Carolinas. North Texans have gotten themselves into the mad dash, rat race lifestyle.
Now, some of my friends will say it’s all the Californians and New Yorkers moving to TX that are to blame. No doubt, their influence is palpable. The 2020 Census results only confirmed what everyone knew. But again, that prosperity and job growth came as well, though I’m not sure how many like the trade so far.
There was a moment this weekend, however, that really stood out for me. And it wasn’t just a flash of light but more of a glaring, blinding radiance that still fills my heart. On Sunday morning, we worshipped at a local assembly recommended to us by our Elders and also one of our brethren (it’s his brother’s family’s church). I exchanged texts beforehand with him and learned that they were still masking 100% of the time during the meeting which could have potentially been a deal breaker before it had even begun.
I decided to put my preference aside for the Lord, knowing full well how much my family hates wearing masks. We also learned it’s physically impossible to sing hymns or choruses while wearing one. I hear stories of high school and college athletes that are required to wear one at all times, and I can’t believe they don’t all pass out from oxygen deprivation.
We were greeted by several elders and members before worship began. It was pleasant to see our same hymnals in the pews as well.
There were little things that were different from the way we meet at our chapel on Sundays. But soon, none of that made any difference. The brother who preached that morning was fantastic. I really wish I had an audio recording of his sermon. He gave a no-holds-barred, totally Biblical and passionate message on Romans 8:28-30 covering God’s Purpose for those He foreknew, predestined, called, justified, and glorified.
When we left the chapel, I could really understand what Paul meant when he wrote about ”… our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,” Philippians 3:20. We had never met any of these Christians prior to our visit. And yet, we knew that we shared a common citizenship with them.
18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. 19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.Ephesians 2:18-22 (NKJV)
In these verses, Paul points out that previously, we were enemies of God, but that Christ brought us together as part of the beloved.
Later Peter writes that we are to live as sojourners and pilgrims in this world, the emphasis here is that we recognize the temporary nature of our life now verses the eternality of our true calling as “… a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.” 1 Peter 2:9-12
DFW, Charlotte, or anywhere else the Lord leads our family, this place is not our home.
This made me think of an old gospel song I haven’t heard in many years. I pray each and every one of you reading will look beyond the geography and things that preoccupy our time and attention. Look instead to the eternal and prepare for Christ’s return to bring us Home.
If I Stand - Rich Mullins There's more that rises in the morning Than the sun And more that shines in the night Than just the moon It's more than just this fire here That keeps me warm In a shelter that is larger Than this room And there's a loyalty that's deeper Than mere sentiments And a music higher than the songs That I can sing The stuff of Earth competes For the allegiance I owe only to the Giver Of all good things CHORUS: So if I stand let me stand on the promise That You will pull me through And if I can't, let me fall on the grace That first brought me to You And if I sing let me sing for the joy That has born in me these songs And if I weep let it be as a man Who is longing for his home Verse: There's more that dances on the prairies Than the wind More that pulses in the ocean Than the tide There's a love that is fiercer Than the love between friends More gentle than a mother's When her baby's at her side And there's a loyalty that's deeper Than mere sentiments And a music higher than the songs That I can sing The stuff of Earth competes For the allegiance I owe only to the Giver Of all good things CHORUS: So if I stand let me stand on the promise That You will pull me through And if I can't, let me fall on the grace That first brought me to You And if I sing let me sing for the joy That has born in me these songs And if I weep let it be as a man Who is longing for his home So if I stand let me stand on the promise That You will pull me through And if I can't, let me fall on the grace That first brought me to You And if I sing let me sing for the joy That has born in me these songs And if I weep let it be as a man Who is longing for his home And if I weep let it be as a man Who is longing for his home