This is not a rhetorical question.
When we were considering relocating to North Carolina several years ago, Mike and I scheduled a series of video chats with wise mentors who posed a series of questions.
Given the fact that we’d have no family nearby, their most poignant query was this: “Who are the people you will die with?”
With my Psalm 90:10 birthday just over a year away ("The days of our years are three score and ten”), I’ve thought about this a lot. Thanks be to God, we now have a loving church community in our new home state and friends and neighbors who have become like family. Regretfully, that’s not true for everyone.
We all need people to love who will love us back. People to serve with whom we can serve. People who will pick up our mail or feed our cats or simply be present when we have joys to share and sorrows to tend.
It’s wonderful when those who support us live in proximity, but sometimes that’s just not possible. I feel very close to those of you reading these words right now. You join me here most Tuesdays and interact in the comments, often inspiring what I write about the following week. I’ve yet to meet some of you in person but we are sharing this life together, and that’s a marvel in my eyes.
I wish I could adequately express how much you mean to me.
Our months of service here in Norway have also brought me closer to my people from the past. We have visited a small town called Jørpeland several times to walk the neighborhood where my father’s father grew up.
On one visit I chatted with an older woman who, as a teenager, clerked in the store my Great-Aunt Martha owned. On another, Mike and I spent time with Svein, gnarled with age, who grew up on Wallemsvegen (Wallem’s Road), and remembers my family. I got tears in my eyes when he commented, “I see them in you.”
Perhaps some of you were adopted by families who don’t share your biological heritage, or you have adopted children yourselves. As much as you love those who raised you, and who are in every sense your family, there is often still that question.
“Where are my people? Who do I resemble? Where did I get my red hair or these dimples or my affinity for math?”
As I draw close to my own family heritage here in Norway, I often wonder what my life would be like if my grandparents had not chosen to emigrate to America. (The obvious answer is: nonexistent as my parents never would have met!)
America is a country of immigrants. Most of our ancestors came willingly, while others were enslaved and brutally brought by force.
What if we all were required to return to the homelands where our people lived a century or two or more ago? Such are the ponderings of a woman staring at 70.
One of my favorite verses in Scripture is a great encouragement when we wonder about our place in the world:
“From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.” (Acts 17:26)
It’s not as important to know who our people are as it is to know that we are his.
“He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.” Psalm 100:3
He has our times in his hands.
On those days when you’re feeling lonely and alone, overlooked or overwhelmed, take comfort from the knowledge that you are his, friends. He has given us the great privilege of caring for one another in his name.
And you know what?
You are my people, too.
And I love you.
- Maggie Wallem Rowe, 2022
Who are your people? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the Comment section below!
[And remember when I told you about my friend Rebecca’s incredible healing after three young women – unknown to her - prayed for her at an interstate gas station? Many of you rejoiced with her, but perhaps you also wondered if the pain has returned, and what the medical scans revealed afterwards.
Today Rebecca sent me the following text, which I share with her permission:
“Dr. Cheatle, my neurosurgeon in Charlotte, ordered a CT and Robert and I went back to see him last week with disk in hand. We were put in a room and his nurse asked how I felt. I told her, ‘Great!’
“She asked what had changed and I told her my story. She was amazed and overwhelmed. She wanted me to tell Dr. Cheatle myself, but she wasn’t able to contain herself and she told him first.
“When he came in he was beaming, and we hugged. He pulled up the CT on the screen and told us what he saw. ‘Your spine is in perfect alignment, and the disk looks great! I see no stenosis or other abnormalities.’
“Praise the name of Jesus! Hallelujah!” Rebecca concluded. “Christ is alive forevermore. I can’t stop shedding tears of joy.”