Crossing the Jordan from the 5 to the 405 to the 10

16 Apr

Genesis 32:10 “I am not worthy of the least of all the deeds of steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown to your servant, for with only my staff I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two camps.” — ESV (emphasis added)

I was 23 years old, backing out of my parents’ driveway in Northern California in the photo, headed to a poor-paying writing job in L.A., where I knew no one, with not much more than a shoe rack, a splashy supply of sass, and a wardrobe of severe suit jackets with giant shoulder pads. And that-Patrick Nagel-esque hairdo – the female mullet!

Goodbye family home — off to L.A. Spring 1986

Not visible: a truly skewed, hedonistic worldview and a deep unquenchable yearning that, I didn’t know at the time, could only be met by God.

I drove away from familiarity of the suburbs, through the vast farmland that anyone not from here would swear was Iowa or Mississippi, save for the mountain range on the horizon. Then, just before I bumped my head on a sheer wall of rocky terrain, the road led up and up, the 18 wheelers groaning to my right, up and over the snaky Grapevine (no grapes to be nibbled nor peeled), then down, fast, depositing me suddenly and rather ungently into the blooming red-taillight flats of the L.A. Basin. 

With this “staff” — in my Datsun Maxima — I crossed the Santa Monica Mountains, Annie Lenox and Aretha Franklin providing the woman-power soundtrack via cassette.

All sharp angles and sharper attitude, how did God possibly knife through the bright lights of a really big city to find me? Why would He? 

I don’t know why — for like Jacob, “I am not worthy of the least of all the deeds of steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown to your servant,” — but I am thankful He did.

With gratitude I look around at my L.A. “camp” today — my kind and generous husband of 32 years. Our incredible sons, solid men like their father. My parents, who arrived in So Cal 20 years later, still with us at age 86. My church family, my friends and neighbors, those people who add so much texture to my life, even in a partially virtual world. Our financial stability, our solid church, our comfortable home, open wide (in usual times) to entertain and host, to connect with our “camp.” My health and strength, the richness and depth of wise teaching available to me, the opportunities to share hard-earned wisdom through the written and spoken word, and the desire and ability to learn, still.

My So Cal Camp today

This abundance is staggering, visceral.

And just 35 years ago, “with only this staff” I crossed the “Jordan.”

I am warmed by the memory, I smile at the naiveté, and I nod sweetly to that younger version of me, who, despite an incorrect assumption that every single thing she thought she knew was true, kept her mind open enough to hear the Truth of the Gospel message, and to (eventually!) accept it.

I am thankful for the patience of a loving Father who blessed me in that Truth and continues to grow my “camp” in light of eternity.

I will always remember, and give thanks to the Lord.

—Shout out to Pastor Joe Hellerman for his 4/11/21 sermon and a fresh look at Genesis 32

One Response to “Crossing the Jordan from the 5 to the 405 to the 10”

  1. Denise Norden April 16, 2021 at 2:28 pm #

    Thank you Cindy for always warming my heart and putting a smile on my face 🙂

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