Towards the end of my post announcing our decision to attend law school, I mentioned that Virginia was something of a promised land for us. For the record, I was mistaken.
In the days following that post, the phrase “promised land” kept coming back to me. It didn’t sit right. One day I was pondering the matter while riding home from work—bicycle thoughts are second only to shower thoughts—and I realized why Alexandria didn’t fit the promised land mold: if Alexandria truly were our promised land, why would we leave? God reserves promised lands for specific people with specific purposes. These lands and people and purposes are uniquely fitted to each other. You don’t leave a promised land lightly. And yet we were about to.
I began to think that perhaps Virginia wasn’t our promised land after all. In that case, what was the point of Virginia? And why did we feel the Lord’s hand so strongly guiding us there?
While wrestling with these questions, the Spirit illuminated my thoughts and provided the answer: Alexandria was no promised land. Alexandria was the Garden of Eden.
Consider the qualities and circumstances of Eden. The garden itself was a lush paradise, spontaneously producing food and flower. Every material need was taken care of. Peace and harmony reigned in Adam and Eve’s world, and they were happy.
The situation was not without its flaws. Adam’s job in Eden wasn’t particularly challenging: tend the self-sustaining garden and name the animals. And Eve—“the mother of all living”—had no children to her name. These downsides wouldn’t be so bad, except that the conditions were static. Things would never change. Adam and Eve could never change. Thus far, and no farther.
Consider now Alexandria. Virginia lies east of the 100th meridian, which means that the landscape needs neither canals nor sprinkler systems nor irrigation ditches nor any kind of encouragement from man to sustain the rich vegetation. Rachel and I both worked in full-time positions, and our paychecks covered our immediate needs and more. We loved the people in our community, and we were happy.
The situation was not without its flaws. My job wasn’t intellectually satisfying and offered little room for growth. The cost of living in the DC metro region effectively priced us out of the family lifestyle we wanted. Could we continue as we were—two incomes and no children, 700 square feet—ad infinitum? Sure. But if we did, there would be no story.
Rachel and I faced the same dilemma our first parents faced years and years ago. Progression, via trial and uncertainty vs. stagnation, via comfort and security.
We hit the escape button. We ate the fruit and took our exile to the lone and dreary world.
You know how the story plays out from here. We are not truly alone, the world is not entirely dreary, and we are constantly reminded “that as thou has fallen, thou mayest be redeemed.” In other words, our promised land is still out there.