December 31, 2013

Mark Millican: How will you walk in 2014?

Mark Millican

— She was sitting in a wheelchair beside her bed, and her face crinkled into a smile and brightened a cold afternoon as we entered her room in an assisted living facility. Teresa’s Grandma Melton, who turns 96 later this month, still has that irrepressible spirit that comes from a lifetime of faithful living, and she had it on display when we visited her on Christmas Day.

She was more at peace last week. When we called on her awhile back, she was anxious and seemed frustrated that she had not yet returned to her senior living apartment in Cleveland, Tenn. Now, it appeared she realized her present abode was her new home and was comfortable with it.

Notice I didn’t say “resigned to it,” because this grand lady hasn’t a hint of resignation about her.

“I live by faith,” she always says when we visit. “I walk by faith.”

She repeats it several times when we drop in, and it especially struck me the other day. I pondered: Here she is in a nursing home, where all her meals are provided and she actually relishes going to therapy a couple of times a day. On the surface she has nothing that challenges her, and yet she always says, “I walk by faith.”

For some reason she reminds me of the biblical patriarch Abraham, whom God told to gather his belongings and leave home and friends without even knowing where he was going. Truly a “walk by faith.”

My former pastor in Ellijay, who married us almost eight years ago, drove down from Wisconsin with his wife and two sons between Christmas and New Year’s Day. They brought glad tidings, for their daughter — whose wedding we attended five years ago up there — is going to have a baby.

There’s only one caveat — their son-in-law, who has been trying for months to get a job in law enforcement somewhere in the Badger State — is instead taking a job as an assistant police chief in North Dakota.

In case you’re wondering, that’s just below the North Pole in terms of coldness.

So the baby will arrive but grow up, at least for a while, several hours away from the grandparents. But can you fault young people for walking by faith?

Dec. 31 marked my first full year at a new job, and it caused me to reflect. In the spring of 2012 when I was first contacted about taking the editor’s job at the Times-Courier — where I started in newspapering in 1986 — I confess I was hesitant. After four years at The Daily Citizen I felt secure in my position, but by 2011 still had not been asked by either former senior editor I worked under to write a column.

The Holy Spirit told me to be patient, which — trust me — is a long way from being one of my strong suits.

The time did come, and eventually I was able to write columns for not one newspaper but two, thanks to the trusting editorial staff at The Daily Citizen.

As we look forward to 2014, I wonder if there are other areas where Teresa and I will be asked to “walk by faith.” We certainly don’t anticipate finding new jobs or just picking up and leaving like Abraham did, but who knows what might present itself? Whatever may come our way — and we do have goals we hope to meet — I hope and pray we’ll be able to trust God and “walk by faith.”

How will you walk in 2014?

Mark Millican is a former Daily Citizen staff writer and is editor of the Times-Courier in Ellijay.