When reason runs out

Fragments.jpgSince my move from New York a few months ago, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking.  Big surprise to those who know me, I know…  I won’t go into all the details, but in summation, my pondering has dwelt mostly on trying to make sense of my present–and failing–so instead, thinking of my future and what I want it to look like.  Yes, I’ve prayed for God to have his will in these hopes and dreams.  However, that’s just a part of the good familiar Proverb.  Ironically (or rather, sovereignly), as of late, Proverbs 3:5-6 as well as other verses are echoing in my head, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight,” “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet,” “Take up your cross and follow me,” and my grandma’s favorite, “But the Lord knows the way that I take and when he has tried me I shall come forth as gold.”* Together these verses have grounded me and reproofed me.  Perhaps, not always tied together, let me explain the dialogue these verses are making in my heart.

I am all too good at trusting in my own understanding.  Folks, that’s what getting good grades enables—self-assurance in my own ability to reason, analyze, and process through things.  Yes, sometimes my interpretations prove right, but when it comes to much of life, the reasoning is beyond my grasp.  This move for instance: I felt God’s direction in going, but I haven’t fully been able to see the reason for it.  So much of it screams, “why?”

In struggling to make sense of the present purpose, I switch to making plans for the future, the next chapter.  My way.  This move I did God’s way.  It doesn’t make sense to me, but thinking of a “better” alternative “my way” fails to follow that exhortation in Proverbs.  The proverb doesn’t claim that by forsaking my understanding, I will get God’s.  No, it just says, “trust” and watch.  God will guide step by step.  The Word guides as a lamp, little illuminations in the present, not floodlights to the future.

Living in the present is living in the unknown with acceptance but trust in the One who knows and who is supremely good.

I am called to trust and follow Jesus in His way.  His way wasn’t easy; it was filled with pain, isolation, rejection, loss, and ultimately, a cross.  But his way is also filled with restoration, healing, hope, new life, and ultimately, salvation.  What temporally is inexplicable and nonsensical—just ask Peter—is the eternal best for all humankind.  I will go through the fire in this life, but I will come out as gold—pure and holy.

God’s way is in the today.  It’s in the daily routine and unexpected interruptions to our plans.  It’s when and where he works to refine us and bring about the working of salvation.  Living in the present is living in the unknown with acceptance but trust in the One who knows and who is supremely good.  We’re just people—creatures—our knowing is nothing next to God’s.  Let’s trust him and let go of needing to know. (That’s what got us in this mess anyway–right, Adam and Eve?)

 *These verses are my memorized paraphrase of actual translations, not verbatim.

Accepting, not Negotiating

It’s January, and we are all thinking about the New Year and all the things we want to accomplish.  What do we want our lives to look like by the end of the year?  But sometimes there are things in our lives we cannot change, and that can cause bitterness…but it should not.  How can we better handle it?

My thoughts turn back to Advent, to Mary.  I wonder at her willingness for the Lord to use her however he wanted.  She consented to becoming a single mother–something with the potential to ruin all her dreams for the future.  She did not caveat her obedience and faith on any conditions–like that she would no have embarrassment or that everyone would believe the miracle immediately or that her image would not be ruined or that her life would be easy.  She just accepted it.

I struggle with questioning the lot God gave me in life: “Why me”, “If I have to do this, why didn’t you give me ____ to make it more bearable?”  Looking at Mary, I cringe–nothing in my life has really made a huge impact on my future compared to having a baby sooner than I anticipated.  She is an encouragement to me to accept the struggles in life God gives me and trust that he will provide for me.  In the end, God did make sure Mary had a husband with which to walk through the unexpected.  He protected her and Jesus from Herod.  He provided her with a caretaker when Jesus died.  Likewise, God will provide support for me too. However, it is up to me to accept the challenges he sends me in life and trust him always.