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.

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Hope for the Best

The last few months have been a whirl.  Packing up my life and moving temporarily in with my parents before permanently moving halfway across the country, it’s been a season of transition and change.  With that always comes the bitter and the sweet.  In my experience, more often than not the bitter is the temporal pains and the sweet the spiritual lessons gleaned along the way.  Springing from this season, eternal hope in glory is a sweet theme playing over and over in my heart.

13774350_1109086805796963_717508180_n(1)Hope is a touchstone word for me.  For so much of my life, hope was wrapped up in the earthly longings—hope for a husband, family, child; hope of a fulfilling vocation and career; hope for a home.  These hopes were no guarantees and nothing to depend upon.  In my reaction to crushed dreams, I tended toward eliminating hope.  “Prepare for the worst, and don’t hope for the best” was my mantra. It prohibited crushed expectations which soured life.  However, reading Romans 12:12, “Be joyful in hope,” or Romans 15:12, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit,” or Romans 5:3-5, “We know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not put us to shame,” or Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for,” filled me with shame for my lack of hope.  Although, I “knew” our hope was not founded on things of this earth but rather in things of heaven, I couldn’t claim it.  It wasn’t overflowing into my life.

My understanding of this hope eternal has grown through this move. In leaving my family—moving almost a thousand miles away—I gave up special times together, memories to be made, conversations to be had, baby cuddles, and hugs.  Besides the comforting confidence in following God’s will, the greater solace came in the knowledge that though I gave up time on earth with them, we will have all of eternity together.  Additionally, upon my arrival, I learned that a dear friend just received a diagnosis of cancer—terminal apart from the healing work of God.  The potential for a shortened time together here on earth, rallied this growing eternal hope within me.  For though I sorrow at the thought of not sharing more of my life with her, I am encouraged in the knowledge that any separation will be for a little while.  Eternity will be forever.

Of course, our hope eternal in glory is not only about the reunion of loved ones, but so much more.  It is the removal of sin and its wretched curse.  It’s the full satiation of all our longings in Christ Jesus our Savior.  It’s being at complete peace with God.  It’s the right ordering of all things.  Rather than shaming ourselves for longings, we can yearn for those things to be fulfilled in heaven–the rightful fulfillment.  In so doing, we follow Paul’s exhortation in Colossians 3:2, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”

In the removal of the temporal, dearly loved ones and things in my life, God is breaking me free from the bounds of the earth and making way for me to follow faithfully with a view toward glory rather than merely five or ten years on earth.  Freedom comes in that outlook.  Hope overflows for that future when things will be made right and filled with all goodness.  “Hallelujah what a Savior,” we have for bringing about our salvation to this glorious end!