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.


What “Drives” Me

I am in the car a lot.  My commute every morning takes about forty-five minutes and the drive home fifty-five.  This gives me plenty of opportunities to get cut off, follow a bus, or slam on the brakes for someone deciding to turn at the last minute.  I have known all those blood-racing, face-burning flares called road rage.  Just add to that the times I leave for work two minutes late; the slightest slow down sends adrenaline through my veins as I will myself to get to work on time.  Fists clenched, body hunched forward, jaw set—all pushing forward in the effort to get to work faster.   I have started to catch myself in this cyclist pose.  I reason, “How is this going to get me to work faster?”  I definitely will not arrive in better shape to work—physically or mentally!

Nope, I need to relax, sit back, and enjoy the beauty of the sunrise throwing rays of light on the passing ridges—to let the stillness of the solitude erupt in peace washing my tense body and mind with release.  drivingbyYes, I may follow a bus for a mile taking minutes longer than I could at normal speed, but my mental displeasure at the delay will not quicken my arrival.  Some things are just out of my control, but what I can control is how I respond to those unexpected delays.

There is the common analogy of life being like a journey.  Isn’t it true that just as when I am driving and willing in vain to get where I want faster, we can impatiently crane our proverbial necks in an attempt to scout out life ahead in hopes we will get the life we so desire?  I like to clutch the wheel of my life pushing, pushing to see what is next.  “When will my life look how I want it to?  When will God enact the plans I want?”

Faster, faster

I have done this my whole life.  As a girl, I literally counted the years until I would go to college and get married—the college counting was accurate, the marrying not so much.  I look back now and chide the child I was for not enjoying the bliss of play and an afternoon flopped on my bed reading a novel.  I can never go back to the days I had no more responsibility than to do my homework and chores.

Now I look at my life and ask, “What am I going to miss in ten years which I can enjoy now?  What is my future self going to chide me for not embracing and savoring?  Why haven’t I applied the learned lesson that life goes fast and each season has its own joys to cherish?  Why do I still insist that my life ought to keep moving forward, keep improving on my schedule?  Haven’t I already seen the blessings of God’s timing unfold?”

Just as I have recognized the futility of tense driving, I see how ludicrous it is to try to rush God.  There are just some things out of my control.  What I can control is how I respond to the unexpected delays.  I am two years late on my childhood countdown to marriage.  It is not what I expected.  Sometimes, I feel like rushing it, willing that God would fulfill my little girl’s dream.  What I have learned in resting in God’s timing, is that there are blessings to enjoy in the meantime.  Like enjoying the morning drive’s sunrise, I have enjoyed the pleasure of my own place—prim and tidy with no dispute on where something should go or cleaning up after another.  I have enjoyed the freedom to road trip, visiting friends when my schedule allows.  I have enjoyed opportunity to involve myself in church ministry again only having to navigate one person’s schedule.  These are the joys of this part of my journey.

Although, I do not know where the road of my life on this earth will take me, I do know where it will end—and thank the Lord it is far better than arriving at work!