When I was training for a marathon, I would fill my pockets with orange slices in Ziploc bags. As weariness snuck up, one or two slices popped in my mouth would push it back and give me strength to press on another few kilometers. God's words and His encouragement sometimes come in bite-sized slices -impressions, experiences, encounters - and are just enough to push weariness back and keep us pressing on a little further...

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Into the Great Unknown....

There’s nothing quite like flying.  Nothing like looking down on clouds from the sunny side of the sky, nothing like watching ribbons of river flash gold as though traced by a celestial finger.  Patchwork farms and gently rippling mountains mark the spots in between as blinding fire passes from lake to pond to river again.  Cotton wisps drift lazy in the middle, pulled thin by winds unseen.

The world looks different from here.  My usually limited lens has zoomed out to big picture view, so details blur vague and hazy like the smoky clouds leaning up against my window. Forces I cannot see jostle and gently jar my sense of stability as the steel below skips over choppy tides of air.  The motion is both soothing and unnerving.  Knowing the cause of it doesn’t prevent the occasional leaping heartbeat when greater waves crash against the hull, sudden drops and dips expected and yet unexpected.  Like the sea, oceans of air are untamable.

I’m going somewhere, but getting there is beyond my control.  Lifts and currents carry me, powerless to steer or stop, from one point to another. I’ve actually lost all sense of direction.  Perhaps if I studied the angle of the sun, measured it as it leaves a gilded trail along the land below I could reorient, but clouds make it difficult, and I’m unsure if we’re flying due west or tipped slightly north or south.  I suppose knowing wouldn’t make any difference - the tossing sky is navigated and captained by hands not my own.  I placed my life in them under full disclosure that I would not be consulted on such matters.

Flying is a matter of trust, but it is also a matter of choice.  Waiting at the gate I assumed the same posture I assume now, seated and drowsy (though slightly less cramped).  My flight was booked but I still had a choice – to board or not to board.  I still maintained some sense of control over my comfort and my whereabouts.  Abandoning ship was as simple as getting back on the escalator.

But I want to go places in life.  I want to see new vistas and meet new people.  I want to become what I’m meant to be and sometimes that means submitting myself to lifts and currents I am powerless to steer or stop.  

The grand adventure of knowing God is the same.  Too often we reduce our lives of faith to a manageable hobby, a casual pastime we pick up and lay down as we find convenient. When we gave our lives to Christ, however, we did just that – we gave our lives to Christ. We often forget that in doing so, we gave up all rights to ourselves, forget that when we boarded this flight, we did so with full disclosure that we would likely not be consulted on matters of navigation.  And while there are breath-taking glimpses of gold amid smoky hazy clouds, we control neither.

Loving God is a matter of trust, but it is also a matter of choice.  I choose whether I will allow God to captain my life or whether I will abandon ship.  Positions of waiting may look the same as positions of movement and sometimes it’s hard to distinguish between them.  The difference lies not in the posture of surroundings, but in the posture of my soul.  When I am waiting, wondering when the life I’m expecting will finally go somewhere, I maintain the choice to get on board with God’s leading or walk away.  The me I could become hangs in the balance.  

Once I step out, however, I abandon myself to forces I cannot see and currents I cannot control.  I am headed for a holier life, but may lose all sense of direction along the way.  God’s Word leaves a gilded trail to help me reorient, and though invisible waves may crash in, my sense of stability jarred and jostled, sudden drops and dips coming on expected and yet unexpected, I am confident in the Captain of this craft.  He knows where He is going and will take me where I need to be – I have only to sit back and let Him.

Life is a journey.  Whether moving or standing still, going forward or pausing to rest, I always have a choice.  I can dig in my heels, refusing another step; I can turn back, ignoring the destination to which I am called; or I can willingly take off into the great unknown, letting God carry me along on currents unseen.  My life is not up to me, is not about me and is not meant to please only me.  It is in giving it up, in posturing my soul towards surrender that I gain everything I never knew I always wanted.  Life is untamable and though the occasional leaping heartbeat rises up, I’ll be all right.  I have learned to let go and simply follow the golden traces of a celestial finger.  It’s the only way to fly. 

“Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”  Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” James 4:13-14

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

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