“You’ll lead a pretty great life and live to be old. Now go do the best you can.”
I know people who would be happy with that pronouncement. People who really don’t want too much interference from an all-knowing, all-powerful Deity who might have some different ideas about what constitutes a meaningful life.
With those marching orders, they could define “pretty great” for themselves, and the ambiguity of “old” would suit them just fine. Doing their best could mean pursuing happiness on their own terms, finding their own pleasure. That could work out really well.
Until it doesn’t.
Just yesterday I had this conversation with a friend and I’ll tell you what I told her: The broad brush, hands off, “good luck to you” approach would never work with me. Correction. Has never worked for me. Trust me, I’ve made the mistake of thinking my life is mine to live way too often and it has been disastrous.
And this despite having truly loving, God-fearing parents who did the very best they could to get me off on the right foot when I was young.
I’ve made decisions – big ones – without praying sufficiently (or at all). I’ve jumped in without waiting for guidance from God. I’ve made assumptions based on I-don’t-know-what. So believe me, I know from personal experience that I am incapable of figuring out what’s best for me on my own.
It’s taken me awhile but I now choose to see life more and more through the lens of my faith and I believe God wants to be involved with me intimately on a daily basis. Because He is God, He has time for me even when I don’t make time for Him.
Writer/author Shawn Smucker recently had this to say,
“There’s a lot of talk about ‘submitting to God’s will.’ While I’m sure that’s a very Biblical sentiment, I think more people would enter that space if they understood that God’s heart for them is not accurately represented by the image of an angry whip-wielding manipulator demanding ‘submission or else,’ but of a patient kindness, reaching out a hand and taking slow steps beside a small child learning to walk.”
I love that. More than a few times in the last few weeks, I have recalled that image of God reaching out His hand to me as though I were a little child. Not yelling at me to get it together (like I do to myself too often), not frowning in disapproval or getting frustrated with my slow progress. Just smiling and content, patient and loving.
I’m trying to make it my practice to surrender even the small decisions to Him, not to the point that I’m paralyzed over whether to have chicken or beef on my taco, but quieting myself for a while and asking Him to speak before I act. And I’m asking Him to make His direction clear to me because I tend to miss it.
I’ve been known to say, “I’m going to need a brick to the head, God, or I won’t get it.”
Thankfully, there have been no bricks to the head but there has been gentle, gradual clarity and a feeling of relief and amazement when I clearly see His hand of guidance, either in the moment or in retrospect.
When I stop to really examine events, I see God working things out in creative ways I could never have imagined and it is truly thrilling, I kid you not. I’m learning a posture of faith.
I really don’t want God to leave me to my own devices. I already know my devices don’t work. And if you’re honest, yours probably don’t either.
I want Him to be part of the everyday, the small as well as the big. I’m learning to give up control (which, if you know me at all, you would know is hard for me) and just put my hand in His, so that He can lead the way. I trust. He knows better than I how to navigate the path ahead. He’s already been there.
Would you be happy with those broad brush marching orders? Or do you desire a little more direct involvement of the Divine in your life?
Photo attributions: flickr.com, www.zabara.org | flickr.com, jessica.garro
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