Y’all know what makes God laugh out loud? Your plans.
I work for a small church staff and our job responsibilities are riddled with “other tasks as assigned”. Generally, having a loosey goosey job description keeps things fresh…other times I’m raising an eyebrow. On the morning of June 12th, I had my weekly plan all laid out and was ready to tackle the week. I knew we had challenges with a staff member’s recent resignation but when the pastor came in and asked that I lead the student mission trip to Tennessee for the following week, he received one of those raised eyebrows. For Reals? Not in the weekly plan. Yikes. The week was then spent in a flurry of activity, getting ready, organized, and centered to lead a group of 16 students and 4 adults through a week of mission and spiritual growth. And truth be told, I was ill equipped for the task.
Oh, I had the mechanics down – I’ve participated in and led dozens of trips. I can whip up a trip worksheet in no time. I can coordinate people into groups, order shirts, determine tasks, and lead meetings with little thought. But the spiritual element was lacking. I knew it – God knew it.
I had zero intention of ever visiting Miracle Lake in Etowah, Tennessee. My kids are grown and student mission trips are a past chapter of mine. I’ve done my time in stinky vans, cramped showers, air mattresses, and little sleep.
But as He sometimes does – God orchestrates events that shake up our plans, perspectives and if we let him, our very path.
As I mingled with the adult students at Miracle Lake, we started to share our stories with each other. Most of these men come to this place completely broken and looking for a miracle. These are my people I kept thinking. With a similar past, I couldn’t help but to feel an “at home” sense in my heart. But there was also a hitch, an insecurity, that ol’ anxiety creeping in.
The story I found myself sharing with them was the one of struggle with God. How he and I were at odds on how things were working out and how this faith thing had gotten a little more intense than I’d like. In talking to these men, I realized I’d been in this state of battle for nearly a year! But even worse, I had fallen into apathy towards my walk and God in general. The fire in the kitchen had gotten a little warm and I was checked out.
This apathy has not be intentional. In fact, it has been a surprising revelation as I am always preaching about staying in the moment, being mindful, being brave – but really, it’s a rather human reaction, yes? Pain is pain. Fear is fear. And sometimes it gets to be too much. And this anxiety – it’s been the biggest struggle of all this year and I think I found this place in my mind that I could go to that suppressed the anxiety – who wouldn’t want that? But this mission week, and spending time with these men, showed me that apathy was just another hiding place. Yes, a place to rest, to catch my breath…but it was time to come out and grow some more.
Apathy is a shield that promises to protect you from risk but only blocks you from hope.
Caring takes bravery.
Let Go and Let God
Letting go is not being apathetic, weak, or giving up – those are passive responses – letting go is an active choice. One that needs to be made again and again. But it’s more art than science. It’s surrender to what is, to what isn’t, to what is not working and looking for something that will work. Stop fighting already.
I cannot change my history – I will never be able to “wish” into existence a different past nor calling from God. I have my history, my story, and my path. Go ahead and grieve that hoped for/wished for future and then girlfriend – let.it.go.
But letting go well isn’t possible without God – the key is not apathetic checking out – the key is hope and faith in something greater than our own understanding.
Let God – spend time with God, study His word, submit to his authority, let him order our days.
I hear all the time people bemoan “what does God want?” “What is my purpose?”
The simplest answer is found in Micah 6:8:
He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
Walk humbly with God – the rest works itself out.
Being with these men, at the end of their ropes, seeing their joy as a result of letting God take the reins and turning their lives upside down and inside out, was a great and unexpected blessing. Sure, they still have the natural consequences of their actions but a greater joy in having God restore order their lives. A hope for a future.
This trip, unexpected and unplanned for, woke me up from my apathetic slumber – it reminded me that no matter how messy things were/are – that we serve a mighty God of love and miracles – He is alive and well – and on the move.
xoxo – DM