Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Sign Points to a Free For All

This is one of our favorite street signs. There is one outside of the Michael’s parking lot. I fail to understand the direction that it indicates. Why don’t they just put “Free For All”, on a sign, or “Anything Goes”.

They could, but that is not what they mean. They mean that all of these directions are permissible. Instead of restricting, they are allowing. Technicality, I know, but my husband and I are at one of those life signs right now.

The big decision looms out there. We don’t feel a firm stop, and we don’t feel an imperative direction to go. So, we know that it will either happen or it will not, today or in 5 years. (You can insert your own decision anywhere you would like in this scenario.) So, although this future thing festers and burrows into our lives long after we dismiss it, we still have no idea what purpose it serves. My street sign is telling me nothing.

I can get stuck at this street sign. This is an A-type’s worst case scenario. I know what the decision is and I don’t want to be permitted this much choice. I want to be restricted to one way. I like rules because when you follow them you get a gold star (I really do give myself stars for completing my exercise everyday). This is a street sign of permission, and I want a street sign of instruction.

It is where we all stand in the middle of life decisions. We can go right, or left, or straight, take your pick. It leaves some of us crying at the top of our lungs for a severe “Left Only” sign.

In the midst of uncertainty, my main concern is faithfulness. My hope lies in sovereignty. I know that my faithfulness will pull me into God’s will. I don’t have to understand the outcome, as long as I am faithful in the process.

Could someone, please, remind me of this when I pace later today?

I know that the next decision, turning left, right or going straight, could take me down THE path. I just have to be willing to turn until He brings me there.

In this, I find that flexibility is key. When I trust, I can be flexible. When I don’t, I am capable of levitation. It is not flattering.

These struggles have happened during some important decisions. In Matthew 2:19-22, NRSV,

When Herod died, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, 20 “Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the child’s life are dead.” 21 Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And after being warned in a dream, he went away to the district of Galilee.

Joseph did not start thinking, “I will fulfill the prophecy that Jesus will be called a Nazorean.” Instead, he went to Bethlehem, Egypt, and Israel, was on his way into Judea and ended up in Galilee. Was the hand of God on him at every turn? Absolutely.

This is my favorite part of the decision. Joseph is settling his family, finally. It is looking good for them right now. In fact, he just got orders to head to the land of Israel. Then what happened? He got scared. Do you have a question that God uses emotions like fear? There is your answer.

It was after this that the angel came and redirected him. The process is so important here. Joseph had to listen to the urgings of God as he carried his precious cargo across these borders. His emotions were affirmed by God’s messenger.

Imagine with me, Joseph was on the home stretch, believing that this ambiguous time of life was almost over, when there was one more change. This is usually our emotional tipping point. This was the only time that Joseph doubted the journey before him. God in His mysterious ways then granted them passage to Nazareth, and there they settled.

What does this mean for you? I have no idea. What does this mean for me? I am not being restricted, yet. I need to continue being faithful, listening to every urging of God. I need to wait for Him to affirm my urgings, and continue in His plan.

Are you at a permissible street sign (and how does that look for you), or are you at a restricted street sign, right now?

Father, thank you for showing us that you are faithful in our perceived ambiguity. Thank you for your sovereign hand controlling every moment of our lives. Urge us to see the plan for the next small step in your will. Affirm these urgings and carry us on.

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