The 22nd Thursday of two thousand seventeen.
A day I’m spending in the office, surrounded by blue wall dividers and white sheets with scripture and quotes framing my peripheral vision.
Five months ago I was celebrating a brand new year, the completion of my first college semester and the soon-to-be second semester. I had no idea the amazing sleepless nights God had in store for me.
I met my best friends in February, an expansion I could never have prayed for (and didn’t), yet am blessed by daily, and my perfectionist nature wants nothing more than to remember every moment I’ve spent with this family of believers, because every time we do spend time together, I am refined, called out, convicted, and encouraged. In spare moments I quickly scribbled down thoughts and advice, things God was speaking to me and truths I needed to remember for when the season wasn’t as sunny.
When I sit down in the future with a cup of tea on a rainy Sunday afternoon and sift through those hundreds of pages of writing, pushing past the detailed descriptions and digging through German side notes to the raw and unedited words, I want to find evidence of the constant truth that is that directions change. It presses on me daily that I’m really not in control of my life and the direction God has planned for me. In the past four months, it feels like I’ve driven up and down Lombard Street repeatedly (San Francisco’s most famous road, a steep incline complete with 8 hairpin turns), trusting that God knows when to change direction and how often to get me to my desired destination. His desire. Not mine. That needed to be clarified.
The path stays the same always, there will always be roots to trip us up and trees that form a dense canopy blocking the sunlight from the path for a time, and sometimes we just continue walking because it’s the only thing we know how to do. God is still with us, He simply chooses not to always hold our hand when we’re walking through forests. I think He wants us to experience the environment for all it really is, a living, breathing place that doesn’t exist simply for us to pass through on our way to bigger and better things.
God loves that forest as much as He loves us. That forest is this world. We aren’t here just to get to Heaven. We’re here to make a difference and shine a light under the rocks that can’t do it themselves. We’re meant to aid breakthroughs and bring joy to dark places and make love famous.
Jentezen Franklin, pastor of Free Chapel, once preached a sermon on having a listening ear. It is one of my favorites because it addresses our purpose and the direction God has called us towards, but can just as easily remove from the equation. What is critical is that we have an open ear to listen to change in direction. Take your navigation system, for example. I personally don’t get in the car, look at the first instruction, say “Oh yeah, I know where I’m going” and then turn off all navigation for the rest of the ride. I would end up halfway across America by the time I realized that I was supposed to switch interstates 102 miles ago! No, I keep the navigation system on until I reach my destination. If it tells me to change lanes, I don’t question why. Why then do I question God when He prompts me to fast, or to take a break from Netflix to refocus on the priorities in my life? If I miss this exit, there’ll be another one in a few minutes, but the driving distance back to my destination increases with every missed exit, and the road back won’t be all highways. There will be bumpy back roads where the speed limit is 35 and I’ll wonder when I left the highway and for goodness sakes, why?!
No, we follow the first instruction and listen for the second instruction, and the third, and so on, until we reach our goal. We can never allow ourselves to get too comfortable with the leaves under our feet because in a heartbeat God may place the seashore on our hearts. Or He may call us from the grassy backyard to the rocky mountain terrain. We have to be attentive to His voice so we do not miss the next thing He has in store for us, because we know, we KNOW, that His plans are good and He has a purpose in everything He does.
We have to be willing to trade in our flip-flops for hiking boots and our tennis shoes for bare feet.
We are committed to this journey and everything that it brings, and one day, we will be walking streets of gold. Free gladiator sandals for everyone: D