IMG_8904I like to have a plan. And I like it when my plan goes as planned. When everything fits into a neat little box and the day goes just as I wanted it to and I finish everything that I listed on my “To Do” list and no one is late and nothing goes wrong and everything happens just as I thought it would. And I like the next day and the next and the next to go as planned, too, with no bumps in the road and no falling short of the plan and no interruptions or changes or anything other than the plan and the future going just as I planned. I don’t what surprises in my future or bumps in my road or anything that isn’t supposed to be in the plan. Unless it is surprises of chocolate or coffee or flowers or chickens, I just want my future to go forward as planned.

And I don’t really like that so much of my future is already in my past and so many of the days earmarked for me have already passed me by and I haven’t accomplished nearly what I though I would or what I think I should by this many years. And I had plans from the time I was just tiny and small and had most of my days ahead of me and I just thought life would go as planned, and don’t we all think that? That when we are small and life seems so possible and the future so big and so long and so far away so we dive into our plans until one day we realized nothing went as we had planned because the future brought us so many bumps in our roadway and surprises that weren’t really chocolate or coffee but surprises that brought us ups and downs and good and bad and a lot of growth that got in the way of all of our plans.

But there is a goodness that comes from having so many years behind instead of in front because you learned from all of those surprises that God’s just not done, no matter how many breaths you’ve taken and how many more you have left God hasn’t stopped working and He’s just not done with you yet. And you learn that when surprises come and you have to put a pause on those glorious, hard sought plans that sometimes, new plans, better plans, than you ever thought possible come about. And when you’ve had so many years that have had a bunch of bad days, you see that no matter how bad those days were you kinda made it through somehow, someway, and if you did it before you can do it again. So now you’ve got this big bump in your road and it looks like a mountain and you think it has stopped all of the plans you had dreamed about and lived for and focused on and now you wonder if you will ever be able to make plans again. You can look back on all of those years and all of those breaths and all of those times you thought you wouldn’t get to make a plan or walk that path and you remind yourself that God is just not done and if there are more breaths to take then there are more plans to make. And God will take those broken plans and fashion and form and grow you and suit you to a new and a bigger and a better plan.

IMG_2590And we worry and fret and fear because we can’t see the future on the other side of that bump or that mountain that’s blocking our path but Jesus said don’t fear and Jesus said don’t worry and Jesus said He loves you so take another breath because you’re not running out of them right at this time and if there are more breaths to take there are more plans to make and when the future is uncertain and surprises and bumps come and go remind yourself, from all those years that God’s just not done and the future isn’t gone and you can climb that mountain or scale that cliff or jump that bump.  Hurdle that fear and hurdle that bump and hurdle the idea that you can’t make new plans and take that big breath and take the first step. God knows the future and God knows the plans and God knows the days and the breaths that we have left and when we’re surprised by it all God is not ever surprised or caught off guard.

And the future will pause and the plans will crumble or come to a halt, and maybe you’ll falter and maybe you’ll fall but God doesn’t fail and God won’t forget and God’s just not done yet.

 

 

 

Instant death. Game over. End of movie. End of my hero. End of my world.

I sat there, completely transfixed, eyes unblinking, frozen, sweating, shaking, knot in my stomach worried for my favorite hero as he deciphered the scribbles in his little notebook. No wonder it’s called the last crusade – he’s going to be dead. He’s going to jump from the head of the lion and fall down and be dead. And that would be it. There’s no other way, no hope for survival, he’s just going to be dead and how am I going to get out of bed tomorrow when my hero didn’t survive his own movie? Life cannot possibly go on without Indiana Jones. It just can’t.

At a sheltered age of 13, what did I know about taking a leap of faith?

I followed the rules. I did my chores. I was pleasant and polite at all times (or so I thought, at least). I played it safe. I did everything that was expected of me. And as an adult, for the most part, I still play it safe. I make my bed. I do my chores. I’m pretty sure that I don’t break any laws. I try to to meet other people’s expectations of me. I even get my taxes done on time. I’m pleasant and polite (or so I think, anyway). I’m on time, even with 6 kids in tow. And yet, I am not wholly satisfied with life as it is. I have played it safe. I have played it too safe, I think.  I will not cannot and am not even designed to be content until I am exactly in that spot where God would have me to be. The best choice, the right choice, the choice that God has designed for me to make, may not be the one that seems safe to my finite mind. Sometimes, God would have us take a leap of faith.

A couple of friends reminded me of that recently (one of which habitually jumps out of airplanes for fun and is quite familiar with that terrifying leap of faith). They reminded me that God does His most amazing work when we trust Him. And sometimes, that trust requires a leap of faith. I am more like Jonah, who ran from God’s plan than I am like Daniel, who had stories to tell his grandkids after he had to face a den full of hungry lions for his faith. I dot my i’s and cross my t’s.  I play it safe. I count heads, I double check car seats. I eliminate choking hazards, mini blinds, and electrical cords. A dear sweet relative thinks I over-cook all of our foods in order to stay safe from food poisoning, but I am determined to keep things safe. Maybe I can keep my kids protected from random Legos and salmonella, and rightly so, but not everything in this world needs to be so “safe.”

I’m going to screw this up, aren’t I? When I finally convince myself that it’s ok to take that leap of faith, when I get my courage and my stuff together and I am finally ready to jump, I’m going to mess up and fall on my face and it’s going to be the end of the world because how am I supposed to get out of bed in the morning when I fall down and there’s no hope to get back up? I’m pretty sure Abraham screwed things up a bit, too. He lied about his wife, not just once, but twice, by telling a wealthy, lusty man that his wife was his sister. But he also took that leap of faith, and listened to God, time and time again, and now we know him not because he played it safe but because he had faith.  Faith in God to stand up and make the right choice even when he was afraid.  (See Hewbrews 11 for how to please God by having faith).

I’m not quite sure how God is going to amend my safety first ways. Oh, I’m sure He’s not going to ask me to give up my habitual child-proofing or ask me to go jump off of a cliff or two. But I’m pretty sure He doesn’t want me to sit around and play it safe, either, living life with a dull sense of dissatisfaction and incompletion, mildly bored and annoyed and boring and safe.

I love that Indiana Jones movie, and surely it wasn’t his last crusade because another movie is finally in the works. And it wasn’t that my hero didn’t have fear – it was that in the face of fear, and unknown, and the unsafe, that he had courage. He had faith. He leapt. And lived to tell about it. Sometimes, we just need to make that leap of faith.

What leap of faith is God calling you to make?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_7393“Mom, close the curtains. I don’t want the darkness to get in.”

Honey, the darkness cannot hurt you. 

“Mom, turn the light on. I can’t see in the dark.”

It’s in the dark that our light shines brightest. 

“But I can’t see in the dark. I’m afraid.”

God is with you, even in the dark.

 

IMG_7380God does not intend for us to be afraid in the dark. Bad times come, but these seasons of  grief, and despair, or times of hopelessness and discouragement, these are not a cosmic time-out sent from far across the universe to whip wayward children into shape. Crippling, crushing fear that stops us in our tracks – this is not heaven sent, the weight of depression that hampers our steps as we trudge through the molasses of sadness or brokenness, this is not the ruling of a strict Father, imposing, decreeing misery on His little ones. Bad times do come, and they have come, and they will come again, and maybe bad times are right now, but they are not the final word on the goodness of your life and mine. Bad times, sad times, grieving times, despairing times, these are the by-products of a world that is not the way that God designed, but a world that has been tainted and twisted and confused by sin, by missing the mark on what God had planned, or because of bad choices, or bad situations, or bad actions.

Bad times come. And with them, darkness.IMG_7403

God does not want us to fear in the dark. 

Do not be afraid, He whispers. Again and again, His Word, His written Word, His Son, the Word, reminds our breaking, crying, screaming, lonely hearts, Do not fear.

This world will give you trouble, but I, the I AM, the Word, the King of Kings, the Lamb of God, I have overcome the world.

Don’t be afraid. 

When bad times come, don’t be afraid.

It didn’t catch me off guard.

When bad times come, don’t be afraid.

I have the very best stuff planned for your life.

When bad times come, don’t be afraid.

There isn’t one single thing in this world that can keep me from you.

When bad times come, don’t be afraid.

I am still working even when you cannot see me through the darkness.

When bad times come, don’t be afraid.

All of this will pale compared to what I have in store for you.

Don’t be afraid. 

The Good Father does not create our fear.

He does not give us despair.

He does not make us broken.IMG_7398

The Good Father gave us His very best – His Son, His Beloved One, His Little Lamb, to walk among us in the darkness, to meet us in our brokenness, to come to us in our despair. He did not fear the dark, but embraced it to be with us. There is no darkness in Him, our darkness cannot dim Him, because He is our Light.

The Good Father is at work in our bad times and our darkness. And the Good Father will create good IMG_7455from the very worst, like an artisan, He crafts something beautiful from the shattered pieces of our bad times.  He smoothes away the rough places, restoring, redeeming, resurrecting what has been broken to bring about beauty, newness, life. He brings light in our darkness.

Do not be afraid, He tells us quivering souls, I will be your Light. There is no darkness that will stop me. There is no brokenness I cannot redeem. There is no sadness I cannot help carry. There is no wrong I cannot forgive. I will be your Light, no matter how deep your darkness.

Do not be afraid.