I’ll suffice it to say that things have felt very uncertain around here lately. And for a girl who plans when she’s planning to buy her annual planner, that’s a shaky feeling. I like certainty. I enjoy predictability. I feel accomplished when everything goes according to plan.
But I’ve discovered that if all we do is stick to the plan, we may miss the majestic.
We made a work trip into a family vacation last spring, winding our way from Texas up to Connecticut for yet another road-trip. We’d planned on trekking through Tennessee, then Virginia and up along through New England. But the map offered an alternative route through Ohio. A lightbulb came on, recalling friends who lived up that way we hadn’t seen in years.
“Let’s go!” And so Virginia was abandoned for Ohio, for unexpected time with friends along the way, a mere 45-minute detour.
Leaving Ohio, the plan would take us straight through New York. But the map held a forgotten spot of intrigue. Steve whispered to me, “Wanna go to Niagra Falls? It’s only four hours away.”
Me, the planner, the one who panics when plans change…when would this chance come again for this homebody Texan? “Yes! Let’s go!”
Winding along Lake Erie, we beheld the majestic that could have been missed. A day at the Falls, only the second day of the season for the tour that takes you into the freezing mist and, for a moment, into Canada. Uncertainty brought beauty, surprises, eyes opened wide to see what the next bend held.
The Daily Discomfort
Things are shaking up around here – an abrupt shift in career and income, not knowing when the call will come for our baby, lingering effects of a car accident last year, surgery and sickness, the schedule and dispersion of homeschool duties looking totally different, and unpredictable blood sugars from an autoimmune illness… all at once these have me reeling, feeling overwhelmed in a sea of emotions.
And this good, Christian girl wonders, “Is all my hope truly in Jesus? All of it?”
Because I can talk the talk and I can teach the walk. But when not just one or two areas seem upended, but nearly all of them do, how does my walk stay in stride?
“I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:11-13
The apostle Paul said he had to learn how to be content. He had to learn it. It wasn’t natural or easy. Most things we have to learn aren’t natural or easy at first. They go against the grain and challenge our inhibitions and default settings. What’s amazing to me is that he not only had to learn how to be content in times of lack, but also in times of abundance. We tend to think that living contented in abundance would be easy, but it’s truly a slippery slope if we aren’t fixated on Christ.
This famous verse, “I can do all things…” we love to tack onto hopes and dreams for our lives. But that application has no context here. Paul was trying to communicate that his contentment despite circumstance came through Christ’s gift of strength.
The Determining Factor
When the steps ahead are unclear and the bank account dwindles and the aches and pains and illnesses have no regard for inconvenient timing – do we count everything else as rubbish next to Him? Do we find our joy and reason and purpose and strength and certainty only in Him?
Is Christ my everything? Is He yours?
So, life can be difficult sometimes…and a bit mysterious, right? And when I don’t have a clear vision for what I’m doing, it can get downright frustrating.
A few years ago, my hubby and I (finally) agreed that we would homeschool our kids. (By the way, this post is not about whether you should homeschool or not…so don’t stop reading there if you don’t!) I had about zero desire to teach our kids at home at first. I like my alone time…I won’t lie! As much as I love our kids, I’m a much better mom and human being overall if I get some time away. Yep, classic introvert.
But, then I started to pray about it and slowly God started to give me HIS vision for our family and kids’ education.
For kindergarten/pre-school, we’ve basically just “done life”: counting daddy’s vitamins, reading signs and sounding out letters while driving, doing some workbooks here and there, letting them play with magnet letters on the fridge while I cook…and so forth.
But now that we’re approaching the legal requirements of our state for our oldest to enter first grade, I started to panic…”what am I doing?”…”what if I screw it up?”…”what if I can’t figure out what to teach?”…”what if weeks go by and we don’t have a formal lesson?”…and so the hamster wheel of uncertainty and fear spun around.
I told Steve about my uncertainties and all-over-the-place worries. (I’m so thankful he just listened and didn’t reply at that moment! Thanks honey!)
I was searching information for our local public school when the thought dawned on me: “Hey, maybe I should pray!” So, I did. And, I asked my girlfriends to pray too (thanks, you awesome warriors!) Within the hour, He swarmed me with peace. He gave me an answer…yes, His vision for us is to be a homeschooling family. And over the next few days, He gave me one more little step to take…just one at a time. Step 1: Yes, homeschool. Step 2: Use a curriculum. Step 3: Check that book I have been reading and love for suggestions. Step 4: Research options. Step 5: Discuss top option with the hubs and pray. Step 6: Manage to wait until the paycheck has cleared before I rush to order said curriculum and obsessively check the mail everyday until it arrives! And so on…
I am completely amazed that God has brought me from an attitude of complete dread and fear to a place of renewed excitement. And the way He got me there was to give me vision. He spoke into my little life…gave me an answer…and is providing the steps one-by-one. Vision…that’s what I needed.
Yes! That’s it! And I especially love how The Message version phrases this same verse…
I was stumbling all over my fear of lack and inadequacies…But when I paid attention to what God wanted to reveal to me, He gave me what I needed and I feel that blessing not just in my attitude, but especially in the path we are now walking.
What decisions are you facing in your life right now? It may have nothing to do with your child’s education…or it might. But whatever it is, stop and listen to what God has to say about it. Don’t get caught in the torrent of fear. Let Him speak into your situation and give you the next step to take.