Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Beyond Understanding


I used this photo in a blog post once before, over 2 years ago, called "Moving On". It seems appropriate to use it again because moving on is exactly what I'm trying to do.

The last two years have been... an experience. 

I very recently listened to a friend encouraging a group of us, gathered together in a church context, to embrace a life with God that takes us beyond our comfort zones. And I have to say, I cried. And I walked out. Because I love those sermons, I love that sentiment and it's the only kind of life I have ever wanted to live. And four years ago, I chose to implement that in my choice of career. And two years ago, on the edge of big change and challenge, I took my first steps into the unknown. I haven't seen my comfort zone in years! Which I suppose is commendable in some sense, but the thing that I find hardest to come to terms with right now is this: leaving my comfort zone has been really, really uncomfortable!

It's kind of obvious, right? And yet I've been blind-sided by the pain of it. The realisation has all come at once, full force, as I've made the decision to move on. It's fair to say I struggled from beginning to end. But even more so in these closing weeks, it's like a valve has been released and all the brave-facing and genuine faith and hope that I tried to hold onto over the years has disintegrated into an eruption of latent disappointment.

There are indisputable truths - things that I've seen and known in the last 2 years that I would stake my all on. And the fact that God has been good to me, so good to me, is one of them. Numerous kindnesses, multiple ways that hard things have been relieved, bad things redeemed, shafts of light and silver linings.

But what I think I'm realising is this: if I'm going to trust God with my life (and that is entirely what I intend to do, every day, hands down, non-negotiable) - if I'm going to trust God with my life, it's not enough for me to admit that He is good. I also have to admit that He is God.

I've been thinking about this Bible verse:

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge [submit to] Him
and He will direct your path."
Proverbs 3v5-6 

The second part is not the challenge for me: I submitted to God and this is what He directed me into. Fine, done, keep going. But I know I'm not trusting God with all my heart - I feel bruised and hurt and I can't sing song lyrics like "I surrender all" and "all I have is yours". I don't trust God with all my heart because I am too busy trying to figure out the point of His leading. And I absolutely cannot grasp it. "Do not lean on your own understanding." Why?

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,"
declares the Lord.
Isaiah 55v8 

Damn straight! There are a few things I would have orchestrated differently in these 24 months or so. Particularly the painful non-work related things, like several kinds of difficulties in family life that have left me feeling vulnerable and bereft. But:

"As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts."
Isaiah 55v9

That's what I need to accept if I am ever going to transition into the peace that comes from totally resting in trust. I have fooled myself into believing that I have a right to know what my life is about, the value of my work and contribution to the world, where all my relationships are going and the full extent of what is possible from a life lived with God. But how much of that is really my business? How much of that belongs to God?

"The secret things belong to the LORD our God, 
but the things revealed belong to us..."
Deuteronomy 29v29

God is not some Local Authority that I can petition under the Freedom of Information Act. He doesn't have to explain to me what He's been up to in my life over this season, or the ones to come. There are some beautiful verses in the book of Isaiah in the Bible that speak about God carrying us. I know that He is carrying me. I also know that I am kicking and screaming and squirming in His arms like a small, wilful child. Hopefully at some point soon I'll exhaust myself, and this need to know will fall away somehow. This is what I aspire to:

"My heart is not proud, Lord,
    my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
    or things too wonderful for me.
But I have calmed and quietened myself,
    I am like a weaned child with its mother;
    like a weaned child I am content.
[I will] put [my] hope in the Lord
    both now and for evermore."
Psalm 131

When I get to that stage, I'll let you know. 
   
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