Crossroads

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI wish that there was a sign at this overwhelming and confusing crossroads (even a little sign like the balloons people put out for graduation parties) that indicated ‘future this way!’ Then I wouldn’t have to stand here dazed, trying to see and consider each option on the road onward into what often seems like a dark and terrible forest. Sometimes it seems like a chasm, and sometimes it looks surreal with pop art colors as if it were from a make-believe world. But mostly it seems scary and unknowable just like the words… ‘Future’ is too vast to mean much, but ‘my future’ is another matter. I don’t like deadlines, decisions, and prying eyes. Didn’t God get the memo? I’m directionally challenged.

I wish there was someone to stand with me here. Then we could scream, and cry, and rant about the unfairness of it together. But as it is the only human companions I have are the ones with cattle prods who want to know my decision now. ‘Pick or else your life will be ruined.’ ‘You’re already years behind the others your age.’ Or at least that’s how things seem from my perspective. They all claim to be well meaning and un-menacing; I’m not so sure.

I wish there was a way to know whether each road truly goes forward. I have no way to see which ones double back. Sometimes it feels as if the one I’ve been on has done that. Often I see no progress. It’s not like most of those exciting future-inspiring  books make it out to be. (Does anyone else find themselves stuck reading those?)  Do Hard Things sounds downright thrilling until I learn that the only hard things I’m doing now are the little ones that seem insignificant and often go unnoticed. Oh the Places You’ll Go makes mention of dark times, but you wouldn’t know that to look at the colorful cover. That’s what everyone is asking me to do — to judge books by their covers — when what I really want to do is sit down with a cup of hot chocolate, read each future thoroughly, and then (maybe) decide.

I wish this could be learned, not just experienced. As much as I hate instruction manuals I would take one about now. At least then I would have the assurance of  knowing where I am supposed to be. One of the injured victims of the Boston Marathon said she had that now, and I envied her. I know, I know, I have the Bible. But honestly that isn’t very detailed. I’ve yet to have a Divine revelation over a passage to point me forward, and I’m running out of patience. I’ve watched so many other birds jump out of the nest and fly. I’ve always hated going last.

Phooey on indecision, waiting, and confusingness . Everyone must go through this, so that means it’s possible, right? I need reassurance ’cause at the moment I’m not so sure.

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Categories: My Life, rants | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

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7 thoughts on “Crossroads

  1. Karen

    I wish that I could say that the confusion and decision making ends at age 21 or some other specific age, but the “what comes next?” questions just keep coming until our earthly lives end. Which is both good and bad. Thinking you were headed down the correct path of life, only to find Road Closed and Detour signs can be pretty discouraging. But knowing that all decisions don’t have to be permanently set in stone by a young age can be a godsend if you discover you need a “do over”. As long as you’re still breathing you can resolve to set out on the path that you should have taken earlier.

  2. I understand well where you find yourself. Partly because I have been there, but also–as Karen says–partly because many (all?) of us never leave that place and I am still there. I expect in some measure I will always be there because in the walk of faith God only gives us eyes for today, not the rest of our lives.

    I wish this could be learned, not just experienced. As much as I hate instruction manuals I would take one about now.” I often feel this too, and it is quite ironic because in most things I avoid instruction manuals as well, and then suddenly when it comes to life itself I want one. In that line of thought, I’d say it is dangerous to try to make the Bible into an instruction manual for life as that way leads to legalism. The Bible isn’t very detailed in that way because it wasn’t meant to be that kind of instruction manual.

    Certainly the Bible is used by God to teach, and so we should not neglect it, but if all we needed was the written word as a manual for life God wouldn’t have sent His Spirit to indwell us. Knowing that we should not love money and we should trust God (etc, etc) does not answer the question of whether one should go to college or not. The path of our lives is ultimately not marked by rules but by a call–God’s call. It is unique on each of us.

    We want an instruction manual. What we need is a relationship. An instruction manual would allow us to feel independent. A relationship with God in Christ requires us to be continually depedent as He daily takes us by the hand and leads us. And the flesh doesn’t like that so we are constantly dragging our heels, stomping our feet and saying “But I wanna know where we’re going!”

    Jesus always tells us what we need to know. But we don’t need to know the 10 point plan for our lives, much as we think we do. What we need to do is follow Jesus.

    If we follow Jesus we will always dissappoint people. Always. This isn’t a mistake. I believe it is part of the process of learning to value Jesus’ approval above the approval of people. Yes, it hurts. It hurts a lot.

    If we follow Jesus we will always end up on roads and in places we never could have dreamed or expected. Always. Because we dream so small.

    When my worry about the future is particularly acute I find it good to meditate on two things. The first is the lives of the OT people of faith. When I look there I see the repeated example that God works far slower than we think He should, and that acting out of fear or impatience always leads to trouble. God promised Abraham a son, but it was years before the promise was fulfilled. God anointed David as king over Israel but it was years before he came to the throne. Many more examples could be given. Today the culture is all about now, now, NOW but in the Bible the example we are given is that following God is often about waiting. Moses had to wait 40 years from the time he saw the Isrealities in need of deliverance until God called him to that duty. Moses’ life was already two-thirds over by the time God put him on the track to getting something done. Forty years spent tending sheep in the wilderness….it doesn’t really seem like God was being as efficent as He should have, does it?

    So when I look at the example retained for us in the Bible, I see an example of living in a very counter-cultural, and outwardly foolish, way. The “smart” thing for David to do was knock off Saul the first chance he got. Certainly all of David’s men urged him to do that. The “smart” thing for Abraham to do was hurry this “get a son” thing along pronto before he became any older. We know how that turned out. And on and on it goes. If Moses had to wait 40 years for God to call him from point A to point B we should not be surprised if God leaves us in neutral tending “sheep” in the wilderness for 2, 5, or 10 years in our lives. People call you a lunatic, and a failure. And yeah, Moses was by every measure a failure for those 40 years. But when it was God’s time Moses got the call from the burning bush.

    We worry about being a failure, but we shouldn’t. In God’s time we will get our call. Maybe not from a burning bush, but in the way God chooses.

    So that is the first thing I meditate on. The second (and more important) thing I recall is the love of God in Christ Jesus. When one rightly dwells upon the fact that our life is lived following after someone who has taken hold of us with such a great love–then the idea of worrying about our future is plainly absurd.

    I have a very, very, hard time living that which is a testament to my sin and weakness. But, that said, the more aware I am of the real presence of Jesus and the real fact of his Lordship and Leadership over my life, the more comfort I have. I think you will find the more you dwell in this the more you will be able to laugh (well, at least figuratively) even in the most uncertain times because you know what Jesus will do will be most amazing.

    Being faithful often means takening the path that looks like a dead end. Ruth did that. There was no path more of a dead end that following Naomi back to Israel. Think more about being faithful than being smart.

    So what I say to you is this: Be a failure boldly for Jesus because it is in those who the world considers failures that God most makes His glory known. Keep running to Jesus. He will lead you on.

    • “We want an instruction manual. What we need is a relationship.” So true. I’ve been growing more in these areas lately, though it’s hard, and I still wish I could just know what to do. But as my Mom says even if I did I probably wouldn’t do the magic it all the time, so maybe I’m better off not knowing.

      Also, this:“Being faithful often means takening the path that looks like a dead end. Ruth did that.” Again, I’ve been growing in this since I wrote this post (maybe I should always reply this late, it’s kind of exciting to see the change from then to now). We’re studying Ruth in church now, so that comment hits home even more than the first time I read it.

      Sorry for the lateness of my reply. Hopefully you’ll still, at least, get to read it.

      • No need to apologize for the lateness of your reply. I know you are busy, and as the author of the blog you have the privilege of being as tardy as you want!

        And you don’t have to worry about me not seeing late replies. I make a habit of checking the little “notify me of a response” box when I comment on a post, so I will be notified no matter how late the reply. (At least, so long as WordPress is working properly!)

  3. Hm, this could have been written by me–not now, several years ago–except that I had a lot of trouble articulating and/or admitting to “people” the things that had me pinched.

    I am happy for those dark times, not because they were pleasant–they weren’t (aren’t, actually, just a different chapter of doubt and struggles)–but because the end result was definitely drawing closer to God, and that made it definitely worth it.

    But I have to say that even now I still feel like I have some resentment toward God that He often seems to be falling behind with Getting With the Program. But–when I can distance myself enough to think about it, I think a lot of has to do with the fact that I am finite and God is infinite. (That sounds like a ‘duh,’ and I guess maybe it is, but let me finish my thought.) We feel like we’re under an awful lot of pressure, because Time Is Running Out so we have to Hurry Up and Accomplish.

    But God isn’t going to run out of time; God is in control of time. He’s not worried; He’s not in a rush. He’s not concerned about the future. He is pleased with what He is accomplishing, totally satisfied with His progress and timing, and He’s definitely got A Plan.

    Um, and after that I totally lost my train of thought. Sorry. Anyhow, I mostly just wanted to put in the affirmative that yes, confusion, indecision and waiting is something we are all still going through (as one of my friends would say, there really is no unique emotion), and so yes, you’re not alone. Sometimes I think of this life as our “40 year wandering” in the desert from one barren place to another, shot through with God’s grace and provision while we wait for the promised land.

    Sorry for the ramble; I stayed up too late last night watching falling stars and visiting with extended family!

    • So many good thoughts.

      This:” He often seems to be falling behind with Getting With the Program” But you are right, God is in control of time. Thank you for the reminder. He’s been reaffirming that lately.

      Also, sorry for the lateness of my reply, and don’t worry about rambling. When you’re tired your allowed to act more like the rest of your family. 😉 Sounds like you had a very good reason to be tired too.

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