Friday, May 9, 2014

things I've learned lately

I was a schemer from the beginning, always trying to make my own way, to "arrange for my own happiness," (to quote Eldredge).  It's a an old identity I've crucified time and again.

I remember when a college friend laughingly calling me that (a schemer) during our freshman Bible study. He said it teasingly and with and brotherly affection; I received it in jest and maybe even with a little pride in my knack for making things happen. In the next moment, God used it to cut me to the
heart.  I am a schemer, I thought. As many times as I'd already put to death that sin, it persisted.

And so today. The combination of my fierce determination and insatiable optimism is a force to be reckoned with when it's tempered with the Holy Spirit's grace and authority.  God often uses it to get things done. But leaning on my own strength, those two attributes together become my Achilles heal. The gift of faith turned inward on oneself is a detestable thing unto God, and a sin I continue to tangle with, I'm ashamed to say.

I don't know quite how to describe it, but God is doing something so sweet in my life recently. He has been wooing me in this area once again, reminding me how perfectly trustworthy He is, and how capable to get things done with or without me.

Anticipating our trip to Nassau this April, I had wrestled with how to bring a couple of additional teammates along. Not wanting students on the Summer Trips team ever to feel left out or as though I'm playing favorites, I really struggled to know how to choose who to invite. As I prayed about it though, God was faithful to make it clear which student and which adult male leader were the right fit for the project. The finances, however, remained in question.

True to form, I furiously set to work surveying all possible fundraising options, evaluating my own finances, and putting out feelers for spare flyer miles. When nothing panned out, I found myself having to surrender again and again my desire to control the situation. The sense that the two guys were supposed to join us lingered, and I schemed and then gave the whole thing back to God every day for weeks.

On the Tuesday before our departure, a friend handed me a check and said, "We don't have flyer miles, but that's for your flights next week." In the chaos of some middle school drama that night at youth group, I went home having forgotten to look at the check. When I arrived in the office the next morning, I found that it was in nearly the exact amount for the two flights, and by 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday, just four days before our departure, we had booked two more tickets. How fun to see God at work on our behalf! And how much more precious as Kim and I realized throughout the week how faithfully God had provided for us thorough the presence of the two guys, a needed thing in the rough neighborhood where we work. As I wait for His provision in other areas of my life, I'm reminded that I can count on it from my Good Shepherd.  Often it's in the eleventh hour, but always it's in His perfect timing.

In the chaos of this past year of splitting my time between Connecticut and Boston's North Shore, of working at capacity and then some at Walnut Hill while tackling an unadvisable course load, of navigating difficult relationships and waiting out uncertainty in a whole host of ways, He has proven Himself anew as my Advocate and generous Benefactor. In the tenderness of His presence with me, He has revealed His work righting wrongs, redeeming past hurts, and defending my cause.
Sometimes I feel as though I've lost months of my life in this manic season of juggling too much, and yet there's just this richness to the things He is showing me about His own character.

It's as though He is fortifying my walls--maybe preparing me for something hard, even. I'm not afraid, as long as the Cloud of His presence goes with me (it does), and as long as He's holding my little life and all the plates I work so hard to keep spinning easily in the palm of His hand (He is).

I'm remembering that I can trust Him with my future: Ministry, singleness, location, even my biggest dreams. He can have it all.

Lord, You are my portion
and my cup of blessing;
You hold my future.
The boundary lines have fallen for me
in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
Psalm 16:5-6

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