C.S. Lewis has said that people need to be reminded more than they need to be instructed. I believe this to be true. So often, I look through my journal or a blog or read a familiar passage and am reminded afresh of something vital that I'd forgotten. Today was one of those days...so here's hoping I'm not the only one who needs this particular reminder.
Monday, July 31, 2006
Take, O Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my will, all that I have and possess. Thou hast given it to me; to Thee, O Lord, I restore it; all is Thine, dispose of it according to Thy will. Give me Thy love and Thy grace, for this is enough for me....Alone with God, let us give Him ourselves, all we have and are and shall be, to be unreservedly His. -- WILLIAM R. HUNTINGTON
There is no stay so strong as an unreserved abandonment of self into God's hand. -- H. L. SIDNEY LEAR
I still remember, very vividly, my first day of Kindergarten. I was the oldest and the first to go to school. I was also the only girl. At that time, I had only 2 of my 4 brothers. My newest brother, Joey, was about a year old, No. 3 (Brad) was 8 months in the oven...and less than a year after that, Timmy, "the caboose" would be born. My neighbor friend, Chantel, had already gone to Kindergarten and told me all about it. Since I always wanted to do whatever Chantel did, I was none too excited. So off I marched, with Mom and brothers lagging behind, in my new dress, holding my snazzy bookbag which looked like a denim briefcase with pockets and a really cool latch on the front. Daddy had written my name and phone number inside the front flap in what I thought was the fanciest handwriting ever! Inside, I had my special tablet, a couple of big fat pencils, a pack of big fat crayons and a big flat eraser. I was set!
When we got to the corner, there were several other kids there already waiting with their Moms. Soon, the bright yellow bus - the coolest vehicle EVER in my 5 year old opinion - was coming up the street. I remember feeling something like a bubbling coming up from my toes which wanted to come out as a squeal but didn't. I looked behind me to smile at my mom and brothers, as if to say "this is so awesome!" (or whatever the colloquial equivalent was in 1977) But most of the other kids weren't looking back at their Moms that way. Most of them were crying, begging to stay home, looking at the slowly approaching bus - which brought such a smile to my face - as if it were the giant yellow machine of death. I didn't get it.
Despite the fussing and crying and screams of terror, soon we were all on the bus-slash- monster. Once inside, most kids reluctantly sat, whimpering in the dark green vinyl seats which seemed HUGE...way too big for kids our size. Others continued to cry and plead with the driver to let them off. Still other kids tried to get the windows open to make one last attempt at convincing their Mom of the horror that was sure to befall them so they would, at last, rescue them from this, albeit cleverly disguised, monster. I sat in my seat with my bookbag on my lap, smiling. I didn't even look back to wave goodbye. I was off, on to the Adventure of Kindergarten and I was psyched! (or whatever we would have said then)
I thought about ... how fearless I was. I thought about how excited I was. I thought about how I didn't think about what I was leaving behind (my room full of barbies, my brothers-slash-living baby dolls, my easy-bake oven). I didn't worry about what might or might not happen at school. I didn't wonder if I'd make friends or be able to learn to write or if I'd not be allowed to be mommy when we played house. I was where I was supposed to be, going where I was supposed to go, doing what I was supposed to be doing and that was all that mattered. What lay ahead was a complete mystery to me, despite Chantel's efforts to describe it, and I didn't care. I wasn't worried. I wasn't afraid. I was excited...about what I didn't know, but boy was I excited!
...30 years later, I wonder. when did that change? When did the unknown come to be such a scary thing? When did tomorrow hang over today with a sense of foreboding? When did worry and what ifs creep into my mind? When did I learn to expect the worst? When did I begin to think I had to fiercely hang on to what is to keep it from becoming what was? When did I lose that automatic and untouchable sense of excited anticipation?I don't know. But I do know none of it is pleasing to God. And, I hate that it still lingers and infects my heart and mind even after I've given my life to Christ.
Jesus says "He who seeks to save His life shall lose it."And really, that is what all the fear and dread and worry and what ifs and holding on is...an attempt to save my life. My life that was bought. My life that was saved. My life that is owed to Christ.
Today, a plan of mine was disappointed. I'd set a goal or deadline and it is now past. On the way home, I got a little weepy and apprehensive about what that might mean. Then, clear as day I heard "It was your plan, not God's". I needed that perspective. I can make all the plans I want...the mind of man plans His way but the Lord directs His steps. His plans, and His plans alone will prosper. I need not worry about my plans failing...whether they do or not, His plan is the one that matters and His plans never fail. What other logical choice is there but to surrender, to abandon oneself and one's plans to God and trust that no matter what...no matter how many disappointments or big yellow monster buses come our way it will be fine. We are the only ones taken by surprise. God's got it...and He is good and does good always.
Despite their fears and cries and screams and falling on the floor in a quivering puddle, all of the kids that entered the belly of the beast (also known as the school bus) returned home, safe and sound, happy, with snacks in their tummys and a new friend to tell Mom about. Only a few of us didn't have to hear, "See, I said you would have fun and you did, didn't you?"...and feel the shame for behaving so badly.In truth, nothing, not even the worst tragedy that has ever happened to us in our lives, is ever as bad as we imagine it to be. And in the midst of tragedy, for believer and unbeliever, there are many evidences of His grace to recount. Mercies that were simply undeserved, blessings and encouragements, favor, and proof that He truly does work ALL things together for good.
Lord, Help us. Help us...help me...to look on the next moment, the next hour, the next day or year or decade with the same excited anticipation I had that first day of Kindergarten...with the same surrender that Christ had at Calvary "for the joy set before Him." Make the truth of your goodness and faithfulness so real that the thought of being fearful or dreading what may come grieves us. In moments when we brace for an imagined blow, may we feel your Spirit convicting us and repent for accusing you of something you cannot do or be. Forgive us, Lord...help our unbelief and help us to be daily more abandoned to You, Your will, and Your ways. Amen!