The rain is rattling down the drainpipe and the whoosh of a steady shower fills the empty spaces.
It is lovely.
A crepe myrtle’s magenta puff-blooms bounce in the breeze and rain. The courtyard is quiet.
Oh my soul.
A good morning to seek a God who can only be seen when he makes himself known – often for me – singularly in the rear-view mirror.
My journals of late and Bibles are scribbled with seeking words and the looking for landmarks….breadcrumbs to find my way to the next guided moment.
I have no contingency plan; no Plan B.
The way ahead is totally unknown.
So for the very first time in my remembered life, I have no perceived idea what God is doing, what the next stage is about, what to expect…you know the drill.
What I do know: that in a few hours, I’ll drive to a church that is gentle and true and reminds me of walking through Munich’s Perlacher Forest with all of the unadorned wood and rock. A little later, I’ll meet my friend, Suzanne, for a quick paint up – creating my own version of “Starry Night,” and then maybe packing up a bit more or walking or watching the end of “the Dirty Dozen” which always reminds me of my brother, Pat.
After that, it is pretty much wide open.
Except a few helpful details. I will NOT be lumbering over the prairie in a covered wagon nor will I slumber in a dugout home where the snakes are known to fall from the roof. This, I know.
I will see Magpie and Kenan as I make my way to the Flint Hills.
I will cry so I’ve reserved a selection of “Hank the Cowdog” books on CD to help me laugh along the broken road.
The sorrow and grief will take time and work to transform into memory.
We’ve all been there in that place of not knowing. I guess it’s only foolishness or hubris to think that we may know what’s coming.
I’ve been lost so many times that it becomes part of the adventure – a narrative of the unexpected and God’s faithfulness.
May Day in Munich 1987: I was so lost, hungry, and disoriented in my solo wandering that I wondered if I’d ever get back to my dorm. Today, I’ll remind myself that I did, indeed, find my way home.
November 1985, Statesboro, Georgia: I borrowed a car and drove into the swampy woods along roads that may or may not have been used in years. I got lost. And bogged down. In a borrowed car. Even before I knew this God, I cried out to him in fear and distress. Somehow, the car leveraged traction and the way was made.
Steinernes Meer, Austria, July 1985: A short hike in German hills with a cocky team of American kids (Project Bold participants) became a 14-hour slog lost in the Austrian Steinernes Meer or “Sea of Rocks.” We had the map, the experience by then, but we did not have a clue. We ate our kippers on high ridges and grumbled – jockeying for position along the trail until we stumbled – too exhausted to fight anymore – into base camp.
Lost no more.
As much as I’d prefer to have a map or itinerary, vouchers for the unexpected train rides or lonesome meals, this not knowing is forcing me to daily decide (okay…minute-by-minute) if what I believe is true…believable…trustworthy or if it is a delusion. Sometimes, I still wrestle with this.
Because if I could see the plan or “know what is coming,” than my need for anyone else – rescue, leadership, vulnerability, company, hope – is forfeited and I become an army of one. One. Lone. Journey. Risking nothing of value and losing every good thing of living.
This way, I must decide if I will live out this faith I claim to believe and stay ready for a forward call.
Trusting what I cannot see in the wake of what almost destroyed me.
Perhaps this wrecked adventure will one day yield more good than the original adventure would have afforded. That one to which I was “all in.”
Who knows? But I do know that none of this life will be wasted regardless of how much I try to fritter it away.
Perhaps not knowing is what keeps us humble, hungry, and close to the author of this story. We stay near, curl up into his lap, and receive his grace and love and comfort. He loves us, sees us, knows us, and still cherishes us.
Lately, I’ve been comforted by a dream I had and remembered. It begins in a boat being tossed about the sea. Lightning flashes, thunder shakes the timbered rough hewn vessel, as the waves churn it about. Twelve men are rowing-panicked and disoriented. One is peacefully asleep. I am stowed away and terrified – me as a tow-headed, buck-toothed, grinning 5-year old kid. When I see that there is a dry space right next to this peaceful sleeping man, I sneak over and curl up there like a cat; suddenly calm and at rest though the storm thrashes and the rowers still cry out.
In that way, in the way of a tiny impish 5-year old kiddo looking for safety and shelter, I want to have child-like faith whether I know the plan or not.
Curled up. Comforted. Calm and at rest.
Psalm 138:8: “The Lord will work out his plans for my life-for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for you made me.”