"If the God you believe in as an idea doesn’t start showing up in what happens to you in your own life, you have as much cause for concern as if the God you don’t believe in as an idea does start showing up. It is absolutely crucial, therefore, to keep in constant touch with what is going on in your own life’s story and to pay close attention to what is going on in the stories of others’ lives. If God is present anywhere, it is in those stories that God is present. If God is not present in those stories, then they are scarcely worth telling." ~ Frederick Buechner

26 December 2010

"A Journey Not My Own"

I had this poem up on my bedroom walls during my college years to remind me that I wasn't -- and didn't need to be -- in control. I've been sorting through old papers and journals, deciding what to toss and what to keep, and I came across a copy of the poem. Talk about perfect timing. I've been struggling lately with a bitter spirit towards people -- mostly strangers -- who treat me poorly, whether small offenses or big ones. Like the really mean customer who treated me like I was an ignorant idiot at my retail job. Or the principal who didn't bother to hear my side of the story before making a judgment call. Or the couple who pulled through into a parking spot that we had been waiting for for five minutes. I get angry, think and say things I know are not at all loving or godly, and I seethe about it.

I've confessed these things to my husband, and as always, he encourages me to pray and give it to God. And from time to time, he calls me out on my attitude towards these kinds of people and reminds me to not stoop to their level. But boy, sometimes it sure is easier said than done.

I would say that overall, I trust God. When we learned of the cysts in our baby's brain at our first ultrasound, I prayed for trust -- and He gave me an overwhelming sense of peace about all of it. I trust God with our future, even though I have no idea anymore what that will look like, a year from now or five years from now. I've learned to quit planning. :~) I trust God with my family, because I know my baby and my husband are His first.

But I still need to learn to trust God with the more abstract things. Like extreme poverty. Injustice. And child prostitution. Entitlement. Selfishness. Prejudice. I have found that I struggle with trusting God when it comes to this broken world, and I too easily forget that He loves this world, cracked as it is, and that I am part of its brokenness. I forget that part of the promise made in the chorus of the song "Here I Am, Lord" is to hold His people in my heart -- even the ones I don't like very much.

Here's the poem. May it bless you as it does me, and may we encourage one another in our journey with God to find that joy we'd never known.

"A Journey Not My Own"

As a youth with plans and dreams
I set my course ahead
I owned the world and all its worth
Not following -- I led.

I often sought new travelers
And helped them find their way
So strong was I, they did not know
My vessel was of clay.

Not one was more prepared than I
For raging storms at sea
But I ignored the small leaks and cracks
Within that vessel -- me.

I drifted in deep waters far
Away frm those I love,
Convinced that I was all alone
And God somewhere up above.

And in the darkness of my sea
I heard a soft voice say,
"I'm by your side to mend your ship,
My precious one of clay."

It's then I realized
Though God was at my side,
I was the one who chose the course
With all my senseless pride.

I now have found an inner peace --
My journey's not my own.
With Jesus at the helm I have
A joy I'd never known.

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