Tuesday, July 21, 2020

However This Ends

A funny thing happens when you start making plans with the Lord, when you allow Him to share with you the vision that He has for your life - whether that be with something relatively small, as I experienced it recently, or with something larger: you're able to let go of the outcome.

In fact, I'm willing to go so far as to say that most of the time when you make plans with the Lord, He doesn't even show you how it all turns out. You don't get that far. And oddly, you find that you don't need it. You develop such a deep sense of peace about the process, you fall in love with the scene that He's developing, you get so much into your character in the story He's telling that you can't wait to take the stage, so to speak, and play it out. The vision God puts before you gets so deep into your heart that you couldn't imagine not taking that path, wherever it leads.

The procedure that God gave me a vision for has a typical success rate of 98%. It only fails two percent of the time. The professional performing the procedure initially gave me 50-50 odds for success, based on his experience and my specific circumstances. But the process he described lined up 100% with the vision God had given me for how this experience would go, and I couldn't have imagined, in the moment, not doing it. It is a moment I had seen so often, that God had shown me so clearly, that He had put into my heart so unquestionably that I was able to look around at the scenery and say, yup, this is my scene.

The fact that I knew my lines didn't take away the reality - there is still a 2% chance of failure. The professional had his own opinion about potential success, which was 50-50 (although it did improve after he'd actually done it). And you know what? I think that last bit can be said about just about anything. Anything you dare to do in life is really 50-50 - either it's going to work out or it isn't. Right?

But the fact that I knew my lines took away the anxiety that I had about the outcome. I didn't spend hours or days with my fingers crossed and hands folded, praying for God to make it successful. I didn't bully Him into making things turn out the way I wanted because He's the one who told me to do it (so He's the one who should make it successful). I didn't think about the tremendous investment I had made and worry about being out that money if the whole thing fails. All those worries that are so easy to get wrapped up in as human beings in a fallen world...they just...weren't there. I was able to simply, in the moment, thank God for the opportunity and as time passes and we start to see how things are working out, thank God for the opportunity. Thank God for that feeling of blessedness that this was not only possible, but that He had given me a vision for it.

I know that sounds strange. Most of us can't imagine a life where we're not concerned about the outcome. Most of us can't imagine making a huge investment and being okay if it doesn't pay off. Most of us don't think about the life of faith as a place where we take chances. But maybe we should. Maybe we should stop thinking that our faith has to be this certain, sure thing and start just living into the adventures God calls us to.

That's what I'm saying about all this. That's what I'm saying about this simple prayer that I prayed that felt...cheap at the time. It did. It felt like I was ignoring all of the questions and worries and hopes that I really had. It felt like I wasn't being honest about my fears and my anxieties and even my wants. I absolutely wanted assurances. I absolutely wanted God to just orchestrate everything and make it all sunshine and roses. Who wouldn't?

It felt a little empty when I just prayed for Him to show me what it looks like, to give me a vision of this thing. I am so used to, like most Christians, begging and pleading with God, pestering Him, getting locked into a prayer and repeating it over and over and over again until He gives me what I want (which, by the way, doesn't happen as often as I wanted it to, which also becomes kind of a desperate prayer, doesn't it? Lord, answer me. Answer me now. Do that thing You never seem to do and answer me). But then, He gave me a vision for it...and it's the best prayer I've ever prayed. It's the best response He's ever given. And I've realized that is what I want more of in my life of faith. Not assurances, but invitations. Just a chance to catch His vision and run with it, wherever it leads.

I still don't know how things work out on this one. I don't. But I can't imagine having not taken the chance. I can't imagine knowing my lines, looking around at the set, recognizing every little prop all around me, and deciding not to take the stage. I can't imagine watching His vision come together before my very human eyes and saying, Eh. Maybe not. I can't imagine having not taken this journey with Him, which, for everything it's done or not done or might do or might not do, has given me the chance to live by faith and to rest in blessedness and to experience peace amid the journey.

So the next time you're tempted to tell God what you need Him to do in your life, think about asking Him instead. Ask Him to give you a vision for what He sees because I'm telling you - He sees more than you can even imagine. Before you know it, you might just find that scene taking shape before your very eyes. And when you do, you can step into it confidently, without worrying about how it all turns out. Whether you get everything you wanted or something less or something more or something different, this is your scene and you recognize it. And when God's given you the vision for it, you can't imagine not taking the stage. 

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