When I take my dogs for their daily walk, they can tell twenty minutes before we leave. (Unfortunately any time I bend down to put on my shoes they can also tell and get wildly excited – even though, most times, they’re not actually going anywhere.) All the signs are pointing – potentially – in the direction of bliss but, alas, there is more to it than me just putting on the right footgear.
When we arrive at the gorgeous common where we walk – the dogs having howled deafeningly and in unison at the sheer joy of it all en route – the three of them spring from the car and dash off in all directions at once. I corral them back (often having to put them on leads) before we can set out on our intended route.
How very true it is to say that dogs resemble their owners.
When I was at seminary twenty five years ago, I had a brilliant counsellor who helped me process my journey. Almost every session, she said the same thing to me, “Stay the course.” When she first said it, I asked her what she meant. She replied,
“When God gives you a whiff of something, Josie, you’re all in. You put your pedal to the metal and suddenly you’re going a million miles an hour and becoming a missionary in Africa. Just stay the course! Stay. The. Course.”
Blimey, how I struggle with this. Just like my own children, I constantly jump ahead. I say to them: “After dinner, we’ll…” They say: “Watch a movie?!”/”Get an ice cream?!”/Buy a new video game???!!!!” Sometimes they’re right, but not yet. And sometimes they’re just completely wrong.
As I come to the end of this particular season of transition – married to divorced, America to England – I can see so clearly how constantly I try to finish God’s sentences. “Oh yeah, OK, right Lord. I can see how this goes…”
I think it’s the product of three things:
- My desire to get out of a situation I’m currently in.
- My passion to be in His will.
- My sometimes desperate need to know what on earth is really going on.
On occasion with my littlest dog, when I can’t get her to stay close to me on our walk, I just lift her off the ground and carry her. She squirms and wriggles, but I hold her tight until we reach a place where she can safely run.
So too with Jesus and me. Looking back, I can see where He lifted my feet off the ground to stop me running all over the place. In frustration and fury, my legs kept pumping and my fists landed more than a few good punches on Jesus’ chest meantime. How I hate not “going” anywhere (and how much He must love me when I can be so unpleasant.)
Of course, it’s not that I haven’t been going anywhere. He’s got me and He’s simply been moving me forward at a pace and in a way that I could handle.
How much I wish I would have rested in that and not struggled so hard. It was exhausting and changed nothing. How much I wish I would have enjoyed the ride a bit more! Trusting that Someone knew what was really going on, Someone knew where I was going next, and Someone was going to get me and my kids there safely.
How much I wish I had spent more time doing less. Not striving, not fretting, not peering into a future I could not as yet see.
For, as tortuously hard as the last three years have been, they have only been matched and overcome by God’s kindness and faithfulness to me in the midst. I have not struck my foot against a stone. I have not lost my mind. I still have two provenly robust, loving and remarkable children. And I am closer to my saviour than I have ever been.
If you are walking a path of transition, my recommendation to you is this: relax and recognise Jesus surrounding you. The people in your life, a great cup of coffee, escapist shows (some shows), fellowship, friendship, the outdoors, rain, sun, seasons reminding you of the cycle of life. Breathe and let the road take you – don’t strive to take the road. He’s already got it all laid out, certain of your every step. Keep laying your heart before Him and wait for Him to speak.
Where you stop, He’ll continue you forward. Where you stumble, He’ll pick you up and set you straight. Where you totally give up, you’ll discover it was Him who was getting you there anyway.
And if you don’t know Jesus, He’s walking beside you anyway. Closer to you than breathing. Because that’s just how He rolls. That’s just how much He loves you as much as He loves me. No matter what. You can just ask Him.
So what can I do now that I’m trying not to pre-empt God’s every next move in my life? Well, all I can say is this. Since Christmas I have had a big eraser sitting at eye level above my desk:
Last week, as I lay face down in worship pondering where God might lead me next, I distinctly heard Him say this: “THINK BIGGER!”
Thank you so much to the tens of thousands of you who have read my blog over the past three years. Your companionship has been a jewel in my pocket.