Whenever a month goes by without my posting anything I feel this ridiculous responsibility to post something more meaningful. As if my six followers of kind family members care. But the truth is much of what I write is more a reminder to myself of something God revealed to me in a given situation so I can refer back to it at some point in time. When I reflect on paper (or in this case on screen) I'm starting to find the exercise more fruitful than the impact. Which is a roundabout way of saying the discipline of writing is becoming more important to me than what I share. So I've actually written more frequently in recent weeks, but also more privately.
All that to say, if what follows disappoints, my apologies. I'm taking a stab at relevancy worth sharing here.
March and the beginning of April have proved challenging so far. Work is busier than ever though my hours are back to normal (30 instead of the 40 I worked in February). We took a week off for the kid's Spring Break and did manage some fun "stay-cation" things like a trip to the Field Museum downtown, a date night for Dan and me and several sleep overs both hosted and imposed. We also did quite a bit of Spring Cleaning and began a big project replacing a bathroom floor (which I must confess is still in progress). Added to that were two more wakes/funerals and a crushing sense of how quickly this life passes. We're planning driving lessons for our oldest and 8th grade graduation for our babies.
Sometimes it feels like I'm on one of those waterslides that picks up speed around every bend.
As I've gotten older I've become more of a planner, though I am no rival for either of my sisters, it's quite an improvement for the youngest born. So while in my youth I was willing enough to fly by the seat of my pants, in my more mature years (I know it's debatable) I crave security and assurance.
And what I'm realizing is the security I crave I do not have, but the assurance I need is guaranteed.
The security I crave is the comfort of knowing what lies ahead, which is sort of stupid because if I always saw what was coming I don't think I'd find it all that comforting. Instead of trying to figure out what my circumstances are going to be, I'd be better served to remember Who is with me in the midst of them. I've often heard and repeated myself that Peace isn't the absence of conflict, it's the absence of anxiety in the midst of the conflict.
We talk about this a lot at work, which is par for the course when you work in a church. We often catch ourselves being surprised that things didn't turn out like we'd planned or that people reacted differently than we expected when in fact we should be astonished when anything goes according to "our" design. What's that saying? Man makes plans and God laughs. See also Proverbs 16:9.
So it's good to remember that on the slippery waterslide, with its ever increasing speed I have the firm grip of assurance that I won't drown at the end. God is good to remind me that I have this assurance in the grip of His grace and it does not diminish in my circumstances, however harrowing they appear. In fact, it's in the middle of the crisis that I most experience just how strong His grip is.
This was illustrated for me some years back just before Dan retired from the National Guard. Through the efforts of some wonderful veterans I had the privilege of participating in a spousal helicopter ride above Chicago's beautiful lakefront skyline on a perfect September day. We took off out of Midway airport where Dan's army unit drilled. At the time Dan was the company commander and I wanted to represent him well so I made the bold move of taking the outermost seat on the aircraft next to the door that doesn't actually close. And in line with the aforementioned fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants tendency I was wearing flip flops, a sweater and had left my naturally curly hair down for the day.
The crew was wonderfully patient and assisted us with our five-point harness seatbelt and before I knew it we were ready for takeoff. I'm not one to panic in general, I'm not afraid to fly and though I'd never been on a helicopter before if you'd taken my blood pressure six seconds before flight it wouldn't have been higher than 120/80. Six seconds after takeoff would have been a different story.
We went straight up 2000 feet in a shot and that's when the reality hit that I was sitting in the window seat and the window was not only floor to ceiling, but it was open.
And then we turned.
Do you know what happens when a helicopter turns? It tilts sideways so that the people to either the far left or far right are at a significant angle to the ground. Being the person to the far right it was at this point in time that I said (though no one could hear above the blades) "My God, what have I done?"
There was nothing separating me from the open air fall and the only thing keeping me in my seat was that five-point harness belt. And let me tell you...it worked. I did not budge an inch. I did not slide a centimeter. I was no closer to the threshold of the open door than I was when we were parallel to the ground. I was most assuredly not going anywhere. And once I knew that - freedom reigned.
I was so confident in my secure status that I stuck my knee out the door over Lake Michigan to tease my mother-in-law with the photo op (that's what you see above - the tiny speck of white at the very top is actually a huge sail boat). I will never forget that day or that ride. But I find myself pleasantly surprised how God has brought it to mind again with a new means of blessing me -
"My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand" John 10:29