Torn Between Furious Action and Patient Waiting…
God has a plan for you… That’s what I was taught. What do I do with that information though?
“God can steer a moving object.”
“Prayerfully wait on the Lord’s timing.”
“Put feet to your prayers.”
These are all things I’ve heard people say about what we are supposed to do with the knowledge that God has a plan for us. They are contradictory and platitudinal at best. What do they even mean and is there any truth to them?
I pray a lot. In quiet moments at work sometimes I breathe the words, “God, get me out of here….. Please?” I pray at night when I’m going to sleep. I pray throughout the day. My prayers have changed in later life. They used to just be angry rants about what I thought I deserved from life. Now I’ve learned that none of us deserve anything from life really. But I still sometimes pray those prayers.
What they really mean is that I’m not happy with where I am, or with what I’ve achieved, or with what I believe my hope for change is. I want someone to blame for it all. God’s an easy target. So I vent. I let all my anger out and direct it at my loving creator.
I think about what I must look like to Him sometimes when I see my 4-year-old melting down in tears because he can’t put his pants on straight. I think I must look like that to God, crying over my lot in life. He sees the bigger picture. I see the bigger picture too and help get the pants straightened out. I often can’t resist making some comments about how all that crying didn’t really help things much. God doesn’t add those insults to my injury. He just helps out and keeps the earth revolving around the sun so that I don’t die in flames or ice.
When I’m at my best, I’m able to talk to God as if He were a friend. Just shooting the breeze about my day and my hopes and dreams. I still ask for help and I still wonder if He’s listening. I still wait on answers that I’m not sure are coming. I have a very timid faith and I often pray that He’ll help me fix that too.
I don’t know what His plan is for me. I don’t know if His plan even requires my involvement. God is sovereign. He can get it done whether I participate or not. Sometimes I ask Him to let me in on the plan so that I can watch it unfolding.
The hardest thing to wrap my head around is that this is the plan. This minute. This hour. This life. The exact one I’m living is the plan. It’s hard to accept that because it’s hard to accept that this is it. This is it? What even is it? I still don’t know and I’m right in the middle of it.
God lives outside of time as we know it. That helps. It means that I might as well be speaking toddler to him. It means that his plan is something that is vastly outside of my life, my lifetime, and my understanding. I don’t need to know what it is. I just need to be. It means I can rest and be still. It means I can take my angry prayers and let them subside like ripples from a small stone in the great ocean. I can move on from my melt-down and talk like a friend again. It’s probably all the same to Him.
Sometimes I get really busy and try my best to do the work I think I need to do in pursuit of my goals. Sometimes I’m frozen in semi-panic-stricken worry that I’ll do the wrong thing and screw it all up. I think about my 4-year-old again and realize it doesn’t matter. The pants will get put on and the day will continue. The day is not dependent on the pants. God is not dependent on me. My moods can swing. My faith can waiver. God abides.
All the well-meaning people with all their well-meaning advice are wrong. They’re also right. All of them. All the time. Simultaneously.
So I can be calm and talk to God like a friend and a father. I can talk to Him like He’s my loving creator. And I can thank Him. That’s something I’ve learned to do too. I don’t always know what to be thankful for. I don’t know what He’s doing. I don’t know what He’s not doing. It’s all Him. The sun shines and the rain falls on all of us.
But it helps me to be thankful. It helps me to thank Him for my 4-year-old who teaches me something more about being a grown-up every day. It helps me to thank Him for my wife, and for her soft skin that I can melt into at the end of the day. It helps me to thank Him that I have a job. Even if it’s one I’d rather move on from.
I don’t know if I speak the language of God. I don’t know if I could understand His plan, even if He wrote it down for me. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. But I keep talking to Him because I believe He’s there. I believe that something is happening in those quiet moments that isn’t happening when I’m in the midst of furious action or frozen contemplation.
When I’m simply breathing out words from my soul. Words that surprise me in spite of having arisen from me. Words that capture everything I’m feeling. Grunts that surpass my words and language in what they convey. Something is happening in those moments to me. I’m not sure God needs me to pray. He already knows me. He already knows what I’m going to say. He already is there and was there and will be there forever and never. He gets it. So He doesn’t need my input. But I do.
So I keep talking.