I believe that if I’m doing God’s will than I should feel no pain.
A life long study of the Bible has taught me this is a myth and yet, I still choose to believe it with all of my heart until I can no longer bear the weight of believing the lie. Isn’t it strange that my heart chooses this lie over the truth time and time again, constantly seeking comfort and security and a longing to get “it” right. The second half of the myth sounds like, “When I get “it” right, when I truly hear from God, when I’m doing what He wants me to do then I’ll arrive at some sort of finish line.”
The finish line I am looking for resembles a overstuffed comfy chair with the softest afghan draped over the back and steaming hot cup of coffee with cream and sugar. In my mind it’s a place where I can rest and am rewarded for figuring out the mystery of “God’s will.” There will still be work to do but it will all align with my strengths, my desires, my wisdom. And God will say something like, “Well, you finally got “it” right. I’ve been wondering how long it would take you.” And then we’d happily be hand in hand doing the good work of the Lord in the way he always intended it to be done. Me, God, good work, no pain.
This is a story I’ve created to help me navigate the world’s disappointments and my misunderstanding of God’s love and plan for me and everyone else around me. Jesus himself promised that, “in this world we will have trouble,” but who wants to really believe that? I’d rather choose a different ending, thank you very much.
I’m part of a book launch team right now for a book called, Waves of Mercy by Lynn Austin, which is the story of Dutch immigrants and their journey to search for religious freedoms in the United States. The pilgrimage for the main character, Geesje, is filled with heart break month after month as they travel far away from home to an undeveloped forest near Lake Michigan that is one day called Holland. She left the comfort and warmth and security of a home she knew and loved and followed her parent’s on this life altering journey only to find that life as she had once known it was gone, with no hope of return. At one point she asks:
“Why are we suffering in this place when all we wanted to do was obey God and follow where He led us?”
It’s an honest question. One I have asked myself more than once in my life. I have never known suffering like Geesje but still…”why?” Have you ever sat with tears pouring out of your eyes and begged the Father to reveal something to you that you just couldn’t understand?
As a Bible scholar, sometimes I pick and choose what verses I want to focus on, which ones I will read and which ones I will choose to ignore. It’s not a practice I would recommend you follow, there are huge flaws in my plan. Nevertheless, there are days that I want to be the one Isaiah was writing about when he wrote:
“But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31
I picture myself soaring like the boy in the movie, The Neverending Story, with the wind in my hair and the warmth of the sun on my face. It’s glorious! Isaiah painted a picture of a glorious and safe ride if we place our hope in God. I don’t want struggle or question or hurt while I look for God’s plan.
My girlfriend told me a story a few days ago about how the eagle mom’s take care of their young. You see, there are steps involved if one is to soar on eagle’s wings. There is a process.
She told me that when a momma eagle has built a secure nest it is large and soft and filled with down feathers. It is a safe place, the safest actually for the baby eaglets. She brings them food, she shelters them from the cold and rain and wind. The mother bird does everything she can to insure that the baby birds will grow and mature and become independent.
But there comes a time when she decides they need to leave. No alarm clock goes off, there is no outside warning for the baby birds but one day the mother bird starts to take the nest apart, twig by twig. She pulls and tugs on the structure, she starts to take all the soft down feathers that once made the place a comfortable and warm home and throws them over the edge of the nest so they can fall to the ground. She makes the nest more and more uncomfortable and unstable until the baby birds can no longer rest or sit or lay down in the nest. They have no choice but to teeter, gripping the outside edge of the nest with their talons shaking from the wind and afraid of how high they are hovering over the ground. And just when it seems like it can’t get any worse, mom takes off and leaves the nest.
In a few seconds, or maybe it’s a minute or two…she swoops down by the side of the nest all the while calling to them and instructing them to jump. She may need to do this multiple times but eventually, the baby birds have to choose to jump, putting their trust in their mother, hoping that she will catch them. And she does. Then they “mount up on eagle’s wings.”
And it occurs to me that this is just the beginning for them.
That finish line that I’m longing for, the one where I finally arrive and can rest. I think that is the longing God put in my heart to remind me that this world is not my home. That this place where I stand right now, this life that I know so well is just the beginning. I believe in eternity but it’s very hard to think “in” eternity.
There are days, sometimes weeks or whole seasons when I’m gripping the side of my situation, wondering why and how I got there. Looking around and feeling as if God has left the building and I am all alone.
I pray, “Thy will be done.”
And I hope. I hope because I’m promised that those whose hope is in the Lord will mount up on eagle’s wings, they will run and not be weary, they will walk and not faint.”
A wise man I know often tells me to look for the right questions, I don’t think “Why?” is the right question.
I think there must be a better question.
I’m choosing HOPE today my friends, how about you?