It’s been nearly a month since my last real column. I took that break for a few reasons, chiefly among them to recharge and refocus myself after the torrent of the weeks before. And wouldn’t you know it, that when you ask God to help you slow down, he obliges? If I had known that asking the Lord to help me slow my pace that he was going to permit me to tear my ACL, I probably wouldn’t have asked it that way. Again, be careful what you pray for. And though I say that slightly tongue-in-cheek, tearing my ACL has definitely slowed me down and forced me to not rely on myself for things that I’d normally be very self-sufficient in. It’s helped me to rest, to wait, and to learn.
As of right now I’m looking at an ACL reconstruction surgery at the end of this month. I’m both eager and apprehensive at the concept of surgery. I’m eager to get it over with but I’m also dreading having to endure it. And yet, in some strange way, I have a peace about it all, a peace I can’t really explain. I know that God has put this in my life for a specific reason, and though I may balk at his timing, he’s sovereign in that too. I don’t understand why he’d lead me out of a ministry. I don’t understand why he’d allow me to screw up my knee. But through it all, I’m being reminded that, despite all appearances to the contrary, these present circumstances are in God’s hands. It may seem chaotic and out of control, but God’s not — he’s as sovereign, as omnipotent as ever. Even during this confusing season.
The verse that’s been on repeat for me lately comes from Psalm 37, where David says, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.” (Ps. 37:7) That stillness and patience is what God’s instilling in me. This I am sure of. Why else would he hobble me? Why else would he slow me down if not to learn the beauty of stillness.
I’ve always done everything fast. Eat fast, drink fast, play fast, run fast, even sleep fast. The quicker I could get to sleep, the quicker I could wake up and not miss anything the next day (so I used to think) And the faster I ate, the faster I could get back to doing whatever it was that eating interrupted. I can’t say that I’m much different in this respect. My wife still jokes that she still hasn’t seen me eat. But this pace isn’t what we’re made for. I believe the rapid momentum of our present lives is yet another fallout of the Fall. Humanity, though, is addicted to speed and busyness and frenetic schedules that constantly keep our brains active, looking for and expecting the next thing. I, too, struggle with this. The ingrained notion that if you’re not advancing, you’re regressing haunts us all and assaults the contentment God wishes to impart to us. The premier problem Christians suffer is failing to wait on the Lord. I’m all for progress, I’m all for growing, but if you can’t find peace where you are, right now, what makes you think this or that will make that a reality? The grass isn’t always greener — the next best thing isn’t always best. As I’ve said before, sometimes God closes the door so we can learn to be content in the room we’re in.
That’s where I am right now — learning, along with the apostle, both “how to be abased and how to abound.” (Phil. 4:11-12 KJV) I believe God’s schooling me in waiting on him, in being patient on his timing, and resting in his “enoughness.” God always promises enough, even if that “enough” comes in a strange way. This season of life is definitely strange and vastly different from what I would’ve chosen. But I’m not God. God is. And though that might seem like the most rudimentary comment a Christian could make, realizing God is God all the time, in the tough times and the triumphant times, is what it means to be a Christian.
Victorious Christian living isn’t a matter of soaring spirituality and rigorous religiosity, it’s simply a matter of trusting and resting in the One who made you and saved you and sustains you, even now during this present storm. Indeed, the lessons in the tragedies better prepare us for the triumphs. What God has for me here and now is more relevant than any “spiritual conquest” I have or could ever overcome.
I’m learning to be content with where I am. My family, my church, my job — these are my ministries, these are my priorities. And though my old Adam still longs for recognition, God’s teaching me to revel in my insignificance and ordinariness, to rejoice in the quiet life of faith. Nothing else satisfies or sustains quite like the gospel’s whispers of grace, like the “still small voice” of God that promises, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” (Ex. 33:14) As the prophet Isaiah writes, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” (Isa. 30:15)
I’m excited for what God’s teaching me and showing me about himself and his Word. Thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers. And thanks for sticking with me on this journey as we discover new, unexplored reserves of grace.