You rarely notice a significant moment until it has passed. It’s only in the pondering that you realize its importance.
I was helping with Vacation Bible School. My task was to help herd a group of elementary schoolers (who are now adults) from chapel time to Bible story time to game time to snack time. Along the way I noticed another woman had joined us, but I was too distracted to think much about it. She was a member of the church, and I assumed she had shown up to lend a hand.
Then the VBS director came to the door. “Jane*, what are you doing here? We need you downstairs.”
Jane smiled. “I felt led to stay up here.”
I’ll admit, I was impressed by that statement. I assumed she must be really in tune with the Holy Spirit to readily interpret such a calling. The director, however, was having none of it.
“No, you’re committed to help downstairs. That’s where you’re supposed to be.”
I honestly can’t remember what happened next. My attention was probably drawn away by a rowdy child or spilled cup of Kool Aid. The conversation, however, stayed with me for a long time.
I’ve tried many times to write about this subject, particularly this incident. I alluded to it on my on blog in posts concerning an especially trying season after we moved to our current town.
You see, for far too long I imagined that God had plan for me that I might miss if I wasn’t careful. I worried that the sense of dread that I felt before a trip was God warning me that disaster would strike if we left home. I assumed that the sudden thought to go check on the baby was a signal from the Holy Spirit that he might be choking or suffocating. If I awoke in the night I imagined that it was a sign that I was to listen for an intruder.
It’s an exhausting way to live one’s life. What started as an earnest desire to follow God and please him had morphed into a terrifying superstitious existence. (Since the worst of it occurred during the pregnancy/postpartum/toddler years, which in my life was 1996 through 2003, I assume it was partially fueled by hormones and aggravated by lack of sleep.) Hormones or not, though, it revealed my fearful heart and my mistaken belief that God required my help.
But it wasn't always negative things. Many times I felt a strong desire to do something big for God. Something risky and exciting, and yes, often more glamorous than the everyday things I was already doing. I don't recall ever feeling "led" to do the laundry or dust the furniture. Like the woman at VBS who felt called to abandon the mundane but necessary task of working in the kitchen, I wanted a holy stamp to apply to my own wishes and desires. Sometimes, though, it takes more courage to persevere where we are.
I’ve now learned to rest hard on God’s sovereignty. I no longer worry that God is laying out a proverbial trail of popcorn that I’m supposed to notice and follow. If I feel lack of peace about going to the grocery store, I realize that I’m probably dreading the long lines and large bill, and no longer fear that God’s trying to tell me the store’s roof is about to collapse and I better stay home. And while the desire to write is always with me, I can't abandon my primary calling as wife and mother.
When I write about this new peace, however, I can’t help but feel that I’m not communicating it adequately. It tends to come across as coldhearted and Mr. Spock-like: Just use logic! List the pros and cons!
But it’s not like that at all. I feel closer and more in tune with God than ever before. The difference is that I no longer worry that I have to see God’s plan ahead of time, I just trust that whatever happens he’ll see it though.
Trust God, submit to what’s revealed in his Word, and then rest in his sovereignty to work out everything for your good and his glory (Romans 8:28) by the counsel of his will (Ephesians 1:11)
*Not the real name