On Making Plans

If all had gone according to plan, I would be arriving in Rome today with my husband and our friends Katy and Todd, to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversaries. On Monday we would have boarded a cruise ship, which would have conveyed us across the waters to the single most important item on my bucket list: a guided tour of the Holy Land. All the while we were planning it, my heart raced to think of what it would be like to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, to visit the place where heaven truly touched earth.

This was my plan. As it turns out, God had a different plan. And so, this year Craig and I hosted Thanksgiving for a small group of family and friends, while Katy prepares to take the last round of chemo. They had tried to get us to go on the trip anyway … but I had made a pact with God. “Just make her well. The trip will wait until we can go together.”

Of course, it’s a bit foolish to bargain with God, who I am sure sees how it all turns out, and even knows whether we ever get to make that trip. All our plans, seen on that scale, really don’t matter. One of the most important lessons we need to learn in this life is that there is precious little that we can control ourselves. That’s why it’s so important to learn to trust.

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

31 Days of De-Stressed Living, Day 22: Rest

alone yet not alonePeople are calling the Oscar nomination for the title song of the limited- release film Alone Yet Not Alone not just a “dark horse,” but an “invisible horse.” Yet the passion and conviction of the title song’s message must have resonated with the Academy, despite the movie’s blatantly pro-Christian (and less than “PC”) message.

The deceptively simple title song, performed by the indomitable Joni Eareckson Tada, captured the spirit and courage of this woman (who lived the song long before she sang it).

The ability to let go, to trust in the goodness of divine providence, and to (wait for it) REST is not something that comes easy in times of crisis. And yet, it is precisely our ability to do that — to cultivate “the serenity to accept the things I cannot change” — that prevents us from becoming bitter, and enables us to learn and grow even from the darkest experiences of life. Even (in the case of Tada) being confined to a wheelchair for life — and learning to paint with a brush between the teeth.

Tada 2

Photo credit: “Heaven — Your Real Home” by Joni Eareckson Tada/Joni and Friends

“Why do babies die, Mom?”

My kids tend to zone in on the morbid. It’s wired into them, somehow … and it can pop into a conversation out of nowhere. I’m just saying.

Driving past an ambulance, the question comes from the back seat: “Why do babies die, Mom?”

That’s a good question. One that isn’t easy to explain even to another adult. But after a few days of thinking about it, I’m not sure I’ll ever come up with a better response than the one I gave off the cuff.

“Honey, each time God sends a child into the world, that baby takes three things with him (or her). She takes special gifts to share with others; and special challenges to make her strong and keep her humble. And she gets a job to do — a job that only SHE can do — for God. When that job is done, God takes her back to heaven to be with Him.

“For most people, that job takes a lifetime to do — most people are very old or very sick when their time comes. God gave me a job to be your mom, for example. But some get a job that doesn’t keep them here very long … The important thing is to share your gifts, work hard to live a life pleasing to God, and trust God with your story … to call you back to heaven when He’s ready for you to come.”

What would you have said?