Somehow all of that faded away a a couple of decades ago. I discovered that my plans were mostly, well, my plans. I thought they were God’s because it was stuff on my heart after I had prayed for wisdom, but I came to discover that they were mostly formulated so I wouldn’t have to worry about what I’d say. But more and more I noticed that God was nudging the conversation elsewhere and sticking to my notes became more difficult and less effective.
I discovered that my “preparation” was about my need to have all my ducks in a row and it kept me from helping people by joining them in their world, sharing where needs and interest lie, rather than where I was comfortable or thought I’d be most entertaining. It was a gradual process of learning to encounter people in “their time” rather than my own. I also learned that God was more concerned with how I was living alongside him and loving who is in front of me today than he was giving me a topic to speak on a week from now. He is the God of the present after all. And while I was praying for future events, I was missing opportunities right in front of me.
So I’m learning to walk with God each day in whatever circumstances I’m in. I don’t show up with my plans anymore, but simply with a prepared heart ready to see what people are hungry for and how I might help. Oh, I might have an inkling of things God will sprinkle into the conversation, but I use them only if they unfold in the moment. It has been so much more helpful to people who are really on a journey of living in the Father’s love to let them shape the conversation and offer myself as a resource for their journey, rather than try to dazzle them with mine.
And it has helped live more full in the present, whether I’m home, on a plane, or in a far off land. That’s why I have come to love this quote by Aldous Huxley because it captures the possibilities that every day affords us:
Every moment of our human life is a moment of crisis; for at every moment we are called upon to make an all-important decision – to choose between the way that leads to death and spiritual darkness, and the way that leads towards light and life; between interests exclusively temporal, and the eternal order; between our personal will, and the will of God.
A Quest for Values
I realize this can be read from the darkness of performance, where a demanding God is looking over our shoulder every moment judging everything you do or say. That is how I used to see him and I didn’t enjoy quotes like this because they just made me paranoid. No matter how many good decisions I made, I know I wouldn’t get them all right and I was far more aware every day of where I fell short, than where I had leaned into love and life.
That’s the problem with performance-living. Every day demanded perfection, which of course wasn’t possible so every day ended in frustration and confession and pledges to try harder. But you now what? No child would learn to play piano, baseball, or ride a bike if they had to be perfect at it on the first day. God intended life to be an adventure, not were we get it all right today, but where we simply make progress in learning to walk alongside him and see the world through his eyes. Then we’ll know how to live and that will spill over in helping others.
I love how he is setting me free on the inside to be more aware of what’s unfolding around me and have a sense about how I might be loving, kind, or helpful to others. It’s not a demand of his; it’s an adventure of mine to learn a bit more each day what an amazing world he created and how I can be in it to bring hope and healing rather than more destruction.
Nope, I’m not perfect, but I am making progress and I honestly think that’s all he desires for me.