Earlier this week I was asked to explain one of the most difficult Scriptural passages from Paul’s writings and they wanted me to tell them what Paul was thinking. To be honest, I don’t know. And to be even more honest, I don’t really care at this point in my journey.
I picked this up from a dear friend in New Zealand, “When Scripture says something important, it is very clear. When things are not clear, they are not important,” at least for me, on this day. The Age of Enlightenment has left humanity with the angst that everything has a logical explanation we can logically figure out, so much so that any explanations will do, even those that are just made up. Nowhere is that more true than with Scripture… and life!
We get frustrated at the inexplicable, fear the uncertain, and feel lost when our plans go off-track. We want to figure everything out in air-tight explanations that give us the illusion that we can control our own lives. If that’s your passion, you’re not going to find it easy to follow Jesus. I understand why you want those things. Me too! But our Father’s plans and purposes supersede our logic and understanding at times. He wants us to walk in the security of the light we have, not the frustration of light we don’t have yet.
I got this email a couple of years ago, but I’ve been waiting for the right time to share it. This may be it:
I am experiencing disorientation! When others ask me to explain myself, I don’t have the language to make sense of where I find myself on the journey. My heart gets it, at least part of it, but I just don’t have the words. My head seems to be whirling with condemnation especially as it applies to taking responsibility to fill up the discomfort I have with not doing something. I don’t know how to express it really, other than to say, “doing something” doesn’t seem to be the answer to trusting God’s ability to move me.
My nagging thoughts are to take responsibility and just do something… anything as long as it fills up the paralyzing space. I feel like I’m in a dense fog. I am not afraid, I just don’t see anything. So I am going to wait for the fog to lift and trust that it will. There are voices calling out to me, but it just doesn’t sound like Jesus, so I am going to wait and trust. I have made so many mistakes! I hear the pastor’s voice, “Are you sure about this?” I have decided to wait and trust anyway.
Somehow, I believe wonderful things can happen while you are surrounded by fog. Today I seem to be sitting on a great big boulder blind as a bat.
I love this email, because he expresses what so much of us experience in the early days of this journey. Our hearts are drawing us into his reality, and our head, and often our friends, are trying to pull us back into human logic and reasoning. More damage has been done to Jesus’ kingdom by those who feel the need to “just do something” to fill up the guilt of feeling like we’re not doing enough. Waiting and trusting seem so futile, but there is no place where we’re strengthened to resist the urge to do on our own or to figure out on our own what makes us most comfortable instead of what makes us most alive.
Wonderful things do happen in the fog. Most of our lives are lived in the fog, with enough light and grace for this day, not for all the uncertainties and inexplicable concerns that lie ahead. The longer I walk this journey, the more comfortable I get not knowing what’s ahead. Everything doesn’t need an explanation. I don’t need a five-year plan to follow. It is enough that he is with me in the fog and knows those things I do not. He will share them with me when I truly need them, not necessarily when I want them.
Yes, there are confident days on this journey and there are disorienting ones. Fortunately, the disorienting ones will grow less over time, not because you can see farther but because you know you’re with him. You don’t owe other people an explanation that will make sense in their context. You can simply say, “I feel like God is doing something a bit different in me and I’m going to follow him a bit and see where it leads. I hope you can love me through this time, because my love for you hasn’t changed at all.” It is time to learn to trust God’s voice more than you trust your pastor’s or that of any other human being. It’s about being his and not belonging to other people for whatever they desire.
The real joy and freedom of this journey is to grow comfortable in the fog knowing you are not alone. All our long-term strategic plans were ours anyway and they only provided a false sense of security. How often did they pan out the way we thought? Learning to follow him comes back to a day to day reality (“Give us this day, our daily bread”). What is he asking of me today? Do I have enough today? What is he showing me about himself today? We seem to always seek principles or a strategic plan to govern us instead of letting his heart and wisdom fold into ours.
Maybe it isn’t about the fog lifting, but you becoming comfortable in the fog because he is with you and there is a much better way to explore his life than having all the answers you want. God is in the fog, in those moments when we most feel alone. And it is in the quiet of our inactivity that he draws us into his work. That has been my experience and it has opened me up into a larger world where there is no condemnation and now ever-lessening fears because I am learning to follow him not my own wisdom and conclusions.
Life is a journey. Embrace him today in whatever life brings, knowing that he has enough grace and wisdom to lead you to life one day at a time. Soon you’ll find yourself in a wider space where the voices of accusation and those that demand an explanation fade away in the distance.