Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Life unexpected

I was reading this blog post yesterday  by  Beth Webb Hart at Southern Belle View(it's lengthy) and pondered some of the unexpected events we've had in our personal lives.  
This summer, it seems like it's been one thing after another and still we're scrambling for footing in the seeming chaos.  It's strange.  Sometimes it takes months, years or even a decade before we really realize why events happened, and then sometimes, in a short summer, it all cascades like a roaring waterfall. Wave after wave leaves one gulping for relief, but seeing His reasons quickly. It's not always the road that we might have chosen, but then I think of what we would have missed out on. Our waterfalls of chaos probably really are not that bad, really. There are so many worse things going on around us, to others, so I really shouldn't complain.  I keep telling myself, it's not about me, stop focusing on myself (I'm not really good at this).   It's those times where you ask God to just "write it down in black and white" because you're I'm not good at discernment or guessing (or patience).  Once we prayed for seven months (not a horribly long time) for a particular answer, asking God to show us in black and white, and He did sixteen months later with the birth of our third child. We still shake our head in wonder when we think how many years BEFORE we even started praying about this, that He was setting things in motion. 

At the time of each event, we couldn't see how it was going to possibly work to the good, but years down the road, we were able to see how God was working through the circumstances and events to His good.  I honestly have handled some poorly and others better, but it's the one where we felt our hearts shatter, that was the hardest (at the time) for me. It took me quite a while to work through it.  A lot of questioning, shutting myself off from others - not the best moments of motherhood or wife-hood (I know, it's not really a word). If I could go back and redo a moment in time, it would be those painful years.
God does seem to move –sometimes - in ways we don’t expect or plan.  In ways that run contrary to our fervent prayers.  In ways that run contrary to the lives of those around us.  It’s how we react to the unexpected, and to the painful moments that determines whether or not we will accept our name on His dance card or turn our backs to his outstretched hands and sulk.
He’s awfully creative and resourceful and has been known to send  a fish to swallow someone whole in order for His will to be done, in order for his people to join Him in the good work of redeeming a lost world, in order for every living soul to have the chance to move toward His outstretched arms.
If we refuse to go along because it doesn’t match our vision, where does that leave us? 

Priest Henri Nouwen who lived the last years of his life in a Christian community of mentally and physically disabled people known as Daybreak in Toronto, Canada, writes this about life’s unexpected turns, especially the ones that cause us pain:

“Mourning makes us poor; it powerfully reminds us of our smallness.  But it is precisely here, in that pain or poverty or awkwardness, that the Dancer invites us to rise up and take the first steps.  For in our suffering, not apart from it, Jesus enters our sadness, takes us by the hand, pulls us gently up to stand, an invites us to dance.  We find the way to pray, as the psalmist did, ‘You have turned my mourning into dancing’ (Psalm 30:11), because at the center of our grief we find the grace of God.

As we dance, we realize that we don’t have to stay on the little spot of our grief, but can step beyond it.  We stop centering our lives on ourselves.  We pull others along with us and invite them into the larger dance.  We learn to make room for others – and the Gracious Other in our midst.  And when we become present to God and God’s people, we find our lives richer.  We come to know that all the world is our dance floor.  Our steps grow lighter because God has called out others to dance as well.”
Shakespeare said all the world’s a stage, but maybe it’s a dance floor, after all.  So let’s put on our dancing shoes, take our partner’s Almighty Hand and get twirling!

Do I have it all together now?  Hardly!  I've had many character building moments and have many more to come.  Have you had those moments that have just knocked you off your feet, wondering how in the world it would turn out for the good?  How did you handle it?  How did it turn out to be a blessing or are you still waiting for reason for the event?

** While I've not read anything by Henri Nouwen, I've added this book to my reading list.  

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