Monday, April 28, 2014

A place of the unknown

I am in a place.

I don't know where that place is.

I don't know what the function of that place is.

I don't know how long I have to stay.

Every life is made of a long journey somewhere.  Along the journey we encounter obstacles, bumps, setbacks, joy, pain.  Each step along that journey is assumed a step forward.  Sometimes those steps seem to go nowhere, but the progress is still moving forward.  In the end there is a goal to be reached.

What happens when you seem to no longer be moving forward? 

It can leave you feeling lost.  Somewhere in the unknown.  From our mind's perspective, we no longer sense growth.  We seem stalled.  Sure, the life we live continues to swirl around us each day.  The activities buzz and we fall to our pillows at night exhausted from our toil.  But the overwhelming thoughts of being stuck plague us.

I am in such a place.  The race I run every day seems more like a maze I can't find the exit for.  I think I have made forward progress and yet really I have just turned a corner to a dead end.

This probably all sound obscure to you.  You probably have never been in a place like that.  OR, maybe you know all to0 well what I mean.

Many changes in my life the last 15 months have brought me to such a place.  I plead with the Lord for direction, and each time the answer is only the step in front of me.  The Lord has not forgotten me.  Certainly not.  Nor has He stopped providing and loving on me.  I am just in a place that I am unsure of and don't understand why the Lord has me here.

I was meeting with my precious friend and aunt this past Friday afternoon.  We have talked lots over the last year about where the Lord is taking us.  We are both in that "place."  The places we thought the Lord led us to are just dead ends.  Why did He lead us there then?  The activities that we fill our day with are still opportunities to serve the Lord, but not in capacities we are used to.  

What then, Lord?  Do we see this as forward progress or a stall in our journey?  Is this more of a lateral move?  

Maybe...just maybe...I am too focused on the directions I think I should be taking that I am missing the places the Lord IS leading me.  Maybe, for a time, the place I want to serve Him is not where He wants me to serve at all.  MAYBE the closed doors are not missed opportunities or dead ends.  MAYBE I am so busy pounding on the doors I want to get into that I miss the door that is wide open!  I argue with the Lord that this can't be the plan He has for me.  

There are messes in that room.  There are people I don't know how to reach or understand in that room.  It is completely outside of my element.  I don't feel equipped to be there.  Yet, it seems as if I have no choice.  It is different than places I have been before.  Those places were known and comfortable.  Even if I was struggling at times, it was a place I understood.  Now I have doubts.  Fear that I will make a mess or get hurt.  Where I am now isn't a comfortable place and I don't know what to do or expect.  

I was up long into the wee hours of this morning plagued by thoughts of doubt and fear.  All the what-ifs and what-nows kept my mind buzzing too much for sleep to come.  You would think that the first place I would go to is God's Word where the doubt and fear can be replaced by the promises of faithfulness and compassion.  

I wish I could say that was where I went.  I didn't.  I went searching.  Pleading with the Lord to calm my heart and mind so that rest could be sweet.  Instead the doubts grew stronger.  I was going over in my mind conversations I have had, situations I have found myself in and what can I do about them. 

 "What is the worst that will happen to me?  How will I get over the hurt I know is bound to come? How can I fix the situation? Did I cause this? I have messed up, I'm sure. Is this really what I am supposed to be doing or where I am supposed to be? Did I get something mixed up and confused?"

Doubt:

verb (used with object)
1.
to be uncertain about; consider questionable or unlikely; hesitate to believe.
2.
to distrust.
3.
Archaic. to fearbe apprehensive about.
verb (used without object)
4.
to be uncertain about something; be undecided in opinion or belief.
noun
5.
a feeling of uncertainty about the truth, reality, or nature of something.
6.
7.
a state of affairs such as to occasion uncertainty.
8.
Obsolete fear; dread.


Yes, I was doubting.  I am uncertain, questioning, hesitant, fearful, apprehensive, distrusting.  

That last one stung.  Distrust.  What exactly am I distrusting?

Well, the definition of TRUST is:

a :  assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something
b :  one in which confidence is placed
2
a :  dependence on something future or contingent :  hope
b :  reliance on future payment for property (as merchandise) delivered :  credit <bought furniture on trust>
3
a :  a property interest held by one person for the benefit of another
b :  a combination of firms or corporations formed by a legal agreement; especially :  one that reduces or threatens to reduce competition
4
archaic :  trustworthiness
5
(1) :  a charge or duty imposed in faith or confidence or as a condition of some relationship (2) :  something committed or entrusted to one to be used or cared for in the interest of another
b :  responsible charge or office


**Did you catch that?  TRUST is the assured reliance on the character, ability, strength or TRUTH of someone or something.  
My doubt stems from focus on myself and the lack of abilities I have to change my situation, the "place."  TRUST can't be focused on self.  It has to be focus on Someone or something else.  Dependent on something future will come.

It doesn't matter if I am in this place or not.  I have to TRUST (be assured) in GOD's character, ability, strength and TRUTH that I am exactly where He wants me.  The surrounding circumstances have NO bearing on whether my Father is working.  Can I trust his judgement to carry out the plans He has for me?  

I think about so many examples in Scripture where the person is struggling just as I do.  Abraham, Elijah, David, Peter, Timothy.  The list could get long. I am sure they are felt like they were in that "place."  The place of the unknown. Each one is an example.  God never ceased in growing them and moving them forward, did he?

Hebrews 11:1
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. (NLT)

Hebrews 11:8-10
It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith—for he was like a foreigner, living in tents. And so did Isaac and Jacob, who inherited the same promise. 10 Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God.

Abraham had lots to doubt. Many things to fear.  BUT...
Romans 4:20-21
20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. (NIV)

I want to be caught in the same manner.  To be unwavering in my faith.  Faith is being ASSURED (TRUST). 

God called me to this "place." I don't know where I am going and I live like a foreigner.  

I can TRUST God's character and ability to carry out the promised future He has for me.  

I don't know if I have reconciled all this, or if it even makes sense.  I do know this is a process.  This morning's epiphany is only the start of many I am sure.  

It is a journey.  Whether I am moving forward or not, God knows where I am.  Just that I can trust.  That trust should be enough to erase my doubt and fear.  At least until I have to be reminded again. And again.