Monday, April 25, 2016

It's Not Going To Come To That

It's not going to come to that.

That's what I told myself. I would turn out to be incorrect.

I have been wrong plenty of times in my life, but in this particular instance, I was travelling south on I-65 with my family. We left northern Indiana for the middle of Tennessee, telling ourselves we would stop when we were a) close to Murfreesboro and b) tired of driving for the day.

Having run into several traffic jams and being reasonably close to fulfilling both a and b of our requirements, my wife started to search for hotels on her phone. Her search turned into despair quickly as we realized that apparently everyone in the Midwest decided to travel south in I-65 on the same day. A few phone calls revealed there were no vacancies within 50 miles of where we were.

At this point, we had reached Murfreesboro. I went into the last few hotels around, only to be told, "Sorry, we have no more room in the inn." It was like being told, "Welcome to your new life as a travelling hobo." The deep and anxious thought, the one I told myself would not come to reality, was about to become our reality.

My family slept in our van. We found a truck stop designed for this kind of thing, found a parking spot and, chuckling to ourselves, renamed our van the Red Van Inn.

Given the fact that sleeping in the driver's seat does not offer great comfort, I had plenty of time to think about what had caused this turn of events. Sure, it was our choice not to book ahead on a planned stop. I can own that. But hours before, I had prayed for God to take care of us. Did I now think God hadn't answered my prayer?

Interestingly enough, I have been finishing a book called Astonished: Recapturing the Wonder, Awe and Mystery of Life With God by Mike Erre. When discussing Jesus' words encouraging us to be like the birds of the air and the grass of the field when it comes to worrying about God taking care of us, he wrote;

Many have succumbed to the lie that if we follow Jesus, everything will be okay; and we define okay as comfort, security, and safety. Obviously that is not the biblical testimony. What do we do when we follow Him and it doesn't work out the way we planned? Where else are we going to go?

Clearly this applies to matters of greater concern than where I sleep for one night. Mike then reminds us those birds Jesus talked about would often be used in sacrifice. And the grass? It's "here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire" (Matthew 6:30).

I don't think the point is about the security of birds and flowers. The point is the carefree-ness of the birds and flowers. They don't worry about being taken care of. They live fully because they don't fret about their dying.

Half sleeping in my van that night, the truth was that I still had plenty for which to be thankful to God. He may not have answered my prayer in the way I would have preferred, but God did not stop caring for my family that night. Aside from remembering to book hotels ahead of time, I am left wondering what else God may have wanted to teach me from this experience. I know that I want to stay fervently alert and pay attention to all God has for me.

One last quote from Mike Erre's book, though not his, leaves this desire firmly planted in my heart.

Those who believe that they believe in God, but without passion in their hearts, without anguish in mind, without uncertainty, without doubt, without an element of despair even in their consolation, believe in the God idea, not God himself. ~Miguel de Unamuno


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