Stones. They are everywhere. Stumbling stones, stepping stones, stones for throwing, stones for piling. In the bible, stones are used for remembering. This is a place for me to pile my own rough stones of remembering along the road I am traveling, one post at a time. They are more than mere words thrown out into the wake of my path. They are a concrete testament of God's faithfulness, provision and goodness along the way.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Curves in the Road

This fall the first of multiple road signs came into sight, catching our attention and beginning to alert us to check our speed and be attentive because a curve in the road was up ahead. Little did we imagine it would be a hairpin curve that seems to be leading us directly away from the destination where we feel led and and called to minister. This is hard for our minds and hearts to grasp because it seems contrary to our human logic and reasoning. And yet I am coming to understand the limitations of this line of reasoning, because life isn't linear and curves are inevitable. They are not definitive and they are not final. They are not the end of the road, they are just a part of the road.

I don't know why this is such a difficult concept to grasp, when experience has shown it time and time again to be true, but roads are seldom linear. My mind is drawn to linear things. Or at least to what *I* think of as linear; ie: concretely linear.... "arranged in or extending in a straight line." But as a reader and a writer I know that linear narrative looks very different from the definition of linear as stated above. A linear narrative involves progressing from one stage to another in a series of steps or stages, it is sequential, forming a logical order to a logical outcome, but not always predictable.

So in my limited human reasoning, if I started at point A and believed my final destination to be point Z, I would expect and desire points B-Y to be predictably planted in a nice straight line as the crow flies all serving to speed me on my way to point Z. But God's concept of linear is something else entirely, a road designed not to get us from point A to Z tout suite, as much as through curves B to Y, each one of them a mile marker in their own right on our journey toward sanctification and spiritual maturity. And sanctification doesn't happen in the express lane.

“God called the Israelites out of slavery and into the Promised Land, but then He made
them wait for 40 years. God asked Samuel to anoint David as king, but then David had
to wait in great peril during Saul’s reign before becoming king. Paul was converted and
charged with a mission to reach the gentiles, but he took years before starting his
ministry. Even Jesus didn’t begin acting in His “official calling” until the wedding at
Cana. You might know exactly how God wants to give heavenly purpose to your life, and
you might even be tasting it right now in what seems like the perfect opportunity, but if
your spouse is not on board and your marriage is not elevated, then God might just be
kindly giving you a glimpse of what is to come and asking you to wait. To wait until you
are ready, until your spouse is ready (or your kids), to wait until the world is ready…”
Lindsay Hall

When we started this journey into overseas ministry I was reading The Hobbit to our sons. I found so many heart wrenching parallels to our life within its pages. I never imagined that having once braved the 'There' aspect of the journey: embarked into the unknown, reached the destination, faced the dragon, we might continue to find parallels within its pages about the 'and Back Again' part. How anti-climactic. That part definitely seems less adventuresome and romantic.

And yet here we are. Having reached what we believed to be our destination only to find out this is only curve ___ in the journey, and that sometimes, unexpectedly we find ourselves at a curve in the road that appears to be leading us in the WRONG direction. Because we are programmed to think that FORWARD equates with "in the same direction". So we stand there scratching our heads and questioning everything. That can't possibly be right. Somehow the signs must have been tampered with. THAT is the direction we came from and this THIS on the other hand, is the direction we embarked on and must take if we hope to reach point Z.

But we mustn't minimize curves C-Y. We mustn't try to skip corners or think that stubbornly deciding to break our own trail in the direction we think we need to be going is going to be more efficient or logical. If there is a bend in the road, there is a reason. Roads are designed to lead us around, over, under, through unpredictable terrain, and sometimes they seem to be completely counter-intuitive to where we think we should be going. But if every point holds something we need at our destination, some experience, some tool, some purpose, then we must take each curve and await with anticipation and expectation the view and experiences that await us around the bend. This is another way that joy in the journey can continue to be found, learning to lean into the curves.