I just want to start this post with the claim (and perhaps it’s unreliable because it is about myself) that I am not crazy. I do not have a set of superstitions and do not believe in “signs” that are to give me definite guidance or epiphany’s in my life, and yet, lately it seems like I’m finding connections in everything I read and write and listen to….EVERYTHING.
This last weekend I attended a silent retreat with the fellows of Newbigin – yes, silent. It was something I’ve been looking forward to for months. An entire weekend sans children, in a room by myself, in a beautiful place, completely quiet – How much I planned to get done! I planned to finish knitting the socks I have going for my mom, I planned to finish reading the three books I’m reading, and well, I planned to do the things I needed to do to feel caught up on life….In all of this, I also brought along the prayer group which my cohort chose at the beginning of this jouney – “Seeking God’s Face” – and planned to actually read each day’s prayers – this is something I do plan on doing most days, but do not always actually put first in my day. This weekend I had a plan…
What really happened?
Well, I did really read my book of prayers, and that is where the “signs” started feeling like “signs” because the first prayer I read was about quieting my heart to actually sit in God’s presence – I thought that was astoundingly appropriate and coincidental as the first thing I read on this silent retreat…
The next morning’s reading was Psalm 23 – this is a Psalm I first memorized when I was about 7 years old – something I thought I was familiar with – a good “pick me up” sort of psalm to remind me that god is always taking care of us – that we need not be afraid and that he’ll keep us safe. This Psalm ended up the focus of my time spent in silence. I walked the labyrinth praying the words of Psalm 23 and it hit me – God will provide for me – but only if I trust him to do so. “He makes me lie down in green pastures – he leads me beside still waters…..” Those don’t sound like words that really took planning on my part –I didn’t plan to be led. I didn’t plan to lie down in green pastures….hmph. And then the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this Psalm is not just about a God that provides, but about a God who is in control, but for him to be in control of my life – I have to Trust him to be in control. I have to give up the plans that I have – and not only the ones that I had planned for that weekend, but the plans I keep making in my own life.
I am a planner – it’s what I do. Leave me at home by myself for a day and there will be at least one (possibly 5) list that will plan out the day, week, month, year – not only for myself but for my family as well. Enrolled in school? I will plan out every semester until I reach the end – I will plan out meals, plan big yard projects….leave me the internet and this laptop? Well, last year I started an Etsy page and alongside that, an Etsy Team! I will plan vacations, kids projects, days at the park…..maybe you get the idea? My plans don’t just involve me, they involve my family and my friends – I think about people I could connect to help them help each other. In all of these plans though, I have control of the networks, of the classes, of the days – it’s my plan(s) – and when they don’t work? I’m frustrated and sad and embarrassed AND this happens all the time – even if the things that actually happen are better than my plans – even if they are more beneficial for everyone – even me. Reading that psalm and then thinking and praying on it as I walked made me realize how much I need to give up the plans that I have – or at least hold them more loosely. And how much that believing that God will provide for me is not enough – I have to trust him to do it well, and do it His way.
The plans that I had, were not met this weekend – except for my ability to read the prayer book each day – which I did – and was constantly reminded that God is in control of that too.
Anyway, this whole post is to say – that signs, prayer book inspired or not, point to the fact that I should stop planning, and listen – Ok God. I’m listening.