Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Step Forward.

It's been a while, but I'm back - off-tempo, as it were, but here is my offering.

This is a time of scary transition for me. I'll be leaving student housing in May, and as of right now I have nowhere to move into when that happens. I'm also seeking my first ordained call, so this fall I have no idea, literally no idea, where I'll be living or where I'll be working. I find that I can only really function if I don't think about those two facts much.

Its always struck me as ironic that I feel called to become a pastor because I have trouble with simple faith. I'm a thinker, a proble-solver, a worrier, a meddler; timid in my bones, very aware of the tenuousness of my life and my situation. I've described myself as an eternally-disappointed idealist.

Simple trust comes hard for me. I really respect it when I see it in others. It's a real challenge for someone like me who has this (wrong-headed) feeling that if I can think clearly enough and long enough, if I can worry enough, if I can plan enough and sufficiently second-guess myself, if I can prepare as thoroughly as possible, then I'll be in control. Then things will turn out the way I want them to. Then my expectations will be fulfilled.

And I keep having to learn, over and over, that I am quite wrong.

My life has never turned out the way I planned - and I'm glad, because it has been, for the most part, better and more surprising. I graduated from a high school in a city I'd only lived in for a year. I went to college because I won an essay contest that I entered on the last day before the deadline. I majored in a field (religious studies) that is entirely without economic merit (sorry other religious studies majors - do it for the love of it). I became a barista, of all things, for five years - when I started, I wasn't even a coffee-drinker. I got married to an absurdly wonderful woman who, despite all odds, continues to tolerate me. We survived our last year in OH because my mom found savings bonds given to me when I was in elementary school, yellowed with age, and because our friends sent, of all things, a care package filled with food. I went to the last seminary I thought I'd attend. I served in an internship church where a majority of the parishioners spoke Mandarin or Cantonese or another Chinese dialect. And right now I'm a hospital chaplain serving one of the most diverse patient populations in the entire country.

And that's just the short version. My life has not turned out like I planned, but it has turned out. Here I am. I have survived some pretty tough times, and I am almost never where I thought I'd be.

I can't justify believing it is because of some kind of personal merit I posess. I'm stuck looking back on the failure of my planning to see me through. So something else, someone else, has done so.

I am my testimony. (What a scary thought, but there you have it!). At my best moments, I can look forward, like Indiana Jones in the Last Crusade film, when he steps out into what looks like the open air of a chasm, and his foot lands on solid ground. I feel foolish worrying so much, staying up late writing blog posts...

It seems that time is pushing me from behind, so like it or not, ready or not, I'm going to find out whether it really is a chasm before me, or whether it is solid ground. Looking back, I'll see that of course, it had to work out this way; of course this was the plan from the start. And I'll keep trying to find a way to see that same way when I look forward.

When, instead of the rush of air and a long fall, my foot slams down on stone, the shiver running up my leg and jarring my bones - holler hallelujah.


1 comment:

Viola Larson said...

Doug, you have certainly pictured our human condition. I find myself trying to be in control that way all the time and then I have to just sigh and give it back to Jesus.

As I was reading and thinking about your image of landing on something solid I couldn't help thinking of a verse in Deuteronomy, well at least part of the verse. "The eternal God is a dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms. (33:27)