“Wrong will be right when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more;
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane,
we shall have Spring again.”
~ CS Lewis ~
The Lion, The Witch, & The Wardrobe
Saturday, I watched my neighbours unearth their Spring garden, preparing to send life into the soil once again. Buds fell from the chestnut tree in their yard, a reminder that even spring-time beauty doesn’t last forever.
But the world’s waking up now, stretching its arms, & breathing in fresh air.
& we’re waking up too.
We’re making plans,
sending out invitations,
clearing cobwebs from our dusty souls,
& our hearts are hopeful for what’s to come.
But we learned something last year; hopefully we learned it deeply, like etched-in-our-minds deeply:
In the blink of an eye, overnight, faster than a flying bullet, before we’ve got time to even process it;
This isn’t to cast a raincloud on anyone’s parade ’cause I carry hope in my heart for coming Adventures just like many of you lovely humans do. But our hope isn’t in our plans playing out or our dreams coming true.
We can plan & purpose but we have zero control when it counts. It’s King Solomon’s Proverbs-wisdom coming into play: a man’s heart plans his way but Yahweh directs his steps (Prov. 16:9). We’re at the mercy of the King & I don’t mean that in a capricious sort of way ’cause the Most High is many things & capricious isn’t one of them.
It’s mercy we need & it’s mercy we’ll receive; though it sometimes doesn’t look quite how we imagined. We’re at His mercy; or, rather, we’re in His mercy. It surrounds us, hedging our every move, orchestrating universal events.
& the things we don’t plan for, the curveballs & detours, they aren’t that at all. There’s this CS Lewis quotation that’s been running through my head on and off for the past 2 years. In the past few weeks, it’s popped up rather frequently from friends. It goes like this:
“The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own,’ or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life — the life God is sending one day by day.”
Lovely humans, there are no accidents.
There aren’t even interruptions.
There’s only the Most High’s sovereignty & our plans.
hence our problem.
We say “God-willing” or “Lord-willing” but do we really mean it? Those words slip frequently from my lips but then when the Most High does, in fact, will something different than my plans, I forget what I’ve said & get moody.
I don’t realize that when I say “Lord-willing”, what I’m really saying is “my plans are xyz; oh & yeah, the Lord might will something else but I’m hoping He doesn’t & I’m actually confident He won’t”.
Instead, my heart should beat in tune with His which means saying “my plans are xyz; but only if that’s what my Saviour wants for me too”. Oh it’s crazy hard to say that & mean it! When it’s no longer hypothetical, when it touches you personally, that’s when you know if you’re just play-acting & merely paying lip-service to the King or if your allegiance is true.
When we swore allegiance to Christ, it wasn’t conditional. It wasn’t only if His sovereignty & our plans aligned every single time. We swore allegiance to Christ, not to our plans always working out.
Like Marilla told Anne in Anne of Green Gables, God doesn’t want you for a fair-weather friend. He’s not playing around & neither should we.
It’s not follow Him in the sun but turn your back in the dark. It’s not charge forward while it’s smooth but retreat when it’s rough. He saved us for something far greater than our personal ease. He’s making us more like His Son & that means bigger things than our small dreams & plans.
Some things you only can learn in the storm.
But in this, as in all, things, there’s mercy & grace. We don’t go it alone, lovely humans. Even when our plans change & our dreams shatter, Christ is there; using our disappointment to purge away more dross and shape our desires in a more Heaven-ward fashion.
We cry sometimes over the bigger things like the failed interview we’d hung our hopes on
or the extended years of singleness or infertility
or the house-bid that didn’t quite make it
& other times we have to fight frustration over “little” things like longer lines than we expected
or that red light that was supposed to be green
or the road-work that started a day early
or the spilled coffee when we’re already late.
& in all those “interruptions” to our glorious life-plans, the Most High is making us more like Christ (if we’re living with our eyes open to see the lesson & take them to heart).
He’s teaching us patience & self-control & perseverance (in the big & little things)
& what it means to laugh when you’re rather be sobbing or throwing a tantrum (in the “little” things like slow drivers & long red lights).
It’s hard work but it’s the sort of hard work we all have to go in for. It’s 2 Corinthians 4:8-10 in action:
We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.
It’s the beautiful paradox of Christian living: bearing up under things that would crush your soul. & it’s supernatural ’cause we sure don’t have it in us. It’s all of Christ & His Spirit within us.
& it’s beautiful.
So cheers to Springtime, lovely humans!
Cheers to the weddings & baby showers.
Cheers to the getaways & retreats.
Cheers to the outdoor adventures.
Cheers to being alive in the Spring.
But cheers also to the Most High’s plans for our lives; even if they’re not quite what we imagined.
It’s a brave thing to pray those words (& I don’t mean to pat myself on the back or anything 🙈) It just takes a kind of Courage we don’t have natively to trust our Saviour.
& that’s what makes living the Christian life the Greatest Adventure of them all 🖤
“O Christ, in whom the final fulfillment of all hope is held secure.
I bring to You now the weathered fragments of my former dreams, the broken pieces of my expectations, the rent patches of hopes worn thin, the shards of some shattered image of life as I once thought it would be.
What I so wanted has not come to pass.
I invested my hopes in desires that returned only sorrow and frustration. Those dreams, like glimmering faerie feasts, could not sustain me,
and in my I head I know that You are sovereign even over this–
over my tears, my confusion, and my disappointment.
But I still feel, in this moment, as if I have been abandoned, as if You do not care that these hopes have collapsed to rubble.
And yet I know this is not so.
You are the sovereign of my sorrow.
You apprehend a wider sweep with wiser eyes than mine…
My disappointments reveal so much about my own agenda for my life, and the ways I quietly demand that it should play out:
free of conflict, free of pain, free of want.
My dreams are so small.
Your bigger purpose has always been for my greatest good, that I would day-to-day be fashioned into a more fit vessel for the indwelling of Your Spirit, and moulded into a more compassionate emissary of Your coming Kingdom.
And You, in love, will use all means to shape my heart into those perfect forms.
So let this disappointment do its work…
Unmask all false hopes, that my one true hope might shine out unclouded and undimmed…
Teach me to hope, O Lord, always and only in You…
Not my dreams, O Lord,
not my dreams,
but Yours, be done.
~ “A Liturgy For the Death of a Dream” ~
Douglas McKelvey from Every Moment Holy by Douglas McKelvey