This weekend was one that the world would consider full of contradictions, but if you flip it upside down and start spinning the viewfinder like a kaleidoscope, suddenly a beautiful, full-color piece of God’s art becomes evident. In just a matter of hours with many we loved we were celebrating an engagement, a birthday, new life, and the promise of eternal life. We were crying tears of joy, change, hope, sadness, reunion, and separation. We were able to hug so many that we don’t always get the opportunity to see. Some fighting through unexpected chapters of life, some embarking on the new beginnings of life. As we drove home yesterday, I began to make a mental list of all that was going on with those I had seen and hugged quickly over the past few days.
just separated from a loved one by death
about to be separated from loved ones by deployment
miracle of health in a child
newly diagnosed cancer
waiting on adoption process
anniversary of losing a loved one
unresolved health questions
difficult work situations
unknown immediate future
This list is not comprehensive in any way and those are only the situations I know! I feel quite sure that beneath the surface, those lives represented in my visits this weekend would cover hundreds more of the deep emotions and life-changing events of life. And again, it’s such a combination of the happy and sad, the beginning and end, new chapters and closing ones. Then God began to give me a picture in my head. You know how the board games work where your little piece is traveling toward some version of “home.” The dice, spinner, or cards may at times cause you to move closer or farther from your end result, but ultimately the road only leads to the end of the board. Maybe another player can knock your piece off momentarily or you can have to sit out for a while as you watch others move forward. Sometimes it looks like your opponent will most definitely reach the end before you and yet with one quick change, suddenly the tables are turned and you are the one with your piece or pieces safely gathered into the fold first. While this all might seem quite all-consuming to my game piece if she is one move closer or farther, in one fell swoop, I could slap my palm on the board and we’d have a whole new game (or a small child could sit there, not that THAT secenario ever happens around here). I could flip the board around, turn it upside down, fold it up and put it away, or another sad possibility often played out, I could cover the poor, afflicted game piece in slobber and chew it for a while before it is hurled across the room.
Whether a pregnancy or Heavenly arrival, an engagement or the dissolving of a union, the diagnosis of illness or the unexpected recovery of someone who has been sick, we are all traveling forward. If we look around at others they can seem to be in a more desirable “spot on the board” only for us to turn and find ourselves seeing them receive a “setback” that changes their entire course. We can one moment see no possible way to ever reach the goal only to moments later find ourselves “one away” from that coveted prize. And every one of us is somewhere traveling, every one of us is not home yet, every one of us has the pains of the battle and the fears of the unknown “chance.” Could it be that there really is no “ahead” or “behind,” no “advantage” or “disadvantage” in this journey of life? Just simply “Home” or “not Home yet?” Simply submitted to the loving guidance of the game’s Master or struggling against the only Hand able to orchestrate peace, redemption, victory, and change wherever we find ourselves?
For some I know the idea of being a “game piece” seems an undesirable analogy, an uncomfortable idea, and it’s obviously not a complete representation because of the choices we are given in the moves that we make. But we all struggle with the parts of life that are unexpected and seem uncontrollable. And our comfort with the idea of being submitting to a “Mover” completely changes depending on your view of the Hand passing out the next move. For years as the header of my blog I had this quote from Corrie Ten Boom. “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” She would certainly know all the challenges of a life that played out completely unlike any she would have ever desired or planned. But she also knew from a lifetime of submission in some of the most heartbreaking circumstances ever known to mankind that better than any spinner, card, or dice is an all-knowing Father who knows exactly how to orchestrate the journey to produce a whole and complete traveler who has gathered as many others as possible on his or her journey Home. Even through the twists and turns and knots and pits of sin. Even with the mess and muck of our fallen state. Even in spite of the choices of others who seem bent upon putting obstacles in our path. You see, if He is carefully watching me and carrying me through the steps, suddenly the fact that I am here or there in the process and where others are around me becomes far inferior in importance to what HE is doing next! When I feel the rumblings of change and a move is coming, that is when how well I know HIM becomes the only important knowledge. I could have prepared with all my energy for the next expected move through education, health choices, planning, saving, prevention, and all the other methods we can use, and still suddenly find myself plopped into a part of the board I was never “supposed” to visit. A place where now my preparations are moot and the only reality is whether I trust and know the Hand holding me. And really, do I want to be left in a place where I CAN rely on my preparations if it’s blinding my eyes and heart from the plan of the Hand holding me? If I can convince myself that I am an independent, little game piece with a great, little travel plan? For ultimately I am just that little piece on a journey and what gives me my value is that HE made me in the first place, HE designed my course, and that HE is at the beginning, and at the end, and in the middle. I can struggle all along to get to “the end” and to “win the game” when He is THE END, He is THE WIN, and He is THE GAME. Maybe if I settled comfortably into that Hand that holds me, I would find that during the whole journey I was already closer to the goal than I ever knew because there is only one Home and that is wherever HE IS.