the tension between waiting and moving

There is a tension between waiting for God’s direction in my life and moving forward with my own agenda. They are not mutually exclusive and sometimes, in the give and take of relationship, God asks that I show my cards before He’ll show his.

When I look at what's in my hand I am not confident that I won't fold. Often times I wonder if I might not be better off letting God be dealer, player, winner and loser - I might be happy on the sidelines watching the game.

Lately when I look at what is in my hand, I know I cannot fold, bow out, or ask for a new deal. The hand I hold is mine and the more I study it, the more I understand that there is an odd relationship between the luck of the draw and the choices I make with the cards I have.

Have you ever wondered why some people can get the worst cards and make the best life out of it? I have. And I wonder why I have spent so much of my life thinking that I am a poor chooser when it comes to playing my cards with strength and confidence. I am familiar with the phrase "crisis of confidence". I am also all too acquainted with how crippling self-doubt can be.

And this is where God comes in. He cannot deliver me from self-doubt and He waves no wands casting instant confidence spells. He does not apologize for the cards I ended up with and He does not make predictions about my future based on the odds.

The unique thing about God (I've learned this sitting at the table studying His side of the game) is that He does not hold me in contrast to others, Himself, or even my own self-image. He does not have a statistical world view. In fact, there is something so painfully personal about the way He sits there - as if He is asking me a question He really does not have the answer to, "What will you do with what you have?"

Could God be genuinely interested in how I will play my hand and could He be genuinely surprised by my courage or lack of commitment? I'm beginning to believe so. And...if He really doesn' t know what my next move is, any more than I know His, then our dialogue is more than a script where I supplicate and He provides.

The journey from God in this sense is not a movement in a direction but a discovery that my life is defined as much or more by the directions I choose as it is by God's revealing a plan. For many years I believed I had a calling on my life to serve God. I imagined that this calling would take place within a ministerial context. I had ideas based on presuppositions about what a ministerial context looked like. I tried to imitate a ministerial life and in many ways succeeded the way actors succeed with creating a 3-dimensional role from a one-dimensional script.

It only later occurred to me that God might not have a plan for my life per se and that, even if there were a plan, He might have no idea what I might create from it. What a terrible and wonderful thought. The terror is having the freedom to be completely creative with no restrictions. The wonder is trying to get my mind around the idea that God could allow such freedom and impose on Himself the limitation of not knowing my mind and heart without my giving Him explicit access to both - again and again in each lived moment.

So what happened to that calling? Oh it's there - but when I put my legs, will, heart and imagination under it - it walked straight out of church in search of a road smack dab in the middle of the "world" where I have been playing cards ever since.

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