Tuesday, Day Two
We had taken our youth group on a mission trip to Newark, NY, where I was also serving on the volunteer staff there. After a hot day of mission work, our Toledo group walked to an ice cream shoppe for cool treats. I was eager to hear about their adventures and relax in the air conditioning with sweet ice cream. But I soon received a text from the professional staff back at the church base: “Where are you? We need you for the next group activity.”
I was so excited to reconnect with my youth that I had forgotten my additional role as an adult staff leader! The moment I received that text, one of those doors described in yesterday’s blog (No Matter How the Door Closes…) quickly shut; I no longer belonged in the ice cream shoppe. Embarrassed and upset, I hurried out and began racing back to the church- until I heard the concerned voice of my dear Jim behind me, yelling that I was headed in the wrong direction.
I seem to handle these upsetting times much like I handle coming upon a traffic jam. I become so anxious to fix the situation that I find it difficult to pause, thinking that I must hurry to remedy it. I want to take any nearby route that will keep me going- even if that route will take me on a longer detour. I believe that as long as I’m moving, I’m progressing.
All that hurrying does no good if we are headed in the wrong direction.
When a door of life suddenly closes behind us and we end up on the threshold, we can be tempted to keep moving, to carry on with life, to not lose our progress. We try to quickly remedy the situation because we are panicking. Desperate to relieve the discomfort or salvage the loss, we grab at any and all possibilities that might help us return to “normal.” But we are trying to take that next step when we cannot even see straight.
This threshold time is our grace-filled opportunity to pause and regroup- so that our next steps will be the best ones. There is purpose in the pausing. There is even progress in the pausing. When we stop to consider our options, when we find the space to catch our breath, when we allow time for our clarity to recover, and when we seek God’s guidance and strength, we will be in a much better position to take that next step.
“Don’t just do something, stand there!”*
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and strengthens the powerless.
Even youths will faint and be weary,
and the young will fall exhausted;
but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,
they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint.
(Isaiah 40:28-31 NRSV)
(*Quote attributed to a variety of people)