I’ve read my fair lot of books and short stories and watched enough movies to know that not every part of the story seems fair or relevant at the time it’s read or seen. These portions may consist of ambiguous, “boring” details of a character’s work or family (e.g. “Atlas Shrugged”), or it may include a questionable cliff hanger or injustice (e.g. “Ben Hur”). As a member of the audience, one may silently ask the the author “Why does this have anything to do with the story?” or “Did this really have to happen?” (Cue the “Titantic”…)
In the past year of my life I’ve asked many similar questions amidst a variety of trials and joys. From a heart wrenching break-up last October to the work involved with graduating university and then moving across the country, the Elizabeth I knew last October would have laughed thinking about having accepted Aaron’s proposal for marriage. Personally, I feel I’ve walked down a rabbit trail or two that my life story could have gone without. I’ve asked myself a ton of “what ifs..?” Why did it take three years for Aaron and I to admit that we loved each other from the first moment we set eyes on each other? Why did I feel so ready to go to YWAM to have it not work out?
I won’t speak for you, but you may also have some parts of your story that don’t make sense, maybe some dragons or dungeons. These parts probably have a faint smell of regret or bitterness tied to them, unless you’re able to laugh at them. I’ll share a small example, Aaron and I drove my tightly packed Honda Accord from Denver, Colorado to Boston, Massachusetts without a hitch. (Quite the drive.) Only when we arrived did a certain someone back the car into a parked truck, causing the rear passenger door behind the driver to dent so badly they needed to replace the entire door. In the moment we were stressed, somewhat humiliated and completely bummed. It was a moment where I had no idea what to do or even why this would happen at a time like this. Now, a week or two removed, Aaron and I still cringe, but more so we laugh at our mistake.
I can’t tell you why that happened (among a myriad of other events), other than a momentary lapse in judgement, but I can tell you I felt almost punished. Aaron and I had our plans settled while in Alaska for the summer, but in a matter of 10 days, YWAM, the Air Force, and a job position fell from our grasp. Unexpectedly, we headed out to Boston with little knowledge of what we’d find. We were met with a hopeless welcome, no apartments, no jobs, and now a damaged car. Were we in the wrong place? Did we miss something?
I think most often I’ve looked at God after an upset and pointed, saying “see? I’m not ready to do this?!” I’ve felt entirely ill-equipped to be perhaps the furthest point from home I could be. I’m fairly independent, sure I guess you could say that, but I think what people mean when they say that is, “yes, I like to do my own thing on my own time in my own way. yes, that’s what I like.” Of course I’m all about independence in that way, but I’m also noticing that isn’t God’s desire for me. He enjoys it when we accomplish something together, which means I’ll have to depend solely on Him, even if I do have a “great idea”. His ideas tend to be so much better.
Obedience has looked very different than we had imagined. We have faced seemingly impossible circumstances; we stood together through our present story with peace, but (honestly) some confusion as well, wondering what each day will hold. Each and every time He saves the day with that miraculous timing of His. He is faithful to us in every moment, but how easily we tend to forget. (Memory of a goldfish?)
Although I may be frustrated toward’s the Lord’s timing and mysterious ways, I am confident He seeks to bless and redeem all stories. The first half of this journey felt like His ruler coming down hard on my wrist, but I’m not convinced that’s His character. He wrote this specific chapter for a reason, purposefully including details He saw fit to mention. The sting I thought I first felt on my wrist is not actually punishment; it’s His pen writing His passionate, ever present love and truth on my heart. It’s exciting, uncomfortable, and (often) inconvenient The trials He has written into my story are there because He seeks to open my eyes to an opportunity to live graciously, generously, and grateful to Him for His glory.
Obviously, I’m not perfect and once I realized this truth, I still face-planted awfully. Thankfully nothing is as straightforward as it may seem. The rabbit trails, the regrets, the failures, and all the “boring” details of your story can and will be redeemed for His glory. Do you think you’d love Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” just as much if they simply went the easy way? No true adventure was absent a few dragons. Join me in fully trusting that He IS the Creator of all good endings. Your story is not exempt.
You book isn’t over, there’s much to be written and more to be done with our second chances. Follow Him in obedience and we’ll look back together thinking “what a wild story!”