This past Friday the 13th I turned 60. What a crazy time to turn 60! And it’s not just the coronavirus. Our church is going through a transition to having no paid staff members. My husband’s work is changing ownership.
And I realize that the hardest thing for me right now is that I feel directionless, like a compass with a spinning needle. I’m such a planner. I have lists. I love to talk about what’s coming up next.
So now, everything seems uncertain, and this is disconcerting. But then I realized that there is one way the compass needle is pointing right now, and that’s towards God. This is such a great opportunity to deepen my relationship with him.
You know, as a relationship coach, I talk a lot about the importance of investing in relationships. I explain that a relationship is like a plant, and just like a plant withers if you don’t water it, a relationship won’t develop or grow if you don’t invest in it. Which means that we need to invest in our relationship with God. We can’t expect to be close to him, or get the benefits of a relationship with him, unless we’re actively creating it. And now is the great time to create it.
Awhile back, I was super inspired by this book called “Forming: A Work of Grace” by David Tackle. The basic premise of the book is that, in our spiritual life, we need to get to a point where we’re sailing, instead of rowing. Rowing is us working at the Christian disciplines. Sailing is being propelled by God, the Spirit and the overflow of our heart. I loved this idea! But I quit reading the book when I realized that you have to row in order to get to the point of sailing. I thought I was going to find a quick fix.
A vibrant relationship with God doesn’t just happen, any more than a vibrant relationship with another person happens. You have to build it. So much of the time I stay busy and distracted, working on all of my plans. Now I have an opportunity to work at having a more dynamic relationship with God.
I just have to resist the temptation to focus instead on making new plans. Even though I can’t make long term plans, I can make lists of the things I can accomplish this week. But I really feel like God is calling me to be still, and listen closer. I feel like he’s saying, “This is a singular time, an opportunity to focus on me without all of the distractions. If you are wise, you will take it.”
There are several verses that have been coming to mind as I contemplate all of this.
“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” I Tim 6:17.
It’s so easy for me to put my hope in riches, and not even realize it. My life is filled up with actions based on the assumption that we will have money. I plan for anniversary, and for our retirement at some point. I work on my business. What is happening right now shows me so much how much more I need to put my hope in God.
“Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” James 4:14
This is such a great description of life right now. We really don’t know what will happen tomorrow. We were trying to decide whether to have a small meeting of church on Wednesday, but since the situation changes from day to day, we can’t even make those plans. And I can see more clearly that life is a mist. We aren’t guaranteed health and longevity. We live in a world with disease and germs.
Although my spirit grows faint within me, You know my way. Ps 142:3
God still has a path for me. I can feel my heart wanting to give out — the pull to be glum and discouraged. When that happens, it’s time to listen for his voice, so I can follow that path, and not my expectations.
“And who knows if perhaps you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14
This verse reminds me that even in times of chaos, God has a role for us to play. Esther also faced a distressing situation. The king had signed a decree that all of the Jews would be massacred. But then she realized that she had a pivotal role. She was the one person who could approach the king and petition him to amend the decree. The only thing was that someone who approached the king without being summoned could be executed. She had to be willing to be of service to God, even if it felt uncertain and scary.
I don’t know what is going to happen in the days to come. But I pray that I face them with willingness to do whatever I need to do. I pray that I see where God has a role for me, maybe not a role to plan, but a role to react to needs. A role to trust and look to him.
Sixty is a great time. I have been given so many, many blessings in the years leading up to today. And now I have the blessing of opportunity. It is also a terrible time of worldwide suffering, death and economic chaos. The compass truly is spinning. I am so thankful that there is a true North I can follow.