Saturday, February 18, 2017

Red Lights

(The following is an extra-long, kind of unorganized update of Life since Louisville. See, I actually started this post 3 or 4 months ago and just got around to finishing it--shocker! My own heart needed reminded of the things He taught me then, in light of the things I'm struggling with now, so the long version it is!)

Even before Pinterest made it famous, fall was my favorite season.

Of course, there are brilliant colors and the sweet smell of the leaves as they fall.  There are cozy sweaters, and hay rides, and delicious foods.  There's harvest and less humidity (hooray for better hair days!).  The air feels crisp and clean, and somehow it clears my mind and quiets my heart while waking me up inside.

And there's hunting season.  For someone who's never personally had a hunting license...I. love. hunting season.  You see, if you knew my dad, you know he had a deep admiration and respect for the care and power and wisdom of God that is expressed in His creation.  The outdoors is where Dad refueled.  And he passed that on to me, largely through sharing the activities of hunting season.  Hunting season meant walks with Dad, learning about the woods and the creatures that fill them. It meant late nights, working with Dad and the siblings to clean a deer in the machine shed.  It meant getting to skip school to traipse through a field, with out-of-state family members, in pursuit of a, "Rooster!" (For those who don't know, a rooster is a male pheasant, and when a bird  flies, you hope everyone calls, "Rooster!" because you're not supposed to shoot the hens.) 

Or sometimes, I'd skip school to be with the women at home.  On those days, we laughed, and cooked, and colored pictures, and cooked some more.  Evening would come, and the guys would bring home their birds and their stories.  As we shared a meal, we would relive the highs and lows of the day, as well as memories from previous hunts, before retiring in front of the wood stove, the tired dogs nearby and a good book in hand.

We learned a lot in those days.  About life, and love, and family.  About God's creativity and provision.

So fall is my favorite.  It's a piece of home. It reminds me of God's goodness, both in the past and in the days to come.

How fitting that God brought me to Louisville at the onset of fall.  For I knew quickly that this would be a very sweet season of life.

This summer, as I thought about moving to a new city, I tried to look forward with both excitement and a realistic picture of the challenges I would face.  For example: Yay for my sister, brother-in-law, and niece being nearby!! But...I'd have no idea how to get around. There would be concrete everywhere, and traffic. There would be people everywhere --but very few whom I actually knew. Clearly, two of my main concerns were that corn fields and cows would no longer be my closest neighbors and that making friends without being in school would be a great hurdle.

I sit here, nearly 6 months later, and am in awe of the ways the Lord has provided. Let's just begin by praising Him for GPS systems. Without them, many tears would have been spilled over trying to navigate this new land! Actually, I probably would have just stayed in most of the time.  Instead, I have been led to parks, and homes, and antique shops, and coffee shops, and church, and back to a cozy little townhouse I now call "home."  And in these places, my soul has been strengthened by open spaces, and laughter, and warm hugs, and rich conversation.  He is faithful and kind, indeed.

And you know what?  Had He sent me to Louisville and withheld every one of these tangible gifts, His faithfulness would not have been diminished one bit. One thing I continue to learn is that, though His visible gifts are wonderful and should be cherished, the sweetest thing God gives us is access to Himself. One of the pastors at the church I now attend reminded us the other day that, "Though God cannot be known exhaustively, He can be known truly."

So today, I returned to my favorite little table, at one of my favorite coffee shops, to take advantage of a slow day and the opportunity to know Him more truly. As I covered the table with my usual, unorganized collection of quiet time essentials and let my mind wander between what I was reading, and the traffic before me, and the bits of overheard conversations, and the truths I'm being taught at church, and the realities of the decisions I'm currently facing (further evidence of my father in me :) ), the Lord kindly synchronized these into a cohesive thought:

How impatient I become at the red lights of life! But in those days, as I am forced to sit and wait, the Lord continues working. He is clearing the path, making a way, actively orchestrating my life. Red lights are not a time to despair, to fidget, to rage. They are a time to rest, observe, reflect. To thank God for His protection, His provision, His perfect knowledge and ability. Lord, help me to rejoice in the waiting!

In the wake of the Lord's clear provision after moving here, I've allowed my heart to become anxious at the remaining unknowns of life. I know I'll be here in Louisville this next year--that He is asking me to remain and grow in faithfulness and intentionality where I'm at...but that's it. I don't know yet how working and serving and relationships will look, and I find I'm pretty good at leaning on my own understanding to try and figure it all out. Meanwhile, He asks--even commands!--that I trust Him. He's grown me in the trust department through the obvious ups and downs. Now I'm learning to trust Him, actively, in the waiting.

That means, most of all, I continue seeking Him. And when I find Him--when my soul is refreshed by promises and evidence of His working in the waiting since the beginning of time--I find the waiting isn't such a big deal. I'm reminded that the Lord will have His way, His way is best, and He's always right on time.

That's all I have, really, but He's teaching me that that's enough. After all, through His perfect way and timing, "my greatest need has been met" in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He has called me by name and promises to complete the work He's started in my life. May we, as Christians, rejoice in the opportunity to serve Him in the day-to-day, and the assurance that He remains on His throne, today and forever!