I recently found myself in a fog, unsure of what to do and unsure of what was right in the situation. I walked blindly, not knowing what I might hit or overturn, or how or where I might emerge into clarity. I babbled in mild angst to a friend, and she didn’t have answers, but she reminded me of who I am—a valuable woman whom God loves, with a future brightened by light and hope—and what I can do—have a voice in the situation, rather than roll over like a victim of circumstance and simply see what happens. Those were not her words, but she empowered me, as God does. I love that as we grow closer to God, we become more uniquely ourselves (a glimpse of our creative God!) and grow stronger. Jesus spoke truth into chaos and lent his voice to those without one. We Christians, too, hope to bring his ways of love and grace into our world as we live and interact.
Joshua 1:9 says: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
In church, the pastor says, “Lift up your hearts,” and we answer, “We lift them up to the Lord.” In one of my favorite Madeleine L’Engle books, “A Ring of Endless Light,” the grandfather tells his granddaughter that when he prays for people, he imagines lifting them up on his hand to the Lord, not knowing the way forward for them but wanting the best and trusting our loving God. I think that’s good for our own lives, too, not just in supplications for loved ones. We don’t always know what to do, but we lift our hearts to the Lord and feel our way forward, walking with him. The pastor Rob Bell advised in an old sermon to do the “next right thing.” I may not have a strict five-year plan, but I have found that through my experiences and the Holy Spirit, I often know the next major move to make at the right time. At 22, I thought for sure that mentioning God in an application essay would mean I wouldn’t get an internship at The Indianapolis Star newspaper, but I went forth boldly with the truth of my life story and ended up with an incredible six months of career and life experience in the Midwest. At 26, I knew I needed a career change, but I didn’t know what shape that should take. Over the next year and a half, I prayed, explored options, talked with my closest friends, and eventually decided on quitting my career and going back to school. God brought me out of a fog into the next right place; it seemed crazy, but I had so much peace about it. A year and a half ago, a new job opportunity emerged. It intrigued me, but there was nothing really wrong with the job I had. I walked and thought and prayed and tried to use any wisdom I had. I didn’t know if I was making the right decision to change, but it felt like the right thing to do. The new job has turned out to be a place where I can grow and flourish; I love it.
In relationships, with my family, and at work, I may be both excited and scared in the midst of the unknown. As Doug said in a recent sermon, “It’s OK to struggle.” Struggle is inevitable (and helps us grow!), but God tells us over and over in the Bible not to fear—he is with us. We can’t see the way ahead, but for those who love God, “all things work together for good” (Rom. 8:28). Life is a training ground, and “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6). In this life of wondrous magic—including the words of dear friends, the neon of spring blooms, the electricity of a kiss, and the kindness of strangers—the chance to trust God and move forward boldly makes me glad for the joy of surprise when I step out under clear skies.