They always say that children are different but sometimes it is hard to imagine how truly different children can be.
My oldest slept through the night at 2 months while my youngest was almost two years old.
My oldest likes chicken and broccoli while my youngest prefers *box* mac n' cheese (yes, he knows the difference).
My oldest prefers giving out compliments while my youngest gives out directions.
My oldest can spend hours in a coloring book while my youngest can spend hours in an activity one.
And out of all of them that last one actually caught me off guard a bit as I almost threw away one of those puzzle, mazes, and word scramble books (since it only had a few pages to color and that has never been a big hit in this house) and was abruptly stopped by that small pale child. Coloring books were the bees knees in this house. Until now. Now it is hours and hours of mazes which of course he goes through in one sitting and spends the rest of the week asking me to draw them out for him while he draws a few more for me.
I am not saying that I don't love spending an hour figuring out how to get out of a five year old's maze that has no real way of getting through as he has yet to master the art of making one with an actual unblocked route from start to end (or "s" to "e" as he has on the paper), but I am not not saying it.
This new creative outlet has caused a lot of confusion and heartbreak and learning, but it has also brought my attention to a lingering frustration I have had these past few years. Believe it or not.
When I am drawing out an elaborate maze that will take him more than five seconds to get through to buy me a little time to get something done around the house, I have often found him frustrated and confused. Yelling things to me from another room like "you can't do it like that" or "that's not the right way" which of course just makes me laugh that he uses his energy to blame me for rigging the game instead of focusing on how he can get through it.
But he has come a long way. He finally trusts that I have in fact created a way from "s" to "e" and has spent most of his afternoons trying to one up anything that I have created. It's fantastic.
It makes me think of how God must look at us. Frustrated and confused as He plots out our life - which is more like a connect the dots, than a maze.
We get so stuck on why He put a dot "way out in the middle of nowhere" (because each step is only revealed one at a time, how terrible). We don't get the whole thing at once. We get a little dot above us, a little dot to the right, and then a little dot out in Guam that makes no apparent sense. And here we are yelling from the dot one step back saying "you can't do that" or "that's not the right way" because in our limited ability we cannot comprehend our need for something that looks like backwards or sideways in the wrong direction.
In these moments, we have three options:
1. Go back to what we believe we understand is part of the picture.
2. Stay right where we are and complain that we don't understand what God is doing.
3. Step out in faith and walk to Guam, trusting that the Creator knows exactly what He is doing and what picture He is creating with our lives.
Like when God told Moses to go to the other side of a raging sea.
Or when He told the Israelites to go take the Promised Land filled with Canaanites.
Or when He went through Samaria on His way to Galilee despite the Pharisees taking a different route to avoid an "unclean" land.
He had to go that way. The way that seemed wrong to everyone else. The way that made no sense and included more trouble. That is the way that Spirit instructed Jesus He had to go.
- - - - - -
I lived in Roseville for much of my life. It is where I met my husband and attended bible school. It is where I became a youth pastor, and started a family. I thought Roseville would be my forever home and then God put a dot out in Guam.
Stockton was my Guam. And then Visalia was my Guam. And then San Luis Obispo was my Guam.
Each time not understanding but trusting. Each time fighting back the urge to say "you're messing this up God" as our girls ministry had just really gotten established, or our conferences had really just gotten going, or a new dream had just been birthed. And still God waited for us at that new dot.
Looking back that step of faith sounds a lot holier and nicer than what it really was; sacrifice and loss and pain and hurt and lack. It wasn't pretty. But faith is rarely pretty. It defined us.
Each dot has defined us more and more.
It is only when we look back at the picture being woven together by the Lord that we understand He is still up to something. He didn't give us a time out away from our purpose or our destinies, He stuck us right smack dab in the middle of them.
So here we are, on our new dot. A place we truly believe we will be planted the rest of our lives, but a place with many more dots to be placed. And I can complain that I don't understand the beginning from the end, or I can trust and devote myself to the process. Taking each new dot with excitement and vigor and anticipation that my God is still faithful and good and right on time even when my flesh is tempted to say that He's not. Silly flesh, His promises are for kids. His kids. And I plan to partake in every bit of them.
Because at the end of my life, when I am drawing my last breath, and He is drawing His last stroke - I want it to be said of me that the picture is exactly what He intended it to be.
In all of it's twists and turns and sharp lefts to Guam. I want others to stand back and marvel at what God can do with a life in surrender and obedience to Him. I want to leave a beautiful masterpiece behind that doesn't look like anything else because I allowed God to take a few risks with my life. Even if I (or anyone else for that matter) can't understand what is happening every moment of the way until it is complete. Because I trust that He in fact knows the end from the beginning. The "s" to the "e", being Alpha and Omega and all.
Cheers to new dots - may we embrace them and take each new opportunity to trust God more and more!
Proverbs 16:1-4 To humans belong the plans of the heart, but from the Lord comes the proper answer of the tongue. All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord. Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. The Lord works out everything to its proper end.
Proverbs 16:9 In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps