Saturday, March 19, 2016

Surprise endings

Bill devoured a novel this week, reading as he does at the speed of light.  But as the plot unfolded into a good story but a fairly predictable one, suddenly at the conclusion, the narrative took a sharp turn, and all the elements converged into a surprise ending. "I didn't see that coming," he said.

I came to my own surprise ending this week. I have been training now for a marathon for about four months, steadily building up my mileage, going a little farther each week, inching toward the event with long runs, hill workouts, and pounding it out on the treadmill. The marathon is tomorrow.  I arranged and rearranged my schedule to accommodate it, but God had something different in mind.

I will not be at the starting line in the morning.  All the elements converged into a completely different story that I didn't see coming.

And if my tweaked hip muscle was not enough, God affirmed my decision with the weather.  Earlier in the week, there was a possibility of rain. No big deal.  A couple of days later, the forecast was mid-30s with an accumulation of snow.  Well, I've run in worse conditions.  And then, to close the door completely, it is now predicted to be a bone-chilling 29 degrees at the start of the race, high of 41, and 80 percent chance of snow and rain.  How bad did God have to make the weather before I would click "cancel?"

Even early this morning as I arose, I contemplated the 12 hour round trip of driving for a four and a half hour run in the cold rain.  And then, I hobbled a little bit across the bedroom floor.  Case dismissed.

I thought that God was leading one way, but here at the end of the training, I find myself in a different place.  And it might not have anything to do with running at all.

And strangely, I do not feel defeated by this sudden change of plans, but feel released, moving freely within this alteration, another time, a different season, other purposes in it yet to come.  My upbringing has taught me to stubbornly stay the course, dig in your heels, and never quit.  But my faith has taught me to follow God into the very details, be faithful on the long paths in the wilderness, and always be ready to turn on a dime for that which God has prepared -- even that which takes us unexpected and unaware.

I am not giving up anything at all.

It may be a surprise ending to me,
                            but not to God.
The richest part of this story
         was not at the finish line
but in the adventure itself
                 in the getting there.

We focus too dearly,
cling too tightly to a prescribed course of action
               a logical outcome,
 an obvious path,
even a vision of God waiting at the finish line
                             when all is said and done,
          but instead I find that He walks me through.
God is faithful.
Beyond what I can ask or fear,
                     He is there,
beyond all things,
                          He is.

"Do you trust Me in this?"

When we are open to His leading
      and heeding His voice,
even when we can't see where we are going,
          we are on the way. 

It's not the end at all,
     but just ready for so much more ahead.

Surely the LORD is in this place,
and I did not know it.

                         Genesis 28. 16

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