Trying to Live Freely

I turned 23 last week.

For the first time in four years, I didn’t have finals (to take or to study for) on my birthday. That was nice. The rest of the day, I was informed, I spent like an 80-year-old lady.

happy 80-year-old lady.

But continually in the back of my mind as of late has been the upcoming anniversary of my graduation.

One Year.

And it’s crazy to think about where I am now and where I thought I would be by now. If you would have asked me then, I would be living and working in DC (or a smattering of other cities that I was interested in). Though now, with the current political climate, I am thrilled that I am not living there.

I was not going to be living at home. I was not going to be living in Goshen.

But here I am. For better or for worse. I made a commitment to myself last fall to begin settling down. I didn’t know where I was going, or if I was going anywhere. But I knew that what I was doing, this aimless living was not “abandoning myself to God.” I needed to trust that living here was a task given to me. And having a sermon series at church and a Sunday school series that felt like God was grabbing me by the shoulders and trying to knock a little sense into me also helped.

We are uncertain of the next step, but we are certain of God. As soon as we abandon ourselves to God and do the task He has placed closest to us, He begins to fill our lives with surprises. Source

So I did. In the beginning of the year, I began volunteering as a small group leader in middle school ministries at my church. And you know what, that itself was a wonderful surprise. I adore the girls I help lead and I have more opportunities on the horizon at church. Like so many points in my life have been, I know that I will look back on this time and see God’s fingerprints.

Like so many points in my life have been, I know that I will look back on this time and see God’s fingerprints.

Nevertheless, I struggle with contentment and feeling certain that this is where I’m meant to be. It’s that always how it seems to go? Or am I alone in this? “O me of little faith.” I still often feel like I’m driving around a roundabout. And it’s frustrating just going around and around. I like directions. I like to know where I’m going.

“We have a lot less control in life than we wanna believe. because no amount of personal control will be ever enough to ensure our safety. No amount of control will ever remove our fears.” –Carl Frost, pastor at Revolution Chuch, Muncie, Indiana speaking at Commonway Church, Muncie, Indiana

Wondering where or why. Just… waiting in place. And part of me is terrified I’ll never leave this place. And part of me is terrified to leave. I yearn for adventure and independence but enjoy the proximity to the known and my family. I see my friends moving on and taking steps in their lives and I still feel… stuck.

Yet as I find myself making more commitments in this place, I wonder if I’m not on a roundabout but on cruise control instead. (Call me a pendulum, swinging between stuck and coasting.) Not in a rut, just… heading to the next exit. And I have to accept that I don’t know when that is or where it will lead me. This is not a dead end. I’m not a fan of uncertainty. Spontenaittey is not my middle name. No matter how much I like to pretend I can just go with the flow. My friends can attest to that.

“I can only fly freely when I know there is a catcher to catch me. If we are to take risks, to be free, in the air, in life, we have to know there is a catcher. We have to know that when we come down from it all, we’re going to be caught, we’re going to be safe. The great hero is the least visible. Trust the catcher. – Henri Nouwen

May I learn to live freely here. Like a child tossed in the air by her father, may I learn to always trust the catcher.

A Faith Like Lucy

A faith like Lucy

I recently reread the entire Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis. (If you haven’t read them, please do)

In Prince Caspian (Book #4), there is a scene where Lucy sees Aslan in the forest. None of others believe her. But Lucy is sure of what she saw:

“Look! Look! Look!” cried Lucy.

“Where? What?” asked everyone.

“The Lion,” said Lucy. “Aslan himself. Didn’t you see?” Her face had changed completely and her eyes shone.

“Do you really mean——” began Peter.

“Where did you think you saw him?” asked Susan.

“Don’t talk like a grown-up,” said Lucy, stamping her foot. “I didn’t think I saw him. I saw him.”

“Where, Lu?” asked Peter.

“Right up there between those mountain ashes. No, this side of the gorge. And up, not down. Just the opposite of the way you want to go. And he wanted us to go where he was—up there.”

“How do you know that was what he wanted?” asked Edmund.

“He—I—I just know,” said Lucy, “by his face.”

The others all looked at each other in puzzled silence.

“Her Majesty may well have seen a lion,” put in Trumpkin. “There are lions in these woods, I’ve been told. But it needn’t have been a friendly and talking lion any more than the bear was a friendly and talking bear.”

“Oh, don’t be so stupid,” said Lucy. “Do you think I don’t know Aslan when I see him?”

“He’d be a pretty elderly lion by now,” said Trumpkin, “if he’s one you knew when you were here before! And if it could be the same one, what’s to prevent him having gone wild and witless like so many others?”

Lucy turned crimson and I think she would have flown at Trumpkin, if Peter had not laid his hand on her arm. “The D.L.F. doesn’t understand. How could he? You must just take it, Trumpkin, that we do really know about Aslan; a little bit about him, I mean. And you mustn’t talk about him like that again. It isn’t lucky for one thing: and it’s all nonsense for another. The only question is whether Aslan was really there.”

“But I know he was,” said Lucy, her eyes filling with tears.

“Yes, Lu, but we don’t, you see,” said Peter.

The group goes against Lucy’s thought that they should follow Aslan, and continues on their way. Later as Lucy is sleeping, she is awoken by a voice calling her. She follows the voice to find Aslan.

The Lion looked straight into her eyes.

“Oh, Aslan,” said Lucy. “You don’t mean it was? How could I—I couldn’t have left the others and come up to you alone, how could I? Don’t look at me like that … oh well, I suppose I could. Yes, and it wouldn’t have been alone, I know, not if I was with you. But what would have been the good?”

Aslan said nothing.

“You mean,” said Lucy rather faintly, “that it would have turned out all right—somehow? But how? Please, Aslan! Am I not to know?”

“To know what would have happened, child?” said Aslan. “No. Nobody is ever told that.”

“Oh dear,” said Lucy.

“But anyone can find out what will happen,” said Aslan. “If you go back to the others now, and wake them up; and tell them you have seen me again; and that you must all get up at once and follow me—what will happen? There is only one way of finding out.”

“Do you mean that is what you want me to do?” gasped Lucy.

“Yes, little one,” said Aslan.

“Will the others see you too?” asked Lucy.

“Certainly not at first,” said Aslan. “Later on, it depends.”

“But they won’t believe me!” said Lucy.

“It doesn’t matter,” said Aslan.

She returns to the camp and tells her tale as the others wake up. Edmund believes her, and although it’s two agains three, they decide to follow Lucy and Aslan. Slowly, first Edmund and then the others, they are all able to see Aslan.

Reading this part, two things hit me:

1. Stay Strong and Believe

Lucy always knew Aslan would come. She didn’t know how or when. But she knew he would come. The others began to loose the faith that she had in him, and as a result, they were not able to see him when he did. A a Christian, it’s easy to be discouraged when I don’t feel like God is around.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1

It can be hard to have faith when the world is around us agreeing with our fears.

But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. James 1:6

But because of her faith, Lucy was rewarded by seeing Aslan.

Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” John 11:40

And then, as the others began to believe without seeing, they too, were rewarded.

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:8-9

Lucy was also young and unlike the others, her youth meant her eyes had not yet been clouded by the world.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2

 

And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:3

 

2. What’s past is past. 

Once forgiven, our past sins are behind us. You can never go back and change your decisions or to find out what might have happened, as Aslan tells Lucy. But instead we must look ahead to the future find find out what will happen.
Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14

 

Have faith.

What I believe is not what I say I believe; what I believe is what I do. – Donald Miller