Isn’t it amazing to watch somebody take a blind, flying leap into a brand new life? To watch them decide the fear of not leaping is greater than the fear of what’s below?
Does it make you a little jealous?
Meet Ashley, one of the founders of Love Dinner, a woman I met two years ago on a trip to Zambia. Yesterday, after two years of planning, she landed back in Lusaka.
We all returned from Zambia different, but Ashley came back destroyed. She was restless and pacey like a dog on a chain. All she talked about was going back and how she felt sort of foreign and aimless in her American life.
Don’t you know that feeling? It nags like heartburn and makes you ask everybody “What am I doing with my life? What am I doing in this job? Why did I marry you? Who are these obnoxious kids? Blah Blah Blah.”
What happens next is a matter of choice.
You can handle that pacey dog feeling in spazzy, damaging ways like I did for years: Taking up with bad men or throwing my things in the back of my truck at midnight and heading west. I’m super good at that.
Or you can sit with it like a grown up, surrendering to the possibility that it’s holy discontent, put there like a treasure map to guide you toward something that’s actually kind of precious.
That’s what Ashley’s doing. She’s not running away, she’s running toward something she believes God buried for her on the windy plains of southern Africa.
So what is it for you? What is making you pacey? Chances are your life’s work is hidden in it somewhere. Don’t go leave your wife or buy an expensive car just to assuage it. Sit with it. Surrender it to the God who’s likely using it to get your attention. It’s not up to you to figure out HOW to do the work amid your other demands, leave that up to Him.
Want some evidence of God working out the how?
A month ago, I stood on the aft deck of a big, white, ship in the Indian Ocean and giggled about the course of my life for the last five years.
Let’s see…Sam and I moved to Texas and bought a cattle ranch, which five-minutes later dried up in a 100-year drought, so we sold our cows at a loss, moved to France and went broke. Then I followed Sam to a swamp in East Texas and joined a maritime NGO I’d barely heard of, which sent me to Congo, to Haiti and Madagascar where I, among other things, ate alligator, planted corn and swam with orphans.
Really, how foolish would I be to take credit for writing a plot line like that? Certainly, I participated but I didn’t plan any of it. It happened, I think, because I quit running from one amusement to the next and stared down the restlessness.
And I picked up the Bible and learned who actually God is – not who people say he is.
After a couple of months of reading I quit asking, “What am I doing here?” “What am I doing with my life?” Not because I had a bunch of clever new plans, but rather, a big, shaky hope that someone else did – somebody big, powerful and faithful.
That hope is amazing, but IT IS NOT FREE.
Ongoing humility, surrender and commitment are unpopular practices these days, but they signal that you are probably, finally, running toward something that matters.
The reward for all of it is the person you get to become. It feels like surfacing from a deep green lake, looking up as you swim toward the air, not seeing too clearly through the water but knowing exactly where the light is.