Loren and I were given a mini getaway from some supporters; for this I am indescribably thankful. I cherish all of our little mini getaways. They offer us a chance to be me and him, and him and me, and married and have clear minds and remember that we are newlyweds.
Monday morning was spent reading and praying and sitting in His goodness while gazing across the beautiful mass of water that is named the Columbia Gorge. Our room is cozy; my favorite part is the fireplace, always the fireplace.
We love exploring mountainous terrains with no plan except to get lost in the forest. We drove around until we hit gravel and decided that would be a perfect place to park the car and start running, exploring. The path we started on was beautiful, even breathtaking. It was a wide gravel road with muddy pot holes, but was lined with green forestry.
About a half a mile in, we picked our eyes up off the ground and Loren pointed out a much skinnier path, hidden within the forest, about 20 feet to our right, with a creek running parallel. We had no way to get down to that trail except to crawl down the 15 foot mini cliff very carefully. My iphone photos don't do this place justice, but you can see the difference between the two trails, yeah?
The path was skinnier, narrower, a lot less muddy, rockier, windier, ruttier...and the beauty did not compare. The adventure that came with this path was thrilling, exciting, even breathtaking. At one point, there was a log laying over the creek -- that was the path given: a log. Instead of turning around or climbing back up the bank to the boring, wide, easier path, we did what we had to do. On my hands and knees, I crawled over this slippery log, praying to not slip and break my ankle. This path was made for others much more skilled than us, much more equipped than us. This path was made for adventurers and risk takers. This path was designed for those who trust the builder.
In this state I have found my heart in, I could not stop thinking about my recent lack of trust in God, in my builder. As we sprinted through the forest, my heart's song was "How majestic is your name, oh God." And I spent the hour consumed by His path. His path is narrower, less traveled (Matthew 7). His path is full of blessings and beauty and radiant joy. His path is more difficult, harder even ( John 16:33). He asks us to search for peace and work to keep it (1 Peter 3:13-17). He invites us to believe the best in others, hope all things, and be patient and kind -- even when it makes no sense. He asks us to forgive those who have hurt us, to pray for those who persecute and insult us, He asks us to be selfless...He invites us into a life of grace. So yes, His path is less traveled, a little more rocky, and full of obstacles. But the obstacles don't touch the beauty, the thrilling adventure, the joy that is inevitable.
My expectations of life are crumbling. My expectations of self fail more than every day. This has brought me down into a place of self pity and frustration: not pretty. But the problem doesn't lie in my failing of expectations; the problem lies where my source of life and hope have been placed: in expectations of self. In circumstance. Not in Christ. My source of hope and joy should never be placed or depend upon my self, my expectations, upon my understanding. Mike reminded me of this and has pointed me in a direction of freeing navigation towards Jesus. When Proverbs states:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.
I was reminded that my own understanding includes my expectations. So when I am depending on my own understanding and the expectations I have of self and life, and they fail...I then crumble. I crumble to pieces because I was depending on such fickle things. My heart cries for many things; my patience is being tested in many ways. (complaint, complaint, complaint: embarrassing, but honest) I had so many plans and many expectations that seem to have been crumbling. Subconsciously, I felt I had been failing at life. I know that these things shape me in mighty ways; I know that these things create an endurance in me that I would not otherwise have. I know that I have a deep well of compassion for many things, and this compassion would never have arrived had I not endured through...experiences this far. But that doesn't make the endurance any less stretching. Knowing that Jesus is using all of life to mold me into His image doesn't make life easy. But it sure makes life worth it, it makes life purposeful. It means that this is not in vain.
Discontentment has nothing to do with circumstances and everything to do with where my heart is placing Jesus.
A change of scenery, a new pet, a baby, purchasing a house, moving to a new city, a new job, a spouse...none of these things will truly bring contentment. They may bandaid our discontentment for awhile, but it won't be long until we are right back where we started: frustrated, uneasy, discontent.
As I ran through the forest, I was grateful that He is my Builder. Why? Because He is trustworthy. He has proven Himself trustworthy for generations, but also to me in my individual and very insignificant life. Lungs burning, inhaling the cold winter air, feet pounding on the icy ground...I could not help but think through the risk of trust. It once came so easily, trusting in my God. Trust in God implies that I will release my grasp on entitlement. Trust in God says that I am letting go, opening my hands, releasing the need to try and control. Trust says, "God, I am going to choose your lighthearted joy. I am going to look at life one day at a time, trusting that You will use my every moment of pain and trial and testing...my choosing to trust You...You will use it for Your glory and You will use it for others." Or whatever your case may be. When suffering and trials hit is when the rubber meets the road and we must ask ourselves, "am I ready to truly follow Christ and do as He asks, even though I have an excuse to live in sin, an excuse to wallow?" But this is perhaps the most important time to trust; this is where Christ is revealed. It is scary to trust, because in trusting we let go and are vulnerable - we are a target, a target for disappointment, to be let down. But it is important to trust, because when we let go and stop trying to protect our hearts, we find peace and freedom and joy unexplainable. It is important to trust because He tells us to trust Him, He invites us into this secure place of safety: His arms.
In His arms I have experienced safety. In His arms, I see life as an adventure, not as exhaustion. In His arms, I thrive and I am beautiful and I am a radiant creation, because of Him.
Join me as I begin at the basics again, of trusting in His goodness one day at a time.