On Taking the Uncertain Path

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Have you ever been caught up in conversation with a friend, only to stop and listen to what you are really saying? Recently I found myself using a catch-phrase I’d learned when I was quite young, and I was startled to realize it’s implication. The phrase?

“That’s just how it’s done.”


I wonder if you hear the same authority and even arrogance that I did when I listened to myself speak. I cut my teeth on phrases like that. Words and ways of doing things. In this season where I find myself stuck with dreams that fail to gain traction, it occurs to me that I’m guided like the rails of a train track by phrases just like this, “It’s just not done.” “You need to make wise decisions so that God will bless your life.” “You need to wait on God.” Yada, yada. Christian rhetoric and societal rules for playing it safe and getting it right.

What if? What if those phrases actually represented a deep root of pride? What if they implied that I want to be found as someone who made all the right choices? What if they implied that I cared very deeply about what others think instead of caring most about what God thinks? What if God were waiting for me to just take a step instead of trying to always go about things the right way? I’ve never thought of myself as a perfectionist because precious little in my life implies perfect achievement and thus it’s silliness to even go down that path. Yet those who are close to me will attest that I am wired to do it the.right.way. And yet. Isn’t it the same thing? I’m the last to figure this out, by the way.

It strikes me that we hold this pose of doing things right and then we hold God hostage because He should bless us now. “I’ve done it the right way. I’ve waited (or not). I’ve spent frugally (or not). I’ve given generously (or not). And now You should get in line, God, with my plan for my life.” We pin stuff on God like He’s the donkey needing a tail.

copyright (c) Samantha Penhale
The Uncertain Path

I’ve known that the Kingdom of God is upside down, that faith doesn’t make sense, and that logic totally interferes with faith. Noted. But if I’m so committed to playing it safe and doing things just so, when do I break away from self-righteous judgment and begin walking by faith? Does it mean that I should cut bait and run? Does it mean that I should plow into a relationship with the wrong man because now I’m walking by faith and God will catch me? Does it mean that I should walk away from my obligations and commitments?

What I said earlier is profoundly true: The rules that we unconsciously live by are like train tracks. Those rails keep us so tightly wound that we won’t even watch for God to intervene supernaturally because we are so hard-wired to have things go the way we think they should go. And God? He’s keen on doing things in such a way that we’ll know it could only be Him. He wants to blow our circuits with His goodness and His creativity.

My heart is quiet as I realize the deep pride that is rooted in my words, and the authority with which I’ve spoken them. No wonder He’s waiting for me.

A heart-change would be good right about now. After that? I think I’m going to live a little.

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