Direction and Details

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A Great Big Neon Sign in the Sky

It is interesting the things you learn about yourself with age. A few nights ago as I stood under the star filled Iowan sky, I found myself not asking, but commanding God to “give me direction.” This is not an uncommon command on my part, and has seemed more frequent as of late. Whether questioning or commanding, there have been innumerable times in both small decisions and big transitions, that this monologue has occurred as I plead to God. As the days went by, as I pondered directions and decisions, like a light bulb, no not a light bulb, a light house, like a great big lighthouse on the dark sea that is the brain of Chris Cantrell, what I really was doing became exposed to me. All of the moments, the situations, the instances, where I have asked God for direction, what I really wanted from Him was details. Whammo! The light switches on  and you say to yourself “How could I be so stupid?!” At least that is what happened to me.

All of this time, the many commands and questions I had submitted to God regarding direction, was really about the details. When it comes to direction we do not have to ask God to give what He has already given. God has given direction, and that direction is forward. Move forward, keep moving forward, and do not stop. For the believer, the Christian, the follower of the way, whatever buzz phrase you have given your faith, the direction God has given is forward. Not backwards, not at a stand still, but forward, that is the only way. Life, the universe, the people around us, all of it will continue to move, whether we want to move with it or not, and so our goal should be to keep going, to not stop. I have direction, but I want details, and when God does not provide those details I get pissed off, I drag my feet as God pulls me, like a child being pulled to his room for misbehaving over not getting what he wanted. I know the direction, it is the same direction I have been going since my life in Christ started, it is the details I want, but as history as shown, it is not always details I get.

The Faith to Not Get Pissed Off When You Have Direction Without Details

I guess this is where the whole faith thing comes in though right? You have heard of having enough faith to “move mountains”, I would like to have enough faith to not get pissed off. Let’s cut the Hillsong “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders” crap, the every worship song that romanticizes the hardships we actually hate, and spews a false idealism instead of the actual realities, the real struggles people face. Faith is not knowing what is next, and moving forward anyway. Sure, that is easy to say in the abstract, but what does it mean in the concrete? Right now there are a lot of unknowns approaching in my life. Summer is ending, my time at camp is almost over, and I still do not have all those things that are apparently necessary to be a mature and responsible adult. By the way, I cannot imagine those four words will ever be used to describe me, but maybe I can create illusion at least. What does it mean to move forward knowing that is the direction God has for you, even without having details? You do what you can with what you have. First and foremost I focus on today, on the here and and. In this moment there is still a lot of work to be done where I am at, and God this has plenty of things for me to do. Whenever people as me “What is next?” I like to reply by saying “If I can get through today, that is good enough for me.” and while it is meant for humor, there is a lot of truth in my response. Secondly, in the midst of the here and now though, I take steps towards making arrangements regarding what is to come. While we may not have details, that does not mean we should try to do some planning/ This means applying for job, searching for apartments, and doing what I can with what little time I have to begin planning for the future. Faith has to have some action, we do what we can do and then say to God “the rest is up to you.”

When All Else Fails Quote Tolkien

And now you know my present reality. It is not pretty or easy and is somewhat uncomfortable, but life could always be worse. As it stands, in comparison to a majority of the world, my life is not that bad, I would even say it is pretty good.. I have written about a scene from the book The Hobbit before and it is one that resurfaces in my mind during situations like these. In the story, Bilbo, a hobbit, an ordinary person, not a wizard, nor a warrior, just an everyday guy like you and I, finds himself one day abandoning the comfort of his lifestyle to pursue an adventure, a life bigger than the one he had always known. As the tale goes along there comes a point where Bilbo is separated from his companions, lost and alone in the caverns of the Misty Mountains trying to find his way. Instead of stopping or backtracking, Bilbo makes the resolve to move ahead, despite the unknown, despite lack of details, he had a direction and followed it. For Bilbo there was no going back and staying put would have had no fruit, so the hobbit kept moving regardless of not knowing where it would lead him into.. Bilbo did not know the details of what would be next, friends or foes, life or death, but he did not stop, and like him we have to do the same. Was it hard? Yes, but if you know the story it had a good end.While often we may only have direction, we know how the story ends and  that should be motivation enough. Direction does not require details, but the few that we have are more than sufficient.

At the moment my life does not have a lot of details, but it does have direction. and I guess when it comes down to it, that is good enough for me. Life is not always easy, but it is worth it.

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About Chronology of Chris

-In Christ -Student of Life, Theology, Philosophy and Education -Avid reader (C.S. Lewis, Alvin Plantinga, Francis Schaeffer, James Sire, Martin Luther, Luis de Molina, Gordon D. Fee, David R. Anderson, David Kinnaman, Arthur Conan Doyle, Charles Schulz (Peanuts), Bill Watterson (Calvin and Hobbes), Hunter S. Thompson, Douglas Adams, J.R.R. Tolkien, Jean Paul Sartre, Soren Kierkegaard, etc.) -Amateur philosopher -Field researcher for this privilege called life -Defined not labelled -Silly, yet serious -Knowledgeable and experienced -People over facts( facts have their place), souls over figures -More than an "about me" box can contain -His will, not mine
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