Posted by: karanoel | September 15, 2020

Landlubbers no more

A conversation with a friend recently got me thinking about what I consider a good day, which is pretty much one that goes smoothly… with no hitches, unanticipated stresses or flatout disasters. There’s nothing wrong with that and I am grateful for each and every one of those days, but the problem is that I am pretty tempted to consider anything else a bad day or at least one I would gladly swap out for a better one. The thing is that as much as I like “easy” – and believe me, I do – it tends to shortcut the growth that will produce the freedom and joy I most want in this life.

Pregnancy is the first example that comes to mind. The stretching and growing my body had to endure to produce my babies was uncomfortable and inconvenient. It taxed my energy, my mobility and even my sleep as I, a human beach ball with heartburn, attempted to find a decent position to get some rest. I remember a particularly trying day in my first trimester with Chase when I said to John, “I changed my mind… I don’t want to be pregnant anymore!” Of course I didn’t mean it. What I meant was that though I really, really wanted this baby, it was hard when I wanted it to be easy. But the birth of both my boys, as I held their tender bodies against my own, was so great a joy that I would have willingly undergone the discomfort, doubts and pain all over again to obtain the treasure on the other side. Of course pregnancy was only the beginning because motherhood stretched me in far deeper ways, forcing my roots down into Jesus and causing more growth that I needed (and desperately wanted) but wouldn’t have chosen because, as we’ve established, I like things smooth and easy. 

I’ve been experiencing growing pains of another sort. The house we bought last year had a separate office/workshop that would be ideal, we thought, for my parents to renovate and move into. Their agreement with our happy idea began a 1 ½ year process that was anything but easy. In fact, it was downright hard. We were all stretched and pressed and inconvenienced. The costs were far greater than expected and, because of permit issues, the time to complete the project went months and months past original (and revised) estimates. I had a couple days, as in my pregnancy, when I told John, “I’m done. Over it. Tapping out.” Of course I didn’t mean it. I meant I wanted to be done having to grow. I wanted it to feel easy again and within my control. But with most of the construction completed on a beautiful cottage that suits them perfectly, my parents were finally able to move in last week. And, despite some serious threats by an inspector to make them move back out, today marked the signoff on the final inspection. It is now a done deal. We hold this tender new family setup on our God-given property with gratitude and joyfully embark on a new adventure. Of course, as with motherhood, there will be plenty more stretching to come… always followed by growth and freedom as we surrender to the process and allow God to form Himself in us.

Since growth in its truest form produces something, like babies or fruit or parents’ cottages or maturity, I have realized that many of the very challenges I would have escaped given the opportunity have actually been answers to the prayers of my heart. For who I’ve wanted to become. For the things I’ve wanted to be able to let go of. For the freedom I’ve yearned for. 

When I was praying for a friend in a very hard place many years ago, a picture formed in my mind that I’ve never forgotten. She was out at sea in a storm. The water was choppy and rough, the skies gray, the wind howling. She feared for her life and all she wanted to do was get out of the waves and onto the shore where she would feel safe and in control again. But God in His mercy knew that if He plunked her right back on the sand with sunny skies, she would be bound to that shore – a landlubber forevermore. He had a bigger vision for her life. So out of His vast patience and knowledge, He wanted to teach her to sail the seas with such mastery that she would never fear the water – or a storm – again, and would be free to go wherever He called her, no matter how big the waves or deafening the wind. Let me just tell you that I have seen her surrender to His compassionate but relentless teaching these past 20 years and though the storm of her circumstances has only intensified, she is no longer afraid and is now teaching others how to sail those daunting seas.

I know He wants to do the same for each of us, leading us into far greater growth and freedom than we would ever choose in our shortsighted desire for comfort or control. It might not be easy, but it will be so worth it as we hold the precious treasures that result.  I don’t know what you’re going through, how long or how hard it has been, if you feel stretched beyond breaking and want nothing more than to tap out of your trial, but I do know that He will not abandon you here; that He will see you through to the other side and that He is using even your hardships to answer the deepest cries of your heart. So my prayer is that no matter what things look like or feel like right now, we can choose to look to Him and let Him teach us how to sail the high seas.


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