Shaken…not stirred

As much as you think you know someone, invariably we can be surprised by them.  Unfortunately, when this surprise comes about, more times than not, disappointment will accompany it.  We are just dumbfounded by a decision that can be made that clearly was not a good one.

I’m not sure if times like this are meant to “wake us up” out of whatever is going on in our lives, or not.  Is it God’s way of getting our attention?  Maybe it’s a wake-up call from him just to remind us that even though life seems like it’s on a decent track, that we still need him, that we still need to depend on him, and that everything we have ultimately comes from him.

Hopefully these times will not be earth shattering, and our “legs will not be taken out from under us.”  Hopefully we are simply shaken up a little bit.  Whatever the outcome and what our perception of the incident is, I’m pretty sure I have a good idea of what part of God’s intentions are.  I once heard a quote that went something like this.  “God doesn’t give us burdens to break our backs.  Instead, he wants to drive us to our knees.”  I don’t really think I need to explain it, but it’s a reminder that he is in control of our lives, not us, like most of us like to believe we are.

All of us, even the ones strongest in our faith, find it easy to think WE are the reason we are experiencing success in our lives.  We think we have been successful and that we are responsible for a new discovery, or for locking up a long term sales contract.  Sure, we were certainly a part of the process, but we didn’t do it all alone.  Others have partially laid the groundwork before us.  But God allows us to use our gifts to further his ultimate plan.

The older I get, the more definitively I can see how our lives are not just a random bunch of incidences.  I can see that certain people showed up in my life at a precise time and were able to either help me out with something I was struggling with, or helped me to change my course and point me toward somewhere I needed to go.

Many years ago, I was a firm believer in fate.  Today, I don’t look at it that way.  Now my belief is that everything happens for a reason, and it is our job to make decisions along the way to get us to where we are ultimately supposed to be.  Where is this?  Only God knows for sure, because it is a part in his plan.  But I do believe that we all have a specific reason for being here, no matter how long we live.  Once I started looking at my life in this context, everything seemed to make more sense.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t know all the answers, and I still struggle with many things, but I do take comfort in knowing better now what my purpose is and that I’m working at fulfilling it as best as I know how.

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Running on Empty

“I don’t know where I’m running now, I’m just running on
Running on-running on empty
Running on-running blind
Running on-running into the sun
But I’m running behind”

Jackson Browne (1977)

One morning recently, while I was driving into work, I had a thought come into my mind.  At this moment, I don’t remember exactly what I heard on the radio that got me to thinking, but apparently it had to do with our gifts and death.  Anyway, I got to thinking about when our time here on earth is done. (It also had something to do with energy and how we recharge ourselves).  I’ll try to remember more details later on, but now I’ll just get to the point.

I do remember the main thought that came to me.  It was what I truly believe that in God’s economy, nothing is wasted.  With this being said, I believe that when we have served our ultimate purpose here, whether we are an hour old or are 105 years old, that is when God calls us home.  As I thought after hearing whatever that was on the radio, the visual that came to my mind was that of a gas gauge on empty.  I wondered, if that is metaphorically what happens to us in the end?  Kind of reminds me of the lyrics referenced above…

If this is true, it seems like we would hit empty much quicker than most of us do.  Well, if we were actually in control (like we think we are) of the gas pedal that is our life, that really would be the case.  Thankfully, God is the one who is driving.  If left to our own devices, we would run ourselves out of fuel or end up crashing somewhere.  Well, some of us actually do that to a certain extent quite often, now that I think about it, but I digress…

Thankfully, we aren’t actually the pilot (as many a bumper stickers would suggest…”God is my Co-Pilot”).  God is THE pilot!  Honestly, I don’t even think we are the co-pilots.  I like to think that we are actually the navigators of our journeys.  We are telling God where to take us.  This is where free will comes in, especially when it comes to our faith.  Sometimes we pick a direction and head out on a journey, but sometimes he exercises his “executive privilege” and takes control.  You know, like in the Driver’s Education cars?  Sometimes God grabs the wheel away from us quicker, sometimes later.  It just depends on what we are going through at the time and what it is we need to learn from him.  Sometimes he cushions our impact with an airbag, and sometimes he doesn’t, the bags don’t deploy, and we get tossed about, get bruised, cut, or broken, then our healing slowly begins.

I’m also glad that God has not granted us complete control to our fuel tanks.  We would continually be running out.  Well, some of us certainly do that often enough, and take our tanks pretty low at times, but the coolest part is when we ask him to help us out, generally he gives us more than what we need to fill the tank back up.  After all, as David wrote in Psalm 23, “My cup runneth over.”

I’m so thankful to have a God that loves me so much that he takes care of me like this.  Sure, I run off the road once in a while, and sometimes I bump into other or things, but if I didn’t, I wouldn’t learn what I need to grow, so that I can continue on another adventure that will take me to where I can fulfill God purpose for my life.  Ultimately, it’s  those little bumps and bruises that allow me just enough discomfort to get my attention and alter my course so I don’t end up driving off of a cliff!