A little while ago I spent a day and a night on Lake Austin, camping and kayaking with my friend Rachael. Confronted with the prospect of change, sick of trying to figure things out and unable to just lay it at the feet of Jesus, I sat on the bench of an old, splintery picnic table. My mind and emotions frantically raced with no particular finish line in sight. Not even the rugged beauty of Austin’s white cliffs, the glistening river or the big blue Texas sky that lay before me could distract from the turmoil that churned within me. I wanted to dive into the river and let the current sweep me away. Sitting there with my hands tightly gripping the hard wooden bench I prayed that God would wash away my confusion and anxiety. I wanted the cool breeze that I felt on my skin to touch my heart, but my requests echoed seemingly unheard. My prayers seemed in vain as tiny wooden splinters dug into my fingers, mirroring the pain I felt inside.
I hate change. I really do. When faced with the harsh realities of a new context, truth confronts a lie that I constantly try very hard to believe. A voice in my head tells me that if I hold on to what I love as hard as I can, my grasp will be tight enough. So I take the relationships that I value so highly and the friends that I love so much and clutch them till my knuckles turn white and the muscles in my hand ache. "Don’t let go," a voice screams over and over in my ear. Naively and selfishly, I believe. I cling to what I think I can control. I hate not being in control, and at times I am forced to acknowledge the truth: I never really am in control.
Change shakes me like nothing else. When I have to say goodbye to people or when I see that a relationship can no longer be like it was it is as if I am stuffed into a dryer, whipped around on high spin, yanked out and in a daze of confusion, must make my way alone. Stumbling I walk as if drunk into my new environment. My bruised knuckles and trembling hands mock me, reminding me of the grip I once thought so tight. I have no control. The loneliness that inevitably follows scares me. I know how easily it morphs into insecurity and self-hatred. This time I hear another voice. Far different from the urgent piercing screams of the first, this voice whispers softly to my anxious, frantic heart. "Take refuge under MY wings."
I don’t want to end with some cliché answer. The answers seem trite and, honestly, I don’t have any. Life confuses me. An introspective person, I relentlessly seek to find concrete solutions, and in the process I grow anxious about things that I cannot control. Given a couple of days, distance from the emotion of the moment and some good conversations, I see myself and the picnic table differently. I will never feel complete peace here on earth. Between and sometimes even during restoration, comfort and joy exists a certain level of trial, loneliness and loss. God never promised an easy life; His Son Jesus actually said the opposite. However He longs for me to seek constancy in the refuge that only He can provide. He gently coaxes me, whispering to my heart that all will be well. The pain is real, but the story incomplete. One day, I will see God face-to-face, and, one day, the cool breeze will touch my heart.
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, TNIV).
“For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” 1 Corinthians 13:12 (TNIV).
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly were wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18, TNIV).