I write from a plane above the Pyrenees mountains. Bound for Belfast, I’m returning from a weekend basketball trip to Molina, Spain with a crew of eleven 16-17-year-old girls and one fearless mom who braved the journey and who was instrumental to its success. In the same instant, I’m exhausted and quite content. We all learned a lot; about each other, about ourselves, and about how to win and lose. I got to re-learn how much energy a trip like this can take. But everyone is on the correct plane, with no serious injuries to report, and should be delivered safely to their parents within the next couple hours.
Once again, time has positively flown since last I wrote. The weeks and months since I moved to Belfast in September have become a rhythmed existence that, as is becoming the norm, I never could have predicted. Most mornings I get picked up by a fantastic coworker friend who lives at the bottom of my road (i.e. two minutes away) and drives me in to work with her. Normal office life ensues for the day — a proportional dose of monotony punctuated by plenty of antics and banter. A couple weekly evenings I spend in the gym running around trying to help my band of teenagers get better at basketball. Another evening or two is usually spent either out with friends, at a coffee shop working on various projects, at a church function, or doing something like seeing a show or going to some event or another. Weekends usually mean a game somewhere on the Emerald Isle, more projects, church and then lunch with the young adults of Belfast City Vineyard, cooking, perhaps a quick adventure to see the countryside with flatmates or another event of some kind before jumping into another week and whirling around the merry-go-round again.
This routine feels tenuous because I only have a visa through the beginning of March and don’t know yet what happens after that. However, I can feel at peace in it because I know this is where I’m supposed to be for the moment. God’s clear provision of all life’s pieces (accommodation, job, connections, basketball, church family, flatmates, etc) at the onset has given me much confidence in that. Watching to see what transpires next is now a matter of casual interest as I live these Belfast days.
I’ve been in this very spot (waiting to see what the next bend holds) so many times that it’s becoming comfortable — it’s like knowing the curvature of a familiar park bench, or sitting down as a regular at your favorite cafe table. I have so many hopes and dreams for the future yet to be realised, but it feels easier than it has in the past to drop them at Jesus’ feet and ask Him to do what He’d like with them. Even the thought of Him discarding them isn’t usually so much painful as it is desirable. On good days, I hold a much deflated regard for my own ideas, which is a more contented posture than feeling like I have to sell them to the big man upstairs and fear Him rejecting them.
Because of that, my chat with God has begun to shift in nature. Something I’m trying at the moment is to shorten the shelf life of my questions for Him. He’s pretty good at taking care of the long-term. If it was a choice, I’d have Him in charge of that every time. So why should I constantly ask what is around the bend? Why beg and plead to be made privy to appointments and plans made for a distant future I don’t need to know? Instead, what if I spent energy and questions on how best to plow just the row I find myself in today, asking Him to help me lay whatever groundwork I need to lay for His dreams for me instead of mine?
I’m trying to pay attention to the questions I ask God all day and make more of them about what He and I are engaging in here and now. That’s enough. If I make my business about the opportunities and callings He gives me today, I can trust Him about unlocking the doors and knitting the landscape farther ahead that, were He to divulge, I wouldn’t be able to do much about yet anyway. Trusting that God has hands on the steering wheel and the map, I want to handle as best I can the simple instructions He gives me day to day. If I learn to engage with Him here, I bet I can trust Him to take care of there and give me the head’s up when I need one.
Nothing particularly profound. But seems to have potential thus far for incarnating many more cumulative moments of peace rather than of frenzy or worry. Try it out and let me know how it goes for you.
By way of updates, I return State-side this coming week for an almost two-week Christmas visit and I’m quite excited. Anyone who wants to drop by the house in Mundelein and hang, give me a shout and I’d absolutely love to connect with you.
And with that, the pilot has given us a friendly notice of descent. Till next,