Unlike how my physical body responds to running, with lungs that gasp dramatically for air, a heart that pounds so hard that it threatens to leap out of my throat, and joints in my legs that complain with every thud onto the pavement, I love the idea of “running with endurance” (Heb. 12:1) when it comes to tasks set before me. *pats self on back*
Granted, I imagine this kind of running with a wide-open path leading straight to a goal that I feel passionately about and am dedicated to accomplishing. (This running doesn’t look so fun when the path is rocky and straight up-hill, controlled by higher-ups that set boundaries I don’t agree with, or a directed towards a goal that I don’t perceive as worthwhile or achievable.)
Since I started working in New York, my life feels a lot like a video game.
In this video game, the character starts running on the animated brick road, dashing forward with the finish line in sight, but she runs right up into brick wall. The brick wall is relatively thin and inconsequential, and from the controller’s point of view, you may wonder why she can’t just go around the wall or why she doesn’t go in a different direction.
But she doesn’t – like a dog on a mission, she keeps running straight at the wall, slamming into it and bouncing centimeters back, over and over again. Eventually, she may figure out how to jump over the wall or how the wall may just fade away, and she leaps forward again. In a few short paces, however, a wall of a different height or width appears and she has to determinedly kick at that one too until it disappears.
If this video game person were like a real human, her energy would start slacking off after a couple of walls. She may get tired and her lunges at the wall may slow down. She may start crawling over the walls instead of leaping, and she may begin staggering forward on the road instead of sprinting. She’s still moving forward, but it’s nothing inspirational.
She may even drop to the ground and curl into a fetal position at a wall, crying little animated tears, wondering why she is stuck running this road full of roadblocks and why she can’t just finish the damn race set before her.
Hypothetically speaking, of course.
I love the course set before me in Queens. I love dreaming big and envisioning what we could accomplish. My heart races as we take giant steps forward our goals – and we have already achieved a ton. The encouragement and the joy has flooded my heart freely over the past six months. However, roadblocks keep rearing up, making me take a moment to holler at God.
Why would You bring me to New York and clearly open all the doors for me to work here, just to put this obstacle in front of me? Are we not chasing after what You want us to chase after? I thought You were “for” what we are working to accomplish here – to bring glory to Your name and to tell others about You in all that we do. Are we going about it the wrong way? Are You trying to teach me something?
Despite my frustration and my spiritual whining, the Holy Spirit makes my heart crave to see the fruition of Ephesians 1:7-10 in whatever way God sees fit:
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight, making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
Yes, I hunger to see God unite all things in Him, and I know that His plan is so much greater than my minuscule human plans. And I know on a soul level that Isaiah 55:8-9 is holy and good:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
I’m so thankful that God’s ways and thoughts aren’t like mine, but the fact that He is holy, good, Almighty God and that He knows things that I don’t is a boundary for me. And boundaries are hard sometimes.
My heart overflows with gratitude and joy in whatever my Heavenly Father is orchestrating in Queens, New York, and I’m thrilled to be used in that plan. But I don’t see the awesome, cosmic picture of God’s plan – I just see what is right before me. We run forward, we accomplish things, and then we’re stopped mid-stride.
And I stand at the walls, kicking and kicking and kicking.
My thoughts aren’t Your thoughts, God. So show me where You want me to run. Show me how You want me to work. Tell me what You want me to do. Give me wisdom.
As a response to the stubborn kicking and impatience, I decided that we would discuss “gratitude” yesterday in the Women’s Conversation Group that I facilitate. We created tiny gratitude lists while I made my frustrated, discouraged heart sit down and be thankful.
Here is my tiny list of things I am thankful for:
- Hot, fresh coffee
- This beautiful spring day
- A place to call home
- Clever students that make me laugh
- A Heavenly Father that uses walls to make me more like Jesus
So if you’re standing at your own walls, yelling and kicking, you are welcomed here. We can kick together.