I was in school from roughly 1986-2008, that's 22 years, the vast majority of my life. I always really liked being in school and especially when I was in college, I was never really eager for it to be over, maybe that's why I immediately went to graduate school. To me, being out of school kind of feels like a fish floundering on dry land, longing to be back in the water. Of course I love learning and all the nerdy aspects of school, but I think what I really loved was the structure. I didn't have to wonder what was going to happen next, I knew. All the classes I needed to take were listed and all I had to do was follow the path. Every semester the professors explained their syllabi and I knew exactly what was expected of me for a whole semster. And as soon as that semester and sense of accomplishment was completed there was always another semester to begin, endure, and complete. I liked that.
Honestly, since graduating in 2008 I've been floudering a bit, not exactly sure what to do with myself and longing for the structure and focus of school. I've even contemplated, more than once, going back to school. I think I have a problem. Last night I was thinking about all this and was trying to think about how God sees my life so differently than I see it. I'm like a frightened animal, not sure which way to go and not comfortable in new situations, but He is like my all-knowing, all-powerful, in-control Master who loves me and cares for me and I just need to trust Him and focus on Him.
It might seem like a ridiculous analogy, but if you've ever trained a dog you know the goal is to get them to focus on you. If they're focused on external stimuli they'll go crazy, but if they learn to keep you their focus in any situation they'll remain calm, obedient, and happy. That's what we're like! I am so easily overwhelmed by the external stimuli in my life - new job, living in Oregon, missing my family, wanting to get married, wondering which church to join, etc. - and a lot of it frightens me because I don't understand where it's leading or why it's happening. But if, like a well trained dog, I will just focus on my Master, the external stimuli wouldn't freak me out so much because my focus would be on The Source of all good things.
Yesterday my devotional featured these Scriptures:
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: "Everyone is looking for you!" Jesus replied, "Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come." So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons. (Mark 1:35-39 NIV)
In a very tender moment, this line hit me: "Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come." This is totally just my interpretation, but I just felt like Jesus said to me in my heart that He knows what it's like to be me, to be human. I read the above line with a little bit of resolution in Jesus' human heart, like maybe He was submitting to the Father, but was really struggling a bit with this whole being a human thing. It's very human to struggle and Jesus was afterall fully human. I don't think it's farfetched to think that maybe Jesus went away to pray and say to God what I often feel like saying, "Father, I don't really like what's happening and I wish things were different, but I know You have a plan and that I am here for a reason and I submit, I will do whatever you want me to do." I feel like maybe Jesus was thinking, gosh these disciples are annoying sometimes and people don't understand me and always want something from me, but Father I am here to do what You sent me to do, so let's do it, let's go to another village and I will preach the Good News, because that's why I'm here.
Which brought this Scripture to mind:
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16 NIV)
I found it deeply comforting to think that Jesus KNOWS how I feel, He can sympathize, and really we're in this together. All of creation is longing for real, true life in Heaven with the Lord and Jesus felt that tension and longing when He was on this earth, that feeling of something just isn't right here, there's got to be more, and I can't wait to be there. I just find the beauty of Jesus' divinity and humanity overwhleming, no human could of invented something so perfect and truly glorious.
So, at this point in my life my faith has become like a very simple garment that I just choose to put on. I can't overthink it (my favorite activity), I can't control it, and I can't figure it out. I just have to choose to trust it, believe it, and hold fast to it. I do not understand life, what happens, what doesn't happens, when things happen, why things happen, or how things happen, but I do know that there is a God, that He is good, that He loves us, and that He has everything under control. In the middle of the seeming chaos of all the external stimuli in my life I will choose to focus my eyes on Him and hopefully I will remain calm and at peace. Like a well-trained dog :)