Three Paths In the Woods…

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“Would you like what’s behind door number one, door number two or door number three?” Those famous words are from the old television show, “Let’s Make a Deal!”

 

I’m feeling a bit like a contestant on that show, these days. With Bill looking for a new job, we have been considering lots of possibilities. Some would keep us here in Buffalo and some would mean a move south. Some would mean continuing in the restaurant business, others would mean a career change. Some would have me continuing in real estate (which I’m really enjoying), others would have me working in our own restaurant (which I would also enjoy). So many options. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for options. The alternative is very scary. So, I’m truly glad we have choices.

 

The problem is the way I’m wired. I don’t shop at places like TJ Maxx—or even the mall—for a reason. Too many options…too much going on. I can’t concentrate. Just let me do a search on Amazon and click a couple of buttons and I’m done. No fuss. No muss.

 

That’s the way I feel about the options before us. I kind of wish I could just put it all into a search bar and Amazon would show me the best options, all with reviews and stars to help us make the decision.

 

The other day I was letting myself get all stressed about it. I was fretting and worrying…what if we make the wrong choice? What if we screw up our kids lives? What if the sky falls? I was saying a prayer about it and I kind of felt like God was telling me to calm down. To realize that whatever we choose, He’s going to be with us.

 

The next day, my friends, Heather and Thera, came from Rochester to visit. And as we were talking about all this stuff, Heather told me an interesting story. She said she was struggling with the same feelings…what choice do I make? Do I go down path A or path B? Door number two or three? And as she was mulling it all over she had the thought, “What if the way we view choices is all mixed up? What if it’s not always a right or wrong choice?” As she closed her eyes, soaking up the sun from her patio, she asked God to give her an illustration to help her understand. And this is what she saw in her mind:

 

You’re standing before a forest and there are three paths in front of you. Each leads off into the distance and bends so you can only see the first part of the path. You ask yourself, “Which one is the right one?” But then suddenly, your perspective shifts and you are looking at the forest from above. You can see each pathway leading in but rather than seeing where they all lead (as you would expect), once they bend, all that you can see is white space. And that’s when you hear God say, “Whatever path you choose, we will create the rest of it together. It’s your choice.”

 

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Wow. That was so helpful to me. I needed that perspective shift.

 

It reminds me of when I’m writing a book. I have in mind some of the things that I want my characters to experience and I know where I want them to end up. But I don’t have every scene planned out. Sometimes, as I’m writing, they do something that I didn’t plan for and the story takes an unexpected turn. From there, I keep writing and I will make sure they hit the points I need them to hit, but the pathways to those points aren’t set in stone.

 

What if our lives are like that? What if God has certain things He wants us to experience but the pathways are up to us to choose and then He will write our story from whichever path we are on?

 

I mean, think about it. If it’s all planned out ahead of time, and we make one wrong turn, is the whole plan shot? No, He adjusts with us. He works with us to reach where we need to be. Otherwise, the idea of free will is kind of watered down.

 

So am I saying, “Do whatever you want. God will work with you whatever you do.” Eh, not exactly. There are some obvious right and wrong decisions. If there are moral choices involved, well then we already have a road map for those, right? Do not murder. Do not steal…etc. (Even then, though, God will be with us if we screw up.) But when it’s not a moral decision—when it’s not cut and dry—maybe we just make the best choice we can and count on God to create that new pathway with us?

 

My church has been doing a series on “Life Verse.” The first time our pastor mentioned it, I knew what my life verse was. Proverbs 3:5-6. The verse that I’ve known since I was a young teenager that has comforted me many times. I think I have a new understanding of it today:

 

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”

 

It doesn’t say He will make sure you pick the right path. It says He will make your paths straight. So I don’t have to understand it all ahead of time. I don’t have to have it all figured out. I just have to take it a day at a time and when it comes time to make a decision as to whether we move or stay, I can take comfort knowing that whichever path we choose, God’s gonna be on it with us, whichever way it bends.

And the same goes for you…

 

Photo Credit: Anyjazz63 & James Wheeler on Creative Commons (click the pics for links)

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Back from the Dominican

Fifteen's friend Marco who called him his horse and told him repeatedly to "vamos!"
Fifteen’s friend Marco who called him his horse and told him repeatedly to “vamos!”

Hello friends!

My son, “Fifteen” and I returned safely from our trip to the Dominican Republic this past weekend. You can see that we’re different if you look closely. Our skin is tanner (bummer, right? :)) and I may have lost a couple pounds. We have new friends on Facebook and new stickers on our passports.

All those things are visible. But what you can’t see is what God does on the inside when you leave your comfort zone and venture out on a mission’s trip. I will be honest…I didn’t want to go. I signed up because I thought it would be a great thing to do in Seventeen’s senior year. Kind of a mother-daughter bonding experience. But at the first meeting back in September, she felt strongly that it wasn’t a trip she was supposed to go on. I was shocked thinking, “I wouldn’t have signed up if not for her, so what’s the deal, God? I’ve been to third-world countries, had my heart ripped out by the devastating poverty that exists…I don’t need to experience this. Why am I going?”

But His ways are higher than ours. He always has a plan and sometimes we just need to wait for it to unfold. After Seventeen decided not to go, I thought maybe I’d ask Fifteen if he wanted to. Then, my husband suggested exactly that. So I asked and he was all for it.

What a perfect plan God had. Fifteen was the only teen boy with several teen girls. (Poor thing ;)) But this group of teenagers was fabulous. They worked tirelessly and without complaint. By the last night, our trip leader said he’d never seen a group of teens work so well together on one of these trips. He said that the teens are often the ones who are complaining and whining but not this group. I can’t count the number of people that came up to me during the trip telling me how they loved my son. I could cry as I sit and write this realizing God’s divine timing is so perfect. In my plan, I would have taken Fifteen in his senior year. That’s three years from now. Instead, as a freshman in high school, he has had his eyes opened to a whole new world and I believe his life is forever changed by it. My hope in bringing him was that all the head knowledge he has about God, as a life-long church-going kid, would be more firmly planted in his heart…that he’d see God in a new way. And I know this trip has brought him closer to his Creator.

I’m so proud of him and the girls that worked with him. And I’m thankful that God arranged for him to come with me to the Dominican. I’m confident it won’t be his last trip there.

And of course, I learned that God didn’t just want to do work in Fifteen…He also had things for me to learn. I am changed too. It’s not the stark, “I’ll never recover from that” trip that I’ve been on before. It’s more subtle…but I still felt God working in my heart. I’ll write a post about what God taught me. (click here for that post) For now I’ll just say that I’ve discovered my mission field is all around me every day.

I’ll have more stories and pictures on here soon. I promise!

love,

rebekah

Update: March 2013. As often happens in missions, once you go and see what God is doing in some of the poorest countries in the world, you hunger to go back. You want to do more, be more, help more. So, Fifteen has just been accepted as a part of his youth group’s mission trip to Haiti this summer! I’m excited for him (and a little jealous…as I’ve been feeling a pull toward Haiti for a year now! ;)). I can’t wait to see what God has in store for this team of young people who are on a mission to share God’s love and meet people’s needs. Your prayers for he and his team are appreciated! They will be there at the end of June.

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