I've been ruminating on a concept for awhile. And by awhile, I mean a couple years. Really. (And can I add, I love the word "ruminating?" That's my English minor at work, people.) But this concept is one of preparedness; or rather, the tension between trusting in God in an area, yet actively waiting and preparing while you trust. It's a blurry, gray and fuzzy line between the two. At least when it pertains to me, it is -- when it's other people's circumstances and situations, the line is very clear. But when I'm trying to see it for myself, I get all caught up in the vortex of doubt, chaos, faith and action. It's becomes a paralyzing uncertainty that renders my feet glued to the floor.
Therefore, I do nothing.
I joke that my major in college was Rationalization and my minor was Justification. Because truly, I can spin any situation or circumstance to the slant I want it to have. (I'm not bragging about this, I find it rather repulsive.) However, it comes in handy when one works in advertising and graphic design.
"See, the lamp I used in the logo represents us being the light of the world, and how the Word is a lamp unto our feet."
When really, I just thought the lamp made the logo look better.
(I'm just being honest.)
And it's worse when I'm talking myself in or out of doing or not doing something in my life. Specifically related to a particular dream I have. And so, over the years, I've gotten really, really good at convincing myself that I should or shouldn't pursue it based on my Rationalization and Justification abilities. Generally, my rationalizing and justifying stems from a deep insecurity or fear. Sometimes procrastination. Often laziness. But for the most part, I'm afraid. Afraid of succeeding and being discovered a fraud. Afraid of failing and disappointing myself. Afraid of failing and confirming I'm not any good anyway. Afraid that if I continue to do nothing, I'll live to see everyone else around me fulfilling my dream, and have to live with that constant, nagging reminder that I sat and did. nothing. about. it. But I could rationalize and justify why all the live-long day.
Someone whose blog I follow posted recently about something she had been eager to share for almost a year. She relayed, in detail, the story she wanted to share and the end result of what had been happening. And when I finished reading it, I was in a heap of tears. She wrote about my dream. I wanted to curl up in a fetal position and give up forever. Seeing this dream fulfilled was becoming dimmer and dimmer a reality to me.
I've prayed about this dream, I've fasted about this dream. I've received confirmations from people about this dream, without being asked. But I sit and wait for the One Big Sign From God about moving forward...because, I rationalize, I can't move forward without a "Go!" written in the clouds, or a burning bush, or an audible Word from God. Then I justify my lack of pursuing with very valid reasons such as, "I'm busy working," or "I've got an almost two-year-old," and "We're going to Maui, you know."
And the most ironic part of all is that if you would've asked me five years ago what my dream was, I would have never believed I even had one. Yet now I do. And I'm doing nothing about it.
Which brings me to preparedness, and actively waiting on the Lord. And this whole topic stems from the story of David and Goliath, oddly enough.
As I mentioned earlier, I've been meditating on this story and concept for a long time. Recently at church, our youth did a production about the life of David, and our current sermon series is on David. So this idea has taken new life and has been nagging at the forefront of my mind. And one phrase in one verse is the trigger for this very verbose post:
"Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd's bag, and with the sling in his hand, approached the Philistine." (1 Samuel 17:40)
Imagine, if you will, young David boldly volunteering himself to King Saul for this monstrous task of fighting Goliath. He's confident, maybe a little cocky. After trying on the King's armor and realizing his small stature in the face of such an enormous battle...I wonder if his confidence started to fade, just a little bit.
He walks over to a stream and chose five smooth stones. I wonder how long it took for him to choose those five stones? Splashing around in the stream, feeling the water pool around his ankles...I wonder if he used the "choosing of stones" time to pray and talk to God about what he was about to do? I wonder if he saw God's reflection waving in the water near his feet as he looked through to the bottom? I wonder if he saw God walking on water then, even before Peter did?
The most absolutely fascinating concept to me here is the way David went into battle. Was it spontaneous? Yes. Was it a little insane? Probably. Was he unprepared? Absolutely not. We know it only took one stone from his sling shot to kill Goliath. And David was confident enough in God's ability to work through him to volunteer in the first place. Yet, he took time to choose five smooth stones to have in his arsenal.
Are you picking up what I'm putting down here? David went into battle armed with more than what he needed to succeed. He went in prepared.
"Fly by the seat of your pants" is a concept that Christians use regularly when it comes to decisions in life and trusting God. Most of the time, we assume that if we just wake up and "feel" like we should do something, we jump into it headlong with no preparation for what could possibly happen.
And yes, sometimes it works. We definitely are guided daily, moment-by-moment by the Holy Spirit, listening for which way to go. But so very often, especially in the biggest battles of life, sit back and rest on our Holy Ghost laurels. We assume He'll swoop in and rescue, requiring very little effort on our parts.
In this story of David (and by the way, he was an actual person, not just a Bible character), we see he does the exact opposite. David didn't have a guarantee he'd get out alive in the battle. All he knew for sure was that God could save him, not that He would.
So David prepared. He carefully and intentionally chose more than enough stones for the task at hand. He studied them, selected them and was prepared to use them if need be. Yet with just the first one he picked up and set into his weapon, God guided that stone as it soared through the air, and directed it to land exactly where it did. And when it was all over, David walked away with four unused smooth stones.
I wonder if God has those placed on David's mantel in his heavenly mansion?
I am beginning to realize that I'm entering into this dream I have -- or rather, this battle for my dream -- totally unprepared. I'm expecting to slay the giant. But not only do I have a single stone, it's rough and bumpy, not smooth. And I keep checking out everyone else's stinking armor and wishing I looked as good in it as they do. And I keep thinking that just because I want it, it'll happen. If any of the girls I mentor came to me with this ridiculous nonsense, I'd slap them into reality and then settle in for a good talk. Because really. I know better than this! Don't I?
I'm "considering" fighting, but with just one stone, which I'm pretty sure is just a rental and not in my ownership. God cannot guide a non-existent stone. Did you catch that? Did I catch that? God cannot guide a non-existent stone. But, He can take an insignificant one -- smoothed out by the sands and waves of life -- and make it soar like an eagle, skipping across the waters multiple times, leaving ripples and ripples of effect in its wake.
But first I have to find it. And own it. And put it in my pocket. And then get a few more. And then I have to actually use one. Actually, I might have to use all of them. And if God so chooses to guide my stones elsewhere, I really, really, REALLY want to be okay with that. I want my "choosing of stones" time to be filled with true communion with God. I want to see His reflection waving in the waters as I look through my dream. I want to see God walking on the water of this dream. I want it to mean something...I want the whole journey to mean something.
I'm ready to go stone shopping. Wanna come?