I could almost smell the grill, the steaks searing and angry oil throwing flames, waning into a rattling sizzle.
Saturday’s clear, blue sky and hours of sunshine intoxicated, invited. We had spent every minute possible outdoors, raking, clipping, clearing the remains of winter — it’s what you do in the Northwest when spring finally becomes a real possibility — until dusk forced us indoors.
That night we wore the scent of cool earth in our hair and talked about grilling steaks the next day, starting projects, cleaning the garage.
But Sunday, daylight saving’s time Sunday, arrived cloaked in silver gray and by mid-day the rains came.
So, disappointed, I boiled pasta and searched my mental repertoire for something brilliant to cook up for lunch. Incredulity settled on my shoulders and I felt the same tight, ill-feeling like when I’ve lost a twenty dollar bill or left my wallet on a store counter.
Only, no amount of sky-searching would reveal the sunshine today.
We ate lunch by the fire, burning it’s steady gas-lit flame. Earthy mushrooms mingled in buttered herbs, bread sopped the balsamic dressing and pasta baked in tomatoes with ricotta cheese piled on our plates and filled us.
We read books and listened to music, Annalia played the piano. I drained a glass of wine and decided it was fine with me if today was unproductive, quiet, here by the fire.
Our plans changed. We adjusted. Things turned out fine.
On a grander scale, life is a little like a change in the weather.
We plan and set goals and budget. But life rarely follows the plan. Many times we look back and see our plan in comparison to the wild trajectory that life gave us and say the inevitable:
“I wouldn’t have had it any other way. It may not have been what we planned, but I’ve changed so much that I can’t imagine not having these experiences.”
But until I get to that point where I can review the circumstances with such wise acceptance, I can get pretty ugly.
You see I have these little pets called expectations. I have this nagging issue with entitlement. I value my personal comfort and I crave a little thing called security.
There was a man named Abram. He lived ages ago and we get to read his story in Genesis (and some editorial comments about his faith and actions in the New Testament book of Hebrews). God met Abram on the plain and gave him a promise and a plan.
“Go, trust in me, and I’ll make you a great nation.”
Many people have heard of Abram, later called Abraham and his wife Sarah. For the record, he was 75 years old when God called him and the collision between almighty God and power/security-loving Abraham began the demolishing and rebuilding of Abraham’s character.
We remember Abraham for his faith (see Hebrews 11), but if it weren’t for his glaring mistakes, his moments of faith would not shine so brightly from the Old Testament pages. Abraham was guided by fear more than once, which put his wife especially in danger. He was driven by the promise of an heir, a promise God gave to an old man with an old, barren wife, and that desire for an heir compelled him to impregnate an Egyptian handmaiden. This surrogacy was a failed experiment in attempted omnipotence.
It seems that more of Abraham’s story highlights his spiritual impotence than his faith.
I suppose, if someone were to study my life, they would see a fabric riddled with doubt and fear and mistakes motivated by greed and self-preservation. But there are the bright spots, too, the times I trusted, gave, surrendered. Although I long for this process called redemption to immediate and successful, I am learning that redemption is God’s work, made fully powerful by the cross of Christ, and it is a slow, intentional work.
God’s methods to produce redemption are born from a greater understanding than I possess and his desire for me to grow in grace and in the rhythms of his faithfulness outweighs his desire for my happiness.
My life’s story is playing out–complete with interruptions and alterations to the plan–and melding into history, it is also being threaded, by competent and loving hands, into His story, his redemptive, perfect plan for us all.
By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command,
that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.
(Read More about Abraham beginning in Genesis 12, see also Hebrews 11)