On the way back from Vegas a couple weeks ago, I was reminded of this.
As much as I travel, you'd think I'd get used to flying. But I've watched enough Lost to know that anytime I experience turbulence the plane is probably about to split in half. Or, thanks to watching Denzel Washington's Flight movie a few weeks ago (which I don't recommend), I assume the pilot is downing vodka in the cockpit.
Maybe a combination of both.
That's how I felt a couple Saturdays ago. The plane hit about 20 minutes of uninterrupted turbulence and I was sure the pilots were drunk and the wings had probably begun to fall off.
This thought process may seem irrational, but I know how these things go. Hollywood has done a great job of mapping out a plane crash. It always starts with some turbulence and the flight attendants walking through the cabin acting like nothing is going on. Then the lights flicker and loud, chaotic beeping starts. The oxygen masks fall down, the flight attendants hit the ceiling because they're not buckled. Luggage bins open, bags fall out and some poor guy will get hit in the head with a large metal case that someone stored. The plane splits. Only one half of the plane will make it. The survivors will be stuck on an island somewhere.
This is what I always assume is about to happen whenever we hit turbulence.
The plane has yet to split in half, though. And, as far as I can tell, the pilots have been sober on every flight.
But I still expect the plane crash.
I expect the worst.
I'm just waiting for the oxygen masks to deploy and the loud beeping to start.
I've always been one of those people who expects things to not go right. Not to say I'm a negative person. Actually, I stay fairly positive while navigating through the low expectations I have. I just anticipate things to go opposite of how I'd like them to.
Whether I would vocalize this or not (and I wouldn't), I always held an interesting view of God and my relationship with him. Deep down I believed (and maybe I didn't even realize I believed this) that the things I wanted and the desires I had for my life were in opposition to God's desire for my life. If I were to follow God that would mean that my desires would get trumped, every time, always, no exception. I even kind of had this weird view of prayer, that if I presented a request to God he would give me the opposite of what I asked for. Kind of like a testing measure, to see how faithful I would be despite not getting what I wanted.
Yeah, I know, that's not theologically sound, but it's how I felt. I believed life would just be one let down after another for the sole purpose of learning to rely on God more, or "bringing him glory" or whatever other phrase is thrown around to explain why things go awry. And I have to believe its not just me that holds this view internally; dig deep enough and you may too.
You know, the fear that if you fully commit to God, he'll uproot you from your life and send you to some far off country and you'll be miserable and you won't like the food and you don't want to wear a kimono to fit in with the culture. But its what Jesus wants you to do so you've got to go.
Or you have aspirations of being a teacher or a musician or an engineer but God will make you a janitor instead, just as a test.
Or you want to get married and have a family, but joke's on you - God wants you to lead a quiet life of celibacy and have cats and minister to your cat lady peers who live in the apartments adjacent to you.
It feels silly to type this and put words to a feeling, but I think a lot of us believe that surrender to God might very well make us miserable. It will be a life in contrast to how we're wired.
Sacrifice is important and central to not only faith, but to any good relationship we have. This is true. But somewhere along the line, sacrifice became synonymous with disappointment to me. I surmised that kind of sacrifice is what God must want. That's how I'd know I was really following Christ. If I felt disappointment, then I was probably on the right track.
Then something happened to make me rethink my faulty view of God, my relationship with him and my life in general.
Before I get to that, I want to preface by citing something I think we all need to be reminded of.
"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" - Matthew 7:7-11
God isn't in the business of tricking or deceiving us when we have desires. God isn't looking to lay before us the most miserable path possible just to watch how we'll endure.
He wants the best for us. He wants to give us blessings and the desires of our hearts. Sometimes our hearts' desires are hurtful to us or sometimes we don't know what we want or sometimes the timing isn't right. God won't always let us settle with bread and fish; he may be waiting to give us a feast instead. So he'll refine our desires, teach us to re-dream perhaps or provide in the right timing. But he won't give us stones or snakes.
For the longest time, I expected stones and snakes, though.
Then I met Trevor.
|Trevor and I the night he proposed|
Me - "God, I would like a family of my own."
God - "No. But I will let you live in the desert in West Texas where they don't even have clean drinking water and you'll pay $900 a month in rent for a run-down one bedroom apartment. Now get out there and glorify me, champ!"
I just ran into so many closed doors and felt disappointment after disappointment, I was sure this was God's answer to me.
What I didn't realize was that all this time I had been asking for bread and fish. I thought God was giving me snakes and stones in return, when the reality was he was preparing a feast, bigger and better than I could've asked for.
Thank God, he didn't give me bread and fish. Thank God I didn't settle for the bread and fish I tried to find on my own.
Trevor, in my life, is the embodiment of Matthew 7:7-11. He has reminded me that God gives good gifts. God is faithful. God gives us what we need exactly when we need it. While we go through periods in life that test our faith, God's end goal isn't to watch us squirm in disappointment - its to see us thrive.
God isn't up in heaven dishing out stones and snakes to see how we'll handle them. He's preparing a feast, for just the right time.
I think he is doing that in our individual lives, and I believe he is doing that for the whole of humanity. He is preparing a feast and one day we won't have to feel like we need to settle for bread and fish... and one day we won't have to fear snakes and stones.
I'm so thankful for Trevor and so excited for what the future holds.
I'm so excited to walk in the truth of knowing deep in my heart that God provides and takes care of his people.
And I'm glad I know now not to fear snakes and stones from the hand of a loving God.