Sunday, May 14, 2006

Taking Charge

This is the front page article from my May Flourish Newsletter. I thought I'd start posting a few of my Flourish articles on here. Enjoy!

I like to plan things. This should come as no surprise to those who have watched the Flourish Ministry grow over the past few years. I’ve always got a plan and while I’ll be the first to admit they’re not always good ones, I feel better knowing I have things prepared for the future.

Would it surprise you to know that I have women’s Sunday school planned through 2008 or that I have Flourish events percolating in my brain that probably won’t happen for two years or more? I get all sorts of responses from people when they hear that. Some mock me, finding someone who plans that far ahead to be delusional. Others are in awe, thinking I’ve got it all together.

I think the truth is somewhere in the middle - I am slightly crazy for planning so far ahead when things can change in an instant but I’m also not quite as organized as I appear. While I don’t have it all together all the time, having a plan makes me feel in control and gives me confidence. And if there’s one thing I seem to subconsciously reach for, it’s control.

This has never been clearer than during last weekend’s trip to New York City. While I have gone to New York for a day here or there, this was my first overnight stay. We had a luxurious hotel, courtesy of my brother and sister-in-law and I had the entire three days planned out. I knew what I wanted to see and what I wanted to do during my jaunt to the big city.

And then it rained. And rained. Water poured from the sky in sheets of cold, windy liquid. It rained pretty much the entire time until the afternoon of the day we left. In fact, I didn’t really see the sun until the bus ride home. Then it came out in blinding splendor - and shone right into my eyes for hours as we traveled back.

Knowing that we would have to walk everywhere, and also knowing that we had to do that for three days, I had carefully plotted our subway rides so that we could get from place to place quickly and efficiently. I had sheets and sheets of paper printed from hopstop.com giving me detailed instructions on which trains to take to and from each location. I was prepared.

Every set of directions to each location started with the following sentence: “Take the “E” train to...” so imagine my surprise when we entered the first subway station of the weekend to see a big sign reading: “E Train not in service this weekend.”

Now the rain is coming down so hard that it feels like someone’s sticking pins in your skin and my directions are useless. The girl who plans everything has no plan. I’d like to tell you I became “Miss Resourceful” and happily made alternate plans and I’d be correct but only if I told you I had a slight meltdown first. Actually, slight is painting it a bit brightly for what really went down.

I immediately panicked, imagining us traveling for hours on train after train, getting lost in the labyrinth of the New York underground transit system. I could see us stumbling to the surface days later, weak from hunger, and somewhere in Topeka, Kansas. All my trust was put in a stack of papers that all started with “Take the “E” train...”

I think I could have handled the rain or the subway debacle with grace and poise, but both of them together were more than my “I’ve got to be in control” mind could deal with for a moment. And while I managed to pull it together and got us everywhere we planned to go, I was rating pretty high on the irritable and grouchy scale for awhile.

The more I grow in my life, the more I see the need for continued growth. God has repeatedly shown me lately in ways big and small that my desire for control is something He’s determined to break me of. Of course, my mother could tell Him it’s going to be quite a fight. I tried to run things as a toddler. And it seems the more control I give Him, the more He wants. Sometimes I think I’ve given it all up but only for a moment or two. Then I realize I’ve pulled something back into my own hands.

I want to be the master of my own destiny, but sadly, God disagrees with me. He just keeps sending rain and disabled subway trains into my path. I’m sure His persistence will pay off eventually. I just wish I weren’t so hardheaded at times and I wish I didn’t need the reminder that I’m not in charge of the world. For now, I’ve learned a lesson, but I’m sure I’ll need that reminder again soon, Lord.

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