…and there’s a good reason why!
A few years ago, I learned the fine art of using the bathroom while holding a baby. I really think they ought to hand out diplomas for this kind of thing.
Anyway, I used to be a pretty modest person. I was the guy in the stall next to you who had trouble “going” because you were standing right next to me. Sure, I know that was more information than you wanted. But being a father to three babies at the time stripped me of any personal dignity or delicate sensibilities.
In my 50s, we decided to start foster parenting. And then, we decided to start adopting and adopted our second daughter in this grouping, that is—we already had adopted two in our first set of kids back when we were younger. Additionally, we had another toddler we were fostering who may have had to go back to her birth parents.
It’s a good thing God doesn’t tell you in advance the plans he has for your future. If he’d have said to me back in my thirties, “Hope you’re enjoying these three kids, because once you’ve finished with them, you’re going to be raising a whole new batch…”
I think that whistling noise is the air leaking out of my retirement plans.
I believe God tries not to tip his hand to us because our tendency is to play it safe. We look for the easiest, most comfortable route through life, and we think that is what will make us happy. Never mind that our security is only an illusion, and that we have literally no idea what will truly make us happy.
But God knows if we got our way, our only destination would be boredom—like passing up the roller coaster for a ride on the kiddy cars. So he is continually messing up our tidy little plans, tipping over our apple carts, and trying to make our lives a true adventure.
I should have known God was up to something devious when my wife asked me to look for a place where I could move my home study. My books and recording equipment were taking up a downstairs room in our home, and she needed to move the babies out of our bedroom to another space close by.
The problem was, with our little church and modest salary, I couldn’t afford to lease office space anywhere. So where could I move my stuff and have my “fortress of solitude” at absolutely no cost whatsoever?
I had recently made a friend in another local pastor named Gene. His church was huge and met outdoors in a local public park, so they had to rent space to use as their permanent church office. Our little church met just a few streets away in a public school auditorium.
While having lunch together one day, he offered to let our musicians come and rehearse in their rented space whenever we needed. That was great, but what I needed was a space all my own…at no cost. So after praying about it and getting up my courage, I asked him, “Hey, do you have any room at your offices where I could set up my things long-term?”
This was way outside my comfort zone for several reasons…
First, I NEVER ask for favors—I’m the guy who does favors for others. So to ask this big of a favor from a fairly new friend really rubbed against my grain.
Second, this is not how pastors normally operate. A lot of us see other churches as our “competition,” and other pastors as rivals. To grant my request, my friend Gene would have to go against the accepted standards and practices of ministers everywhere.
In short, he’d have to be a pretty special guy. As it turns out, he is.
So after a couple of weeks turning our house upside down and hauling books, I had a new workspace and my wife had a new baby room downstairs. All my stuff was now in a terrific space next to my friend Gene’s office. It was nice to have a place to get things done, while getting to shoot the breeze with him occasionally.
And my old study was filled with two little pink toddler beds and two cribs.
Yeah, you heard it—FOUR kids now, not just three.
You see, what I didn’t realize when I relinquished my study was that God was planning to bless us with yet another foster child to take care of. Funny how he forgets to mention those little details…
I know what you’re thinking. You’re saying, “Boy Dave, good for you, but I could never handle that! You guys must be saints” (“or idiots” you add, under your breath).
No, we’re not saints, but I don’t believe we’re idiots either. We’re just people who’ve decided to say “yes” whenever God asks us to do something outside of our comfort zones. And even though we’re never sure where that “yes” may ultimately lead us, we’ve learned happily to relinquish control of our lives to Someone much smarter than us.
We’ve decided we want to be the ones on the roller coaster with our hands in the air, not gripping the guardrail for dear life. It’s only the ones with their hands-free who end up really enjoying the ride, right? The ones who try to stay in control only end up miserable, with no fun to show for all the sudden ups and downs they’ve been through.
I’d found a good friend in Gene, and something most pastors need but never have—someone to talk over ministry with who really understands the problems. And a great place I could go to work on that ministry and plan things.
I also developed expert skills I didn’t possess before—I could shower without screaming while a virtual marching band of toddlers made their way through the bathroom. In addition, there was no bodily fluid I couldn’t clean up.
And nothing makes me gag anymore—I could probably be a paramedic now if I had to.
Most of all, I have the joy of living with four little fairy princesses (yep, all girls) who bring me more entertainment than a hundred hours of Netflix. Watching their eyes light up as we blow bubbles in the backyard is more entertaining than anything else I could spend my time doing. Little did I know that they’d make the world a colorful, magic place for me, right when I’d thought everything was fading to black and white.
What about you? Are you ready to let God lead you blindly into a new adventure? Will you say yes to him, even if he offers you no information or control?
Take your hands off the bar and lift them high in the air. And then, just let the ride take you wherever he wants it to go…
Photo credit: sixflags.com