[It has been precisely 10 months since my last blog post. To me, it’s staggering to think about it because writing had become so much of my routine and what helped my walk with the Lord to stay at a level of depth that I sought. But as with everything, I sense that God had a reason that I put the blog on a bit of a hiatus. And increasingly of late, I’ve had a sense of needing to get back to it. So here we are. Whether or not anyone reads, as always, is sort of secondary. My desire has always been to share what God has shared with me and to let Him bless others if that is His intent.]
Does it ever feel like you’re just hanging on by a thread? Like the circumstances of life are managing you WAY more than you’re managing them? Or, perhaps that things are just happening randomly, and that there is almost NO rhyme or reason to things? Moreover … maybe what you expected to happen not only didn’t but almost the diametric opposite did? In a way, all of those are elements of the past year of our lives in our family. And you know what? We are SO excited. In most respects (there are some more bleak circumstances I would admit may not totally qualify), I would say so should you.
Why? It’s because in these times we have the opportunity to focus on not letting go, but letting grow. I’ll explain …
But first, let’s peer into an interesting insight that God provided to Abram, who understands quite a bit about letting grow. It comes from Genesis 15:12-16
As the sun was going down, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a terrifying darkness came down over him. Then the Lord said to Abram, “You can be sure that your descendants will be strangers in a foreign land, where they will be oppressed as slaves for 400 years. But I will punish the nation that enslaves them, and in the end they will come away with great wealth. (As for you, you will die in peace and be buried at a ripe old age.) After four generations your descendants will return here to this land, for the sins of the Amorites do not yet warrant their destruction.”
Now remember, this is the Abram (shortly after renamed Abraham by God) who God told to basically pack up, leave his homeland and go to somewhere. Where? God told Abram He would let him know. Not what Abram and his wife Sarai were planning in that season of their lives. Abram was 75. I have to imagine he and Sarai were settling into the twilight of their lives and enjoy sunsets from their porch in their waning years. Nope.
This is the Abram who in the process of relocating, along with his nephew Lot, had to split from Lot in order to preserve the peacefulness of their settlement. He offered Lot the first choice and accepted whatever Lot did not select. Some might consider that foolish or careless, given that Lot was, after all, Abram’s nephew and by all rights Lot should have deferred to his uncle.
This is the Abram who God promised not only that He would allow Abram and Sarai to have a baby at a very old age (Abram was 99), but also that God would give them more descendants that the stars in the sky, and that his descendants would become a great and favored nation.
As shown in the passage above, it’s also the Abram whose descendants God prophesied would be taken into bondage for 400 years, but that ultimately would overcome their captors and would “come away with great wealth.”
Abram and Sarai, it’s safe to say, have been through a whirlwind. They were going through the unexpected, the undesired, the unimaginable. They were, no doubt, hanging by a thread in the twists and turns. And yet, the Bible tells us that when God told Abram to pack up and move, he did. It tells us that he let go of what was probably rightfully his and let Lot choose the land first. It tells us that when God promised Abram that an entire nation would come from his lineage, he “believed God.” I think it’s safe to say that Abram didn’t let go, he let grow.
By that I mean, God doesn’t take a pair of cosmic dice and roll them to see what He’s going to do in our lives. He doesn’t just play a universe-sized game of “pin the tail on the ‘life story of Michael’ donkey.” It’s not the eternal wheel of fortune.
In the past year-plus in my professional life, things have gone almost in no ways the way that I’d planned. I joined a company assured that the circumstances were such that we were going to ride a rocket ship to the stars, and yet I came to find it was more akin to some of the cataclysmically sorry failures of the 1950s and 1960s rocketsNASA worked on. Instead of serving as a catalyst to change the world of cancer with amazing genomic technologies and data, I had to drive hard decisions to cut staff and expenses. Then, as what I felt would be my dream job came about in a separate situation, it all but slipped right through my fingers. And to top it all off, further restructuring, new leadership, and cost-cutting resulted in my unanticipated departure. At least, unanticipated by me.
We went through the unexpected, the undesired, the unimaginable. At many times I felt as though we were hanging by a thread in the twists and turns. But it was in those circumstances, in the moments of fear, doubt, and disenchantment that we remembered that we’re called not to let go, but to let grow.
God was not absent in any of our situations any more than God was absent in Abram’s. In fact, as we look at our Bibles in the stories of God’s interactions with Abram, we have a subtle but crucial reminder. That is, God was actively engaged with Abram, and was powerfully providing for Abram, and He wasn’t letting Abram go, He was letting Abram grow. And so it is with you and me.
When we decide to walk with God, to trust Him for the details of our lives, and to be about His business, we never, ever have to worry that He is going to leave us dangling in the wind, hanging by a thread. No, God remains with us, as “through the valley of the shadow of death,” and grows us in the process. Our faith, our tenacity, our effectiveness in ministry, and our impact on His kingdom.
Are you hanging by a thread at the moment? Dangling in the wind? Do you know Jesus personally? Do you trust Him implicitly? Do you realize that He is at work not despite your circumstances, but IN your circumstances? Don’t just read the story of Abram and say, “Wow, God was so nice to Abram and Sarai. Isn’t that neat?” Instead, realize, believe, that God is actively engaged in YOUR story, THROUGH your circumstances. He is providing the way for you even as you hang by the thread. He is at work for your benefit. Trust Him. Don’t let go. Let grow.
Soli Deo gloria!