Today our team devoted the day to prayer. We met together briefly for a time of worship and instruction to guide our day, but then we each split off to find our own places of solitude. The sun was shining. I ached to spend this time with the Lord outside in His creation. However, not being as familiar with the asian side of the city, I asked a teammate if I could follow her to the park she was headed.
We pulled on our boots and stepped out into the sun.
With the command to not speak once we left the building, we placed a couple of feet between us and walked in paralleled silence. I had no idea where we were going. Staying in-step with her strides, I tried to gage where we were headed. I stopped when we arrived at a smaller, different park that I thought was the one, but she lead me forward. Ah. I groaned inwardly. Where are we going? Is this park worth it?
Prior to meeting up with the team, my morning had been somewhat of a distracting and unsettling one; not the desired start when one is heading into a day of prayer. With these pre-existing anxious thoughts, my worry platter piled higher. Why is this stressing me out? Maybe I should just turn around. I’ll head to a park I already know. But then I’m wasting time. But then I’ll miss what the unknown park might be like… I heard it was spacious and full of plants and that there was a “waterfall”… But will it really be where I want to be?
But, but, but. So many buts!
I wanted to envision what the park area would look like. Seriously though, why was I making it such a big deal? Not to mention, why did I feel like I had to make a plan or a layout as to the order or the agenda concerning my surroundings for prayer?
Prayer is simply being with my Father. It doesn’t matter where I am. I know this. But still (another but), I wanted to make sure I would have no distractions and freedom to worship how I wanted.
I kept walking. Each step distancing me from being able to choose other options.
My anxious heartbeat heightening as I fought my urge to turn back and resisted the temptation to ask questions of where we were going. It was cold. Really cold. My face started burning from the wind. The lighter jacket I put on that morning was useless.
I prayed for warmth.
I kept walking.
We came to a crosswalk. My guide was going to walk a little more before entering the park. I still couldn’t see it, but she pointed, gave me a rough direction and assured me I wouldn’t miss it. I asked once more for her to repeat, unsure and hesitant to go off on my own. Then I climbed up a hill.
The higher I went, the more warmth I felt.
I finally arrived at the park. Immediately, I spotted my prayer station, off to the side and into the woods, the city’s outline revealed in the patches between tree trunks. I made it.
The higher altitude inspired a higher perspective of my own self.
Super discontent about my attitude that day, I searched my heart, picking out the anxious thorns that had burrowed, digging to the root of the issues.
Life is scary. Much like not knowing where my teammate was leading me, it’s scary to not know where I’m being led in life and to not have anything spelled out. For nothing to make sense. To pass by places or people I thought were it. I would have stopped at the small park if my teammate hadn’t pulled me forward to the bigger and better. Throwing off my own agenda, there’s no choice but to blindly follow.
It’s not like I’m making any big decisions anytime soon– I’m committed to being here for these 2 years. Yet like most human beings, I prefer to dream up my own life’s timeline; intact with stable relationships and being near to the people I care about and doing what I’m passionate about. However, my plans always come with mountains of worry due to the fact that I can’t trust my imperfect self. I know who I am and that I’m more flesh than spirit. I put unrealistic expectations on myself. On others. Been there, done that. The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. I’m a selfish being, hands down.
My plans will only end up with me in a breathless, tangled mess.
It is when I am in His will- in His presence- where I am undone. Yes, I’m full of dirt and grunge and sin, but all He sees is a child, covered and washed pure by the blood of His Son. His judgement on me is one of forgiveness, grace, love, acceptance, and delight. This is the One whom I can trust. This is who I WANT to be tangled up in. When I dwell on who He is and what has done, there isn’t room nor time to worry about the future. Anxieties melt away in sight of His perfect, healing peace.
Even though I had doubts and nearly turned back on multiple occasions, I’m so thankful that I kept following my teammate to this park. My day with the Lord turned out to be a smothering of kisses; He wowed me with promise after promise. I could hardly breathe, not because of anxiety, but because of His love.
If I let Him, He’ll lead me into the most beautiful tangled mess of His goodness. I don’t know every detail and often will walk blindly, but I do know that His plan is perfect and that He knows my every need. Every thought before I think it- He knows!
I’m on the path of His way everlasting; there is no reason to worry. I know who I am in Him, and I know I can trust in the One who has never, and will never, lead me astray. My life is not going to look like I want it to; it’s going to be better. It’s going to be God’s agenda.