When God Screws Up Your Life
This weekend I wrestled with purpose. So much so that I began to compare my accomplishments and work to those of my peers beginning their corporate careers. My life is beginning to look everything but "normal". I've been questioning the direction I'm heading. It's wildly exhilarating yet completely unknown. And somedays, the thrill of the ride launches my stomach into my throat, completely freaking me out. Yesterday I blurted it out: What the heck are you doing, God?
Vocalizing this question brought a vivid memory to the forefront of my cluttered little brain.
A memory from one particular day that I remember bouncing around like a popcorn kernel, popping under the hot sun, in the bed of "Hill Climber #1".
Let me explain.
Hill Climber #1 is the huge F-250 truck I rode around in during my time in Honduras last May. One day in particular, we left the normal, we left the city, the comfort of paved roads and civilization. And we took off for the mountains. As we sang hits from the 90's and 2000's to pass the time, I hadn't even noticed at what point we left the semi-paved, dirt roads into the rugged earthy terrain, untouched by human hands.
But I wasn't tucked safely in the cab, strapped in a seatbelt, listening to music. Not even close. Instead, I was crammed with a dozen other people in the bed of the truck, bouncing around as we climbed over boulders, shifted gears up and down through steep terrain, and hugged the edge of cliffs as we twisted and turned through the unpaved mountainside.
As I held on tight, I peered over the cab of the truck. I didn't see any sort of path in front of me. Just rocks, boulders, and brush. THIS was the definition of off-roading. I think at one point, I had closed my eyes, fearing that I'd hurl at the site of the next downward-sloping-cliff-hugging-sharp-turn. Yikes, I could die out here!
As we wound in and out of valleys, over tiny streams, and up the treacherous terrain, I realized how out of control I was. My fate completely rested on the driver's skill and navigation. No seatbelt, no road map...completely uncharted territory.
It was radically different from the regulations and the perfectly paved paths I've been used to all my life. It was wildly adventurous and extremely dangerous by way of the world's standards.
In the bed of that truck, I began to wonder what friends and family back home were doing. Perhaps clocking in and out of work, planning out their evening activities, nestled comfortably in the normalcy of routine. And there I was, doing everything but normal, bobbling around like a pinball in the middle of wilderness, secretly wondering at each moment if the next is when I'd be completely flung out the side of the truck bed. The next moment wasn't guaranteed, I stared danger straight in the face, and cherished every breath.
I tightened my grip on the rail of the truck. I closed my eyes. I don't like this one bit.
We finally arrived at a village on the edge of the mountain with an incredible view. When I saw it, my heart leaped so far out of my chest that I didn't know if I'd be able to catch it. There was joy, excitement, exhilaration, and celebration flooding my spirit as He woke my wonder. As I stood on the edge of the mountain, I teared up. God threw me around in the back of a truck, over big rocks and deep valleys, around twists and turns, just to bring me to this place. This place, plainly revealing His majesty. I appreciated it so much more than if I had just been comfortably plopped there. Getting there was half of the beauty of it! Seeing what it took to get here, to this sacred spot, overwhelmed me. And I loved it.
My tiny heart was captivated.
When we returned safely to the compound we resided in that week, I realized that I wanted more. I wanted more off road adventures. I wanted more twists and turns. And I wanted more captivating glimpses of God's glory.
After dinner, I sat on a hillside, thinking about the day. I overlooked the tiny village, listened to the sound of cars zipping by, breathed in the earthy smell surrounding me. As I looked up at the stars, I began to realize that it wasn't near death experiences that I craved more of. Rather, it was the feeling of freedom, of life, of letting go that I so desperately wanted more of. It was God that I wanted more of.
I wanted to depend on my Driver. He had just revealed the incredible beauty that can be found through shrieks and squeals, treasured breaths, and tightly scrunched eyes on the way to reaching a magnificent destination - a place where I opened my eyes to a breathtaking mountain view that I certainly could not have seen without roughing the ride.
I began to pray quietly. God, please drive my truck. Take me where you want. Even if it's scary. I know it'll be worth it.
You know, at the time, saying those words seemed appropriate and noble. Then, a kickball game started up and I leaped up to join, forgetting those words as quickly as I had uttered them. And now I sit here, wondering why my life is far from normal, why I feel like that pinball bouncing around again. After all, I did ask Him to be my Driver. Right now, He's clearly driving somewhere completely uncharted and fascinatingly new, while I'm in bouncing around in the back of the pick up truck, holding on tight through the uneven terrain, uncertain of the glory unfolding, scrunching my eyes tight. Afraid, worried, questioning the navigation and driving skills of my Driver yet again. Perhaps, you are too.
Take mental note: when you let go of control, it's scary. But the ordinary plans you create for yourself turn into something more extraordinary, exciting, and terrifying than you could have imagined. You'll shriek, you'll scream, but you'll also sing.
I've come to realize, God isn't a boring God. He's not a God confined or defined by the mundane Sunday school rituals, recited prayers, and society's step-by-step carved out road map. He's a God of adventure. A God that throws you in the back of a truck and says, "Come on, we're going. I'm going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told."
A God who takes you way off the path and completely pitches your comfortable, yet boring, black and white map into the trash. In exchange, He hands you a bigger, better, sparklier one, exploding with color and confetti.
But don't be surprised if He tests the tires of your trust, taking you on a wild ride, perhaps in the bed of the truck, before revealing the destination, popping champagne, and celebrating with confetti.