“Wisdom is wide-ranging, collecting under its umbrella diverse and unlikely fellow travelers. What keeps the feet of these faith-travelers on common ground is Wisdom’s unrelenting insistence that nothing in human experience can be omitted or slighted if we decide to take God seriously and respond to him believingly.” -Eugene Peterson
When I started this blog, I did so on a silly, but deep, desire to be on an Airstream, to live an Airstream way of life that fit this Airstream state of mind that I’ve somehow adopted. I wanted the gypsies, the tacky curtains, the rootless lifestyle… all of it. And though I make analogies to Airstream rides through the events that I go through on a day-to-day basis here in Southern Mississippi, the truth of the matter is that I am as rooted in this town as the pine trees around me. I’ve never known another, never experienced the newness of a physical home. And I’ve always wanted that for as long as I was old enough to craft dreams and reach out for them. Seriously–I can’t believe I’m admitting this, but… I used to dream about posting a status on some social media outlet that quoted Miranda Lambert’s “New Strings” as I left town to go play college tennis at Vanderbilt University in Nashville: “I bet this road’ll take me outta here… I’ll drive until I find the missing piece… I guess if you don’t jump, you’ll never know if you can fly…” I can still remember the mental picture I held onto so firmly the tail-end years of my high school career. And, much to my surprise, the road that I traveled only took me 15 minutes down the road.
My body hasn’t moved much in 21 years. Well, I take that back. My body goes 90 to nothin’ on a daily basis, scurrying around, tending to my to-do list for the day. But that to-do list has existed inside the city limits of one town for my entire life. Trips and vacations– yes. But a life outside of Hattiesburg is something unknown to me. And as a senior in college not-so-willingly embracing the questions and concerns of my lack of post-graduation plans, I want to do one thing and one thing only: Run. Head for the hills. ABANDON SHIP. Get. Out. And this is, perhaps, where I need to grow up a little more. But even though my body has remained in its hometown, I’m finding an Airstream ride to be more related than ever to my life. I feel like I’m looking out the passenger seat window as the trees go whizzing by, so fast that I can’t even get a bearing of where I am or where I’m going. And I think it’s safe to say that “me”, the real parts that make up my weird self, are a little lost in some ways. It seems I’m everywhere but where I am.
For all of you who want to ask me what my plans are after May for the 48539385th time, let me give you what I have to offer as an answer: I have absolutely no clue what my life is supposed to look at past this exact moment. My faith in my own plans dwindles on a pretty regular basis. Somehow I think fretting and staring at the stars will give me some miraculous answer to life’s biggest questions. I sometimes lose my sanity for hours at a time and drive around/trespass on other people’s land. I creatively avoid reality by looking through a camera lens instead of just my two eyes. And I’m tired. Tired of meaningless tasks, assignments, projects, papers, classes, etc., that seem to do nothing except get in the way of the important things of life.
“You’re going to get through this.” “God’s got a purpose behind this.” “Whatever you do, you’re going to be great at it.” Those of you in the same shoes that I’m in know that these responses are somewhat generic when I explain my dilemma to people. And please do not misunderstand me, I believe these statements are true and the promise inherent in them is a powerful one (well, minus the last one). But what is this way of thinking? Get through this? A purpose behind this? I am so quick to sift through the events that I don’t necessarily enjoy and throw them out as some insignificant piece of life’s ongoing puzzle, as if whether or not I like them determines whether or not God really cares about them either. A get-through-this mindset is a mindset that misses the realities of a present God, alive in the mundane, alive in the exciting, alive in all present things. And disregarding the events we go through on a daily basis, no matter how mundane or miserable they may be, means disregarding who God is and what He’s doing. Oh wait. I just did that. Crap.
Wisdom–is it safe to say we all want it? I’m unsure, at least in my own life. I say I want all of this knowledge about what I’m supposed to do with my life, yet consciously choose to NOT use such knowledge whenever the opportunities surface. Taking God seriously means taking the “little” things seriously, as if we have any right to label what’s big or little in God’s plan (ha- we’re pretty dumb like that). And while I’m battling an extreme case of senioritis right now, I’m realizing how little I truly understand of God by the lack of believing response I’m issuing. “Getting through my day” is exactly what Satan wants me to do. That way of thinking is poisonous, a shrink-ray that we shoot at God in allowing ourselves to think of His plans as our plans. So, if I really want wisdom, why don’t I just live like it? Why don’t I finally learn that knowing God more is what I’m looking for and disguising it with the term wisdom… Looking for it in the stars, or from other people, or from GRE scores or graduate school applications. A scattered me– it’s exactly how it sounds: incomplete, partial, insufficient. I can’t perform to the best of my ability if “me” isn’t all on board. And this dubious “me” figure can only be found at the sandal straps of the same guy who gave me my “me-ness.” And his name is Jesus, the anchor of my soul, the only source of identity I hold onto that won’t let me go.
There’s no point in trying to deny it–I’m a mess. I’ve always been one, but now especially, there are pieces of me all over the place, worried about this and that. I have no grasp of what my occupation will be. I have no hold on what graduate school I will go to or, much less, if I will go at all. And I don’t want to continue doing these tasks that seem so pointless just to get a piece of paper with my name and degree on it. But the road to wisdom is not so much a destination, but the road itself. Looking down the road is irrelevant. The ground beneath my feet is perhaps precisely where God wants me. And whether or not I want that statement to be true, it is. And it’s time to put the big boy pants on and deal with where my Savior wants me, while I pray for an insistent willingness to want only His wants. Because if I can isolate myself from the allusion of control, if I can remove myself from the picture as anything other than a vessel for something greater, then perhaps wisdom will show up. Empty of vain attempts of accomplishing anything by my own merit. Void of my fragile weapons that I bring to the battlefield. Disarmed.
Disarming my heart: ya know, it’s not easy for me. And I don’t think it’s easy for most people either. I’ve always felt the need to kick and scream in less-than-valiant hopes of protecting myself from whatever may come my way that is uncomfortable or unsure. But what I’m learning is that victory can’t be mine as long as I’m authoring it. I can’t craft it. Man has never been able to create this idea of spiritual victory– we fail, we fail, we fail. It’s the tragedy of Jewish history, and so many of us still live in that same tragedy today by pretending we can be our own saviors. We do what we want, when we want it in an attempt to bring about success that we see fit. And some people are quite successful in a materialistic sense this way. But when we apply it to our spiritual state, when we go our own way of spiritual redemption and victory, who are we really following? This is simply an opinion, but we can’t expect our own selfish desires and selfish wills to be the same as God’s will for our lives. If we are pursuing success with ourselves at the center, red flags should be waving pretty heavily. Learning to de-armor yourself of your own weapons of effort in front of God and the victory that HE owns and allows us to claim through Jesus is the only way to put back on HIS armor, HIS victory. And when we learn to claim that win in the mundane, in the miserable, in the worst times, I believe that wisdom is knocking at our doorstep.
God is always calling us further. He’s always calling us deeper. Whether you’re a senior with no clue about your life or a man in your 60s, there are depths that you haven’t reached yet. If you think you’ve gotten to the plateau of your life, friend you are so mistaken. Plateauing your call is plateauing your Caller, and no matter how much you tell yourself you’ve reached your spiritual roof, that roof simply doesn’t exist. Live in the power of the Holy Spirit and limits become silly and comical. You may would never imagine your current position to be your dwelling place right now–I’m in that mindset right now too. But our challenge as faith-travelers, our challenge as wisdom seekers is to not look past the present as something unwanted and insignificant. Understand God for who He is and take where you are seriously, as a vital part of where God wants you RIGHT NOW. Opportunity exists whether we are looking for it or not–so let’s open our eyes and embrace the present as confidently and boldly as we embrace our ever-present God.
So what–I’m not really a gypsy that’s lived in a bunch of different places. I’m not an owner of an Airstream. I don’t really travel the world on the weekends. But I’m learning the importance of traveling isn’t where you’re going; rather, it’s where you are. And for me, that’s Hattiesburg, MS as a senior in college that hasn’t the slightest clue of what the next step looks like. And if I’m going to take God seriously, I’m going to take this period of my life seriously, too. Getting through this stage of life is rushing through the reality of how important the present is to a present God. Moreso than just a stepping stone to my future, moreso than just a stop on the proverbial journey of life. This is where God wants me, and I’ll hold to His Anchor, willingly disarmed.
Takin off the ammo,