What can we say? Does He not know us? Does He not remember our frame? We often think He does not. The time of weaning is often one of great suffering to the soul, but a necessary time. No soul learns truly to be independent of infant helps until it is weaned. It is. surprising how many nurses we have, and it is just in proportion as we attain strength to get on without any of them, that our age, or advance in life, is determined. --J. B. Stoney
As usual, I'm pretty thick-witted and slow to clue in to what's going on. I've been doing this "Christian Life" thing a long time (not as long as some of y'all); and I find myself constantly realizing I haven't made nearly so much progress as I once thought. Once again, I find myself learning a lesson I already thought I knew.
I hate that.
I mentioned once before that the Lord loves me too much to let me cheat in His school. That is, He loves me too much to circumvent the painful lessons He has for me. Sometimes I think I could handle Him loving me a little less... but of course that's nonsense. If I knew everything like He knows everything, I'd choose for myself exactly what He's chosen for me.
The most recent disappointment is with "open brethren". Thought I'd gotten over that, didn't you? Well, since I'm so thick, I just finally realized something I should have figured out months or years ago. I just finally realized that I've been (in the back of my mind) holding "open brethren" as sort of an escape plan: a "Plan B" in case what I'm doing now falls through. I guess my thinking went something like this: "If all else fails, I can always head back over to the open meeting. They're sure to let me in, they let anyone in!" Eleven years is a long time to hang onto a Plan B.
I have begun to realize that the Lord doesn't like me to have escape plans. He certainly has an exit strategy for me (and it might well involve people lowering my body into the ground); but that's His right. He doesn't give me the right to develop exit strategies and contingency plans.
See, the whole problem with contingency plans is, they are a matter of trusting in my own ability to plot and scheme my way out of a problem. But we as Christians are not called to scheme our way out of trouble. We're actually called to live in the middle of it.
So my exit plan for a while has had a contingency that if things get "that bad" (whatever that means), then I can always just leave the assembly where I am and head over to the Bible Chapel across town. That's not an unreasonable plan: I got here by leaving there. I mean, I could eat a little crow and they'd more or less welcome me back in. Well, that's a slight exaggeration---I wouldn't have to eat any crow, as they have doubtless forgotten my very existence.
But I can't. He won't let me.
Don't get me wrong: He might well lead me right back over there, and might ensure they have a healthy portion of crow, steaming and ready for me. It's the sort of thing He might do. Or He might put me somewhere else. Or (as Gordon Korman might say) He might even have a city bus with my name on it, hurtling toward me now. It's His right to arrange everything and anything as He sees fit; and frankly, it's better that way.
But the point is, it's His right, not mine. I can't plan things out, I need to just let Him do that.
I guess I ought to have figured that out a long time ago.
I actually went to that Chapel a few weeks ago. I was going to tell you about it, but I don't think it matters now. I think the lesson was a lot more about my not letting God be God than about the state of the folks over there.