Imagine a gigantic timeline. It starts with a plot point on the left and stretches out for miles to the right, only to end with an arrow that indicates an end of sorts, but really no end, as this timeline goes on for eternity. Not hard to imagine, right? Now, if you are like me, you imagined that timeline to be straight. Clear, clean, and straight. That’s how I like things.
Life has certainly taught me, and likely you, that this isn’t how things usually go. But somehow, I am always defaulting to the illusion that when I zoom way in on that timeline to our current period in history and on my own life, following Jesus is going to be a series of steps that align with the idea that the fastest way to go from A to B is a straight line. But I’ve been wondering lately if that’s limited by two-dimensional thinking.
Even when I’m limited by two-dimensional thinking, God isn’t.
In God’s economy there are simultaneous upper AND lower stories unfolding. There is internal Kingdom work that is being done as well as external. So many times we hyper focus on the external and miss the internal work that is accomplished by external circumstances. We hyper focus on the lower story and unconsciously try to fit God into our box.
Who would have imagined that the events in Abraham’s story would have unfolded the way they did? Abraham was called to go from his country to a new land, a land that God would reveal to him. He was promised land, numerous descendants, and blessings. I can imagine this on a clean, clear, straight timeline. But that’s not how His story went. It was a gradual, and often painful and difficult, unfolding and fulfillment.
The promises of God were fulfilled despite numerous displays of lack of faith and willful rebellion. When we think in two dimensional ways we can miss all that’s going on in this story, in our own lives, and in the lives of those God allows us to influence. Someone once said, “Be at least as interested in what goes on inside you as what happens outside. If you get the inside right, the outside will fall into place.”
Maybe things don’t look the way you thought they would today. Maybe the curtain is down and God is doing some rearranging. Maybe He is disorienting so He can reorient for His glory. Maybe He is stripping you of the illusion of self-sufficiency. Maybe He is doing something new.
Here is what I believe… He didn’t call you here to drown. He called you here to walk with him. He called you here, wherever your here is, to do Kingdom work inside of you AND through you. He called you here to move the Kingdom dot down the eternal timeline. Keep leaning in. For your family, for your church, for God’s glory, keep leaning in.
Let pain and disappointment be teachers in your life, not stumbling blocks. Resist the urge to default to broken ways of navigating the seasons of life and ministry and lean in. There are no three easy steps with this one… just taking the hand of Jesus and walking forward.