Last month I had tea with a young woman who was in the small group I describe in the chapter on “Wisdom” in Songs of Assent. As we talked she pulled out a tattered piece of paper, folded so many times it was falling apart. And she said, “Remember this? I was out of the country, disillusioned because the thing I thought I was supposed to be doing wasn’t happening, and I wrote to you. This was your response: I’ve carried for months, and sent it on to many others.”
I had forgotten the email. As I re-read it, I found myself smiling inside. It was obviously one of those moments where the Lord handed me many of the threads of wisdom I’ve gained over the last couple of decades and wove them into a few sentences for the sake of my lonely friend on the other side of the globe. Since I personally needed to remember them again, I got her permission to pass them on:
“Oh, friend, you are on such a pilgrimage. And I wonder if, at the heart of it, isn’t an invitation to take another step in understanding how God works. I wonder if He isn’t far more interested in forming your character for the long haul than in giving you the particular scenario you so desire. [Your specific vision] is, say, silver. Cultivating the humility to do whatever He opens up is, well, gold. As you describe the [uninspiring opportunity before you], it does sound like the Lord’s provision for you being able to be in ____. And I completely get how frustrating it would be to be there and not be doing what you came for. But I wonder if you are looking for straight lines when God seems to work much more frequently in crooked ones. “Here’s a prayer that I have learned to pray over the years. “Lord, please keep me here as long as you can accomplish your will in me and through me. And when this season is over, please make it clear that you have released me.” At the same time, do continue to lift up the desires of your heart to the Lord. Yet I’m struck at how hard you are working to make those desires happen. And what you continually seem to be getting are fistfuls of sand…I recognize the dynamic from my own life. What would happen if you stopped reaching, (not just physically, but with your heart) and waited for Lord to open a solid door–or not, as He chooses?… Sometimes we passionate souls look for all or nothing and miss the everyday opportunity right in front of us.”
I’m grateful to my young friend for handing back to me these threads of truth. May they be an encouragement to others as we seek to walk in the way of wisdom.