Reflections — April 2017

“Taking the plunge” sounds mighty impulsive, doesn’t it? And on occasion it truly is. But usually it is the final decision that we see after a period of vacillating between two opposing options and perhaps much preparation. Numerous examples come to mind from ordinary to outlandish. Along the Maine or California coasts, known for their frigid water temperatures, vacationers can routinely be seen darting in and out of the shallows, getting up the courage to take the final plunge into those cold waves — or not! Years ago, our sons vied for position atop a 35-40 foot cliff above the Firehole Canyon River in Yellowstone National Park. Below them lay a very large, inviting pool of deep water into which others had gleefully jumped. Each in turn would a-l-m-o-s-t get up the nerve, then back away, deferring to his brother. What followed would be more encouragement even from the brother who had backed off. “You can do it,” people shouted across the gorge. And finally one overcame his fear, took the plunge, and set off the domino effect. Once that uncertainty had been overcome, multiple jumps followed, and some 35 years later the joy of that day is fondly recalled by all. More recently a daughter-in-law joined others in a Polar Plunge into Long Island Sound on a frigid, windy winter day to admirably bring awareness to serious brain tumors. A more noble reason, I might add, but nonetheless daunting in mid-winter. And would I do it? Not on your life! (Only in my younger years.)

Each day life greets us full of options, thorny issues, and challenges. Possibilities sometimes come deceptively wrapped so as to be enticing; other options initially look ominous and daunting but in reality are rare, positive gems waiting for us to act upon. So how do we sort out the gems from the quicksand? How do we avoid being reckless while still embracing the unknown? The way forward is not always clear. It may include detours and delays, but still be God’s chosen path for us. Life is a building process where sorting it all out may involve employing conventional wisdom and God’s wisdom. On the one hand, God gave us a brain to be able to reason with, to plan with, to play the “what-if” game pro-actively so as to avoid recognizable pitfalls and regrets. Conversely, as Christians we are indeed blessed to be able to have that moment by moment audience with the King of kings, God Himself.

Thoughtful, prayerful evaluation and consideration goes a long way in sorting things out. Our answer sometimes is found in a passage of Scripture we’re reading. Other times, a trusted friend may bring perspective and offer a measure of clarity due to not being personally involved. Play the waiting game — as in patiently laying the dilemma before the Lord and becoming willing to wait for His guidance. Not all questions necessitate an immediate answer. There are those occasions when God puts us in a quandary so we will take the time to ponder the possible options before us or just diligently seek Him. He wants us to stay in touch. And there are those times when He suddenly and unexpectedly provides the impetus we need in a flash.

The waiting time has been built into His equation. When living in an era of instant gratification, this can be difficult but rewarding. Yet when decision time does arrive and the matter remains unsettled, what then? Get going! No more agonizing! It’s plunge time folks! Trust in the Lord and take the plunge. Even if our choice is in error, God is fully willing and able to make a course correction to that ship which is in motion. He doesn’t do so while the ship remains at anchor in the harbor.

So be still and invite Jesus to truly be Lord of your life and ministry. He is the God of new adventures, new destinations, but we have to make room for the new by our willingness to lay aside the old and the familiar. The familiar may be comfortable and predictable, but the unknown is often where we meet God and His provision, where He transforms the barren, unfruitful places of our lives into a bread basket for others. The unfamiliar looks ominous, uncertain, and fraught with possible dangers and failure; but those are the places where our faith grows more robustly. Deserts must be crossed, mountains scaled, rivers forded, hardships endured, and lessons learned to reach God’s new promised destination for us. He;s our sustainer in all situations. And just think — what a gloriously rich travel log you can write as you go — filled with excitement, suspense, and at the conclusion glory to Him.