I thought surely one of them would answer their phone. I had slept in that early fall Saturday morning, and expected my husband and son to be home after perhaps a run to the Farmer’s Market, or maybe a literal run. It was cool and clear, and my next rationale was that they were at the carwash or the home center, getting ready for a day in the yard. Call after call, text after text, I got nothing. Hours went by.
I have friends who can infer the best motives, assume the most optimistic outcomes. I am not one of those people. My psyche has a tendency to peek at the worst-case scenarios. I started thinking heartbreaking things.
CONTROLLING OUR LIVES
We’ve all had those moments, or months. Slogging through time like walking through molasses as we wait for an ending, an answer, an outcome.
Those are the times I start to question if God is always good. Would He lead my family into tragedy? Do I trust God with control or can I do something to regain it?We’ve all had those moments, or months. Slogging through time like walking through molasses as we wait for an ending, an answer, an outcome. Those are the times I start to question if God is always good.Click To Tweet
Turns out, my husband and son had decided to skydive. They trained while I was out of town a few weeks earlier, and that Saturday was their jump. Not tandem. Just full-on solo skydiving. I didn’t think they’d let a high school boy do that. At least that his dad wouldn’t let him do that. Especially without his mother’s approval. My guys later said they knew they’d be more successful asking for my forgiveness than for my permission. Classic response.
When they finally walked into the house to my weak cranky-worried-scolding, I proved their point. I was just so glad they were alive, I didn’t much care that they had gone behind my back. And their reasoning was sound— I would have forbidden the sky dive. I’ve never liked thrill rides or black ski slopes or even risky investments. Life is unpredictable enough, I’ve always thought. Control what you can.
Control had been a central theme of my life until I came face to face with a chronic illness.
PLAYING IT SAFE
I still have a poem that I posted on our kitchen bulletin board, many months pre-diagnosis. After all these years, it seems to have earned a permanent place there. It speaks to me of control and playing life safe, determined to live too close to the familiar:
Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.
Disturb us, Lord, when
with the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.
Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wilder seas
Where storms will show Your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
We ask you to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push back the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.
– Sir Francis Drake, 1577
Certain phrases punch me in the gut still: dreams have come true because we dreamed too little, sailed too close to the shore, having fallen in love with life. I’ve wondered, as I’ve seen the end more clearly, if in trying to design the best possible outcome, I’ve played it too safe.
SHOWING HIS MASTERY
This month (and that poem) always remind me of a wake-up call I got one October afternoon a few years ago.
A time God truly “disturbed me.”
After all I’d survived with heart failure, a common hornet sting almost took my life. My husband still says it’s the most frightening medical event he’s ever been through. For me, it was embarrassing, but also a bit liberating. I learned to venture out a bit more, and even when the near worst-case scenario happens, God in His providence, uses it to draw us closer into His arms and deeper into His Story. The account of that near-death experience is over at my friend Becky Beresford’s website, “Letting God Take Us to the Edge: Bravely Living with an Incurable Disease,” as part of her Brave Women Series.
Drake’s centuries-old poem whispers to me often from its bulletin board home: God has been pushing back the horizons of my hope to something much bigger and vaster (and sometimes riskier) than I could comprehend in a healthy life. He wants me to be ready when He shows His mastery.
I am so thankful I didn’t miss the voyage.
(But I’m still glad I didn’t know about that sky-dive jump.)
Read my scary October story here.