Figuring Things Out

Figuring Things Out

We’ve really made some great progress in the last month.  We booked our flights at a great price and we held an initial fundraiser that was definitely a success.  I’ll tell you some more about both of those things, but first, I just wanted to remind you that I still have no idea what I’m doing.

I used to work with a guy named Jeff Woods (maybe some of you know him… or maybe you are him… Hi Jeff).  He taught me something important that he might not even remember saying.  We worked together at Innotec in Zeeland, MI, and they manufacture fairly complex parts using advanced machinery that is operated and maintained by small teams of engineers.  I was fresh out of college and eager to learn, and Jeff was working on repairing a broken machine one day.  It was kind of in a congested space, so I asked him if I could look over his shoulder and watch how he was fixing the machine.  I assumed it would be a procedure he had done before that I could learn and replicate in the future.  Not so much.  He said, “You can watch… but only if you first understand that I have no idea what I’m doing.”

This was a complex machine with a complex problem.  There was no existing, known solution.  This was a new and unique problem that no one in the world had ever been presented with or solved before.  Also, this was likely not the last new and unique problem that he or I would come across.  And therein lies the value of his statement, both with respect to the machinery, and also more broadly.  Life is confusing, and complex, and intricate, and there may not be a perfect solution to every problem, but that’s all the more reason to get after it and start trying some new solutions to see what sticks.

Fairly quickly, he had the machine fixed and we were up and running.  I don’t remember the exact problem or the solution, but I most certainly remember the lesson.  You don’t have to have the entire solution figured out in order to make progress.  Most of the time, you will benefit greatly from simply doing.  This is especially true of anything God is involved in.  He figures it all out.  You just need to do.

So I’d be delighted if you kept reading and following our story, but only if you first understand that I have no idea what I’m doing.  Hopefully, some spiritual truths I am discovering will resonate with you, but I wouldn’t expect them to manifest themselves in your life the same exact way, so I’d encourage you to keep a mindful and discerning mentality about you.  God wants you to learn directly from him, and he sometimes has some interesting ways of going about things.

Back to the details… we booked our tickets to Honduras for August 2nd, and we’ll be returning to Michigan for a couple weeks around Christmas break.  The search for tickets was a drawn-out stress-filled hassle, but only because I made it that way.  I learned a lot about the process that should make things easier in the future.  Airline credit cards, bag fees, rewards programs, blah, blah, blah.  I actually think all that stuff is worth exploring, but certainly not worth stressing about.  Although the day after I booked, the prices went up almost $40/ticket.  I’m not gonna lie, that made me feel pretty awesome.

And as for our fundraiser, we had a wonderful pancake breakfast last Saturday thanks to many friends and family members who helped, but especially because of Stephanie who worked like crazy to get everything organized, prepared, and set up.  She had set up all the tables before anyone else got there to help on Friday.  If that were me, I’m pretty sure I would’ve just waited until somebody else showed up to help.  And thanks so much to everyone who came and enjoyed a meal with us and to those who couldn’t make it but wanted to be there.  It was really a lot of fun, and we truly couldn’t do it without you guys.  We’ve been living in a state of grateful overwhelmedness for a while now, and it’s really wonderful.

We still have a ways to go financially, but we raised a good chunk of what we estimate we’ll need for the year.  For me, the anxiety leading up to that day was replaced with a remarkable sense of peace.  If I had any remaining doubt that God is in this thing, that all went away last Saturday.  And then I felt almost guilty for not having had that peacefulness that comes from faith earlier on.

What would it look like to approach life with that same peace every day, in the midst of tribulation, before knowing the outcome?  I’m really sick and tired of living in hesitation.  I’m sick of living as though God may or may not keep his promises.  I’m tired of implying through my own inaction or withheld words that God doesn’t have full control over every situation.  I’m done with worrying about whether or not “other people will think I’m crazy” if I mention God’s wisdom in difficult circumstances.  I’m finished with having intimate knowledge of something truer and more real than our very material existence, and then living with it tucked away in secret as though it were pretend, or only useful at certain times.

Anxiety, doubt, and worry are insidious creations of the enemy, born out of a justification of rationality, and then distorted and amplified until they control us.  And they may indeed be stronger than our own willpower at times, and those are the times when we are invited to appeal to the one who is more powerful than all of our fears combined.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.  Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” – 1 Peter 5:6-7

How long will I continue to choose to live in doubt and worry?  These things have no redeeming qualities, no better half that comes with persevering through them.  They are notably absent from the Sermon on the Mount.  It doesn’t say “Blessed are the doubters, for I will surprise the pants off them when I return,” or “Blessed are the worriers, for they will have completely worn themselves out by the time they see my great works.”  There is no space for these things in a life lived in faith.  However, when these things do creep in, we can still be reassured that God’s endless grace will be there to take them away, time and time again.

“Tell everyone who is discouraged, ‘Be strong and don’t be afraid! God is coming to your rescue…’” – Isaiah 35:4 (Good News Translation)

He has been with us, guiding us long before we even realized it.  Why would the present or the future be any different?

So the next big logistical step is to find a renter for our house in Michigan.  Given all I just said, I’m doing my best not to worry about it.  I guess if that doesn’t work out, we can just sell the thing, but we really like it.  And after that verse in the Bible where it says to sell all your stuff and give the money to the poor, I’m pretty sure it says something about keeping your house in Michigan so you can live in it again later.  I don’t have a reference for that, though.

Also, listing our house for rent requires taking pictures of clean rooms all around our home.  We’re working on it.  Unfortunately, half of the current residents of our home have devoted their lives to maintaining a constant state of chaos in each and every room.  Stephanie developed a good strategy, though… clean one room at a time and take pictures while it lasts.  Then repeat.

Just as a final reminder to you and to myself, I really have no idea what I’m doing.  But even when we’re far from having things figured out, there’s one thing we can always do… continue to seek the Lord.  As a matter of fact, recognizing that you don’t have everything figured out can really be beneficial and transformational as you have more of a reason to seek strength beyond yourself.  And there’s a God that created you for exactly that purpose, and he’s just waiting to reveal himself to you.  He is likely to show you that he is one who is eternally unchanging, but also delightfully unpredictable.

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