During our epic adventure in Ukraine, we briefly lived in a cottage in the woods. Our daughter, Abigail, called to say she would arrive late one night on the bus. Without a car to meet her, and since shady transactions sometimes took place in the area, I put on my running shoes to complete the trek through the woods and along the dirt road in record time. Then I waited for her at the bus stop where stray dogs gathered in hope of morsels. After she arrived, we ran across the major thoroughfare connecting cities; the road glistened in the rain. I held her hand, even though her height surpassed mine at sixteen.
The woods stood between our house and us. A narrow dirt road wound through the woods into darkness, yet the light shone through from the houses. It beckoned, called. I wanted to pass from here to there in as little time as possible, so I let go of her hand and ran. “Come on, Abigail, run,” I said, but she flopped along tired, on her last leg after a long day. I waited in sight of our house where the light lit up the wood’s edge. She came, complaining. Once inside, warmed by forest berry tea, house slippers and evening routine, we reconciled. I’m glad she forgave me for running.
Sometimes people run to the wrong things. Sometimes the light at the edge of the woods is a false light, like the cottage in the woods beckoning Hansel and Gretel to come in and taste delicious cakes and confections. Our enemy disguises himself as an angel of light, offering sweet treats. For example, if you read “Fifty Shades of Grey” instead of the Bible, then it may not be a mystery if you stray out of the authentic, intimate place where sex is intended to flourish – marriage. And if you are single, to make the sex god paramount to all satisfaction. The source of boredom may be that people have grown numb to the heart-stirring, wild adventure of the call of God, or have never responded to it at all. We have allowed distractions that clamor for attention, stresses, and numbing entertainment to silence the most beautiful sound we could ever hear: the voice of God calling our name in loving affirmation, calling us to walk with Him. It can be easier to think in terms of serving God in the stratosphere of causes and mission, but He calls us first to Himself, then to love and respect our spouses, to care for and disciple our children, and to love our neighbors as ourselves.
I think of all the times I never ran. Although I loathe the word patience, tenacity runs deep in me. I stand fiercely steadfast in the face of opposition. We should stand for some things – for what is right, for justice, for truth, for the Gospel, and for our families. Then there are times we have to run into battle. As C.S Lewis said, “Christianity is the story of how the rightful King has landed and is calling us to His great campaign of sabotage”. That version may appeal more to men. While adventure is inherent in His call, another exciting aspect is being swept up in a great and passionate love story of God for His people.
I don’t know if it is fair to speak to dreams. Dreams are often a mix of us, our parent’s wishes, some wild itch, and the call of God. We see our dreams unfolding in a linear, smooth, progressive fashion. But that is rarely how it happens. It is often messy; the path often circuitous. People sometimes offer advice, such as “the difference between a dream and a goal is a timeline and an action plan”. The call of God is different from merely having a goal or a dream. It is overarching and heart-transforming. Fueled and fashioned by God himself with us in mind, we can be confident we will succeed and flourish by his grace. Reality may not match our dreams, but it will be even better when we are walking with God in loving, committed relationships. When we begin to understand his nature, the first words out of our mouths may sound like this . . . Father in heaven, holy is your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Could God be trying to speak above the clamor? Could He be positioning us to where we want to hear His voice and embrace His call?