I sit here on my bed this afternoon, with Dorien asleep beside me. I am surrounded by my latest knitting project, my Bible, Scripture Memorization book, prayer journal, iphone, and a book from the library called My Ideal Bookshelf.
And as I have circulated through each of the above mentioned items, I find myself thinking about things that might be things that you, too, think about.
The most pressing of those thoughts is on the topic of GUARANTEES.
Because we live in a culture that takes pretty good care of us and we have come to expect that from our lives, we unconsciously begin to think that things in our life should be guaranteed to work. To survive. To last for a certain amount of time.
And to be honest, that thinking is fostered by the sheer number of guarantees which are out there, plastered over products and attached with strings. It makes sense that we have come to this place of expectation.
Only it is a false promise.
There really aren't guarantees that truly make our lives painless.
Because our lives weren't meant to be painless. Yes, we may be able to exchange our vacuum cleaners if they peter out on us unexpectedly, but that's less of a heart-break and more of an inconvenience.
What about the things you really love?
Husbands, wives, children, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, dear friends, beloved pets, even our homes sometimes, or our place in life, our jobs, our roles, our happiness.
When we receive a diagnosis that stuns us or rips our world apart. When a pregnancy stops unexpectedly. When a job is taken away. When a tree falls on your car and totals it. When your pet disappears and doesn't come back. When your baby is hospitalized for a heart condition. When you think the next day will be exactly like the one before it and yet, it unexpectedly just isn't.
Right about then, you're wishing for that guarantee.
In July, our family got a new Golden Retriever, Singer. This was a purchase that was made after significant research and thought and prayer and time and waiting and if there were ever to be a line of breeding that should guarantee us at least 11 years of a happy, healthy Golden Retriever, it would make sense that it would come from this place.
Yet, out of the blue, this past Monday, as Singer was at the vet to get spayed, I received a call from our vet who had Singer hooked up to an ECG machine and noticed some odd heart beats. He was requesting my permission to fax the ECG to a cardiologist in Dallas.
Come to find out, for reasons as yet unknown, Singer was experiencing Premature Ventricular Contractions (PVCs). She was immediately pulled off anesthesia and her surgery delayed indefinitely. We're now trying to figure out what is wrong with her. The day before, I would have sworn she was the picture of health!
After hours on the phone with her breeder and even more hours on the phone with my vet and even more late hours on the internet searching for everything I can find regarding PVCs in dogs, the etiology, treatment and outcome, I find myself at a place of having more knowledge on the subject, but no more clarity on what's going on. And remarkably, I'm not freaking out about this.
It's funny because often you really do see contracts for puppies with a "health guarantee". All a breeder can really do is make good choices with her breeding stock to avoid the main breed problems, but there's never a true guarantee that something random won't show up that only God could foresee.
That may be what I'm dealing with here. I should know more in about a week.
But I do know that I wanted that guarantee because I want to be kept free from hurting over the loss of another dog that I love deeply. Just as I have friends who are looking at dramatic changes in their life when they pretty much thought they were nestled in to their current place for the rest of their adult lives.
We like guarantees. But obviously we don't need them, or God would have them literally built in to everything.
What we do need is faith in a plan greater than our own. Faith in a God who sees ALL when we just imagine shadows and flickers into stories and plans. We need faith that a God who says that He cares, does. Even when the world we live in presents us repeatedly with unexpected heartbreak and trials. We're supposed to have those things in this world, but take heart - God has overcome the world!
This life is about learning. Learning to love even when there are risks. Learning to trust when you don't see the next step before your foot lands. Learning to listen to that still, small voice of the Holy Spirit as He guides you. Learning to ignore the loud clamoring distractions of the worry and anxiety and fear that wants to dominate you. Learning to focus on the things that matter and choose not to concern yourself with the rest.
Learning to surrender and rest and persevere when it isn't easy. To make the difficult choices and follow that path which looks increasingly narrow and difficult compared to the one everyone else is walking.
Learning to embrace grace. Learning to stop hoping for guarantees and begin relying on God's promises.
Our job, our task in this life is to fear God (respect and esteem and worship Him for the little we understand and the vast amounts we don't) and keep His commandments. His instructions for living that are designed to keep our eyes on Him in the midst of a raging storm.
My kids are memorizing Isaiah 26:3 this week and it seems strangely timely...(and I'm not embarrassed to tell you that as I write these words, tears are in my eyes and my heart is broken and humble before my great God...)
"You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You."
In the search for guarantees, that's a pretty strong one.